November 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says he is confident that the Alpart bauxite and alumina plant at Nain, in St Elizabeth, will re-open soon, as discussions with U C Rusal, the majority share- holders and operators of the plant, are going well.

Addressing a Rural Electrification Programme (REP) lighting ceremony, in Powell Town, Southfield, St. Elizabeth, on November 28, the Minister said the latest round of discussions with representatives of U C Rusal took place on November 27, and that another is scheduled for the near future.

“We have to get Alpart re-opened, we have to get our bauxite/alumina back to where it was, and we have to get employment going. I have said to the representatives of UC Rusal, what you have there is precious to us, you have good reserves, and we cannot afford to keep the place locked down,” he said.

The parish of St. Elizabeth has been affected economically, since the closure of the processing plant in 2009.

Mr. Paulwell emphasised that before the end of this year, a date and schedule for the re-opening of the plant must be established.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson (2nd right), examines information in a resource document November 28, 2012 opening of a two-day energy workshop at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. Also looking at the document are (from left): Principal Director of the Energy Division in the Ministry, Fitzroy Vidal; Facilitator, Dr. Yvonne Barton; and Edgar Wiggins, also from the Ministry.

The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), has brought together stakeholders from a wide cross section of public and private sector agencies, to participate in discussions on the introduction of natural gas as a means of diversifying Jamaica

ATL Assistant Deputy Director Ian Neita (left) seals the deal with a handshake with Nimrod's Export Manager Mario Waisman after signing an exclusive agreement in which Appliance Traders Limited will serve as Nimrod's agent to distribute its solar technology in Jamaica. - CONTRIBUTED
ATL Assistant Deputy Director Ian Neita (left) seals the deal with a handshake with Nimrod’s Export Manager Mario Waisman after signing an exclusive agreement in which Appliance Traders Limited will serve as Nimrod’s agent to distribute its solar technology in Jamaica. – CONTRIBUTED

Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) announced Thursday that it will exclusively distribute solar water heaters from Israeli supplier, Nimrod Industries Limited.

It forms part of ATL’s new thrust to offer energy-efficient solutions to Jamaican homes and businesses.

“There has been a prominent call for homes and businesses to ‘go green’ with several local government agencies and financial institutions supporting ventures in alternative energy. With the Nimrod distribution, ATL is bringing the best of Israel’s solar technology to Jamaican shores,” said ATL’s Energy and Engineering Manager Paul Grey in the release.

ATL said that the Nimrod product ideally captures natural light whilst protecting against rust which develops after exposure to ‘hard water‘.

“In the Caribbean, we are prone to ‘hard water’ – that is water with mineral elements. Nimrod coats their piping with enamel which prevents mineral deposit build-up and ultimately extends the life of the heater, ensuring savings for customers,” said Grey. “We are pleased that Nimrod has chosen to permeate the Jamaican market. We think the time is right and that Jamaicans are ready to invest,” Grey stated.

ATL is owned by Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.

Solar water heaters have grown in popularity since the 1990s, especially within resorts as a means of reducing electricity costs.

ATL will be going up against companies such as longstanding player Isratech Jamaica, which also distributes solar heaters in partnership with an Israeli company, Chromagen.

Isratech Jamaica has, since the 1990s, imported the finished water heaters for local sale but this month announced plans to start local production of heaters. It will import the components from Chromagen and assemble the heaters at its plant at Kendal in Mandeville once it finalises a J$15-million plant expansion.

The terms of ATL’s deal with Nimrod were not disclosed, neither did ATL respond to requests for comment up to press time on the type of investment and infrastructure that will surround its new product line.

business@gleanerjm.com

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THE Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) said it is “perturbed” that Jamaica could possibly abandon its pursuit of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) deal with Trinidad & Tobago.

In 2004, Trinidad and Jamaica agreed on an arrangement that would have seen the Caribbean neighbour supplying some 1.1 million tonnes of LNG per year into Jamaica, beginning in 2009. However, the deal fell through after Trinidad pulled out, citing the unavailability of the product as a result of existing contractual arrangements and problems over the development of a new gas field they share with Venezuela.

Following reports that Trinidad made a major natural gas discovery off the island’s south-east coast, Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell was questioned in Parliament this week whether Government would step up the pressure on the twin-island republic to honour the LNG agreement. However, Paulwell indicated that discussions with Trinidad had not been very positive and reportedly said that Jamaica could be abandoning the deal as a result.

However, this has peeved the JMA, which noted that it has been advocating for years for the supply of LNG from Trinidad at preferential prices to create a level playing field for Jamaica’s manufacturing sector.

“The supply of LNG from Trinidad was a key strategy in the provision of a cheaper source of energy from the Jamaica Public Service. In light of talks that Jamaica may no longer be pursuing LNG from Trinidad, the JMA is demanding answers from the Government. Is it a done deal?” asked the JMA, noting that the group has been in discussions with three different industry ministers

RUSAL should declare a timeline for Alpart‘s reopening before the end of the year, says Phillip Paulwell.

The Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining expressed confidence that Alpart’s bauxite and alumina plant at Nain, St Elizabeth will reopen soon. He was upbeat after meeting with representatives of UC Rusal, the majority shareholders and operators of the plant, this week. Discussions with the firm are going well, with another meeting set for the near future, he said.

Illegal connections to a Jamaica Public Service utility pole in Majesty Gardens, St Andrew. The light-and-power company loses millions to theft each year. - FILE
Illegal connections to a Jamaica Public Service utility pole in Majesty Gardens, St Andrew. The light-and-power company loses millions to theft each year. – FILE

By Scarlette Gillings, Contributor

WE HAVE read with interest articles which indicate the frustration of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) with the issue of electricity theft.

The problem and its associated consequences remain a matter of grave national concern. We understand the company’s plight, and the Government, through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), has been trying to address the problem.

The importance of regularising electricity to all citizens and the importance of access being safe and of a formal nature is an imperative of any government. The Government, having recognised the issues of safety and illegality with respect to the use of electricity in parts of Jamaica, has sought to include the regularisation of electricity in its social-intervention programmes. These have been complementary to the efforts of the JPS.

So far this year, illegal connections have amounted to US$32 million; legitimate JPS customers will pay the cost of 17 per cent of the recorded 25 per cent total system losses each year. Despite this picture of gloom, there are currently ongoing programmes that are making inroads into this problem, one being the electricity regularisation effort of the Inner City Basic Services Project (ICBSP) being implemented by JSIF.

IMPROVING ACCESS TO SERVICES

The ICBSP, which is funded by a loan from the World Bank to the GoJ, is aimed at improving access to basic services across 12 inner-city communities, and further to ensure the legitimacy of these services.

With funding of $8.3 million under ICBSP, 55 houses were wired and inspected, with 48 receiving GEI (Government Electrical Inspectorate) certification.

A survey done in October 2012 among the 48 households which participated in the electricity regularisation component of the programme showed that 68.8 per cent of households surveyed were regularised, having participated in the programme.

The households surveyed represented a range of sizes and types. Household sizes ranged from one to eight persons, with a mean of 3.6 persons per household and a median household size of three.

The total number of households that had electricity prior to the project could be as high as 47 (98 per cent). Kerosene was the next most common source of energy prior to the project, with eight households (17 per cent) using it as a main source of energy by itself or in conjunction with another main source.

SERVICE DISCONNECTED

Fifteen households (31 per cent of surveyed group) indicated that they had had their electricity service terminated for some reason prior to the project. Length of disconnection time ranged from three hours to two years.

Two-thirds of question respondents (42 per cent of all surveyed house-holds) stated that they found it hard to pay the household’s electricity bills when the bills became due.

One respondent who found bill payment difficult explained that she was not working. Thirty per cent of question respondents (nine households) found bill payment manageable; only one respondent found bill payment easy. Almost two-thirds of question respondents (63 per cent of question respondents; 40 per cent of all surveyed households) stated that they were usually able to pay their entire monthly electricity bill when it became due. It was notable, however, that the majority of customers (57 per cent) find it hard to pay their electricity bill.

Some 65.5 five per cent of the respondents suggested that they received – post-regularisation – a monthly bill of $2,500; 31 per cent were in the middle range of $2,500-$5,000. Only one person had a bill of over $5,000.

FEELING SAFER

Twenty-nine respondents said that they felt safer in their homes as a result of the service. Of the 30 survey respondents who answered the question regarding their overall satisfaction with the electrification project, 97 per cent reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied.

The high satisfaction rating of the project (97 per cent) complemented by the high level of willingness to recommend electrification (93 per cent) as well as the recognition of safety gains from regularisation (56 per cent) will provide a buffer to the aforementioned risks.

Let us not be fooled, the success of the programme required significant investment in building social capital. A series of community engagement sessions and sensitisation efforts heightened the awareness of persons to the need for safe, reliable and formal electricity connections.

Electricity regularisation is a socio-economic issue that will require a range of strategies to achieve desired results. The success of the community of Bucknor is a small step, but a step in the right direction.

Scarlette Gillings is managing director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, a government agency.

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Minister of Energy, Phillip Paulwell - file photo.
Minister of Energy, Phillip Paulwell – file photo.

Petrojam says it is too early to say when the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) will become involved in its security operations.

The Minister of Energy yesterday told the parliament he is concerned about security at the state-run oil refinery and has spoken to Petrojam