August 2015

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell said yesterday that he expects renewable energy to comprise 12.5 per cent of the national grid by the end of 2016.

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has invited interested entities to submit proposals for the provision of new generating capacity from renewable energy sources up to 37 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.

Currently, six per cent of the national grid is supplied by renewables, and this is to increase with the addition of 78MW by March next year with the coming on stream of three new renewable projects.

The National Energy Policy has identified fuel diversification and the development of the country’s renewable energy sources as two of its main objectives. The policy sets a target of having 20 per cent of the country’s energy being generated from renewables by 2030.

“My own view now is that we should aim for 30 per cent. The 12.5 will be achieved next year and we will be the leading Caribbean country in terms of renewables,” Paulwell said.


Light and power provider, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), supplies consumers from an installed system capacity of approximately 945.1MW.

To date, the highest peak demand registered on the system was 644.4MW. In 2014, annual generation from renewable energy sources accounted for approximately six per cent of total system generation, with contributions of 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent from hydro and wind, respectively.

Meanwhile, Paulwell revealed that the net-billing arrangement is to be recommenced next month. The programme was suspended to undertake a review of the performance of the system and Paulwell said “all indications are that it has been doing very well and we, therefore, are going to resume”.

Net-billing is the system whereby the JPS buys excess power from its customers.


More than 300 net billing licences have so far been issued by the energy minister, and the suspension of the system was undertaken to evaluate its success.

“We have not achieved the original target to get to 4MW of electricity being generated by that means and also we have not seen any degradation of the grid as a result,” Paulwell said.

But while the Government gets set to resume the net-billing arrangements, JPS has said that the regulatory authorities must institute a special cost system for persons who generate most of their own energy through renewable energy but are still dependent on the grid.

“If you come on for one hour, I have to do the same exact generation that I have to do if you are on for one day,” Kelly Tomblin, JPS president and CEO, told The Gleaner.

But Paulwell, responding to that charge, said “that is an argument that the OUR will have to address. Our policy is to encourage more and more renewables at the individual level.”


The Gleaner


From the bucket flush to reusing pasta water, these novel tricks are a good addition to the tried-and-true tips.

“…Drought or no drought” we should all treat our water as the precious resource that it is. It’s not infinite and those of it who have it in abundance often waste it heedlessly. The World Health Organization recommends two gallons per person daily to meet the requirements of most people under most conditions – and around 5 gallons per person daily to cover basic hygiene and food hygiene needs.

On average, an American resident uses about 100 gallons of water per day; while those in Europe use about 50 gallons of water daily. A resident of sub-Saharan Africa uses two to five gallons of water per day.

While reducing your water usage to five gallons a day would prove prohibitive for those of us accustomed to using more, there are plenty of smart ways to reduce your usage prodigiously. This is not a new topic for TreeHugger, we’ve offered these 10 tips in addition to these 5 swaps  – but wait, there’s more! Consider the following:

1. Embrace the bucket flush

Well, not literally … but emotionally. Use a gallon of water, pour it into your toilet in one fell swoop, and behold the miracle of your toilet flushing on its own (depending on your toilet, it may take more than a gallon). And while it may not sound very First World, who cares? It’s an awesome trick to know and will come in handy for several of the following tips.

2. Take a bucket to the shower

When waiting for the shower water to warm up, collect the cold water that precedes the hot in a large bucket or waste can. That is valuable water! Depending on how quickly your water heats up, the collected water can be used for a number of bucket toilet flushes.

3. And while we’re at it: shower or bath?

A bath uses up to 70 gallons of water; a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. That said, if you don’t drain your bath after, you can use that water to flush the toilet and water plants. Don’t be indulgent with your baths, but if you do, don’t let that good water go to waste.

4. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes

Many modern dishwashers do not require pre-rinsing of dishes – a good scrape should suffice. Read your manual and see if yours suggests the same.

5. Load your dishwasher properly

There are right ways and wrong ways to load your dishwasher; doing it incorrectly can lead to still-dirty dishes that require extra water for washing. For more, see: 7 common dishwasher-loading mistakes that may surprise you.

6. Compost rather than feeding the garbage disposal

In-sink garbage disposal contraptions require a lot of water to do their thing, and they also add solids to a septic tank which can lead to problems. Instead, use up your food scraps or add them to the compost bin.

7. Wash your produce in a tub

Place a basin or large pot in your sink, fill it, and wash your produce in it. Then place it in a colander to drain over the basin. Not only does it save a lot of water, but you can then use that water to flush the toilet or water plants. If you feel compelled, you can, alternatively, rinse produce in a colander as long as you do it over a bucket and collect the water.

8. Don’t dump the pot

After cooking pasta or anything else that requires boiling or steaming, save the water, allow it to cool, and use it for bucket flushing or watering the plants.

9. Beware the permanent press cycle

The permanent press cycle on most washing machines uses an extra five gallons of water for the additional rinse.

10. Turn off the tap

You’ve heard it before, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, but do you know just how much this saves? The average faucet releases two gallons of water per minute, you can save up to eight gallons of water every days by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth – if you brush for the recommended two minutes, that is. Likewise, for the gents, rinse your razor in a pool of water in a stoppered sink rather than under running water.

11. Fix leaky sinks and running toilets

Another obvious one, yet, also another one that is really important: A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day. At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons in a year. Call the plumber already!

From plants to people, every living thing on this planet needs water. But getting enough to survive, and survive comfortably, that can be a little tricky. Just look at the furor around California’s new water restrictions. If a state as wealthy as California is having to get creative in order to start saving water, you can bet that governments and municipalities with less money and clout are having to turn to even more inventive methods to get clean water without breaking the bank.

Luckily, some of the brightest minds in the world are on the case. USAID recently announced the winners of the Desal Prize, part of a competition to see who could create an affordable desalination solution for developing countries. The idea was to create a system that could remove salt from water and meet three criteria: it had to be cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and energy efficient.

The winners of the $140,000* first prize were a group from MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems. The group came up with a method that uses solar panels to charge a bank of batteries. The batteries then power a system that removes salt from the water through electrodialysis. On the most basic level, that means that dissolved salt particles, which have a slight electric charge, are drawn out of the water when a small electrical current is applied. In addition to getting rid of salt (which makes water unusable for crops and for drinking), the team also applied UV light to disinfect some of the water as it passed through the system.

Using the sun instead of fossil fuels to power a desalination plant isn’t a totally new idea. Larger solar desalination plants are being seriously investigated in areas where water is becoming a scarce resource, including Chile and California. While proponents hope to eventually could provide water to large numbers of people, the technology is still expensive (though prices are dropping) and requires a lot of intricate technology.

In rural areas or developing countries, durability is key, and technology that requires constant upkeep won’t last long. The MIT/Jain team and their competitors tested their projects at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in New Mexico, where they had to run the system for 24 hours at a time, removing salt from 2,100 gallons of water each day. The next step is to test it in an even harsher environment, exposing it to everyday use with rural farmers in an area where USAID is active. If all goes well, the system could provide enough water to irrigate a small farm.


Popular Science

THE Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) will this Friday host a pre-bid meeting to provide further information on its recent Request for Proposals (RFPs) from interested entities, to provide new Generating Capacity from renewable energy sources.

The meeting will take place at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel and interested entities are urged to attend to get more information on this project, and get clarifications where needed.

Applicants are invited to submit proposals to provide new generating capacity amounting to net 37 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation from either or both firm capacity and energy-only technology from renewable energy-based power generation facilities on a build, own and operate basis. The submission date for applications is January 27, 2016.

The OUR issued its latest RFP on July 31, 2015, as it moves to conclude a project started in 2012 to identify a total of 115 MW of generation projects from renewable sources.

Three bidders were selected then, for energy only projects totalling 78MW. They are Blue Mountain Renewables LLC, to supply 34MW of capacity from wind power at Munro, St Elizabeth; Wigton Windfarm Limited, to supply 24MW of capacity from wind power at Rose Hill, Manchester; and WRB Enterprises Inc (now Content Solar), to supply 20MW of capacity from Solar PV from facilities in Content Village, Clarendon. The 78 MW identified through these three suppliers was subsequently increased to 80.3 MW.

The OUR was requested by Cabinet to complete the procurement of the additional 37MW from renewable energy sources. The details of the RFP has been posted on the OUR’s website.

THE Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and University of Technology (UTech) recently collaborated on a one-day workshop designed to teach non-technical professionals about the energy sector and how it affects their lives and businesses.

Billed ‘Demystifying the Energy Industry’, the event targeted business people, entrepreneurs, banking and insurance executives, among others. It zeroed in such areas as energy costs and renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.

IDB Country Representative Therese Turner-Jones noted that “because energy is a complex and technical topic, discussions are often dominated by energy sector professionals”.

But the workshop, she said, would help non-technical professionals “navigate discussions involving issues like petroleum-derived fuel products, natural gas, wind, solar, waste-to-energy, biofuels and energy efficiency”.

Dr Ruth Potopsingh, associate vice-president of Sustainable Energy at UTech noted that “knowledge of the energy sector can better equip us all to make sound business decisions”.

IDB Consultant Dr Earl Green presented the results of the IDB/DBJ Energy Efficiency Pilot Projects for Small & Medium Enterprises and a video called Success Stories in Energy Efficiency in Jamaica.

Lumas Kendrick Jr, senior energy specialist, IDB, moderated a panel discussion on Finding Solutions for Jamaica’s Energy Sector Challenges, which included panellists Fitzroy Vidal, director of energy, Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining; Christopher Brown, business development manager, Development Bank of Jamaica; Dr Ruth Potopsingh, associate vice-president-Sustainable Energy, UTech; and IDB/DBJ Grant recipients Yorkin Waltes, owner, Triple Seven Farms and Pauline Wilson, general manager, Pioneer Meats.


Jamaica Observer

Jamaica’s light and power company is spending up to US$40 million over five years to roll out a smart grid and cut line losses.

Last year, the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) reported a one per cent decline in sales along with a one per cent increase in system losses – mostly electricity theft – which drained US$18.4 million in revenue from the company.

Now, Senior Vice-President, Energy Delivery, Technology and Innovation Gary Barrow says the company is spending US$6 million to US$8 million per year over a span of five years on technology upgrades.

That includes the installation of smart meters, which the company has been testing in select homes since at least 2012 under what was referred to as its Smart Grid Interface pilot, according to past reports.

Now, around one-tenth of customers have smart meters installed.

The last 24 months have seen the light and power company quietly acquiring and testing new equipment, pilot-testing new programmes, and doing “systems shakedowns” before large-scale rollouts, said Barrow.

Pivotal to this will be the implementation of the smart grid. This is already giving the company the ability to remotely fix power outages, reroute power, monitor usage, and to start tackling losses that gobble up as much as 26 per cent of the power it generates.

Barrow is downplaying the smart grid as a silver bullet, meaning it will not solve all the problems that drain revenue from the utility, but he said it would put JPS on the cutting edge of technology and within requirements of a modern electricity distribution system

“When you talk about a smart grid, it is really about putting more intelligence into the grid. It is where you start and where you end. That is how the technology is evolving. It is getting the data and using a lot of sophisticated analytical tools that translate that data into information for us,” Barrow said.

The system has distribution automation switches that allow JPS to pinpoint faults and reroute power. Coupled with that is an outage management system that automatically locates outages and manages real-time recovery. The centrepiece of the improvements, however, is the installation of smart meters.

Over the last two years, the light and power company has installed about 60,000 smart meters, which is just about 10 per cent of the 580,000 customers served by JPS.

Consumption Readings

Barrow notes, however, that 65 per cent of revenue comes from customers with smart meters. This is because 100 per cent of all large customers – numbering about 5,000 business – are on smart meters. In addition, they have sought to cover medium-sized businesses and other heavy users.

The commercial applications – commercial automated metering infrastructure, or CAMI – allow JPS to do readings of consumption at 15-minute intervals for all large commercial customers. This information is shared with clients.

JPS also uses MV90 software to analyse if there are any unusual consumption patterns.

The company has also tested and is installing meters on a secondary line of distribution transformers. On a practical level, what that means is that JPS attaches a meter to one leg of the average 220 voltage wires that feed a typical street. This allows JPS to get closer to its goal of reducing line losses.

Barrow says that when the system is fully rolled out, JPS will be able to pinpoint energy theft at the micro level.

“Before, we knew that an entire feeder was suffering from theft, but now, we are actually able to take it down to transformer level. So if only 25 customers are on that transformer and we know that … we are delivering more energy than what we have billed for, now we can pin-point with great granularity where the theft is happening,” the power executive said.

He says JPS is also totting up savings from the smart grid.

“In some areas where we had as much as 50 per cent theft of electricity, just putting in these meters and taking some other actions, we were able to bring that down to two to three per cent,” he told Wednesday Business.

Given those successes, JPS is preparing to go a step further, technologically speaking, with the planned roll-out of “Smarter Smart Meters”, which will allow customers to manage their energy consumption through remote control of the devices in their own homes.

That system is in the final stages of pilot-testing in the upscale Jacks Hill-Norbrook areas of Kingston.

Having committed to the smart grid investment, the monopoly power distributor appears wary of competition from renewable energy systems – possibly under net-metering/net-billing policies that allow persons to generate and sell electricity to the national grid – with Barrow noting the proliferation of photovoltaics, which harness solar energy.

He said what was required is a modernisation of regulations.

“This is a critical success factor or a critical point of failure. I can be talking about all of these things, and if the regulations don’t support it in a way that the business remains viable, then as a country, we will lose out,” he said.


The Gleaner


Earth just keeps getting hotter. July was the planet’s warmest month on record, smashing old marks, United States weather officials said.

And it’s almost a dead certain lock that this year will beat last year as the warmest year on record, they said.

July’s average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit (16.6 Celsius), beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree, according to figures released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s a large margin for weather records, with previous monthly heat records broken by a 20th of a degree or less.

“It just reaffirms what we already know: that the Earth is warming,” said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch. “The warming is accelerating and we’re really seeing it this year.”

NOAA records go back to 1880. Separate calculations by NASA and the Japanese weather agency also found July 2015 to be a record.

The first seven months of 2015 were the hottest January-to-July span on record, according to NOAA. The seven-month average temperature of 58.43 degrees (14.7 Celsius) is 1.53 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average and a sixth of a degree warmer than the old record set in 2010.

Given that the temperatures have already been so high already – especially the oceans, which are slow to cool – NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden said she is “99 per cent certain” that 2015 will be the hottest on record for the globe. The oceans would have to cool dramatically to prevent it, and they are trending warmer, not cooler, she said.


Climate Change, El Nino


Crouch, Blunden and other scientists outside of the government said these temperatures are caused by a combination of man-made climate change and a strong, near-record El Nino. An El Nino is a warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that alters weather worldwide for about a year.

The oceans drove the globe to record levels. Not only were the world’s oceans the warmest they’ve been in July, but they were 1.35 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average.

The heat hit hard in much of Europe and the Middle East. It was the hottest July on record in Austria, where records go back to 1767. Parts of France had temperatures that were on average seven degrees above normal and temperatures broke 100 in the Netherlands, which is a rarity. And an Iranian city had a heat index (the “feels like” temperature) of 165 degrees (74 Celsius), which was still not quite record.

Nine of the 10 hottest months on record have happened since 2005, according to NOAA. Twenty-two of the 25 hottest months on record have occurred after the year 2000. The other three were in 1998 and 1997.

This shows that despite what climate-change doubters say, there is no pause in warming since 1998, Blunden said.

It doesn’t matter if a month or a year is number one or number two or number five hottest on record, said University of Georgia climate scientist Marshall Shepherd.

“The records are getting attention but I worry the public will grow weary of reports of new records each month,” Shepherd said in an email. “I am more concerned about how the Earth is starting to respond to the changes and the implications for my children.”


The Gleaner

Google Maps is already one of the most popular apps used on on smartphones thanks to its sophisticated navigation powers. But Google has figured out an even cooler use for the service and it that doesn’t even involve getting directions – meet Google’s brand new Project Sunroof.

Using the immense map data that’s behind Google Maps, the company’s new Google Maps feature will help you decide the best way to install solar panels on your roof. What Google can do for you is use the knowledge it collects about your home’s location to tell you how much sunlight you’re getting each day, how much electricity that can generate and how much it’ll cost you to install the solar panels.

Basically, Google’s service will be ready to answer some of your most pressing questions related to installing solar panels on your roof. So all you need to do is jot down the data and get ready to invest in solar panels for your roof. We should note, of course, that solar power might not be a good investment for everyone so make sure installing them will be financially worthwhile before making the switch.

Project Sunroof will debut in Boston, San Francisco and Fresno, but should expand to other markets in the future. A video explaining the cool Google Maps tech behind it follows below – more details about the project are available on Google’s special site for it at this link.



The lush green Malvern hills in the distance is in stark contrast to parched lands at Red Bank, St Elizabeth. Almost everywhere, farmers are busy pouring water on their plants, which are, for the most part, fighting an uphill battle against a wicked drought that threatens to bring everyone to their knees.

At Red Bank, there is no piped water, the catchments are dry, and the sun stands overhead like a wicked overseer. But it is not all bad. One man, Denroy Evans, has, for the past year, plugged into the element and is using solar power to drive his businesses.

Evans told The Gleaner that high electricity costs had threatened the survival of his business.

“One day I went to pay my bill and the lady looked at me and said, ‘Mr Evans, wait, a weh yu a burn up deh suh?'” Evans recalled.

He had gone to a bill payment agency in Junction, five miles from Red Bank, to pay a Jamaica Public Service (JPS) bill of $100,000.

“That is when I started to think. I said to myself, ‘If I could save that $100,000 per month, it would be $1.2 millon per year. So why not muscle up and put in the system and save it?'” Evan said.


Invested $4 Million


That was just over two years ago. Since then, he has invested roughly $4 million in a solar lighting system, and hardly has to deal with the JPS.

“With the high cost of energy, you have to find alternative sources. With the introduction of the solar system, we are now paying, depending on the time of the year, $6,000 to $12,000 per month. We have saved 85 to 90 per cent by installing solar, [the cost of] which will be recovered in about three to four years,” Evans told The Gleaner.

The system, which has been mounted on the top of a building that serves as home for a farm store, a supermarket and a variety store, consists of 63 solar panels, 56 batteries, a 6,000 watt inverter, and three controllers for the charging system. It runs some 10 refrigerators, lights, computers, cameras and fans.

“On the average, I pull down about 80-kilowatt (kw) hours per day and use about 75kw hours daily. We get good weather. We don’t get any rain and the sun is always out,” Evans quipped.

He said that the use of renewable energy is definitely the way to go, but cautions that anybody who wishes to invest should first of all educate himself/herself about the system.

“I have seen many people install it and they don’t even go into the battery room to check anything. What results is that the battery runs out of water … you need to be integrally involved in your solar system,” said Evans, who is a trained farmer and one-time teacher.

Light and power company JPS said that it is in favour of Jamaicans maximising the potential of solar and other renewable power. The company said, however, that the regulatory authorities must pay attention to the fact that the cost of operating the national grid is not dependent on the number of users.

“If you come on for one hour, I have to do the same exact generation that I have to do if you are on for one day,” Kelly Tomblin, JPS president and CEO told The Gleaner.

“If you have solar and you come on my system for 10 minutes, I have to build the same amount of infrastructure. If you are going to go solar, go completely solar, or if you are coming on my system, price it so that it reflects the fact that I have to build an exact same power plant and exact same infrastructure,” Tomblin added.


The Gleaner

No AC? No problem! With these hacks, you can keep cool this summer — and keep your electric bill down.

When the temperature creeps past 90 degrees on a hot summer day, it’s natural to regret the decision to rent a place without air conditioning or own a home without AC installed. But don’t despair. With these tips for living without an air conditioner, you can stave off the sweltering heat without paying a sky-high utility bill (or putting in a noisy, energy-sucking window unit).

1. Change the rotation on your ceiling fan to counterclockwise.

It’s easier than you think to make this fix (usually your fan will have a little switch on the motor housing that alters its rotation), and doing so will allow the blades to circulate faster, creating a cooler breeze. If you have box fans, turn them around so that they blow hot air out the window.

2. Don’t let the light in.

Keeping shades, curtains, or blinds closed can lower the temperature inside your house by up to 20 degrees.

3. Channel your inner MacGyver.

Create a misting effect by placing a metal mixing bowl full of ice in front of a fan. Tilt the bowl so that the fan blows directly onto the ice. When the air hits the cubes, it will release a cool, misty breeze that chills the whole room.

4. Don’t close yourself off.

By shutting doors, that is. Keep inside doors open throughout the day, which allows the cool air to circulate throughout your house.

5. Revamp your bedding.

Pack away the flannel sheets (duh) and opt for percale instead, which is more breathable. Mist your sheets with cool water before bedding down for the night (or stick them in the freezer for a few minutes), and invest in a buckwheat pillow, which won’t trap heat the way traditional pillows do.

6. And then sleep solo.

Your partner may balk, until he or she realizes how much body heat cuddling creates.

7. Hit up your hot water bottle.

Only this time, stick it in the freezer first and then position it near your feet, which contain many pulse points. If you don’t have a hot water bottle, dunk your feet in ice water before turning in.

8. Unplug.

Appliances that are plugged in radiate heat — even when they’re not in use. So unplug what you can. Now is also the time to embrace your grill; turning on the oven on a 100-degree day is only going to make things hotter. But you knew that.

9. Turn off the lights.

Even the most energy-efficient light bulbs give off some heat, so make do with natural light on super-hot days. But still swap out incandescent bulbs for CFLs, which will also lower your energy bill. 

10. Lie low.

Literally. Hot air rises, so putting your mattress on the floor can help you stay cool while you slumber. Or if you’re feeling outdoorsy but like sleeping with a roof over your head, rig up an indoor hammock, which will increase airflow. Bonus: It may even lull you to sleep, which will make you forget how hot you are.