JMMB Group Limited will spend US$420,000 ($53 million) on a solar energy system to power various offices across Jamaica this year.
The project forms part of a wider move by JMMB to reduce its carbon footprint.
“We plan to implement this on a location-by-location basis, with the first implementation taking place at one of our locations in Kingston, in the coming months. The cost is as stated, US$420,000,” the financial conglomerate told the Financial Gleaner.
JMMB estimates the project payback period will span just about five years based on expected energy savings.
The solar plant will generate up to 293,935 kilowatts, hours of electricity per year with the use of clean renewable energy.
“The system is expected to save the company US$90,000 annually, and reduce oil energy dependency by 34 per cent,” JMMB said in its newly released annual report for year ending March 2016.
Roughly three years ago, JMMB embarked on a company-wide initiative coined ‘Go Green’, with one of the primary objectives to change the group’s energy practices in a way that was more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.
“This investment in a grid-tied solar system is just another step in the direction of making us even more efficient at how we use energy,” the company said via email.
A grid-tied solar system is one where the system itself is tied to the external electricity grid, as opposed to batteries.
“In other words, the system uses the sun to generate our electricity needs, with any unused electricity going back to the external grid, as opposed to being stored in batteries,” said JMMB.
JMMB expects the project to expand over time through exploration of other renewable resources to all JMMB Group locations, where possible.
JMMB Group made $2.3 billion profit off $10.42 billion of net revenue in FY2016.
JAMAICA SAW a reduction in its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2008 and 2012, signalling a step in the right direction for the island’s efforts to stave off negative climate change impacts.
“We have seen a reduction from about 27,000 gigagrams (CO2 equivalent) in 2008 to just about 20,000 in 2012,” revealed Clifford Mahlung, project administrator for the Third National Communication and Biennial Update Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Mahlung was referencing findings from the Biennial Update Report that is to be submitted to Cabinet in another two or so weeks for their approval before submission to the UNFCCC.
“The main reason for this is the reduction in fuel consumption in the mining/bauxite sector. It was in 2008 that we had a downturn in the demand for bauxite,” he noted.
However, a former seasoned climate change negotiator for Jamaica, Mahlung cautioned that the island would need to continue its efforts to reduce emissions – and for a variety of reasons.
“With the upturn in bauxite since 2012, you could see the levels going up,” he noted.
And even with the move towards renewables ‘that are now somewhere about 20 per cent of the energy mix’, Mahlung said, emissions from the transport sector was trending up.
“What we have found is that emissions from the transport sector have increased significantly. It is now about 28 per cent of the total emissions and second only to the energy sector, which is 31 per cent,” he noted.
“It means that there should see some focus on how we can reduce the emissions coming out of the transport sector,” he added.
For this, Mahlung has lauded the efforts of actors such as the JPS.
“We support the report that we have heard from the JPS, for example, about the introduction of electric cars. And definitely we should also still be actively pursuing an improved mass transit system, such as rail,? he added.
JPS announced earlier this month that it was seeking a deal with American electric car maker Tesla – to fuel the appetite for electric cars, which are seen as one answer to current high levels of petrol consumption.
Global climate change is fuelled by emissions of GHGs, including carbon dioxide and methane, with significant negative implications for, in particular, small-island developing states, including Jamaica.
Among the negative impacts of the changing climate is increased global temperatures and extreme weather events, such as droughts, the burden of which Jamaicans have had to bear in recent times.
New Fortress Energy was issued at the weekend with a stop order by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) on pipe-laying works to link its LNG terminal to the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) Bogue plant in Montego Bay.
Representatives of the company, following a meeting with NEPA Tuesday morning, managed to secure a new permit allowing work to continue on the project, which has an end-of-summer deadline to start supplying gas to JPS.
New Fortress, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group LLC, is currently laying the pipelines from the port to the 120MW Bogue plant, but has faced setbacks getting landowners to allow the pipes to pass through their property.
“It’s a minor issue, actually. We had some property owners that were being difficult about their rights of way. So Fortress had taken a different route, which wasn’t permitted. They had to go back to get the permit just for the switch in the route,” JPS boss Kelly Tomblin told Gleaner Business.
She said, initially, all landowners were in agreement with the route “but then a property owner changed their mind”.
New Fortress had gone to NEPA for approval of the new route, but “NEPA hadn’t approved it yet. They did so today (Tuesday),” Tomblin said, while conceding that work on the project had continued.
Officials from NEPA visited the site at the weekend to enforce a stop order.
Tomblin said the project or its timelines won’t suffer any adverse fallout from the work stoppage, which roughly spanned two working days.
“I’m sure they can make that up,” she said.
New Fortress said as much last night, after affirming “utmost respect” for planning rules.
“We have received official notice that work can continue on our pipeline installation, subject to our permit conditions,” said New Fortress spokesman Jake Suski.
“We have the utmost respect for the rules and process and will continue to take direction from NEPA around permit issues. At this time, we don’t anticipate any delays as a result of these conversations around the pipeline installation,” he said.
The LNG project is already running about five months behind its original schedule. Gas delivery should have begun in April.
“The point is, we want to get gas to this power plant very quickly. So Fortress was moving very quickly. But we have to make sure we work very closely with the regulator and I think Fortress understands that now,” said Tomblin.
A smart meter is seen on display at the launch. Ricardo Makyn
The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) launched their nationwide smart meter roll-out at the JPS headquarters on July 7.
According to President and CEO of JPS Kelly Tomblin, “the future of energy is bright… Jamaica and JPS are embedded in a phase of unprecedented progress”. Gary Barrow, chief technology officer at JPS, underscored the importance of smart meters and the benefits to the current national grid.
“We’re actually putting more intelligence in the grid to provide the stability and reliability that is going to be necessary when we start to integrate mass amounts of these renewables and that is really the start of our smart grid, the primary driver,” he said. “This year, we’re going to be launching three applications … those are going to be smart-phone applications.” On these applications, customers will be able to get outage notifications, restoration times, and real-time consumption and see their bill online and pay it.
“All of our appliances in a short while will become Wi-Fi-enabled and it will mean that you will be able to use your smartphone wherever you are, whatever time, to actually look at your devices, to get access to your devices and turn them on and off,” he said. The company is also investing in other smart grid technologies and services, including smart LED street lighting, smart parking and smart vehicle-charging stations for electric vehicles. This is all part of building a smart energy economy.
A pilot programme was launched three years ago in sections of the Jacks Hill and Barbican communities and Barrow said the company learned much from both customers and on the technical side.
“Already, we have over 50,000 smart meters in the field right now that we’re able to control remotely and we’re able to get usage patterns, but we don’t have the software that actually allows our customers to dial in.”
This year, the company is targeting to roll out over 20,000 smart meters on that network at a cost of approximately US$5 million. Seven parishes will be covered: Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, St Mary, St James and Westmoreland. JPS technicians will visit customers over the next four to five months and will change the current meters free of cost
Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) customers will see an increase in their August electricity bills as a result of the average 2.6 per cent rate increase the Office of Utilities Regulation yesterday (OUR) announced it had granted the energy company.
Rate-10 customers (small residential) will see on average a 2.4-per-cent increase, the same as Rate-20 (small commercial) customers.
For Rate-40 customers (medium commercial/industrial), the increase is 2.9 per cent, and 3.2 per cent for Rate 50 (large commercial/industrial) customers.
This means that a Rate-10 customer using 349 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month for which he or she paid $9,583.48 before April, is likely to see that bill going up by about $231.90 to $9,815.38, reflecting a 2.42 per cent increase.
Contacted for comment, Winsome Callum, director of corporate communications at the JPS, advised that company officials had only “just” received the determination notice and were going through it and so could not comment in detail on the matter.
This first rate increase granted by the OUR in more than three years comes on the heels of a 12.8 per cent increase in electricity charges announced by the JPS less than a month ago, on June 13, and which it linked to the tax package announced by Finance Minister Audley Shaw in his Budget presentation on May 12.
The JPS justified the rate hike at the time to the following combination of factors:
• An increase in the cost of the fuel used for electricity generation because of rising oil prices on the international market;
• The impact of the recent increase in the special consumption tax charged on heavy fuel oil;
• Continued devaluation of the Jamaican dollar.
In its release, the OUR explained that in arriving at its decision, it had taken the following factors into consideration:
a) A 9.53 per cent increase in the non-fuel revenue cap over the starting cap of 2014;
b) The full pass-through of system losses in the fuel rate as is now required by the new electricity licence;
c) The introduction of a revised incentive scheme for system-loss reduction, and based upon non-fuel revenues rather than fuel revenues, in keeping with the terms of the new licence;
d) A 50 per cent reduction in the Electricity Efficiency Improvement Fund (EEIF) tariff contribution;
e) The adjustment of rates to be charged for prepaid residential customers; and,
f) The adjustment of rates to be charged to some customers who will benefit under the Community Renewal Programme.
BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
LNG is coming to Jamaica
New Fortress Energy, the company which has won the contract to supply the island’s sole power distributor the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) with LNG for substations in Bogue, Montego Bay and another to be developed in Old Harbour, St Catherine, said it buys supplies from sources worldwide.
The company has declined to comment whether its suppliers include Trafigura Beheer, from which the Jamaica Observer understands it has sought to make buys.
Meanwhile, the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) has indicated to theBusiness Observer that it does not matter where in the world the gas comes from.
Trafigura is the world’s third-largest private oil and metals trader. That company is also seeking to grow its market for LNG supply globally.
However, in 2011 the Dutch company was involved in controversy for a $31-million political donation to the the People’s National Party administration, which was then the governing party.
The company continues to sell supplies through third-party deals to the local market, including spot purchases made by Petrojam.
Describing the surge in LNG demand as an “LNG revolution”, Trafigura says on its wesbite that it plans to double supplies sold year over year from base year 2013 when the company transported one metric tonne (mt) of LNG globally.
The company has three full-time traders based in Geneva supported by its US Natural Gas team in Houston, Texas, and a European Natural Gas team, working with 27 LNG regional offices in key export and import countries across the globe.
However, as to sales programmed for Jamaica, the company said it has no comment.
“We don’t comment on our day-to-day commercial arrangements,” Victoria Dix, media liaison for Trafigura said when asked to channel questions about the Caribbean market, including Jamaica.
Bloomberg describes Trafigura Beheer as the world’s current largest LNG trader, reporting at year end December 2015 that the commodity trader “boosted the amount of LNG handled to 4.2 million metric tonnes in the financial year ended September 30, from 1.7 million a year earlier following a doubling in volumes… that made it the world’s biggest independent LNG trader.”
A source close to New Fortress Energy told the Business Observer that it is normal for ships to swap cargo and there may have been spot purchases, but that there is, however, no long-term relationship with Trafigura.
More directly, the company, through a spokesperson, said it sources LNG from all over the world.
“In addition to supplying our own gas from the United States, New Fortress Energy sources gas from all over the world. As a matter of policy, we cannot comment further,” New Fortress said.
He stated that in relation to Bogue, “we’re making significant progress and are excited to provide natural gas to help further Jamaica’s clean energy transition. We’re in close coordination with JPS on the process and timeline”.
Chairman of ESET Dr Vincent Lawrence told the Business Observer on Monday that the source of LNG was immaterial.
“ESET is not aware of any trades, swaps or short-term source arrangements that New Fortress Energy may make in satisfying its contractual arrangements with JPS.
“NFE under its Gas Supply Agreement arrangements can supply gas from any origin. However, in ESET granting approval of the Gas Supply Agreement between JPS and NFE, in order to ensure security of supply, NFE had to demonstrate as to its long-term ownership of and access to gas from the United States including the ability to obtain any required export permits.”
Lawrence added, “The contractual arrangements are private and between two private companies,” further adding that “the GOJ is not a party to the contractual nor day to day delivery arrangements”.
The island is moving towards the majority use of LNG as fuel for energy, with the aim of reducing dependence on oil which is subject to price volatility.
To that end, JPS has retrofitted its 115MW gas turbine plant in Montego Bay from automotive diesel oil to dual fuel use. The conversion, it was projected, will result in an approximate 40 per cent fuel price reduction.
New Fortress has also secured the supply contract for the JPS’s planned 195MW plant in Old Harbour which is being razed and will be rebuilt and expanded.
Start-up of LNG use at the JPS Bogue plant is due to begin in August, when construction of fuel lines and storage facilities are expected to be completed.
New Fortress is also slated to construct an expandable 100MW, natural, gas-fired, cogeneration plant for alumina producer, Jamalco, replacing a previous plan for a coal-fired alternative
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), managers of the national electricity grid expects Golar LNG to ship liquefied natural gas to Jamaica, despite its heavy losses.
Golar is contracted to New Fortress Energy (NFE), the latter being JPS’s selected partner to develop and supply natural gas to the Jamaican utility. New Fortress is five months behind schedule with deliveries.
JPS President and Chief Executive Officer Kelly Tomblin said that even in the worst-case scenario, the power utility remains protected.
“Golar is a public company with a market cap of about US$1.5 billion and a balance sheet with over US$4 billion of assets. It’s been in business since 1946 and is widely followed by investors all over the world,” said Tomblin in a response to Gleaner queries.
“New Fortress Energy has indicated to me that they have been a dependable and reliable partner in preparing to deliver gas to Jamaica. JPS is protected contractually if New Fortress fails to bring gas, as required in the gas supply agreement.”
NFE earlier this year contracted Golar for two years to ship LNG to Jamaica. The first shipments will feed JPS’s plant at Bogue in Montego Bay, which has already been retrofitted to burn gas as well as diesel oil.
In early June, NFE acknowledged Gleaner queries regarding the implications of Golar’s finances, but did not follow through with a response.
Golar reported net losses of US$80 million for its first quarter ending March. The loss was mainly because of its US$61.5 million in operating expenses, towering over its US$18.6 million in revenues for the period. Over 12 months, Golar posted a US$197.6-million net loss for financial year 2015 and US$43 million in net losses for 2014.
Last month, CEO Gary Smith resigned, and its former CEO, Oscar Spieler, retook control of the company amid restructuring of the operations.
Tomblin expects the LNG projects at Bogue and, later, at Old Harbour, along with additional capacity from renewable plants, to reduce the power utility’s reliance on heavy oil from 95 per cent to 50 per cent in the medium term.