Tag: Energy development

Kelly Tomblin, who has been the face of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) since she joined the light and power company as president and chief executive officer in 2012, is on her way out of the company, and heading to take up the CEO position at the United States-based power company, INTREN, effective July 10.

Tomblin will take over the day-to-day running of the firm from Loretta Rosenmayer, the firm’s founder and current CEO, who will now chair the board of what has become one of the leading utility contractors in North America.

Up to press time, Tomblin was off the island and unavailable for a comment. However, 4-traders.com, a reputable international stock market and financial news website, said Tomblin had confirmed to them that she is to be the new CEO at INTREN.

“INTREN would not be what it is today without Loretta’s vision, leadership and unwavering commitment to high standards and values,” Tomblin was quoted by the website as saying. “I am honoured to lead the INTREN team and continue the progress evolving before me.”

According to reports, Tomblin was selected from a competitive selection process from a strong field of candidates.

“She is a highly impressive and respected executive known for her ability to build diverse, meaningful cultures in a collaborative leadership style. As a recipient of the prestigious 2016 Platt’s Global Energy CEO of the Year Award, Kelly topped an impressive list of finalists leading companies in the United States and around the world,” the website stated.

ENERGY SAVING PROJECTS

During her time at JPS, Tomblin introduced several energy saving projects, as well as the use of liquefied natural gas in the country’s energy mix, even as she guided the light and power company through a profound transformation.

“This evolution comes at an extraordinary time for INTREN,” a report quoted Rosenmayer as saying. “Our momentum is strong, and our management team and employees have built an exceptional company that is one of the most trusted and respected in the industry. I’m confident Kelly is ideally positioned for her new role to continue our growth.”

INTREN has been an innovative solution partner, dedicated to building and maintaining the infrastructure of the energy industry for more than 25 years, and has served many of the nation’s foremost utility companies, private contractors and developers, and municipalities and cooperatives.

Gleaner

From left: Renford Smith, Marcus Grant and Alan Searchwell connecting the electrical components of a solar panel at the Wigton Renewable Energy Training Lab in Rose Hill, Manchester, recently.

As the debate intensifies over the possible rate increases which could face Jamaicans as more and more customers leave the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) grid, there are calls for a collaborative approach to the issue.

Manager of the Grid Performance Department at the JPS, Lincoy Small, says the various stakeholders must engage in dialogue to find an approach to provide the cheapest source of electricity to Jamaicans.

According to Small, it cannot be a matter of either renewable energy (RE) or staying on the JPS grid but a combination of the two.

“JPS is not telling people that renewable is not the way to go, because JPS even operates renewable facilities, but the key thing is to get them (grid and RE) working together in tandem to come up with the best synergy of what is best for the customer and what is best for the country,” said Small.

His comments came as Robert Wright, president of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association, told The Sunday Gleaner he has no desire for Jamaicans to leave the JPS grid.

Grid Stability

Wright said he strongly believes RE should be maximised and not just limited to large systems scattered across the island, but smaller systems distributed right across the country.

“When you have these smaller systems spread across the country it provides for better grid stability, and also it allows for more people to participate in clean energy as opposed to simply relying on large solar farms,” said Wright.

But Small said, based on experience due to the unpredictability of RE, the JPS sometimes has to resort to load shedding when customers jump on and off the grid.

He reiterated that JPS’s customers could face additional cost if the impact of RE on the grid is not handled carefully.

“So we are accepting solar power from the customers and as soon as something happens it drops off, and does so much quicker than the grid can even respond on some of those occasions, and as a result you have to be running expensive machines that are quicker to deal with those sun drop-offs or have to shed people’s light,” argued Small.

“And if you run these expensive machines or shed people’s light it means the overall cost to run the grid is going to be absorbed by the customer; you are going to have to pay for a more expensive energy source.”

The JPS executive said the company is actively seeking to incorporate new technology to deal with the loss of the intermittent renewable resources.

But Wright argued that the good news for Jamaicans is that the cost of RE is declining rapidly, enabling it to compete with traditional sources of energy.

“A system that a typical household would need in Jamaica two years ago would cost $1 million; that same system today cost $500,000, so we have seen a significant drop in prices,” said Wright.

“Also what is revolutionary is that the cost of batteries has gone down a lot, so now, even more than before, we will be able to offer that to residential customers at an affordable price.

“What is becoming more available now are systems called micro-inverters, and these allow you to install a very simple rooftop system which is cheaper, faster to install and is more appropriate for affordable housing developments, and so on.”

Batteries Expensive

But Small countered that with solar and wind on average only available for 20 and 35 per cent of the day, respectively, and the cost of buying and replacing batteries being expensive, it might be cheaper for customers to get their power from the JPS grid when RE is not available.

“It (solar) is a good thing to have, but it cannot be operated in isolation, and that is something a lot of people in the solar business not telling their customers,” said Small.

“Because even if you get a panel or a wind turbine and you get the battery, you are going to need a grid to at least charge up that battery for the 80 per cent of the time you are without solar or the 65 per cent of the time you are without wind.

“Plus, you will have to be replacing the battery every two to three years for full value, and batteries cost much more than solar panels.”

Small said the JPS is focused on supplying power as cheaply as possible so persons can take the cheap power from the grid rather than go buy a battery and use the solar power and the wind when it is available.

With Jamaica being a signatory to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the utilisation of more RE forms part of the National Energy Policy which sees the country aiming to have 30 per cent RE penetration by 2030.

The country is currently at approximately 10 per cent of the quota, with roughly 300 net billing customers (those who have solar systems which allows them to consume energy and sell surplus) and around 10 larger customers.

Gleaner

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For full article with audio clips click here

President of the Jamaica Public Service Company, JPS, Kelly Tomblin, is rejecting claims that she’s using scare tactics to keep businesses from turning to renewable sources of energy.

In an interview yesterday on Nationwide This Morning, Chief Executive Officer of Solar Buzz Jamaica, Jason Robinson, accused JPS of using ‘scare tactics’.

This was in response to comments attributed to Ms. Tomblin in a recent Gleaner report that the company could be forced to raise electricity rates if its top customers leave the grid.

But speaking with Nationwide News yesterday, Ms. Tomblin sought to clarify the comments she made to the Gleaner newspaper.

She’s insisting she’s not using a scare tactics.

Ms. Tomblin says she would prefer companies stay on the power grid.

This, as the intermittent use of the grid is more of a burden on JPS than if a company were to be removed completely.

And, Ms. Tomblin says the JPS doesn’t build LNG plants contrary to Mr Robinson’s claim.

He’d said the light and power company has been offering to set up small LNG plants for large companies, which would also take them off the grid.

She’s also refuting his claim that JPS’s rates are going up.

Nationwide

Solar Plant

For full article with interview  clips click here

CEO of Solar Buzz Jamaica, Jason Robinson, says the Jamaica Public Service Company, JPS, is using scare tactics to keep businesses from leaving the grid and turning to alternative energy.

In a recent interview with the Gleaner newspaper, JPS CEO Kelly Tomblin was quoted as saying that it could be forced to raise electricity rates if its top customers leave their grid.

Robinson says could mitigate any losses from clients who’ve switched to alternative energy by running a more efficient operation and doing more to combat theft.

He says JPS is already doing a lot to diversify its own fuel sources to keep energy costs down.

And, Robinson is also criticizing the power company for being hypocritical.

He claims JPS has been offering to set up small LNG plants for large companies, which would also take them off the grid.

Nationwide

A field of photovoltaic solar panels providing alternative to the supply from the JPS.

With many local entities turning to solar systems or other renewable systems to reduce their reliance on more expensive energy supplied by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), there is a another indication that persons who remain on the JPS grid could face the consequences.

“We all should be concerned and thoughtful. You don’t want everybody who can afford solar on their roof going off the grid because you would still have to pay for the grid,” CEO of the JPS, Kelly Tomblin, told The Sunday Gleaner during a recent interview.

“How do we take care of a particular company so that we also take care of the whole? How do we find a way to make it affordable for everybody and don’t just let people cherry-pick off the grid?” added Tomblin.

There is no official registry of the amount of renewable energy being utilised on the island, but it is estimated that approximately 35 megawatts of renewable energy has been installed between residential and business customers in recent years.

The target is to have 20 per cent of the country’s energy need being supplied by renewable sources by 2018, moving to 30 per cent by 2030.

Energy Sales

The JPS has recorded four years of decline in energy sales from 2010 to 2014, but has seen a turnaround in the last two years with a two per cent increase in 2015 and a four per cent increase in 2016.

“This could be due to the fact that the cost of electricity to customers has dropped by about 25 per cent over that time (usage tends to increase when the price of electricity is lower),” the JPS said in an emailed response to questions from our news team.

According to the JPS, while it has not yet seen any revenue fallout from renewable energy installations, it recognises “that energy sales could have been higher if some customers had not gone off the grid”.

If more paying customers move to renewables and leave the JPS, the company will be selling to a smaller group of paying customers and could be forced to find alternative ways to remain profitable, which could see electricity cost increase for some customers.

If Top Customers Left

Tomblin admitted that if the company’s top 50 customers were all to leave the grid it would cause a serious problem, but she argued that she is confident that these companies are cognisant of their responsibility to the Jamaican people.

“I am really encouraged, having been in meetings with our top 50 customers, and we are having a lot of meetings with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Energy Committee to say how we can balance personal and country interest,” said Tomblin.

“People who are adding solar are doing so during the day; that is not when Jamaica has a peak. So unless they have storage we have to maintain the same power plant and the same grid, because they come on the JPS system at nights, so they still have to pay and, therefore, it is not that much of an impact to the system,” said Tomblin.

But PSOJ President Paul Scott said the decision to remain on the grid or not is one entities will have to decide based on what is best for their business.

“I am aware of some members who have not come off the grid because of the impact it might have on residential users, while other members have come off the grid,” said Scott, who is a member of the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team.

“So one must make their own economic decision based upon their own situation. Serious companies would take that (impact on residential users) into consideration. I would encourage our members to make decisions that will impact the overall competitiveness of Jamaica. Different industries have different utility requirements and therefore, you can’t generalise.”

According to Scott, the use of the grid will change over time, as PSOJ members, and the private sector as a whole, are always going to calculate the cost of energy as a significant part of their business.

This is one of the 330 smart-ready street lights in New Kingston which the JPS has retrofitted to accommodate the addition of intelligent controls to the LED fixtures for the maintenance and controls of lights in the area. The smart street light initiative will be rolled out from 2017-2020.
The plan to transform Kingston into the Caribbean’s first smart city has inched closer to becoming a reality with the identification of two preferred vendors by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) for its Smart LED street light project.

Petra Systems and FosRich Group of Companies in partnership with Philips Lighting, are the companies selected to spearhead the initiative, which the JPS plans to roll out across the country, starting this year.

Following the selection of the LED vendors, the next step for the energy company is to identify suitable entities for the installation of the lighting fixtures, as well as provision and management of the smart features. Its target is a total of 110,000 street lights, with consumers, the company and the entire country set to benefit.

SUPPORT CRIME FIGHTING

“In addition to lowering energy costs and improving energy efficiency, smart street lights can facilitate the smart technology to support crime fighting, through the use of image sensing (including allowing for closed-circuit television),” chief technology officer, JPS, Gary Barrow, explained in a press release, hinting also at positive environmental spin-offs. “Smart street lights will also reduce the carbon emissions from power consumption.”

Other benefits of the smart street light system include its ability to detect and report light failure per location; report maintenance and repairs of lights; as well as measure and report energy usage per lamp. The street light system will be managed by a control centre that will facilitate ease of monitoring and other aspects of management.

The JPS recently retrofitted 330 streetlights in the New Kingston area with LED lights, as part of its Smart City pilot. The next phase of the project involves the addition of intelligent controls to the LED fixtures for the maintenance and controls of the lights in the area. The smart street lights are the first phase of several technologies that will be deployed to make New Kingston one of the first smart cities in the Caribbean. The smart street light initiative is one of Jamaica’s largest energy efficiency projects and will be rolled out from 2017-2020.

Gleaner

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Customers of Jamaica Public Service (JPS) will again be able to apply for licences to sell their excess electricity generated from renewable energy sources to the grid as of April 11, 2016.

Minister of Science Energy & Technology (MSET) Dr Andrew Wheatley today announced that the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) will resume accepting applications on behalf of the ministry for net billing under similar terms as the previously-concluded net billing pilot project until the details of a permanent programme are finalised.

According to a release from the ministry, the decision to continue the programme came out of an agreement reached on April 7 with the OUR and JPS.

All parties agreed that it was in the best interest of all concerned that the net billing programme be resumed so as to strengthen the development of the renewable energy sector in accordance with the National Energy Policy, the release said.

The two-year pilot programme was extended to May 2015, as the system peak demand threshold for net billing was not met.  As at March 2015, 351 applications were received, 311 of which were granted licences, the ministry said.

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Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell

ALMOST a year after net billing was suspended, there are indications that the programme is to resume, although Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell is yet to set a timeline.

He said recommendations have been made to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to resume processing licences. But, before that can happen, the Electricity Lighting Act must be amended and the Jamaica Solar Energy Association (SEA) raised concerns that nothing has been done to have the legislation amended.

At Wednesday’s national conference for the development of an energy services company industry in Jamaica, Paulwell said that the Government is committed to reopening net billing.

He, however, explained that while the law names the Energy Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) as the body responsible for regulating new generation capacity, it was felt that it (net billing) is not appropriately placed at ESET, and that the OUR is expected to resume processing net billing licences.

So far, more than 300 licences have been issued, but solar energy providers have not been able to interconnect to the JPS grid since May of last year.

David Barrett, president of SEA, says the association’s membership is still in a state of confusion.

“It’s static now (the sector) because people have no entity to get a licence from, they don’t know who to go to. Some persons have gone to the OUR or the JPS (Jamaica Public Service company) but they can’t do it because of the obvious reasons,” he told the Jamaica Observer last Thursday.

Over the months, entrepreneurs in the solar energy sector have complained bitterly of suffering millions in losses after the JPS stopped net billing to carry out an assessment of the pilot. The review was completed by the United States’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the report made public in June, but all grid interconnection for new net billing projects islandwide have still remained on hold.

Solar energy providers say the prolonged suspension has dealt their outfits a serious blow, arguing, too, that the JPS has too much power over the arrangement and that the Government needs to act decisively on the issue.

Barrett said the members are neither pleased with the pace of the process nor the new conditions that are being established.

“What has been decided is that the cap is to be five megawatts instead of 11 as it would have been in the previous phase, and that the cap for the individual locations will remain as they are. The association is not too happy about that because we feel that there is easy opportunity to increase potential for renewables in Jamaica without disturbing the grid in any way,” he told the Observer earlier this month.

Additionally, Barrett expressed disappointment that the association had not been invited to the table when the new cap was being set. “So we don’t have the information that fed into the decision-making process,” he stated.

Net billing permits JPS customers, who own renewable energy generators, to produce electricity for personal use and to sell excess energy to the light and power monopoly at wholesale prices, which are set by the OUR.

Jamaica Observer 

NCB Group headquarters, The Atrium, at Trafalgar Road, New Kingston. The banking group’s energy initatives have cuts its electricity bill by 20 per cent across its network.

National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCB) has cut its energy consumption by 20 per cent over the past four years and is projecting half-billion dollars of new savings over the next four.

By tinting its windows, changing its light and air-conditioning units, and installing some solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the bank hopes to cut its electricity bill by another eight per cent in 2016.

If it achieves its latest goal, NCB would spend $140 million less on energy this year than it would if it had not implemented any of the energy-saving initiatives that started in 2011.

Back then, the financial institution forked out over $600 million to keep the lights on. Air conditioning accounted for more than 60 per cent of the energy use while lighting accounted for another 20 per cent, so it was decided that light-emitting diode (LED) lights would be installed across its locations, while high efficiency air-condition units and solar systems have been put in place at select sites, such as NCB’s head office on Trafalgar Road.

Reflective tinting on windows, roof insulation, and automated light controls have also helped protect the bank’s buildings from heat infiltration and have enhanced the energy-saving process.

This year, NCB plans to “continue implementing projects to install high-efficiency air-conditioning systems at relevant locations and increase the use of LED and PV panels,” according to the latest annual report.

So far, it has spent $500 million to implement various energy-reduction initiatives.

“We have an energy portfolio that is continuously being assessed, and our expenditure is guided by our environmental policy and, therefore, is subject to variations,” said NCB in reply to Sunday Business queries.

With the energy-saving expenditure, the banking group has so far avoided some $300 million in energy cost over the past four years, and expects to save another $500 million over the next four, based on current energy rates.

NCB can also boast a positive contribution to the environment. By reducing its energy consumption by 2.7 million kilowatt-hours – which is equivalent to the electricity used by 1,350 homes in Jamaica – it has reduced its footprint by approximately 1,800 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. That’s the equivalent of the emissions given off by a plane making 25 round trips to and from New York, or by 100 cars driving from Kingston to Mandeville and back every day for a year.

The biggest federal policy development of the year for renewables plays out on Congress’ last day of work in 2015.

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Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a spending package today that includes multi-year extensions of solar and wind tax credits, plus one-year extensions for a range of other renewable energy technologies.

The pair of bills, which included tax extenders and $1.1 trillion in funding to keep the government running for the next year, passed hours before lawmakers adjourned for the holidays.

“May the force be with you,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, urging her fellow Senators to vote in favor of the package shortly after the House approved the bills.

The force was certainly with renewables.

Under the legislation, the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar will be extended for another three years. It will then ramp down incrementally through 2021, and remain at 10 percent permanently beginning in 2022.

The 2.3-cent Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind will also be extended through next year. Projects that begin construction in 2017 will see a 20 percent reduction in the incentive. The PTC will then drop 20 percent each year through 2020.

Also included were geothermal, landfill gas, marine energy and incremental hydro, which will each get a one-year PTC extension. Those technologies will also qualify for a 30 percent ITC, if developers choose. In addition, the bill expanded grants for energy and water efficiency.

Business groups and analysts say the extensions will support tens of billions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of thousands of new jobs throughout the U.S.

“There’s no way to overstate this — the extension of the solar ITC is the most important policy development for U.S. solar in almost a decade,” said MJ Shiao, GTM’s director of solar research.

According to GTM Research, the ITC extension will help spur nearly 100 cumulative gigawatts of solar installations by 2020, resulting in $130 billion in total investment. More than $40 billion of investment will be “directly attributable to the passage of the extension,” said Shiao.

The American Wind Energy Association expects similar growth. The group did not issue precise figures, but said the PTC extension would support tens of gigawatts of new wind projects through 2020.

The legislation also lifts a 40-year ban on exports of crude oil produced in the U.S. In exchange for lifting the ban, Democrats pushed for multi-year extensions of renewable energy tax credits and demanded that Republicans strip out any riders that would weaken environmental laws.

Both sides got what they wanted.

However, Pelosi publicly worried yesterday that she didn’t have enough votes to support the bill. Many Democrats expressed concern about the oil export ban tradeoff, saying it would increase subsidies to fossil fuels and boost carbon emissions.

Congressional leaders and the White House lobbied hard to convince the Democratic base that the bill would be a win for the environment.

“While lifting the oil ex­port ban re­mains atrocious policy, the wind and solar tax credits in the Om­ni­bus will eliminate around 10 times more car­bon pollution than the ex­ports of oil will add,” wrote Pelosi in a letter to lawmakers.

Katherine Hamilton, a partner with 38 North Solutions, called the bill “sausage-making at its most intense.”

“The product should be palatable for most parties in clean energy. Extensions for renewables and efficiency tax credits were key sweeteners. In addition, clean energy R&D funding, land and water conservation funds, and clean energy funds were included in the deal,” she said.

Other independent analysts found that the deal would be a net positive for the climate. Although emissions would increase slightly because of increased drilling activity, they would be easily offset by increasing renewable energy development and decreased coal consumption.

“Our bottom line: Extension of the tax credits will do far more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years than lifting the export ban will do to increase them. While this post offers no judgment of the budget deal as a whole, the deal, if passed, looks like a win for climate,” wrote Council on Foreign Relations fellows Michael Levi and Varun Sivaram.

The tax credit extensions cap a big month for renewable energy policy.

In early December, world leaders agreed to a framework for lowering global greenhouse gas emissions — a deal that will leverage hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment for clean technologies.

And earlier this week, California regulators issued a new proposal on net metering that would preserve the retail rate paid to rooftop solar systems. The new rules — combined with the continued federal tax credit — will ensure strong activity in the top solar state.

National groups will now likely reset their sights on local battles around the U.S., said Hamilton.

“The renewable energy industries can turn their focus to state and local policies, siting and permitting issues, and compliance strategies for the Clean Power Plan,” she said. 

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law today.

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