The signing of the Energy Management and Efficiency Programme (EMEP) marks a historic turning point for Jamaica. For the first time in the country’s history, a coordinated effort to plan for optimal use of energy resources is underway. The positive tone set and the proactive steps taken by this government will resonate in Jamaican households and businesses and it will support a cultural shift towards responsible and efficient energy use throughout Jamaica.
During her September visit to Jamaica, Julie Katzman, the Executive Vice President of the IDB, commented that the IDB as an organization was “in awe” of Jamaica because the Government has taken and followed through with the difficult steps required to attain macroeconomic stability. In the most recent country review by the IMF, it was noted that Jamaica’s programme performance is on track and macroeconomic stability is entrenched, with stronger fiscal and external positions, subdued inflation, and with employment at historic highs.
Given Jamaica’s exemplary economic performance in recent years, Jamaica is now moving forward by signing this ground-breaking energy loan with the IDB, which forms part of a wider package alongside the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through its Co-financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CORE) mechanism, and the European Union Caribbean Investment Facility (EUCIF).
The EMEP addresses a number of pressing needs that will strengthen the Government’s position as it endeavors to reign in unnecessary spending, to preserve Jamaica’s environment, and to set an example for the private sector and other regional governments to follow:
Planning and Management– Jamaica’s Integrated Resource Plan, now with stakeholders for consultation, will help inform the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) as it structures a roadmap for energy security and implements the necessary changes to achieve its goal of 30% renewable power in the power generation sector by 2030. The EMEP provides resources for building capacity and expertise within MSET to bring clarity on Jamaica’s energy needs over a 20-year horizon and to ensure the methodical replacement of dirty fossil fuels with cleaner alternatives wherever and whenever possible.
Energy Efficiency & Diversification –Dependence on foreign oil has been the Achilles heel in Jamaica’s economic growth trajectory for decades. When oil prices go up, electricity rates go through the roof, household disposable income evaporates, and vital industries become uncompetitive, causing all-too-frequent recessions and prompting desperate calls for solutions. When oil prices fall, the relatively lower energy costs are perceived as a windfall, and it’s back to business as usual.
With the signing of this loan, the IDB is helping Jamaica to break this historical cycle, supporting Jamaica on a new path towards sustainable growth, resilience in the face of external oil shocks, and better environmental stewardship. This program helps Jamaica diversify towards the use of indigenous renewable energy sources at every opportunity. Energy efficiency measures and solar PV equipment will be provided in 80 government buildings used by health and educational institutions and other public agencies; deep, comprehensive retrofits are planned for 30 of these facilities, and LED lighting retrofits in another 50. The program is accompanied by training and awareness campaigns to ensure its sustainability with Jamaican consumers and businesses and to derive the maximum benefit possible from public visibility. All in all, the energy efficiency measures implemented under this program will help the Government to cut its energy bill by about US$7 million each year.
Smart Transportation – Jamaica’s transportation sector consumes 30% of all oil imports and makes a significant contribution to the country’s overall CO2 emissions. At the same time, the growing congestion on Jamaica’s roadways represents a bottleneck on the nation’s path towards economic growth and a better quality of life for the country’s population. The EMEP earmarks funds for the implementation of an urban transport management system (UTMS) that includes telematics to help model, plan, operate, and monitor traffic flows along the Kingston’s major arteries. Other programme funds will provide training and coaching for National Works Agency staff to operate and maintain these systems. These measures will reduce congestion, curtail air pollution, save fuel, and ameliorate the low productivity attributable to gridlocked streets. There is no doubt that, this component of the programme will have a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who will be relieved to spend far less quality time in traffic during peak hours.
Leadership & Commitment – The public buildings targeted for energy efficiency retrofits and LED lighting consume 7% of Jamaica’s total generated electricity, or 750,660 barrels of oil equivalent each year, making them a prime target for reducing energy losses and maximizing efficiency. The avoided financial costs associated with the energy efficiency measures in public sector facilities will make much-needed resources available for public spending and will help balance the budget and improve the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio.
The EMEP supports Jamaica’s commitment under the Paris Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% below the business as usual scenario, targeting the most appropriate and controllable drains on energy consumption and setting a precedent for wide scale adoption of similar energy efficiency initiatives throughout the economy.
The Government of Jamaica deserves to be commended for its leadership in mainstreaming energy efficiency within the National Energy Policy. Government ministries and agencies are indeed the example the private sector look to for guidance when it comes to energy usage and environmental stewardship. When the EMEP is fully and successfully implemented, Jamaica will be viewed by regional governments and the wider international community as a true leader in the application of smart, energy efficient policies.