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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Energy Woe
Topic: Government Policies
THE EDITOR, Sir:                 In your editorial of Thursday 12 May 2011, you mentioned “energy was apparently not to be at the forefront of Mr. Golding’s strategic thinking during his budget presentation” and the general “lack of specificity, and only cursory mention of specific initiatives … that are critical to the creation of a competitive economy”. This failure to address the medium to long-term initiatives for the supply-side of the energy policy is indeed puzzling. But, neither was the short to medium-term initiatives for the demand-side mentioned: although it has otherwise been reported that the IDB has agreed to support the energy efficiency and conservation program within the public sector.                It may be recalled from my last letter, entitled “Great move on conservation” published on 2 May 2011, that I was concerned about the lack of specificity regarding the implementation of the program to reduce government’s energy bill by 15%: especially since government buildings are largely energy inefficient.  I was hoping my concerns would have been addressed by now. Instead, I have all the more reason to be worried. After reading my letter, a friend directed me to an IDB report entitled “Jamaica Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program”. This document outlines the issues, program objectives and coordination with Country Strategy/Programming objectives of the program. It even states, and I quote, “preliminary calculations  for the program confirms the potential for energy savings in the public sector of up to US$ 7million per year”. The problem is that this represents 6.7% of government’s energy consumption, not 15%.                Were the preliminary calculations way off the mark, or did the government simply disregard this assessment and stuck to their 15% target that was not achieved last financial year? I suspect the latter to be true. If so, there will be a deficit in the budget of at least US$ 8million on this item alone, which is the best case scenario if close to 7% savings is realized. But most likely it will not. The IDB document outlines three components of the program: (1) establishment of an executing unit to oversee the investment, (2) implementation of energy efficiency and conservation measures, and (3) demand-side management program and energy efficiency/conservation education. The former and latter components have been reported as being fulfilled, but what about the energy efficiency and conservation measures? The 7% energy savings will only be achieved after their implementation. Until such time, this degree of savings will not be achieved, which means the budget deficit can be expected to be approximately US$ 10million on this budget item alone.                Year after year we create budgets but fail to control our expenditure to achieve them. More than likely, our current budget is destined to such a fate. However in this instance, failure to control expenditure cannot be attributed to the implementing ministries and agencies but to poor planning and unrealistic expectations. It was hoped the government would lead by example in this matter of energy efficiency and conservation, but it appears this is not to be. When is this and subsequent administrations going to take the country’s energy security seriously. The country’s present and future competiveness is at stake. I am, etc. Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)Managing PartnerPAUL HAY Capital Projects Caribbean Capital Projects Management    P. O. Box 3367, Kingston 8, Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 756-0631 cel: 1 (876) 324-4274 fax: 1 (876) 756-0631 web: e-mail: skype name: phcjam profile: twitter:

Posted by phcjam at 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2011 1:17 PM EDT

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