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Jamaica hiring energy consultant to cut light bill

The Jamaican Government is trying to determine the cost of retrofitting 50 health, education and public facilities with energy-saving lights and related equipment for which it is hunting a consultant.

The project is one of several energy initiatives that are aimed at culling the state’s annual light bill, which hovers at US$102 million or the equivalent of $15.8 billion in Jamaican currency.

Health, education and public agencies account for nearly a quarter of that, according to the tender document for the consultant, which will be required to do a baseline technical study for lighting retrofits. Applications are due by May 18.

The project is being executed in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the European Union Caribbean Investment Facility.

Caribbean countries are among those with the highest cost of electricity, worldwide, at around US$ 0.25 per kilowatt hour, more than double the average price in the United States, according to the World Bank in a 2022 brief titled Talking Energy, Finding Solutions.

Jamaica’s cost of energy is even higher than the regional average, at around US$0.32 per kWh. Its cost of electricity varies with the rice of oil and other energy commodities.

“While Jamaica has no control over oil prices, it can save in the long-term by diversifying its energy mix and improving the efficiency of energy consumption to reduce fuel imports, thereby limiting the impact of price shocks,” noted the tender document issued by the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology.

The remit of the consulting firm will include delivering a technical study, specifications and engineer’s estimate. The ministry will then utilise those findings to develop bidding documents for the implementation of the lighting retrofits in select facilities.

In an evaluation of street light retrofits across select Caribbean countries last year, Caribbean Development Bank noted that some 208,300 lights were retrofitted across Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts-Nevis and Suriname. Of the total, Jamaica accounted for half or 105,000 lights at a cost of US$34 million. That spend resulted in annual savings of US$12 million for the island, according to the CDB.

“The annual electricity consumed by one HPS (high pressure sodium) lamp is equal to the average Caribbean household electricity consumption for two months,” said the CDB report on transitioning from HPS to energy-efficient LED lights.

The project showcased the savings that can arise during periods of uncertain oil spikes.

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