Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says electricity coverage across Jamaica currently stands at approximately 97.5 per cent. Speaking at the St. Andrew Rotary Club’s 2012/13 installation banquet held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, Mr. Paulwell said the high level of coverage is a significant achievement when compared to “some countries with huge oil deposits that are nowhere near that figure”.
He said the success is partly attributable to the Government’s Rural Electrification Programme (REP), which has facilitated the provision of electricity to some 74,000 homes, since its inception in 1975. He informed that some 32,000 homes received electricity within the last decade.
Noting that nearly one-third of all Jamaicans were without access to electricity when the REP commenced, Mr. Paulwell said the programme was implemented with the specific mandate to expand supply to rural areas where provision of the service was not deemed economically viable for commercial providers.
Pointing out that, currently, only some 60,000 homes across Jamaica have yet to receive electricity, the Minister said the REP has been mandated to move to address this anomaly by shifting focus from rural electrification to being a “diversified energy solutions provider”.
“That means, rather than trying to tap into the grid to access expensive fossil fuel generated electricity, (we want them to)…push for the remaining 2.5 per cent of homes…with a focus on providing electricity using renewable sources. This, of course, is in keeping with the government’s stated objective of having 20 per cent of its energy provided by renewable resources by 2030,” Mr. Paulwell said.