Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 22, 2009
Home : Lead Stories
Gov't expands energy audit

Professor Gerald Lalor, director general of the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences, and Dr Ruth Potopsingh, group managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, speak on energy issues during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, central Kingston, offices yesterday. - Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

Faced with the heavy burden of the country's oil bill - US$2.7 billion last year - the Government is stepping up its efforts to conserve energy in public facilities.

An energy audit, which initially focused on hospitals and schools, has been extended to other government buildings and vehicles as part of the cost-saving measure.

During the previous energy audit in 2003, it was found that the public-health sector accounted for approximately nine per cent of the public-sector electricity bill.

This amounted to a total cost of US$64.8 million and prompted the introduction of several cost-saving measures, including solar water heaters, solar panels and energy efficient lighting fixtures.

Now the Office of the Prime Minister has turned its focus on other institutions and facilities.

"In the PIOJ (Planning Institute of Jamaica), we do the very small things, for example you don't turn on the air conditioning early in the morning and wait for people to come but you may turn it on half an hour after work has started," Clare Bernard, director of sustainable development and regional planning at the PIOJ, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum, held at the newspaper's North Street, central Kingston, offices yesterday.

"The use of fleet vehicles across the public sector is also being looked at as well. (These are the small things) but the impact over the long term should be sizeable," Bernard added.

She and other participants at the forum agreed that immediate conservation efforts were needed, even as the country begins the urgent task of increasing the use of alternative energy sources.

The Opposition's call for nuclear energy to be considered as one of the sources has already been rejected by the Government, but yesterday this received the backing of Professor Gerald Lalor who successfully installed a 'Slow Poke Nuclear Reactor' and has monitored its operations over the years.

Lalor, the director general of the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, said that while he was not endorsing nuclear energy, he believed it could be a viable alternative.

"The entire concept which most people have about nuclear energy is today completely wrong. The concept people have is of 50 years ago when remarkable things were done but they did it in a hurry and they didn't know what they know today," Lalor said.

Home | Lead Stories | News | Business | Sport | Commentary | Letters | Entertainment | Profiles in Medicine |