Jamaica Collaborates With OAS on Energy Development

MIAMI – Jamaica’s Ministry of Energy and Mining is to collaborate with the Organization of American States (OAS) to negotiate technical support, in the area of capacity building in Jamaica’s energy policy.

This was noted by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Hillary Alexander, at the two-day Renewable Energy Meeting and site visits for Energy Ministers and other senior government officials from Central America and the Caribbean, in Miami, August 27-28.

Minister of Energy and Mining, the Hon. James Robertson, accompanied by the Permanent Secretary, participated in the two-day roundtable on Renewable Energy, hosted by the OAS through its Department of Sustainable Development, the United States Department of State and the Government of Brazil.

Other Energy officials involved included Government Ministers and senior officers from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti and Guatemala, as well as the OAS and US Department of State. The Jamaican delegation included Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths, and Consul, Desreine Taylor, from the Jamaican Consulate General in Miami.

Permanent Secretary Alexander, in discussions at the final strategy session on Saturday, briefly outlined the Ministry’s objective to formulate its National Energy Policy 2009-2030 which, she said, would be integrally linked to the National Development Plan Vision 2030.

In her update, Mrs. Alexander said that careful attention and consultation was carried out in policy formulation. In this regard, she said that collaboration would take place in September, to evaluate the work of several sub-policy groups working with government agencies, the Scientific Research Council and the private sector in the areas of manufacturing, tourism, environment and construction.

According to Mrs. Alexander, there would be collaboration on ways in which Jamaica could offer technical assistance to the El Salvador Energy Ministry, in the area of lead contamination, poisoning and mitigation.

The Permanent Secretary indicated that further discussions with the University of the West Indies (UWI) Research Unit, to offer alternatives for remediation, would take place upon the delegation’s return to Kingston.

Mrs. Alexander also presented a brief outline of the Ministry’s biofuels programme, including strategies for development of the programme, identifying goals, achievements to date, and a plan of action. A status report on the existing renewable energy projects was also presented.

She explained that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) programme has changed the Government’s ability to invest in some renewable projects. As a result, the Ministry has had to revamp and retool its policy programmes, in an effort to create the legal and regulatory framework to enable new investments and businesses.

Mark Lambrides, Chief of the OAS Energy Section, indicated that his organization was committed to supporting member States in the articulation of a sustainable energy policy and programmes. The event sought to strengthen energy cooperation among participating countries, placing special emphasis on the promotion of sustainable bioenergy development and use as an alternative to imported oil.

On Friday (August 26), the participating Ministers and government officials from five Caribbean nations also participated in site visits to three locations in Central and South Florida – the Concentrated Solar Power Facility of Florida Power and Light in Indiantown, the USDA Agricultural Research Service Sugarcane Field Station in Canal Point, and the Florida Crystals Cogeneration Facility in Okeelanta.

These visits facilitated the sharing of experiences and information on developing alternative energy solutions, such as biofuels and solar power.

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