Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the National Water Commissioner (NWC) is now taking steps to install solar panels at the Mona Reservoir in Kingston in an effort to reduce its energy consumption.
“The NWC is coordinating with another agency that is within the Office of the Prime Minister, and that is the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), in figuring ways to introduce renewable energies in 20 of your production locations that will significantly reduce the electricity use,” said Holness, who was speaking at the 27th Caribbean Water and Waste Water Conference in Montego Bay, St James, on Monday night.
“One project I gather that is under contemplation is putting solar panels over the Mona dam, and I think that would be very significant, and your generating capacity there would be more than enough to supply your needs for that production site. You should be able to actually sell to the grid. These are some of the innovative things that the Government of Jamaica is doing to respond to the growing need for greater capacity, greater quality and greater affordability for water.”
According to the prime minister, the NWC’s current business model is not ideal, as it limits the corporation’s ability to fulfil its own mission.
“The NWC’s current business model, we realise at times, limits its ability to fulfil its own mission leading to difficulties in raising capital or even meeting regulatory targets. At the same time, the cost of water services is approaching unaffordable levels,” said Holness.
EXPLORING NEW BUSINESS MODELS
Holness said in light of the challenges, the NWC and the Government are resolved to exploring new business models, including corporatisation of public-private partnership to transform water-sector performance.
“So far, the prioritised options under consideration are the rapid non-revenue water reduction using performance-based contracts, then we are now seeking to reorganised the NWC. In fact, changing it from a statutory body to a company registered under the company’s act,” said Holness. “We are looking at raising equity finance by listing shares of the new corporate entity on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.”
The prime minister also stated that the government is also looking at delegating services to private providers to function as concessionaires within the service provision of water.
“These are all new models for the provision of the water service that we have to consider if we are to meet the growing challenges of providing accessible, high-quality water services to our people,” said Holness.
“Of course, there will always be challenges when we seek to enter upon a new paradigm in the provision of what is considered to be a public service and it goes back to one of the problems that we have identified.
“How do we bring the public to the understanding that there can be new models in the provision of a public service that does not in any way place a detriment on the equity and accessibility of the provision, but instead could actually increase the availability, increase the quality, while at the same time reducing the cost to the consumers?”