The Power of Wind
Only a few days ago, the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) announced that customers will see a 4.35% increase in their electricity bills this month. The high cost of oil used to generate electricity is cited as the need for the increase. Though 4.35% increase might sound a lot, the JPS says that the actual charge should have been 10%. The intention to only apply the 4.35% increase has been communicated to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) with the remaining 5.65% scheduled to be recovered when oil prices start to trend downward. [Source: IrieFM]
The JPS claims that over 60% of customer bills is cost from fuel charges. This being the case, why is oil still the major source of generating electricity? Why aren’t there more resources and efforts being put into using alternative means of generating electricity? Jamaica, based on its location and hilly terrain, affords it the privilege to capitalize on the power of the sun and wind.
Over the years on trips to Alligator Pond in St. Elizabeth, I would pass wind turbines high up on the hills to the left. Recently I had the opportunity to journey an alternate route through the community of Wigton, that would take us right pass the entrance of where these structures were housed. The Wigton Windfarm Ltd located in the hills of western Manchester is the a subsidiary of the state owned Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica. Based on information on its website, the wind farm has 23 900kW wind turbines and 9 2000kW wind turbines having a total capacity of 38.7 MW. Information from the project manager of Wigton Windfarm in a 2011 Jamaica Observer Article, stated that the total expected output of the farm was expected be just over 100 GWh per year. This would allow for the avoidance of just under 60,000 barrels of oil to produce electricity.
More sites like these need to be invested in so we can drastically reduce our reliance on oil to generate electricity. The abundance of underutilized lands and hilly terrain cry out to be used in this effort. Kawailoa Wind in Hawaii, is a 69MW facility comprised of 30 2.3 MW Siemens turbines capable of generating enough electricity to power 14,500 homes. The plant is expected to avoid the burning of 300,000 barrels of oil each year. [Source: Powerlines]