OUR hails operations Paradise Solar Farm

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (third left), listens keenly to President of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company, Emanuel DaRosa (second left), during a tour of Paradise Park Solar Farm in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on October 2. Also on the tour (from left) are Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore; Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams; Deputy Director-General of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Cheryl Lewis; and Custos of Westmoreland, Reverend Canon Hartley Perrin. (Photo: Michael Sloley, JIS)

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is hailing the inauguration of the Paradise Solar Farm in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, as a historic moment in Jamaica’s energy landscape.

Addressing stakeholders at the solar farm on Wednesday (Oct. 2), Deputy Director-General of the OUR, Cheryl Lewis, said the agency is especially pleased with the significant role it played in bringing the farm to fruition, for the benefit of Jamaican consumers.

“It is no mean feat to successfully complete a project that will contribute approximately 74,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually to the system’s net generation, bringing closer the attainment of the renewable target by increasing the total renewable energy contribution in the energy mix to 13 percent of net generation,” she said.

This, Lewis added, will contribute to reducing the impact of oil price fluctuation, and enhance security.

She further noted that in terms of environmental impact, the project is expected to displace about 107,000 barrels of fuel oil annually and prevent over 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

“We note that the solar farm was commissioned on June 23, 2019, and by reports of the System Operator, it has already proven useful in assisting with reducing unplanned generation shortfall. In July 2019, the presence of daytime-generation supply was vital in maintaining the availability of electricity supply to consumers,” Lewis added.

She pointed out that the OUR’s involvement in the project commenced in 2015, when Cabinet requested “us to procure” a further 37 MW (net) generation from renewable sources, in order to complete the targeted procurement of 115 MW (net) generation from renewable sources.

Lewis said the OUR is also pleased that this was done at a record low all-in tariff of US8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“With over three years from the date of selection, this offer is yet to be bettered in the region,” she added.

Lewis further explained the OUR, in its operations, undertakes to maintain a regulatory environment conducive to private investments; be responsive to the challenges and disruptive transformation affecting the sector; continue to be fair, objective and transparent in evaluating and approving new investment projects; and ensure that rate payers benefit fully from the investments through cost-reflective rates and improved quality of service.       

Paradise Park, a US$65-million investment, is the largest solar project in Jamaica, which is projected to significantly decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, while helping the island to reach its sustainable development targets.

The solar farm is designed to supply 37 megawatts of power.