What are your main priorities for JPS in the coming years?
My number-one priority for the organization will be safety; I have been in the utility industry for 26 years, and safety trumps everything else. Once people get hurt, then no one cares about rates or reliability. That is a priority as well as a value for us. The second priority is making JPS the most effective and efficient organization it can be; therein comes the focus on reliability and service to our customers as well as price. Ultimately, customers want the lights to be on and to pay the lowest possible rate. The number-three priority is the social and economic development of Jamaica, and JPS plays a pivotal role in enabling the economy as one of the primary energy providers to the country. We can do a great deal to enable industry regardless of whether that is manufacturing, mining, or one of the many other industries in the country. We enable it not only with low energy prices but also facilitating new connections. For the most part, when companies look to enter a country or jurisdiction, they look at rates as well as the amount of red tape or regulatory burden they face. In many cases, they will forego the lowest rate if there are too many obstacles and hurdles for them to jump through, which is where JPS can play an important part in enabling new customers to come with the least amount of red tape and the most straightforward transaction in terms of setting up in the country. One of the things I will be doing is working with the regulator here. Regulations make good utilities great, and the regulator can help us do a better job. I want to work in partnership with the regulators and government as we have common goals. In the end, we are both working toward the same thing, which is to serve the people of Jamaica in the best way possible.
What are your plans to help bring down prices and make energy more available?
While JPS has enabled renewables, we have not really participated in its implementation as much as we could have. This we will start doing much more in a very real way, up to 10 times the amount of renewables that we have today. Jamaica is blessed with sun, wind, and water. There is also potential with biomass and waste energy, so we will look into all these different options and evaluate them in light of the latest technology. In five years, solar might not be the most economic, but will be easiest to implement since Jamaica has already installed several solar and wind farms. We are well on our way to developing more hydro, and there is still a great deal of untapped hydro potential we can utilize on the island. We can evaluate some of the waste energy options that would be useful for Jamaica, depending on how they rank in terms of their cost. In 10 years, half of Jamaica's energy may very well come from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, and waste. This is our goal and objective, which is higher than the Vision 2030 target. Looking at the implementation of renewables, we cannot forget the cost of electricity. There will be environmental benefits as well as cost implications that we simply cannot afford. For instance, achieving some of the goals of the country—even 30%—would require something in the order of at least USD1 billion in investment. If we could achieve renewables that come in at or below the marginal cost of existing generation, this would imply no rate increases to customers to implement renewables. Implementing renewables at any cost is not an option. The generation has to be there to back up renewables so that consumer rates do not increase.