Energy Resilience in Jamaica
JERA Hosts Panel at 2022 Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum

CREF Panel 2022

28 April, 2022 – Miami, Florida

At the 2022 14th staging of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF), JERA Alliance Chair Ms. Anaitee Mills hosted the vibrant Jamaica Country Case panel discussion, which focused on JERA and the United States Agency for Development (USAID) activities to establish partnerships and unlock private sector investment in solar energy, particularly for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Other panelists included the Jamaica Manufacturer’s and Exporter’s Association (JMEA) Board Director, Mrs. Sandra McLeish; CIBC Bank’s Associate Director for Investment Banking, Mr. Valmore Stewart; long-time JERA partner WRB Energy’s CEO, Mr. Robert Blenker; and USAID Project Management and Energy Specialist, Ms. Jannelle James.

Mrs. McLeish made a strong call to financial institutions in the region to consider “innovative strategies to incorporate the micro, small and medium enterprise that make up the majority of the private sector and are 70% of the membership of the JMEA. It is evident that the MSME’s market has enormous potential to contribute to economic growth in Jamaica and the region”. During the panel, Mrs. McLeish and Mr. Stewart emphasized the need for entrepreneurs to understand their electricity consumption and evaluate the economics of implementing renewable energy solutions. They also highlighted that commercial bank must become more knowledgeable about solar technologies and understand how associated risks and benefits compare with the client’s economic profile.

Mr. Blenker welcomed JMEA’s perspectives and underscored the importance of providing economical options to financing solar for homeowners and businesses. “Small businesses and manufacturers are acutely aware of the economics of energy as a business input”, he expressed.  As an investment partner to JERA, WRB Energy offers lease agreements to finance the purchase of solar systems.  “We are working to make available the benefits of energy management and ownership to businesses, while maintaining the ability to interconnect with the utility.  This is a good opportunity for many businesses to control their energy costs….”, he added. Such views from an energy developer confirmed the approach undertaken by JERA with the support of USAID.

Furthermore, Ms. James reminded all panelists and the more than 200 participants in the audience of the role of development finance and the U.S. government initiatives which seek to create more partnerships that can expand regions and bring decision-makers to the table, stating “the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance and its partners aim to support diverse voices, perspectives, and collaboration on impactful solutions to propel Jamaica’s economic growth”.  With this goal in mind, JERA will continue its outreach to the financial sector and regulatory stakeholders, to bring all together in supporting Jamaican businesses interested in going solar.