J'cans slowly warming up to EVsFriday, June 04, 2021
BY BALFORD HENRY
IN the auto industry, electrification has become a big deal. Each day automakers are announcing new electric vehicles (EVs) or electric versions of existing models. While internal combustion engines (ICE) are expected to retain a major presence in the market, it is possible that there will be a reduction by the end of the decade.
Local dealers are seemingly wising up to the revelation of these attractive, new electric-powered vehicles. But, at the same time, there is need for creating an environment in which electric stations are readily available and government policy to protect energy users from the possibility of increased maintenance costs.
This development has led to the Government utility oversight body, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), heightened interest in the subject and its increasing its visibility in the market.
The OUR has planned a webinar, titled 'Creating a Framework for EVs in JA: What's Needed?', for next Wednesday, June 9. It will feature electricity generation consultant Valentine Fagan and regulatory engineer Andre Lindsay and will be moderated by OUR's public education specialist, Elizabeth Bennett Marsh. The webinar starts at 1:00 pm.
But, despite the intense interest in some circles, the OUR has been complaining of the lack of information available to the market, which create a low level of interest in the electric vehicles (EVs).
Fagan, in an interview on Nationwide Radio, said that one of the findings of an OUR study showed that there was a severe lack of communications with the market.
“We need to incentivise the suppliers of the motor vehicles to training staff to operate and service the vehicles and to train them to how to maintain the vehicles on the road,” he said.
The agency believes that EVs could become the choice for local consumers in the replacement of their current ICE vehicles in the future, providing that adequate EV penetration incentives and regulatory actions are implemented in a timely manner.
The OUR, in its Jamaica Public Service (JPS) 2019-2024 Tariff Determination, decided that the tariff structure, including Time of Use (TOU) option for residential customers is applicable for the charging of EVs.
This tariff structure would enable consumers access to private charging under the existing electricity supply structure. In addition, the OUR determined that for public chargers, the applicable tariff rate is the residential rate, five per cent. It is expected that this will provide consumers with charging options in the early stages of EVs.
An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study on electro-mobility in Jamaica recommended that further policy initiatives are required to accelerate the take up of EVs in Jamaica. These included issuing a general EV charging framework, issuing charging infrastructure guidelines and issuing technical and safety standards requirements for charging infrastructure equipment.
The average age of the Jamaican motor vehicle fleet is approximately 10 years. So, EVs could become a choice for consumers, in the replacement of their current ICE vehicles over the coming years, providing that adequate EV penetration incentives and regulatory actions are implemented in a timely manner. Road and Electricity Infrastructure Status Jamaica has a well-defined and extensive road network, the OUR has suggested.
Jamaica has a well-defined and extensive road network. The electricity grid is accessible by over 95 per cent of the population. The electricity supply infrastructure generally follows along the main and arterial roads. Given the extent of Jamaica's road network and the availability of the electricity supply infrastructure, the siting of EV charging stations is not perceived as a barrier or limitation to EVs deployment in Jamaica.
However, to directly support EV penetration, new investments in EV charging and associated local distribution grid infrastructure will be required. The basic infrastructure to facilitate EV adoption is a reasonably priced and reliable electricity power grid. Initially, this will form the primary infrastructure upon which the electrification of the transportation sector would rely.
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