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THE 24 megawatt (MW) expansion at Wigton Windfarm Limited will cost some $4.6 billion, according to a just released government documentation.

The upgrade will increase energy production over 60 per cent at Wigton a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.

"The facility should be completed in the first quarter of 2015/16," said the Jamaica Public Bodies 2014/5 published this month by the Ministry of Finance.

Wigton plans to expend $3.3 billion this year on the project, according to accounts within the same document subtitled Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending March 2015.

MIAMI BEACH, United States (AFP) -- Warm sunshine and sandy beaches make south Florida and its crown city, Miami, a haven for tourists, but the area is increasingly endangered by sea level rise, experts said Tuesday.

During a special Senate hearing held in Miami Beach, Senator Bill Nelson described south Florida as "Ground Zero" for climate change and its threats to coastal communities.

The perils for Miami are particularly concerning because it has the most assets at stake in the world in terms of assets like homes, beachfront hotels and businesses, according to the World Resources Institute, a global research firm.

David Pijuan Mota, business development manager for solar engineering company Sofos Jamaica Limited, is encouraging local banks to get into the financing of solar installations, stating that the financial institutions could be earning income currently flowing to local utilities.

Jamaica spends more than US$2 billion on fossil fuel energy annually, an amount Mota said could be entering the coffers of local banks instead.

Speaking at a Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ)-sponsored forum on solar energy on Tuesday, Mota said that solar remains a very new market in Jamaica with high demand.

JAMAICA'S CLIMATE Change Framework Policy and Action Plan could receive parliamentary approval early this new financial year, following a series of public consultations to inform amendments to the document.

"We have gone through the consultation stage. It is now at the Green Paper stage. The feedback received is now being included in the draft policy document with a view to having approval from Cabinet and Parliament early in this financial year. We are moving towards it becoming a White Paper," said technical director in the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change, Albert Daley.

The series of consultations - held in February in St Mary, St Elizabeth, St James, and Kingston - attracted the participation of hundreds.

The model of Jamaica’s first solar-powered hydroponic farm is to be replicated in urban areas across Jamaica, to create more job opportunities and enrich communities.

Work has already begun using the model of the award winning “The Family Garden” project which has introduced sustainable farming practices, provided more than 40 jobs and a reliable electricity supply in Jack’s Hills, St. Andrew.

Venture Capital is money provided by investors to start-up firms and small businesses with perceived long-term growth potential. It is an important source of funding for start-ups that do not have access to capital markets--or even traditional financing from banks. It typically entails high risk for the investor, but it has the potential for above-average returns.

"The Caribbean region does have some progress to make in this direction as we have been overly reliant on traditional debt and equity financing arrangements to finance commercial activity. "Venture capital is an invaluable, welcomed source of innovation financing if we are to operationalise unique Caribbean businesses and ideas for the 21st century," he said.

REFUSE AT the Riverton City dump in Kingston and Retire-ment in St James could soon be providing power to the national grid.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell said on Wednesday that the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) has informed him that it will be putting out a waste-to-energy request for proposal (RFP) in short order.

"I met with them (OUR) this morning to enquire as to the state of the RFP. You are aware that they went out for 115 megawatts (MW); they got 78MW and they have assured me that week after next, as soon as they complete the power purchase agreement for the 78, they will then move to the RFP for waste to energy, and they are looking at primarily two locations - Riverton City - and Retirement, and we are hoping that the obstacles at the time will not hinder us going forward," Paulwell said.

A workshop to encourage Jamaicans to use energy wisely and to promote conservation and efficiency initiatives, will take place today at the Runaway Bay Heart Hotel and Training Institute, St Ann, beginning at 10:30 am.

The event is part of a public education campaign for the Energy Efficiency Campaign Programme (EECP), launched in 2012.

Jointly funded by the Government and the Inter-American Development Bank at a cost of US$20 million, the four-year EECP is designed to make the public sector a model on how energy is to be used in Jamaica. It involves retrofitting public sector buildings and facilities for energy conservation and efficiency.

Applicants can choose from five areas to establish the commercial potential of a concept that significantly contributes to climate mitigation or adaptation Saint Lucians are being encouraged to participate in the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre’s, CIC, Proof of Concept (PoC) with possible awards of up to US $50,000 in grant funding. The Caribbean CIC is one of eight CICs being established globally. The objective of CCIC is to establish regional institutional capacity that will support Caribbean entrepreneurs and new ventures involved in developing locally appropriate solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The report noted that the two are urgent challenges in the 21st century that were rapidly accelerating, fuelled by changes in the way people live and work, predicting they will have intergenerational effects on health, wellbeing and security.

The report noted that the human and financial costs of diabetes and climate change were staggering and that as many as half a billion people will suffer from the disease by 2030.