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WRB to supply solar power at US 18.8 cents to JPS grid

Published:Wednesday | September 24, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Robert Blenker, vice-president of WRB Enterprises Inc and director of Content Solar Limited, said the company will supply solar power to the national grid at approximately US 19 cents per kwh.

The company expects to break ground shortly in Clarendon and begin supplying Jamaica Public Service Company late next year.

"We estimate the completion of commercial documents and contracts in the next 60 days, with ground breaking scheduled for the latter part of the third quarter," Blenker said on Tuesday.

WRB is developing a 20MW solar farm through new subsidiary Content Solar at a cost of about US$60 million.

The company and two other energy providers - Wigton Windfarm Limited and BMR Jamaica Wind Limited - signed individual power-supply agreements with JPS last week to provide a combined 78 MW of renewable capacity to the electricity grid.

The renewable project was tendered by the Office of Utilities regulation, which initially sought bids for the supply of 115MW of power. However, the agency ended up striking deals for 78MW of renewables.

The agreements, signed last week, guarantees that JPS will buy the supplies under 20-year contracts with each investor.

WRB-Content's photovoltaic generation project will install 98,000 panels at Content Village in Clarendon.

Blenker said under the Content Solar contract as awarded by OUR, the company will be paid is $0.1880/kWh for the power it sells to JPS.

"This is a fixed-price contract - no escalation - which means that for every year Content Solar operates, the energy it produces becomes relatively less expensive," Blenker said.

JPS Chief Financial Officer Dan Theoc confirmed that the final determination for the contract price was made by the OUR, based on the price of electricity included in the bids.

"JPS was not involved in the selection process," Theoc said on Tuesday.

Jamaicans now pay an average of US 32 cents per Kwh for energy from JPS, according to the estimate of ESET, the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team.

reduce fuel bill

The renewables project and other energy initiatives are meant to bring down the cost of electricity to end-users.

All power generated by WRB's Content Solar project will be delivered to the JPS grid.

Content Solar Limited was incorporated in February 2014, with Americans Wayne Burks, Robert Blanchard and Robert Blenker, and Barbadian Murray Skeete as directors.

According to WRB, the Content Solar project should save Jamaica the importation of more than 8.5 million gallons of fuel per year - the estimated equivalent of US$170 million of foreign exchange over the term of its 20-year power purchase agreement.

JPS has said all three renewable projects are expected to come on stream by the end of 2015.

BMR Wind Jamaica will be building a 34MW wind farm south of Malvern in St Elizabeth at a cost of US$90 million, while Wigton, a state-owned company, is investing US$46 million in a 24MW facility, which will be its third wind farm.

The WRB-Content solar farm is said to the largest planned so far in the Caribbean.

WRB Enterprises is based in Tampa, Florida, but has owned and operated electrical generation and utility assets in the Caribbean since the early 1980s, including power systems in Grand Turk and Dominica.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com