Sat | Sep 23, 2017

OUR returns to market for renewable energy investors

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2015 | 8:00 AM

Two years after failing to find qualified bidders to deliver 37 megawatts of firm renewable energy capacity, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has returned to the market seek suitable investors.

However, this time around it is willing to take bids for electricity that is generated intermittently - such as when the sun is out or as the wind blows - rather than guaranteed power being made available to the grid.

Waste-to-energy projects, including the conversion of the Riverton dump into a fuel source for such a plant, was seen a means of providing firm capacity in the past.

But only one of the 28 bids that went after the requests for proposal to build 115MW of renewable capacity (of which 78MW would be energy only) was related to biomass.

Two of the proposals received then were wind projects and 25 were for solar energy.

In the end, Wigton and BMR Jamaica were chosen to build a combined 60MW of wind capacity and Content Solar Jamaica Limited was picked to develop a 20MW photovoltaic solar farm in Clarendon.

"None of the bids submitted in respect of firm capacity, made it through all the stages of the evaluation process to be accorded preferred bidder

status," said a release from the regulator in 2013.

Bidders for the latest RFP will be evaluated on the same grounds as the last time - 20 per cent weighting will be given to experience, while ability to finance the project carriers a 35 per cent weighting across stage 1 evaluation scores.

Bidders have up until January 27, 2016 to submit their proposals, along with a US$8,000 ($940,000) non-refundable application fee. A pre-bid meeting is scheduled for August 28.

The regulator is aiming to evaluate bids; negotiate contracts between the power providers and Jamaican Public Service Company; and see the chosen bidder start construction of the new plant by July 2017 for a December 2018 commissioning date.

The OUR will give an additional year for firm capacity plants to be commissioned.

JPS currently supplies consumers from an installed system capacity of approximately 945.1MW, of which 300.6MW is provided by independent power providers.

In 2014, annual generation from renewable energy sources accounted for approximately six per cent of total system generation, with contributions of 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent from hydro and wind, respectively.

camilo.thame@gleanerjm.com