Wed | Aug 16, 2017

OUR selects Eight Rivers for renewable project

Published:Wednesday | May 11, 2016 | 5:00 AMSteven Jackson

Angella Rainford, partner in Eight Rivers Energy Company, expects to start operating the largest solar energy plant in Jamaica within a year, having emerged as the top candidate under the 37MW renewable energy project spearheaded by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).

OUR said on Tuesday that Eight Rivers' proposed 33.1 MW solar project would supply energy to the national grid at about US 8.54 cents per kWh. Eight Rivers plans to invest around US$48.7 million in the plant.

Rainford's company, Rekamniar Frontier Ventures, joined forces with French group Neoen to form the Eight Rivers Energy Company to mount the bid. Eight Rivers emerged as the preferred bid from 19 project proposals received by the OUR to supply up to 37MW of energy.

"I hope to have this project operational within a year," said Rainford, whose company is based in the United Kingdom.

"These projects are much faster to set up and much cheaper than before. In the past, wind was cheaper than solar, but over the last nine to 12 months, that line was crossed," she said.

It is not the first time that Rainford, a graduate of Harvard Business School, has made an attempt to invest in one of Jamaica's key industries. She reportedly exited a previous effort after bureaucratic red tape frustrated her clients.

This time around, there were no complaints. Eight Rivers already paid over and above the one per cent deposit on its bid submission in January.

"We already met the financial obligations, so we will shortly be meeting with our backing joint partner," Rainford said, while noting that her French partner remains financially strong.

Neoen, which is ultimately controlled by investor Jacques Veyrat, will also secure financing from the French government.

MEETING WITH OUR

Rainford's next step will entail meeting with the OUR in two weeks, when she expects to be back in Jamaica, and later with the Westmoreland Parish Council to determine parameters and timelines for the project.

"We are very excited and think the project very beneficial to the country. The project will offer very competitive pricing at one of the lowest in the island," she said in a phone interview from the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

The OUR said Eight Rivers is still required to satisfy several project agreements, and that if the company failed in this regard, it would move to the next bidder in line. Previous reports identified some of the other bidders as Green Waste Energy Inc, Wigton WindFarm Limited, WRB Enterprise Inc, Great Valley, Tamarind Energy proposed a 36.3MW at US$76.96 million, BMR Jamaica, Jamaica Energy Partners, and Bio Energy Resources Limited.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com