EWI's ghost won't haunt renewable projects - Paulwell
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
ENERGY MINISTER Phillip Paulwell has declared it is highly unlikely that the funding ghost of Energy World International (EWI) will haunt the implementation of three renewable energy projects that are set to add 78 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity.
The projects, which represent US$150 million in investments, are set to be implemented by the middle of next year.
"I know that they are actively pursuing financiers because people from the IFC (International Finance Corporation) have come to see me. People from OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) have [also] come to see me in relation to the project," Paulwell told The Gleaner yesterday. "We are very confident that these projects are going to happen based on the due diligence that the financiers are doing on Jamaica."
OPIC is a United States-based entity that mobilises private capital and helps United States businesses gain footholds in emerging markets. It provides investors with financing, guarantees, political-risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.
Similarly, IFC, a member of the World Bank, is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset-management services to encourage private-sector development in developing countries.
The Government has embarked on a process to replace 360MW of generating baseload capacity; however, that process has hit a snag following the failure of EWI to pay the requisite fees pursuant to its licences due to its inability to secure funding for its project.
EWI has since been stripped of the licence, and the Government and the Jamaica Public Service have agreed to an amendment of the power company's licence to allow for a Cabinet-appointed enterprise team to take over the role of procurement from the Office of Utilities Regulation.
Meanwhile, speaking in Parliament last week, Paulwell said he has signed 166 licences with a combined capacity of more than 2.6MW for net billing.
He said the generation of more than 80MW of energy from renewable sources would avoid the importation of 1.08 million barrels of oil annually and save approximately US$108.5 million per year.
Blue Mountain Renewables is to supply 34MW of capacity from wind power at Munro, St Elizabeth; Wigton Windfarm is to supply 24MW of capacity from wind power at Rose Hill, Manchester; and WRB is to supply 20MW of capacity from Solar PV from facilities in Content Village, Clarendon.
Paulwell said it is to cost between US$0.14 and US$0.18 for the generation of renewable power to the grid, which will be above the US$0.1288 EWI had quoted to supply gas-fired power to the grid.
"Remember the benefits of renewables is not so much the price, but the savings in foreign exchange [and] the fact that we are reducing the carbon emission," Paulwell said, while adding that the Government expects to get baseload energy that will come below US$0.14 per kilowatt hour (kWh).
Currently, it costs approximately US$0.30 cents per kWh on average to generate power, and the total cost for generation and distribution of electricity is approximately US$0.40 per kWh.