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St Bess wind farm targeting lower energy cost

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
A section of the Malvern Wind-Farm, in St. Elizabeth, where two of the older Jamaica Public Service wind-turbines are situated. Blue Mountain Renewables Wind Limited is currently doing expansion of its site in the community, to install 11 new wind-turbines.
A view of the main square in Malvern, St Elizabeth.


Ava Tomlin, the regional director of Blue Mountain Renewables Wind Limited (BMR), is confident that the expansion work being done at the company's Malvern, St Elizabeth, site to include the installation of 11 wind-turbine generators, will result in reduced energy costs on electricity bills.

"We will be the lowest-costing energy going into the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) grid once we have completed our expansion work, because we are going in at 12.9 US cents per kilowatt hour, which is lower than JPS's cost," Tomlin told The Gleaner. "So far, we have installed seven out of the 11 wind-turbine generators, but up to October 2015, we had not started erecting the turbines because we were still doing transportation of the main components."

"We have now completed the transportation (of the turbine components) and certainly we wish to complete the work in this quarter," added Tomlin. "I cannot see anything but a reduction in energy cost through our work, given the amount of renewable energy that is going into the grid, and also, the price of energy has dropped, given that the price of oil has dropped."

Tomlin made the revelation during a recent visit to the Malvern site by The Gleaner. The visit was to gauge the impact of the BMR windpower facility on the quiet rural community and surrounding areas. At that time, some residents expressed doubt that the wind-farm's presence would impact their monthly electricity bills.

"I hear that it (BMR plant) will cut down on the light bill, but it is still the same money I am paying. I was not here for two weeks, and it was the same money I paid," shopkeeper Winifred Minns told The Gleaner. "I do not know if it is going to help when it (expansion) is finished; I will wait until it is finished, and then we will see."



Another resident, Tamalee Ebanks, was more balanced in her opinion on the BMR facility's impact on the community, although she too doubted its capacity to reduce electricity bills.

"BMR is beneficial because we will get more jobs ... but I do not see any reductions in our previous bills, so I do not see any chance of reductions from what they are doing now," Ebanks said.

However, despite the misgivings expressed, Tomlin said that BMR, in conjunction with other renewable-energy companies, would supply a significant portion of local energy demand.

"We can say that we are putting in the lowest-cost energy into the grid, and when we are finished, we will account for about four per cent of JPS sales," said Tomlin. "Between ourselves, Wigton WindFarm Limited (in Manchester) and Solar Content (in Clarendon), we are at about 12 per cent of the demand that will be renewable energy, so that should have an impact on the price of electricity."

BMR was among several companies which submitted bids to the Office of Utilities Regulation in June 2013, to supply up to 115 megawatts of power to the national grid. The company broke ground last February for the construction of the wind farm, for which it has secured a 20-year deal as an independent power provider with the JPS. Site preparation is currently being done across from the JPS' older four-turbine Munro wind farm.