Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
An American firm hoping to spend US$700 million (J$65 billion) to set up waste-to-energy plants in Jamaica could walk away from the project.
Green Waste Energy says while it has not yet given up on Jamaica, it is becoming frustrated.
President of Green Waste Energy, James D Burchetta, says the infrastructure in Jamaica does not encourage investment in renewable energy, especially from waste.
Green Waste Energy had proposed to spend the billions of dollars to construct four processing plants across the island to transform the waste from the island's dumps into electricity.
This would be in keeping with the efforts by the Government to have 115-megawatts of renewable energy added to the national grid by 2015.
The four plants would create approximately 1,700 full-time jobs and 1,000 jobs during construction pumping millions of dollars in the economy.
Last week, Burchetta expressed concern about the process to get the approval to construct the plants and the absence of a tipping fee for trucks taking waste to the major landfills.
"We applaud the Government's efforts to reduce electric rates and help the environment with renewable energy," Burchetta told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We would like to submit a proposal but we object to a requirement to post cash or a security of one per cent with the application. We do not believe that this is a reasonable commercial requirement.
"The OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) must revise this requirement. Only the winning applicants should be required to post this security," added Burchetta.
But the OUR has argued that its request for proposal (RFP) is in line with the position of the American firm.
"Each applicant shall furnish a proposal security in the amount of one per cent of the expected total capital cost of the proposed project after the applicant has been notified that he has been selected to develop a renewable energy project(s)," declared the OUR in the RFP which was issued months ago.
Interested entities have until June 3, 2013 to submit their proposals, but even if the OUR issue is settled Burchetta's has another major concern.
No tipping fee
This surrounds the absence of a tipping fee at the landfills.
"The Ministry of Local Government has been very helpful. The problem is that there is not a tip or gate fee structure in place in Jamaica.
"Our revenue is from the sale of electricity, but in most markets, companies are also paid a per-ton fee to accept the waste. Our process not only makes green electricity but it also solves the waste problem," said Burchetta, who added that his company's interest in Jamaica was peaked by reports of a major fire at the Riverton City Landfill.
While admitting that there is no tipping fee in place at the landfills, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority Jennifer Edwards said this is not something that is ruled out.
"That is something that we know we will have to consider. We are available for talks," said Edwards.
That is good news for Burchetta, who says his company has not yet given up on Jamaica.
"We want to be part of the solution. The problem is that the OUR is blending two problems into one. Waste is a totally separate problem than the cost of electricity. It ideally should be looked at separately.
"There are avoided costs by us solving the waste problem. These should to be recognised and quantified," said Burchetta.