Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
A consortium of five firms will combine under the umbrella of Azurest Cambridge Power to construct the US$690-million 360-megawatt barge-mounted power plant, which will supply half of Jamaica's energy needs to the national grid.
At a press conference yesterday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, representatives from Azurest Partners, Cambridge Project Development, Inergix Corp, Waller Marine, and Wartsila outlined their plans for the project.
On Wednesday, the Office of Utilities Regulation announced that the umbrella group was the preferred bidder to build the liquefied natural gas plant.
Among the promises made by Azurest Cambridge was a 30 per cent or more overall system savings to Jamaicans on electricity cost, with the expectation to maintain its low prices through the next 10 years.
"We are confident of our ability to deliver power at that price," said Kenneth Allen, founder and managing director of Azurest Partners.
Bill Oldman, president and chief executive officer of Inergix, said they would be able to achieve this by securing supply from the United States, which has the cheapest market price for gas.
Leonard Enriquez, president of Cambridge Project Development, said the company chose a barge-mounted plant because it was faster to build and faster to deliver, and designed to last for at least 30 years. It is also capable of withstanding storms and hurricanes and could be easily upgraded.
He stated that it would be a dual-fuel facility and could be operated on either gas or oil. However, they plan to primarily run on the clean, natural gas methane, using oil only as a backup. The plant is expected to be completed by September 2015.
"Our job is to run the most efficient power-generation capability we can, to deliver the best gas at the best price, and allow those savings to kind of hit the grid and then, hopefully, ultimately, everyone benefits," said Allen.
NEGOTIATING AGREEMENT WITH JPS
Azurest Cambridge Power is now in the process of negotiating a power-purchase agreement with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS).
As a business advisory and capital-raising firm based in New York in the United States, Azurest Partners has brought together global companies to invest in the project.
Allen assured that there were adequate investors to fund the project, revealing that a number of international investors had been waiting for quite some time on Jamaica to finally make a concrete step towards a suitable energy solution. He said following the announcement that his company won the bid, they were contacted by several investors who wanted to be a part of the project.
He disclosed that, so far, they have gotten commitments from International Finance Corporation, Inter-American Development Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and other global lenders, as well as Jamaica-based partners, and that by October 3, they would make the required one per cent deposit to secure the contract.
The 360-megawatt power plant is a critical component of the Government's plans to slash energy cost from the current rate of US$0.42 cents per kilowatt-hour.
"Until we get to between US$0.15 and US$0.18 cents, Jamaica has no future, and this 360-megawatt plant is critical to that," Paulwell told The Gleaner on Tuesday.
Azurest Cambridge is believed to have proposed to provide energy to the national grid at US$0.1390 cents per kilowatt-hour,