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Gone with the wind: Blue Mountain Renewables looks to blow down energy costs

Published:Tuesday | September 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Bruce Levy

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

WITH 35 years of experience in the power business, the principal of the Blue Mountain Renewables (BMR), Bruce Levy, says his company is raring to go as it awaits a decision from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to roll out US$87 million worth of investment in a wind power-generating facility in Malvern, St Elizabeth.

BMR is one of 20 international and local companies which submitted a total of 28 bids to the OUR in June to supply up to 115 megawatts of renewable energy to the national grid on a build, own and operate basis.

Of the contending companies, only BMR and Wigton Windfarm Limited have proposed wind power-generating facilities.

Next Monday, the OUR is expected to announce the preferred bidder, or bidders, to supply the specified megawatts of renewable energy.

This 115MW of renewable energy will provide at least 400,000MW-hours of electricity annually, which is expected to cut the country's oil import bill by US$55 million.

Just last week, the OUR announced Azurest as the preferred bidder to supply 360MW of electricity to the national grid.

Levy and one of his business partners, Paul Hanrahan, who is the chief executive officer of American Capital Energy and Infrastructure, a company out of North America, are ready to hit the ground running if selected to supply 34MW to 42MW of wind-powered electricity.

"From our standpoint, the day we get the word we've won the bid and sign the contract, we'll take our capital and set it aside, and its earmarked for this project," Hanrahan said.

The company is set to invest US$77 million to supply 34MW of wind energy or US$86 million to supply 42MW of electricity to the national grid.

The BMR principal said his company is proposing to offer renewable energy at low rates, ranging from US$12.6 to US$12.9 per kilowatt-hour.

"What's really interesting is that the Government sees huge value in this because it's reducing the cost of energy," Levy added.

"You drop the price of electricity, and all of a sudden, you have cheaper products, every business in Jamaica [will] become more competitive, and that is why all the Government is looking to putting in this is the real big winner," he argued.


The 360MW power plant and the 115MW facilities are critical components of the Government's plans to slash energy cost from the current rate of US$0.42 per kilowatt-hour.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell told The Gleaner last week that "until we get to between US$0.15 and US$0.18, Jamaica has no future, and this 360MW plant is critical to that".

In the meantime, BMR says, if selected, it will provide 120 jobs for Jamaicans during the construction phase of the plant, and during its operations, it will recruit about 10 persons to carry out administrative duties.

Levy said the company has already approached the National Land Agency to lease 75 acres of land located near the Jamaica Public Service Company wind farm in St Elizabeth.

The BMR team is pledging to complete the build-out of its wind power-generating plant within a year if it is selected the preferred bidder by the regulatory body.

"The project is earmarked for completion in June 2015," Levy said.

Several other companies have submitted bids to supply up to 115MW of renewable energy. They include Deneb Limited, BNRG Renewables Jamaica Limited, WRB Enterprises, Wirsol AG and Roc Energy Ltd, Armorview Holdings Ltd, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Roraima Consulting Incorporated, and Optimal Energy.