THE EDITOR, Sir:
It is indeed unfortunate that so much controversy, secrecy, and unprofessionalism appear to affect such an important project as the award of a suitable company to set up the the proposed 360-megawatt, gas-fired power plant.
While the process continues to decide on the final bid winner, I would wish to focus more now on the actual design of the proposed power plant.
Currently, apart from Azurest and its 360-megawatt barge-mounted power plant, the country has not been told the type of power plant being put forward by the other three bidders for the project. Are we, therefore, to assume a barge-mounted power plant is the preferred design by all bidders. I think not.
The supply of a barge-mounted power plant from abroad will usually lend itself to considerable savings in construction costs when compared to constructing a power plant on land.
However, a power plant designed to operate on land has its own set of advantages peculiar to Jamaica, in that a significant amount of local input in labour, materials, equipment and engineering expertise would be required in the fabrication and construction stage, a very important factor which has somehow received only minimal media prominence.
Whichever design is chosen for either on water or land, greater efficiency in operation would be achieved by designing a 180-megawatt x2 twin-type power plant to deliver the 360MW power.
With twin-power plants, some of the added advantages are as follows:
1. In the event of a power breakdown, it is unlikely for both units to fail at the same time.
2. Where a shutdown of one unit is required to undertake routine maintenance, the other unit is available to supply standby power.
I will observe with interest as this project unfolds.