Fri | Mar 22, 2019

No defying OUR - Paulwell to grant 381MW licence to EWI, cites fear of court action

Published:Thursday | April 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell. - File

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell yesterday revealed he has no intention of going against an Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) recommendation to grant a licence to Energy World International (EWI).

Paulwell, who returned to the island from St Lucia yesterday afternoon, said "once the OUR recommends to me a licence, I sign".

He added: "They have taken me to court before, I won't risk that again."

Said Paulwell: "They have submitted to me, since I returned as minister (in January 2012), over 120 electricity licences, I have signed every single one of them. I am going to my desk now and I report in the morning."

The OUR last Wednesday recommended that EWI be granted a licence to supply 381 megawatts of generating capacity using natural gas as the fuel source.

But several voices have come out in opposition to the licence being issued to the Hong Kong-based company, with the Office of the Contractor General, members of civil society, the Energy Monitoring Committee (EMC), and the private sector urging Paulwell to proceed with caution.

However, the minister yesterday indicated he has a legal obligation, under the OUR Act, to grant the licence.

"I am a creature of the law and rules, and there are certain rules that govern my operation and one of which is that you have a body called the OUR, and there are some regulations, and once they recommend to the minister a licence, it would be a serious matter to go against them," Paulwell said.

LACK OF INFORMATION

In the meantime, the EMC said it remained concerned about the lack of adequate information provided by the EWI to support its application for a licence to construct the plant.

However, Peter Melhado, co-chair of the EMC, said the OUR was the body with the authority to make such recommendations and the committee has no choice but to accept it.

Melhado said the EMC would now turn its attention to ensuring that EWI adheres to all aspects of the licence.

"Our focus will definitely be on certainly commenting if we see any variant between ... what is in the licence and the PPA (power purchase agreement) ... and if there are any breaches," he said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com