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360MW PROJECT: OUR to answer questions on bond payment today

Published:Friday | October 4, 2013 | 8:17 AM

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is to face questions from the Energy Council today on the controversial bidding process for the 360 megawatt energy project.

This morning’s 9 o’clock meeting follows what appears to be the missed deadline by the project’s preferred bidder, Azurest Cambridge Power, to pay over the one per cent security bond to construct the US$690-million plant.

Azurest was named the preferred bidder on September 18 and was given 15 days to submit the bond totalling US$6.9 million.

The concerns over whether Azurest could meet the bond requirement were heightened after a document released by the OUR this week revealed that none of the four shortlisted bidders, including Azurest, were able to convince consultants they could source the money to finance the project.

If Azurest fails to post the security bond, the OUR will offer the opportunity to the next-ranked entity, the Hong Kong-based Energy World International.

Last night, public education specialist at the OUR, Elizabeth Bennett-Marsh told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre that the regulator would issue a report on the latest developments this morning.

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica has already called for Azurest to be disqualified from the tender process if it did not meet the deadline to submit the bid bond.

Earlier this week, Opposition Spokesperson on Energy and deputy chairman of the Energy Council, Gregory Mair, directed a warning to the regulators that they must be prepared to shed light on issues plaguing the process.

Energy Minister, Phillip Paulwell, is the chairman of the council which is tasked with facilitating consultation and the speedy implementation of Jamaica's energy strategy.

Mair said this will be the first time that the OUR will be asked to explain its decisions throughout the bidding process.

The process which has faced numerous hurdles in the last year, was almost aborted again last month, after the Office of the Contractor General said it chose not to recommend that it be terminated because of the national interest.

The OUR could find itself in further discomfort if it has to disqualify Azurest and select the second-ranked, Energy World International.

The Contractor General Dirk Harrison had recommended that Energy World International be excluded from the list of entities to be considered.

That recommendation has resulted in public exchanges involving the energy minister, the contractor general and the OUR.

The power plant is expected to supply 360 megawatts or half of Jamaica's energy needs to the national grid.

The OUR will face the Energy Council at Jamaica House in St Andrew.


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