Mandeville Weekly News

LARGEST PRIVATE SECTOR RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT

Posted by SR (riley) on Sep 22 2016 at 4:52 PM
Mandeville Weekly News >>

When Blue Mountain Renewables (BMR) began operating its 36-megawatt wind farm in Potsdam, St. Elizabeth, a few months ago, the facility became Jamaica’s largest private sector renewable energy project.Minister of Science, Energy and Technology,  Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, who gave the keynote address at the official opening, pointed out that the wind farm will help diversify the country’s energy matrix and ease the dependence on imported fossil fuels.  “The wind farm is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by about 66,000 tons carbon dioxide equivalent per year, roughly equivalent to taking 13,000 cars off the road,” he informed.

Dr. Wheatley said that while this was amazingly great news for the country, he felt particularly pleased that BMR, every step of the way, epitomized the true meaning of the phrase good corporate citizens, pointing to the relationship and assistance the company has given to the neighbouring schools, Munro College and Hampton High, and also the treatment of farmers in St. Elizabeth who were affected during the construction phase.  “You can tell the quality of an organization by how well it is received by the community in which it operates.  BMR has enjoyed a great relationship with both Munro and Hampton and has ensured that farming activities in Potsdam and Malvern have returned to normal,” he said.

Principal of Hampton, Mrs. Heather Murray, aid that she can literally see the wind of change with the advent of the BMR wind project and bemoans the fact that nearly a quarter of her school’s budget is spent on high electricity cost, money that could be spent on building a state-of-the-art science laboratory.  “BMR brings hope and we welcome them wholeheartedly.  We are also excited about the efforts to go green and we are doing our part here at Hampton.  Earlier this year, we swapped all fluorescent light bulbs for more environmentally friendly LED bulbs,” she says.

Mrs. Murray also informs that Hampton has installed about 12 solar panels to integrate renewable energy into their electric supply.  The panels, combined with small wind turbines on campus, now provide about one-fifth of the school’s energy needs, she notes.The BMR Jamaica Wind project will serve thousands of customers annually. Power will be sold to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company, under a 20-year power purchase agreement. This electricity is expected to be among the lowest cost sources of power available on the JPS system.

Jamaica currently relies on oil imports to meet 90 per cent of its energy needs. This leaves the country vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices that can make it difficult to budget and plan effectively.To ease the dependence, the country has set a target to generate 30 per cent of its energy from local renewable sources, such as hydro, wind and solar power by 2030.
 President of BMR, Mr. Bruce Levy, said that construction of the project was made easier by the cooperation of the Potsdam residents and the appreciation they showed for the work being done in their community.  “We made sure there was significant benefit to the local and wider community, with billions of dollars of direct spending and employment of hundreds of Jamaicans during construction,” he said.

“We say without any fear of contradiction that we are committed to community development. Though we leased eighty six acres of land from the National Land Agency, a significant portion of this land is being restored to its original condition.  This will facilitate continuation of farming, which is a significant source of income for residents in the bread basket parish of St. Elizabeth,” Mr. Levy adds and informed that the wind farm was made possible through a US$62.7 million financing package, including a US$42.7 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC);  a US$10 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and a US$10 million loan from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Programme.  BMR Energy provided an equity investment of US$26.9 million.

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