Re­new­able en­ergy project im­prov­ing lives of St Bess res­i­dents

Jamaica Gleaner - - 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 An­drew Wheatley, who gave the key­note ad­dress at the of­fi­cial open­ing on Au­gust 11, pointed out that the wind farm would help to 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 of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent per year, roughly equiv­a­lent to tak­ing 13,000 cars off the road,” he in­formed.

Wheatley also ap­plauded the re­la­tion­ship and as­sis­tance the com­pany has given to the neigh­bour­ing schools, Munro Col­lege and Hamp­ton High, as well as the treat­ment of farm­ers in St El­iz­a­beth who were af­fected dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase.

Prin­ci­pal of Hamp­ton High Heather Mur­ray said that she could lit­er­ally see the ‘wind of change’ with the ad­vent of the BMR wind project.

She 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,” Mur­ray stated. Dr An­drew Wheatley

She also in­formed that Hamp­ton had in­stalled about 12 so­lar pan­els to in­te­grate re­new­able en­ergy into their elec­tric sup­ply. The pan­els, com­bined with small wind tur­bines on the cam­pus, now pro­vide about one-fifth of the school’s en­ergy needs, she noted.

TO SERVE THOU­SANDS

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, which 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 Bruce Levy said 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. We say, without any fear of con­tra­dic­tion, that we are com­mit­ted to com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

Levy 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 IFCCanada Cli­mate Change Pro­gramme. BMR En­ergy pro­vided an eq­uity in­vest­ment of US$26.9 mil­lion.

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