BMR Wind Farm to start production soon

Sunday, January 24, 2016

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Santa Cruz , St Elizabeth — With nine giant turbine generators up and two to go, BMR Jamaica is targeting the first quarter of this year to start selling wind energy to national electricity provider, Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCO).


‘Quarter one … will be opening date," Ava Tomlin, Regional Director of BMR Jamaica Wind, told the Jamaica Observer
Central during a visit to the facility at wind-swept Potsdam, Malvern, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains late last week.


Under the 20-year purchase power agreement, BMR’s 36.3 megawatt wind farm will sell to the JPS grid at 12.9 US cents per kilowatt hour.


Tomlin claims that even with global oil prices falling through the floor in recent months, the deal will remain sweet for JPS.


"The thing to watch with the oil price is that whether we (BMR) are above it or below it, we will always be at 12.9 cents because we are not subject to shocks," she said.


BMR Jamaica, a subsidiary of the US-based BMR Energy, is spending US$89.9 million on the project in Malvern. The bulk of the financing came from the US quasi-government investment agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which pushes American investments globally.


The project came in response to efforts by the Jamaican government to reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and to move towards "clean" renewable energy sources.


For Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, a big plus was employment in Malvern and the wider St Elizabeth. Tomlin told Observer Central that over the 11-month life of the project up to now, 737 Jamaicans have been employed — not just at the plant site but also for road alterations to facilitate movement of huge turbine parts and heavy equipment and the installation of lines.


Eighteen kilometres of transmission lines were installed from the plant at Potsdam to the JPS sub-station at Spur Tree.


Currently, 78 per cent of 219 people still employed are Jamaican. The remaining work not only involves physical installation of the huge turbine towers but also highly technical operations to get them going, technicians say.


When the build-out is completed in two months, employment will dry up with only skeletal administrative, technical and maintenance crews required.


However, farmers who were displaced when BMR leased the 86 acres of land from the National Land Agency should be able to return to the property, which is across the road from an existing JPS wind farm and with a startling bird’s eye view of the St Elizabeth south coast. They will co-exist with the wind generation operations. BMR has already started soil resurfacing in some areas stripped during installation of the giant wind turbines.


"We will allow farmers to come back subject to the approval of the National Land Agency," said Tomlin.


"Part of our permit is to do an extensive re-vegetation programme, and so we intend to do that. Farmers are welcome to come back but that is a decision to be made by the National Land Agency as to who occupies where. Although we have leased the land, the land still belongs to the government of Jamaica," she said.


"We welcome them, we want them to come back because we want this plant to be in harmony with the community … so as little dislocation as possible with the community and the environment is good for BMR," said Tomlin.

   


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