NONE of the four bidders for the 360-megawatt energy plant met the minimum score required to implement the project, a consulting firm told the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).
But the consultants, Mott MacDonald, having determined that Azurest Cambridge's natural gas-fired proposal was "the most economically advantageous", recommended that the OUR further study Azurest Cambridge's financial strength, even as it gave the energy company a high score in its technical evaluation.
The information is contained in the executive summary of an evaluation of final proposals released by the OUR yesterday.
According to the report, Mott MacDonald -- an England-registered management, engineering and development consultancy -- found that none of the project's four bidders -- Azurest-Cambridge, Energise Jamaica Ltd, Energy World International Ltd, and Optimal Energy -- "achieved the minimum 75 per cent of 'ability to finance the project' in order to qualify for selection".
The consultants said that, based on the OUR's advice, it proceeded to the economic and technical evaluation of all the bidders.
"In the event of selecting the preferred bidder, Mott MacDonald would expect further investigation/due diligence of the bidder before contractual negotiations are undertaken," the consultants said.
"It should be noted that such due diligence will help to mitigate the exposure to possible high levels of risk associated with proceeding with any of the bidders based on the results of the financial evaluation," the company added.
Mott MacDonald said further that Azurest "has achieved a high score in the technical evaluation, but has failed to meet the required minimum 75 per cent score in the evaluation of 'ability to implement'. Further study of the financial strength of Azurest is, therefore, recommended", the consultants said.
The selection of a preferred bidder for the project has been the subject of controversy, and the OUR's release of the executive summary was an apparent move to counter allegations that the selection was made due to political influence.
Azurest-Cambridge was given 15 days, from September 18, to furnish the OUR with its bid security, representing one per cent of the total investment cost of the proposed project. If it fails to post this bond, the OUR will proceed to offer the opportunity to provide the facility to the next ranked entity -- Energy World International Ltd, the Hong Kong-based firm which Contractor General Dirk Harrison had ruled should be excluded from the list of entities to be considered to take on the project because of its late entry.
Azurest-Cambridge is also required to provide the OUR with unequivocal evidence of its ability to execute the project, as part of the lead-up to signing a power purchase agreement.