THE new 194 megawatt (MW) natural gas power plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine is now operational, Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) announced Monday night.
According to JPS, the plant — which is operated by South Jamaica Power Company (SJPC), a JPS affiliate — was declared operational shortly after midnight on Tuesday, December 17 and since then has been operating continually, providing clean, efficient power to the national grid.
The light and power company explained that after SJPC broke ground for the new plant in March 2017, the facility was renamed The South Jamaica Power Centre upon completion.
“South Jamaica Power Centre is now the most efficient, fuel-burning power producer in the country,” JPS said. “The plant will generate electricity using natural gas in a more efficient manner than any other plant in the country. The new plant will play a critical role in improving power supply reliability. This plant will provide cleaner energy than the older plants that it will replace.”
Built at a cost of US$330 million, the project employed more than 470 Jamaicans during the peak of construction.
“While we encountered challenges associated with a project of this magnitude, we are happy to declare the plant ready to serve JPS' customers,” the release quotes SJPC management committee chairman and JPS board director Mo Majeed.
“We fully expect the inclusion of natural gas in power generation to result in greater fuel diversification and the stabilisation of electricity costs over the long term, while enhancing energy security for the nation,” Majeed added.
The integration of more renewables on the grid and improved technology will lower generation costs, as well as Jamaica's exposure to the volatility in world oil prices, JPS explained.
“The new plant and natural gas will replace the heavy fuel oil (HFO) now used for much of the country's electricity generation. This shift to natural gas will result in cleaner and more environmentally friendly energy,” the light and power company said.
The combined cycle power plant has the capacity to support 300,000 homes. The new system uses three dual fuel natural-gas-fired/Automotive Diesel Oil gas turbine generators, three supplemental natural gas-fired heat recovery steam generators, one steam turbine generator, a seawater cooled condenser, and related ancillary equipment.
The new plant is located next to the old JPS power station, which will be completely decommissioned in 2020. It will replace several of JPS' 50-year-old generating units that run on HFO and that are due for retirement.
The South Jamaica Power Centre is Jamaica's second power plant to operate on natural gas, following the conversion of JPS' Bogue Power Station in Montego Bay from Automotive Diesel Oil.
SJPC is a joint venture with MaruEnergy, JPSCO 1 SRL, EWP (Barbados) 1 SRL and the PetroCaribe Development Fund. The Spanish firm, TSK, was contracted to complete the new plant.