The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is to present a recommendation to the Government for a preferred bidder to build the 360-megawatt power plant, within 30 days.
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, in his contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate in the House of Representativeson Wednesday, April 24, said the OUR will be undertaking the negotiations in collaboration with the National Contracts Commission (NCC).
Four bidders are being considered and the Government is looking to start construction this year.
Fourteen companies had submitted proposals to undertake the project, and the OUR, after an evaluation, narrowed the bidders down to three, which all proposed the use of natural gas.
They are Amorview/Tankweld, which presented a 232-megawatt (MW) project for Old Harbour and a 122.4-MW project for Caymanas; Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), which presented proposals for a 323-MW and a 350-MW combined cycle plant, both proposed for Old Harbour; and Azurest/Cambridge, which presented a proposal for a 388-MW plant mounted on a barge.
The Government has since received another unsolicited proposal from a Hong Kong company, proposing to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) receiving terminal and power plant, and to supply LNG from its own gas fields.
The company has proposed a combined cycle gas-fired 360-MW power plant adjacent to the LNG hub terminal.
“After several stops and starts, today I can speak with certainty that a positive change is about to come to the supply of electricity in Jamaica,”Minister Paulwell said.
“It is essential that we begin construction of new generating capacity this year. There have been too many delays, and we can no longer live with these high electricity prices,” he added.
In 2010, the OUR went to tender for 480 MW of generating capacity. The JPS was the sole bidder, and was awarded the right to construct a 360-MW combined cycle plant. It was contemplated that the Government would be responsible for securing the supply of fuel for the new plant through the LNG Project.
Last October, the Government, having completed the bidding rounds for the infrastructure and supply of gas, ended its role in the LNG Project and turned the responsibility for the supply of gas to JPS. The Government was assured by the JPS that it could source its own fuel supply for the plant, the Minister said.
Minister Paulwell informed that JPS was given a January 30, 2013 deadline to provide the OUR with project information such as the details of their gas supplier, and a renewed bid security.
The company missed the deadline and on February 1, 2013, the OUR informed the JPS and its shareholders that the request for proposal (RFP) process in relation to the 360-MW project was at an end.
“Thereafter, the OUR agreed to accept unsolicited proposals from JPS and other companies,” the Minister explained.
Meanwhile, Mr. Paulwell informed that legislation will be brought to Parliament during this year, to give OUR additional powers of monitoring, evaluation and enforcement, similar to those it has over the telecommunications sector.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter