CUC awards bids for renewable energy

Two American companies will provide wind and solar energy to local power grid

Caribbean Utilities Company on Wednesday named the two winners of its renewable energy bid, promising that wind and solar power would come on line in Grand Cayman during the first quarter of 2015.

Chicago’s New Generation Energy will supply three megawatts of wind energy and another five megawatts of solar energy. Pittsburgh’s International Electric Power will supply five megawatts of solar energy.

In a Wednesday-afternoon press release, CUC said the companies were poised to invest a combined $30 million in the project, generating electricity priced between 14 cents and 20 cents per kilowatt hour, a savings of between 4.5 cents and 10.5 cents off current retail prices, pegged at approximately 34 cents per kilowatt hour.

By press time Wednesday, CUC – the lone commercial and residential electricity provider in Grand Cayman – had not responded to repeated efforts at contact, and did not say if those savings would be passed on to consumers.

The utility issued its original request for bids on 13 megawatts of alternative energy in August 2011, receiving more than 50 responses from 31 companies by late November 2011. Executives pared the list to 20 bidders, but a series of delays forced the first-place contender to drop its tender, forcing CUC to turn to the third-place finisher as a substitute.

Speaking from International Electric headquarters, President Enzo Zoratto and Vice President of International Projects Ieva Abolina offered further details of their project.

An array of “tens of thousands” of 300-watt panels, each capable of generating 10 gigawatts of power annually, will be installed on a 20-acre site in North Side, along Frank Sound Road, the executives told the Caymanian Compass.

“We expect to start the $15 million project on April 2014,” Mr. Zoratto said, “and complete it in January 2015.” Production costs would be 20 cents per kilowatt hour, but he was unable to say how CUC planned to charge local consumers.

“That is not for us,” he said. “Utilities spend money on a lot of different things. We want to do everything we can to create an energy source that is more efficient, environmentally sound and less expensive than diesel fuel.”

International Electric Power is already involved in a public-private power generation partnership, Project Phoenix, in Haiti, on a 400-acre site, 18 kilometers north of the capital, Port Au Prince. Fueled by municipal solid waste, the project will generate 30 megawatts of energy while cleaning city streets, reducing dependence on imported fuel and creating 1,800 jobs.

Another one of the company’s projects in the area is a $60 million, 20-megawatt wind farm to serve Haiti’s electricity needs for 20 years, creating 100 direct and 500 indirect jobs in the next 12 months.

In Oahu, Hawaii, International Electric Power is building a 110-acre Special Purpose Renewable Energy Company, producing 5 megawatts of photovoltaic solar energy, 5 megawatts of biomass gasification and another 5 megawatts of concentrated solar power and thermal hybrid, helping the Hawaii energy company generate 40 percent of its requirements through renewable energy by 2030.

Elsewhere, the company has brokered a $150 million power-generation project near Pittsburgh, and is developing a 40 megawatt wind farm in the U.S. Midwest.

Mr. Zoratto was unable to say what might develop locally.

“We are dealing with the Caribbean dilemma,” he said, describing International Electric Power’s efforts to help “address resource constraints” regionally, and “wean countries off expensive fuel imports.”

Despite repeated telephone calls and emails, efforts to reach Chicago’s New Generation Power proved fruitless.

In its press release, CUC Vice President for Transmission and Distribution Andrew Small said, “With the high cost of fuel, CUC has been exploring large-scale alternative-energy options in an effort to help reduce and stabilize costs to its consumers and to lower emissions from fossil fuels.

“We had a very positive response to the August 2011 solicitation process and we are now pleased to be able to announce the selected bidders chosen to work with us in meeting our goal to bring large scale renewable energy to Grand Cayman electricity consumers within the next 16 months.”

CUC, the release said, “is currently negotiating power-purchase agreements” with the two companies, detailing costs, production levels and interconnection with the utility-owned transmission and distribution network.

“Once the negotiations are completed, and subject to the necessary permitting and other regulatory approvals being received,” the company said, “it is planned that final power-purchase agreements will be established with the successful bidders who will then start construction of the projects. It is anticipated that [they] will be completed by the first quarter of 2015, barring regulatory or other delays …”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It is a great opportunity to participate in such a meaningful project for Grand Cayman. As a representative of International Electric Power LLC, I would like to clarify one important detail mentioned in the article: our 5-MW solar array system is expected to generate IN AGGREGATE 10 GWh of electricity annually. Ieva

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  2. Here is another way to save energy. Modify your old commercial AC system and get incredible savings. We are in the middle of a test project where we have now saved in the first 4 months, the same energy that 183 (240Watts) solar panels would have produced during the same time. Multi storey buildings just do not have the space for the necessary amount of solar panels to cover their electrical consumption. In the Cayman Islands, there are many ways to achieve the goal of being completely auto sufficient with regard energy requirements.This is just one way.

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