Government is still to make a final decision on the future of a wind farm at Hope Beach, East Coast Demerara.
Yesterday, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson who holds the portfolio for energy, disclosed that the matter is engaging the attention of the administration with “expert advice” in reviewing the proposed investment.
Government “will make its final decision when the developer completes studies and presents a final proposal to the Government”, Patterson said in a letter to the editor on the issue to Kaieteur News.
Last month, it was reported that Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill, had challenged the Government’s support of the Hope Beach Wind Farm Project.
Patterson said that according to the Opposition members, the transaction is “corrupt” for not being tendered and for the involvement of Lloyd Singh, a businessman who is considered to be a supporter of the Government.
The Opposition was misrepresenting the facts when it said that this Government had issued Singh a 50-year lease of lands at Hope Beach for the project, the minister stressed yesterday.
“I responded by pointing out the duplicity of the allegations, specifically that the transaction originated since 2000, but did not take off due to the previous developer’s failure to secure financing. The former Government had, in 2007, issued the developer a 50-year lease of lands at Hope Beach for the project and, in 2014, approved the said Lloyd Singh’s participation in the project and the sale of power to the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) at US$0.18 per kW on a BOOT arrangement.”
Patterson pointed out that Samuel Hinds, former Prime Minister with responsibility for the power sector, in an attempt to provide perspective and justification for agreeing to such terms, is now advising that “the reported claim of the businessman Lloyd Singh of having a 50-year lease should be thoroughly checked.”
According to Minister Patterson, it must be emphasized that it is not this Government that issued the project a 50-year lease; rather, it was issued during Jagdeo’s tenure.
“The rights to the said development were never tendered. Further, having kept the transaction alive for 15 years with the hope of the Hope Beach Wind Farm Project being the first major renewable energy project to serve the national grid, the retired Prime Minister now suggests that the environment for renewable energy development has changed significantly since the APNU+AFC Coalition Government came into office at the end of 2015 and that the considerations, once valid and relevant to the transaction during the PPP administration, are no longer so.”
Patterson explained that since 1994, renewable energy development generally, and to supply the national grid, has been a major pillar of the national energy policy.
“The former Prime Minister – having held responsibility for the power sector for 21 years but without success in achieving any major form of renewable energy development – would be, more than anyone else, intimately aware of the many challenges in bringing such development to reality.”
Indeed, Patterson argued, in recent years there has been increased world attention and promotion of all forms of renewable energy to counter climate change and to move towards more sustainable means of development.
“While international financing to support this agenda has increased, affordable financing on terms acceptable to Government, without adding to the national debt, continues to be a major challenge to which every Government in our circumstances has to address and determine what is in the best interest of the country.”
It goes without saying, the minister said, that every investment opportunity, whether private or public has to be justified; the Hope Beach Wind Farm Project is no exception.
Last month, Singh in an exclusive with Kaieteur News, made it clear that plans are very much on stream to construct a smaller, 12-megawatt (Mw), US$32M wind farm at Hope Beach.
The businessman, owner of International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), assured that the project is very much alive, though its magnitude has been revised because of technical reasons.
While Singh had been teaming up with a Chinese partner, he has managed to attract Danish and other European investors into the project. He said that the project has not reached a stage where a power purchase agreement is being negotiated. However, there have been major talks recently on the project.
According to Singh, present at the meeting were representatives of the Guyana Power and Light Inc., the Guyana Energy Agency, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Environmental Protection Agency, as well as overseas consultants on the power sector. There were also representatives from the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association.
Guyana is moving into other forms of renewable energy including solar and even natural gas- powered generators for the Guyana Power and Light Inc.
The country’s annual fuel import bill is around US$100M.
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