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#497080 - 10/21/14 10:34 AM PUC Through First Phase of Evaluating Power Bids
Marty Online   happy
In October of last year, the Public Utilities Commission put out what's called a request for power for 60 megawatts of firm energy, and 15 megawatts of intermittent energy. Today 54 weeks later, they released the findings of the first phase of evaluation of 22 bids for 37 projects - including solar, wind and hydro power.

Today at a press conference, PUC Chairman John Avery explained that the process to arrive at a power purchase agreement still has a ways to go:...

John Avery, Chairman - PUC
"One of the reasons for this RFP, this process is to have an open transparent and fair process and so releasing this report today its one; to assure people that the RFP is still ongoing and particularly the bidders because since we are a few weeks late with the expected final report. We are looking not only to have enough capacity in country, but we are also looking to minimize our costs to consumers. So there are no guarantees coming out of this thing. This is a request for proposals, we've received proposals. In our estimation it has been a successful RFP. We received enough bids to satisfy what we are looking for. A lot of the bids are credible bids from credible people and the others that weren't we've disqualified. So now basically the rest will rely on our long term strategy in satisfying our needs. Basically after we've done with this BEL will then initiate the negotiation phase with each one of them, to start negotiations with them. We are looking for the projects that best fit our system and that overall will result in the lowest cost to consumers."

No timeline has been given for the final report. But on this first phase, the top ranking bid for firm power came from Southern Renewable Energy Limited - which proposes a fourth hydro power facility for Macal River between the Chalillo dam and the Mollejon Diversionary structure. The second highest ranking proposal comes from GSR Energy which proposes a bio-mass project which includes a cane field and ethanol factory.

Southern Renewable Energy also has the third and fourth highest ranking bids for two more hydro projects - but these ones on the Swasey River.

And coming in at number five is a bagasse project from SS Energy Limited. SS is a subsidiary of a company called Santander, the owner of Green Tropics - which is of Guatemalan origin. Now that has raised some eyebrows - and a cautionary note form the opposition. Today Chairman Avery discussed the project quite candidly:..

John Avery, Chairman - PUC
"However, this is a project that will be base in Belize. The company, the Santander Group have registered 4 different companies in Belize; SS Energy, being of them; you have Green Tropics; you have SS Farms and SS Sugar. These people as best we understand it have already started to implement a fairly huge sugar production facility within this country. They intend to build a production facility for their own purpose. They estimate base on their forecast that they will have additional bagasse to them generate further electricity to sell to BEL. The entire operation will be based in Belize. In their bid, they do admit that the 4 major shareholders for the parent group are 4 business persons in Guatemala. If they are awarded a PPA and that project is built, by setting up here they have agreed to be subjected to our laws and under our laws, before we get to the law, the RFP, we indicated in the RFP that any PPA will include step in rights for BEL. In other words if that project is built and the person who owns the project is not operating the project according to the agreement and that sort of thing - BEL will have the rights under certain circumstances to step in and actually take over operation of the company."

Again, this is just the first phase; the bids will be ranked in the next phase and then go to a simulation exercise. After that the companies can negotiation a power purchase agreement with BEL - which the PUC would still have to approve.

Notable is that the bids for intermittent power include Solar power in Orange Walk, san Ignacio and Dangriga, wind power from Mexico and Solar power from Blair Athol Power Company.

Channel 7

#497105 - 10/21/14 06:07 PM Re: PUC Through First Phase of Evaluating Power Bids [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Belize seriously considers Chalillo II and new hydro plants on Swasey River

Belize’s energy demand will grow substantially over the next few years, and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been reviewing bids for 37 new projects from 22 companies which hope to make the final cut of designated enterprises that will be chosen to supply 75 megawatts of power over the next 10 years, including 15 megawatts from wind and solar sources.

The process opened last October, just over a year ago, and formal proposals were unsealed in June 2014.

Initially, there were 42 expressions of interest, including expressions from companies such as Belize Natural Energy and UNO Belize, but these did not submit formal bids.

This afternoon, Monday, October 20, 2014, the PUC unveiled the top contenders at a press conference held at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City.

From among the 22 companies, there have been just a handful of disqualifications, and the remaining companies were ranked based on the companies’ ability to effectively execute the project, as well as the price at which they propose to sell power to the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), the premier power distributor in Belize.

Topping the scale for the best price was Ted Sorenson’s Southern Renewable Energy Limited (SREL), which has proposed three hydro projects for a cumulative capacity of 27.3 megawatts. The estimated cost of these projects is just over US$100 million.

Derek Davis, PUC’s Director of Electricity, notes that because the project is hydro-based, the company would not be supplying that full capacity year-round. Davis said that SREL is the only company which has operated in Belize before, having operated the Hydro Maya facility in southern Belize.

Sorenson’s company proposes to build a hydro facility above Mollejón, and two more on the Upper and Lower Swasey River, near Placencia, Stann Creek.

Next on the PUC’s agenda is a dispatch simulation exercise, via which they will develop models to see how the proposed projects would work over the next 15 years, and more importantly, what mix of projects will give Belizeans the best bang for their buck.

Following this exercise, recommendations will be made to BEL, which will engage the winning bidders in final negotiations for a binding power purchase agreement.

While SREL’s Chalillo 2 Macal River was ranked at the top with a score of 87%, the bid by GSR Energy Limited, whose local representative is Glenford Eiley, ranked second with 86.69.

Davis explained that this project proposes to use sugar cane harvested by Mennonites in Blue Creek, Orange Walk, to produce ethanol via a cogeneration facility for export. At the same time, the facility would produce electricity for the national grid. The ethanol, said Davis, would be an anhydrous fuel grade that could be used in cars.

The bid of Cohune Energy Limited, which we previously featured in the Amandala newspaper, was ranked 7th and is listed among those that would be subject to the dispatch simulation exercise.

The top three projects for simulation for wind and solar power are Saturn Power Inc., represented by Jeremy Goetz; GROSS LLC, represented by Rodrigo Molina; and Blair Athol Power Company Ltd., represented by Allan M. Sharp.

Although 3N1’s project proposal to produce power while purifying sea water for consumption was disqualified from among the bids for firm energy, Davis told us that the PUC would still propose a pilot project based on this new technology. He said that the proposed technology, which was pitched to supply 25 MW of power to the national grid, has technically not been operational anywhere else in the world and so it is considered “too risky” to form part of Belize’s firm capacity energy mix. Davis said, however, that the proposal could be introduced on an experimental basis, and so 3N1 may not be completely out of the picture.

Most of the companies bidding to supply the 75 megawatts of new power are foreign-owned, with some of them having local joint venture arrangements.

John Avery, PUC Chairman, noted at today’s press conference that on October 7 of 2013, the PUC opened the process with a request for proposals, and there were no restrictions on who could submit proposals to satisfy the medium-term demands for electricity supply in the country.

He said that the bid document explained that the proposals must satisfy some 60 MW of firm capacity and 15 MW of intermittent renewable supply, which are to be added over the years, as the demand arises, with the purpose of securing adequate supply in-country to complement some of the supply from Mexico but also to enable the country to become self-reliant in satisfying its basic demand.

Avery said that the intent is also to implement the Government’s policy to promote clean renewable energy supplies in the country.

Avery explained that 4 companies were disqualified because they failed to score a minimum of 15 points on the management and technical component of the scoring grid. The rest were scored based on the least overall cost. They range from US$00.10 to US$00.30 per kilowatt hour.

Avery said that the PUC expects the final simulation to be completed by the end of this month, October, with the final report to be completed next month.

Projects are also subject to environmental clearance requirements before they could be considered for implementation.

According to Davis, the PUC’s decision on the bids should be online tomorrow, Tuesday, at www.puc.bz.


#497462 - 10/31/14 10:33 AM Re: PUC Through First Phase of Evaluating Power Bids [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Request for Proposals for Electricity Generation


Recently the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) released the first draft of its report on the 2013 Requests for Proposals for Energy Generation, for which 22 bids were received from 37 proposals. A final list of eight bids was presented which have the greatest likelihood of proceeding to power purchase agreements with Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) once a final “simulation” phase is passed.
We understand that the PUC intends to make a decision tomorrow, Friday, to declare which candidates may proceed to negotiations with BEL, and ask that they postpone this decision until the public has heard from each of the top candidates.

While we note that there have been no contracts signed, after research and review, COLA endorses fully the seventh-placed project in the list, the proposal by Cohune Energy Limited (CEL) for the following reasons. This project is an example of the kind of Belizean creativity and innovation that will drive the country forward – making use of a local resource to power the Jewel sustainably and efficiently. More importantly, it has secured written financial commitment from international banks to the tune of $350 million, which keeps it from becoming a liability to the Belizean people should it fail. But if it succeeds – as we expect it to – this will become Belize’s newest and fastest-growing industry, providing thousands of jobs and bringing in foreign exchange for the economy.

We cannot say the same for, for instance, Southern Renewable Energy Limited, which has proposed three hydroelectric projects, including a second Chalillo Dam and dams on the upper and lower Swasey Rivers. We understand that this company, as well as GSR Energy which is promoting a bagasse project, seeks to raise up to 95% of their financing through a bond similar to the Belize City Municipal Bond.

COLA categorically rejects and refuses to support, in any way, shape or form, any business project proposal that proposes any future bond. It is our view – and history has shown this – that such bonds are inevitably paid back through taxpayers’ money or their hard-earned contributions to the Social Security Board. It is a step backward and places Belizeans at unnecessary risk.

We note as well that according to news reports in the last few years, countries in this region have had to endure power shortages due to droughts drying up the rivers that produce hydro electric supply. In 2013, Panama, one of the fastest growing economies in Central America, had to impose a state of emergency in several provinces, close schools and ration electricity as a result of a four-month drought drying up two key basins that feed hydroelectric plants. Venezuela earlier this year imposed a water rationing plan after an extended dry season left plants near Caracas at record lows. And next door in Honduras, there is no electricity for four hours per day as lack of rainfall has left water levels too low to power dams. Belize recently suffered its own problems with water levels at the Chalillo, Mollejon and Vaca dams.
According to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, water will become scarce in the very near future, and with 45% of our energy already coming from hydroelectricity, it is not necessary to add more projects in the context of already visible effects of drought caused by climate change and the problems for our neighbors as outlined above.

We are further concerned by reports that Anwar Barrow attended the PUC meetings with Southern Renewable Energy Limited and identified himself as being with them. We hereby call on Mr. Barrow to disclose his ties to this company, in whatever capacity or not, in the national interest. We would also like to know how it is that this company got three of its proposals in the top-five, for it is surely no coincidence.

As for the proposal by Guatemalan-owned SS Energy to supply electricity, this simply cannot be entertained. SS’ parent, Green Tropics has already demonstrated that it has no respect for Belize’s environmental laws. It has been accused of destroying the Jaguar Corridor and mistreating the farmers in Valley of Peace by spraying their crops with herbicide. Considering that energy generation is a form of national security, we cannot see how this Guatemalan-owned company could have been shortlisted. No Guatemalan company should have any interest, direct or indirect, in Belize’s national security and development. The recent death of Danny Conorquie clearly emphasizes a renewed focus on national security and integrity and there should be no repeat with this initiative. We at COLA therefore call on the Government to halt any practice to involve further major Guatemalan business interests in Belize.

Finally, with respect to Renewable Investments Limited of Costa Rica’s proposal to import so-called “clean coal,” this is anachronistic, environmentally unfriendly and unacceptable. With today’s movement towards cleaner air and the threat of climate change, coal is a thing of the past and countries are looking to the future and moving away from it.

We are disappointed to hear that the backers of Cohune Energy Limited have not been given an opportunity to sit down with the Government to present their proposals. Cohune is one of the key components for biomass in Belize. It provides twice the amount of energy, is resilient and resistant to natural hazards including hurricanes, fires and droughts, and most importantly it presents opportunity for ALL Belizeans to participate as every land owner and farmer can earn money on a sustainable basis.

Belizean power deserves Belizean innovation!

Geovannie Brackett
President, COLA

#497467 - 10/31/14 10:44 AM Re: PUC Through First Phase of Evaluating Power Bids [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

PM Discusses RFP Proposals

Last week we told you about the results for the initial review of the request for power from the public utilities commission. One proponent of alternative energy who got a low rating form the PUC seems to have enlisted COLA to sweat fever for him.

A release from the activist group today says quote, "COLA endorses fully the seventh-placed project in the list, the proposal by Cohune Energy Limited".

But the PUC didn't seem too taken by it, and today COLA's president Geovannie Brackett put on his journalist hat to ask the Prime Minister about it - which got into a wide ranging discussion about the energy proposals:..

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know the details. i did inquire of Minister Grant in Cabinet and she said first of all its not really cohune, I forget what she said it really was before you get to the cohune, but she made the point. I don't want to misrepresent her, but the point was made that that project was evaluated, was found not to be viable and there are very many reasons why a project might be found not to be viable in terms of making onto the shortlist; cost, lack of expertise, whatever. But she reminded me and Cabinet that the process of evaluating these proposals was conducted in the most transparent fashion with assistance from the Clinton Foundation. I remember I met with Ira Magaziner who was... you will recollect, big deal in those day when Clinton was president - I met with Ira Magaziner who had said that their experts are going to be assisting the PUC and that I could be certain that the most professional evaluation would take place. I have to feel that that is what occurred. I have just this morning sent a message to Mr. John Avery why sir is not the PUC getting out there and explaining to the public precisely how the process operated and why it is that in the decision of the experts that project did not qualify to be on the shortlist. That can't be anything magical about that."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"Yes, there is 350 million in financing already for the project."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Well Geovannie if you believe that - you must have been around long enough to know that everybody walks through the door and the amount they say they have is always bigger than the amount the last person said they have and none of them end with it. Don't tell me about it because that happens to me pretty much every week, but I don't know the details. All I am saying is the PUC which does know the details should come and tell the media exactly what took place and what is wrong with the project why in fact it was not shortlisted, so over to them."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"There is a Guatemalan company, the parent company is Green Tropics. Are you concern that we would even consider......."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Not at all, man listen, you know some people in the media make it appear as though energy will be produce in Guatemala and transmitted to us... Green Tropics is a company that's here in Belize - that has helped us to diversify the sugar industry in terms of the geographic location by going ahead planting and building full speed now the second mill in this country for sugar. It is biomass as a consequence of the grinding of sugar that they will use to convert to energy in the same way as BELCOGEN is doing to sell to the grid. So that's right here, there is nothing coming from Guatemala and I don't care if Green Tropics is ultimately...."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"...Owned by Guatemala."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"No sir, why would I care? They are here in Belize. They fool around you know what will happen? National security interest. Let me not get carried away."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"But you could understand the skepticism... you can't understand it?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"No sir, the company is here. Anybody had anything to say when they came and did the investment? Anybody had anything to say about the construction of the factory and the planting of cane? Anybody has anything to say about the scores of Belizeans that are being employed even though by that company? Sorry sir, I don't hold to that view at all. I think we can take our nationalism too far and become utterly misguided. This is a company that is here, that is, that is doing business for a while. The energy will in fact be as I said the conversion of the biomass to energy will be done here in country, a process over which we clearly have control over - no fears on that."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"Can you say categorically if your son Anwar Barrow has any relationship with Southern Renewable Energy?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"I know I see him attending some of the meetings at the PUC and reports are that...."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised and what would be the difficulty with that?"

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"Well your son and..."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"You don't ask questions just like that."

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"No, I am very straight up, respectful, but straight up."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"What's the question?"

Geovannie Brackett, reporter
"There are 3 proposal from Southern Renewable Energy that has made it to the top 5. Just for the record..."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Listen, I've told you about the utterly transparent evaluation process, not necessarily steered, certainly guided or assisted by the international organization. My son is completely entitled to pursue his business interest as long as there is no conflict of interest in terms of my office and the government. This is a PUC deal. I believe the persons that conducted the evaluation came from the professionals at the PUC, helped as said by the Clinton Foundation - on the face of it I don't see that there is any kind of an argument to be made."

Back to the Cohune proposals - as we understand it, the PUC position is that Cohune energy limited didn't propose cohune, but planting eucalyptus trees to burn.

Channel 7


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