Energy Central Professional



States News Service  


    The following information was released by the International Finance Corporation:

    By Erin Baldwin

    Almost a decade ago, BMR Energy came to IFC with an opportunity and a challenge. A leader in clean energy, the company knew that Jamaica was ripe for an investment in wind power a big one.

    Bruce Levy, CEO and President, and his partner Andrew Rovito, Senior Vice President, had a vision: construct a 36-megawatt (MW) wind turbine farm, using 11 3.3 MW wind turbines, which at the time was virtually unheard of in Jamaica, where most wind turbines are at the 2 MW size. It would be the first project for BMR Energy and the first private company to build a wind farm in Jamaica.

    Despite the government of Jamaicas interest in renewable energy, local, long-term financing was nearly impossible to attain given the weak economic situation. The power sector in Jamaica also faced critical issues: high generation costs driven by an over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and electricity theft which is driven by the high electricity prices and longstanding socioeconomic issues. Not to mention, the wind sector was relatively untested.

    Could a project of this scale survive? Could it support the countrys ambitions to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels? Knowing the potential benefits this would have for climate change mitigation and the local population, BMR Energy engaged the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC, at the time OPIC), who shared some of the same concerns about the lack of track record in the country.

    But the BMR Energy team was persistent. IFC, which had local experience and clients, was recruited to partner with DFC and help the deal cross the finish line. With the combination of IFCs own-account financing and blended concessional financing from the government of Canada, the project suddenly became bankable. IFC went and found concessional financing that brought down their average cost of lending; IFC was a very important partner on this because it really helped DFC get comfortable in Jamaica, says Levy. Many things came out of this project because IFC was participating, and I think the concessional finance helped us get there.

    Jamaicas largest private sector wind farm, BMR Wind, was made possible through a $62.7 million financing package, including blended concessional financing from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program ($10 million), a senior loan of $10 million from IFC, and the remainder by the DFC. The critical IFC-Canada blended finance program funds helped the project proceed and go on to demonstrate the viability of private sector wind power in Jamaica, thus paving the way for long-term commercial investors.

    BMR Energy won the competitive auction bid in 2013, and at the time, the electricity was among the lowest cost sources of power available to the Jamaican Public Service (JPS) Company, a company that provides electricity services to more than 600,000 residential and business customers through an integrated system that includes power generating plants, and an island-wide transmission and distribution network.


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