November 20 is the date when the Grenada Electricity Company (GRENLEC) is expecting to take possession of at least nine bids for the construction of the Carriacou wind farm, which will be sited at Top Hill on the sister isle.
General Manager of GRENLEC, Collin Cover told reporters at a press conference held at the Public Workers Union building that the bidding process is part of GRENLEC’s goal to be 20% renewable in electricity supply by the year 2020.
Cover said the Carriacou Wind farm is the leading initiative to be undertaken by the island’s sole electricity generating company to realise this goal as he explained the 20% renewable project.
“We’ll put forward not just 20% of installed capacity but 20% of our generated capacity and so to get that 20% of generated capacity we have installed more than 20% of the name plate capacity over the next five years and we’ll be working diligently to do this,” he said.
According to Cover, the wind farm project is a joint effort between the government of Grenada, GRENLEC and the European Union (EU).
The project, which is costing 4.5 million dollars, is being partly funded by the EU with a 2.5 million grant and 2 million from GRENLEC.
He spoke of the 2.5 million Euros going directly to government to help facilitate the wind project, which also includes storage capacity.
He said that as part of the plan being put together “we’ll be able to harness the wind and even at low periods we’ll be able to store the energy from the wind and feed us back unto the grid”.
The GRENLEC boss disclosed that the company intends to install two megawatts wind turbine in Carriacou and once the bids are in and dealt with then the construction of the facility should start within the next year.
“We expect by January to have a value to those bids and to have awarded the bid to a contractor by January. We expect that we’ll have a one year procurement and construction period and so we are expecting that come early probably (by) first quarter or by the second quarter in 2016, we would be having that wind farm up and operational,” he said.
Cover disclosed that GRENLEC has already spent between $60-70, 000.00 in installing an interconnection to the Reverse Osmosis Plant solar array on Petite Martinique.
Stating that this is a project initiative of the Caricom Climate Change Center, he said the plant was located some distance away from the GRENLEC grid.
“…It was not interconnected to the grid but the project was timely because there were no other funds to advance the project but GRENLEC decided to build the interconnection at no cost to the project”, he said.
“We footed that bill, we just simply did it as our contribution to the project. We spent I think within the region of 60-70 thousand dollars just to build the extension to make sure that the power lines can get up to the solar array,” he added.
According to Cover, all that is now needed to be done is the signing of an interconnection agreement with the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs.
“…Once that is signed we have to interconnect them to the grid and that 115 kilowatts PV system will be operational,” he told reporters.
This, Cover noted is a clear indication that GRENLEC is committed to getting involved in renewables.
“Totally we do just about .6 of 1% … of our generation on renewables. We had about .4% that is interconnected renewables, customer owned interconnected renewables and the other .2% is basically GRENLEC owned.
“…We want to move into more and more renewables because initially this is not going to bring the cost down dramatically but it will stabilise the cost and that is our intent as we move further and further doing more and more renewables.
“It is our intention and expectation that sometime in the future, that it should result in a decrease in rates for the Grenadian population as a whole but certainly in the short term it will help to stabilise the prices so even as oil prices may go up, we expect that we should be stabilising the prices as we embark on this 20% by 2020 goal.
Some critics of the power company have often accused GRENLEC of wanting to maintain the status quo and not showing a clear willingness to invest the required millions to get into renewables.