The heat is on
Solar energy competition coming for BL&P
A power battle of sorts appears imminent as a Canadian energy firm prepares to establish a multi-million dollar facility here that could provide stiff competition to the Barbados Light & Power Company. However, company executives have made it clear they are nothing like the controversial Cahill Energy.
By early next year DELTRO Group is expected to set up a $26 million solar manufacturing plant on the island, including a solar farm to produce electricity which it said it will sell to consumers at rates that are “much cheaper” than what they currently pay. Industrial plants will also be able to purchase solar panels from the experts in this field.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, company officials promised to play “a big role” in expanding the local solar industry and transitioning Barbados to “a centre of excellence” in renewable energy.
“The price of electricity here is high and it is only going to go higher. Oil is at a near record low, like a three decade low in price right now and still everyone we meet tells us about the high cost of energy here in Barbados. Frankly, it is crippling our economy. It is hurting everyday people that may not have enough money to spend on other goods or to spend otherwise with their families,” said David Del Mastro, president of the DELTRO Group.
“Renewables are here to stay. This is a shift in the global economy. We have a given solar PV [photovoltaic] technology that we are going to build here but we are committed to staying and remaining on the cutting edge of technology with respect to renewables,” he stressed.
Director of the Group Dean Del Mastro said the company, which will serve both individuals and commercial businesses, had the capacity to “displace about 12 million litres of diesel fuel a year that is currently being burnt to generate an equivalent of 20 megawatts of solar electricity”.
He added that his team had already begun holding talks with credit unions here to put together financing packages “to help people save money and take advantage of solar technologies”.
The solar firm executive told Barbados TODAY while the company received “some tax concessions and some import concessions”, unlike Cahill, the Barbadian taxpayer would not be asked to fund any part of the project.
“We are here to contribute and co-operate with the people. We want to build a successful facility and we’ve privately capitalized it. It is our money that we put in.
“We have asked for some tax concessions and some import concessions where we are going to import things duty-free to build the facility only. So this is a really great deal for both parties involved,” Dean said.
The former Canadian politician said his company had nothing to do with waste to energy and there were no similarities with Cahill. He stressed that DELTRO had a good track record of 30 years of signing “big contracts” and completing jobs as promised, emphasizing that DELTRO was “starkly different” from the waste to energy company.
“We are completely different; far more jobs, far more direct investment into people and we are an export business. Cahill is a domestic proposal and it is very different from what we are proposing,” explained the director.
“We are not just excited for ourselves, we are excited for Barbados because we believe it has potential to really transform the economy in Barbados.”
DELTRO President David Del Mastro said equipment for the project had already been purchased and awaiting clearance from the Bridgetown Port. He added that a location had been identified for the facility, which is expected to hire more than 160 people once in full operation.
“We expect that to happen early 2016 with construction and the line operating by March to April. That would be our test bed and once we have the line tuned up, full employment by June at the latest,” said the company president.
He said Barbados was chosen to establish the plant because Government was “dedicated to incentivizing us to come here” and because its proximity to South America and its membership in the Caribbean Community made it easy to serve these regions. The weather and the similarity of the country’s political structure to that of Canada also were deciding factors.
“So we are very comfortable with the banking laws and the trade laws and the Government structure here. So that is ultimately the reasons we decided to bring it here,” said David Del Mastro.