In Cahill’s wake

Waste-to-energy could be a saving grace, says BL&P

It was once described by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley as one of the biggest “sell outs” perpetrated against the people of Barbados since the introduction of Cabinet Government in 1954.

However, more than a year after the Freundel Stuart administration dumped plans for a proposed $700 million Cahill Energy Project, the island’s main electricity provider has come out strongly in support of waste-to-energy power generation.

And without making any reference to the Canadian power deal that went belly up after it was initialled by Government back in 2014, the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) has sought to make it clear that waste-to-energy has a place in Barbados.

Addressing the BL&P’s inaugural energy talks at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday night, the company’s Managing Director Roger Blackman said such a plant would help solve some of the island’s challenges.

“We believe there is a place in the market for waste-to-energy generation, using well established and proven technologies,” Blackman told the audience, which included a number of Government, private sector and civil society officials.

“Waste-to-energy technology, again like biomass generation, checks many boxes that are right for Barbados. It is a solution to our solid waste management challenges, it is green energy and it would save foreign exchange,” Blackman said.

It was just over two years ago that waste-to-energy was on everyone’s lips after four Cabinet ministers, namely Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe, the Minister of Energy Senator Darcy Boyce and the Minister of Housing Denis Kellman, signed with the CEO of Cahill Energy Clare Cowan, what became a very controversial deal with the Guernsey-based enterprise for the construction of a multi-million dollar waste-to-energy plant.

Responding to the national budget of that same year, Mottley had produced several documents which she held up as proof that Cahill Energy, which was established in 2012, was nothing more than a “shell company”.

And with the project originally scheduled to start in September of that same year, Mottley warned that the country was exposed to “tens or hundreds of millions in dollars in liability” as a result of the 30-year exclusive contract, signed by the four Government ministers, for which she said the company was not being held to any real environmental standards.

“The consequences potentially for the country financially and environmentally are of such serious proportion that the whole of Barbados must now pause and have a conversation. The implications for the breaches of governance are such that unlike any time since Cabinet Government has been introduced in this country, has there been a situation where four ministers of Government have been on a path that potentially has now exposed this country to millions, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in liability,” the Opposition Leader said at the time.

However, in May last year Government caved in to public pressure, with Lowe confirming that it had scrapped the multi-million dollar plasma gasification plant.

Since then there have been calls from some, including Government legislators, for a national discussion about a waste-to-energy plan for the country.

Though not outlining any such plans by BL&P, Blackman said as the national electricity grid got more technologically advanced and customers demanded greater control “the 100 per cent electrification side of our vision becomes clearer”.

The managing director also disclosed last night that based on a recent case study, the utility company was currently carrying out research to see the viability of producing energy from cane grass, which he said would “breathe new life” into the sugarcane industry.

“The Light & Power has been working with a number of farmers in the BSIL [Barbados Sugar Industries Limited] on using cane grass for biomass electricity generation. This is great for the country’s green thrust, foreign exchange savings and [for] keeping land in agriculture for food security as well,” Blackman said.

“I am happy to say we have actually, with our partners, shipped briquettes of cane grass off to the UK for testing. So clearly we are well on the way of making good progress on this front,” he added.

As part of its renewable energy thrust, the power company, whose parent company Emera Inc. last year boasted of more than CA$29 billion (BDS$45 billion) in assets and CA$4.3 billion (BDS$6.69 billion) in reserves, has built a ten megawatt solar farm in St Lucy, which is expected to save the country an estimated $10 million per year in fossil fuels.

Chief Operating of Emera Inc. Scott Balfour also disclosed that the feasibility of a major offshore wind turbine energy pilot project was currently being discussed and once the necessary applications were submitted and approved it would be implemented.

Stressing that plans were in the embryonic stages and there were no details just yet, Balfour told participants in the BL&P’s inaugural energy talk event that the plan was being looked at in association with the University of Maine.

“This is still only in the early planning stages, but it is something I have actually seen and is excited about . . . and that is that Emera and the team here at Barbados Light & Power is working together with partners at the University of Maine to test the idea of trialing a floating wind project here in Barbados,” announced Balfour.

“So the plan would see a floating wind turbine that would be designed and built at the University of Maine, brought here to Barbados and installed offshore and connected into the grid and testing technology that would provide critical data in terms of the evolution of that as an application that could have global significance, but of particular significance here where the ability to capture wind resource obviously becomes exponential,” he said.

Though he did not have a timeframe for when the company hoped the plan would become a reality, Balfour said he was yet to sell the idea to Government.

“We think this is really exciting and we are really pleased to be a part of it and thinking about the idea to test this technology right here in Barbados,” he said, adding that the plans were in keeping with the company’s 100/100 Vision, to have the island powered by 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2045.

16 Responses to In Cahill’s wake

  1. John Everatt October 27, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Good lord, how can the people of Barbados put any faith in the operation of a high tech waste to energy plant when their government corporations can not run a sewage system or a water supply system. Great dreams but reality is reality.

  2. hcalndre October 27, 2017 at 3:23 am

    What about UWI at Cave Hill, that`s a University too. The 4 must have gotten something out of that deal. Kellman believe that St. Lucy is so far from St.Thomas that it would not be affected by the gases that would be emitted into the environment. St.Thomas is smack in the middle of the 2×2 island.

  3. bobo October 27, 2017 at 3:27 am

    Everatt– Reality is Reality equals evolution in progress–when both political parties are eliminated from Barbados soil.There and then the responsibility of the country welfare will be in the hands of the locals.

  4. Sheron Inniss October 27, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I am pretty in sync with Mr Blackman’s proposals but Cahill was a no no for me.

  5. Andrew Simpson October 27, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I feel so embarrassed when driving on the ABC H’way, downwind from the Mangrove Pond (Mount Stinkeroo) and upwind of our major tourist belt. Policies to encourage the regeneration of wastes, with minimization of volumes entering the landfill as an immediate priority, should be the order of the day. Bajans are crying out, to contribute toward solving the woes we face, and the surest action is to stop the wastage by simply sorting at source. The benefits to society are so numerous – from employment, energy and food security, foreign exchange earnings and savings, protection of ground water and nearshore reefs, etc. WtE using recovery techniques can be designed for what’s left over, after the first three r’s have been satisfied. Actually, any government that does not facilitate regeneration does not deserve to be in charge.

  6. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Blackman floated a hedging proposal a year or two back that required a Canadian company doing the analysis and being paid from the barbadian subsidiary. He applied to the FTC and that was denied. Simply put the attempt was to gamble on the future price of oil that would lock the consumer in to paying that price.

  7. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Before BL&P was sold to EMERA he was involved in investigating wind generation at lamberts as well as a number of other locations on the island. Money was spent and that failed mind you this country grind canes for years using the technology but the excuse was that people complained about the noise and look. Again a failure.

  8. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 9:49 am

    waste to energy 700 million dollars is a lot a money and no doubt EMERA want piece a the action as well as continued monopoly for generation and distribution. That is a straight forward quid pro quo which this country got to watch careful.

  9. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 9:52 am

    about the cane fuel Blackman knows full well that the reason the two recent additions to generating capacity at spring garden was as a result of the BL&P dismissing the efforts by government to get the Andrews plant as well as maintaining a fuel for it. They decided to make the investment in fossil fuel.

  10. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 9:54 am

    the last rate hearing was one to recoup a return on investment. you may be asking what investment….well their was suppose to be new investment in st. lucy but that never was made and Blackman got an application before the FTC to adjust the fuel clause stupse classic smoke screens and cracked mirrors

  11. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 9:57 am

    the reason that………… parent company Emera Inc. last year boasted of more than CA$29 billion (BDS$45 billion) in assets and CA$4.3 billion (BDS$6.69 billion) in reserves is because they extract every last cent from the HOST through ensuring that customers pay the maximum and any investment will mean that their own get to manufacture and profit. there is no technology transfer. the money and know how will stay in Canada.

  12. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Listen carefully to Roger Blackman and what he is saying this MD never speaks unless he has something to extract profit from the backs of barbadians. Understand also that that management team of which he was apart sold a 100 year old locally owned company to EMERA well before the ink was dry after the last rate hearing. Whoever reading could connect the dots.

  13. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 10:04 am

    we had a Professor Headley at UWI, we got a Barbados Community College a Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and an established solar industry and the BL&P led by the likes a Frank McConney, Andrew Gittens, Peter Williams (who by the way was at the helm when it was sold) could never harness the investment this country made in education but pick up the country and handed it to EMERA.

  14. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 10:10 am

    one last thing Barbadians must see their garbage as a revenue stream. when you buy the item you pay for the package and it has a residual value. Stop dumping the garbage alongside the road and start separating it and earning some money for it. As for electricity start to invest in panels and equipment. you get some good deals on line and put our young men and women to work installing them and reduce your dependency on this power company.

  15. Milli Watt October 27, 2017 at 10:13 am

    EMERA got rid of that management team as soon as they land for good reason cause if you could do what you did to your country consider what you would do to me (EMERA) don’t allow this present management team and EMERA make the next billion on our backs

  16. Kammie Holder October 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Why burn when we can export generated waste and earn Fx? Why not 100% green and blue energy as the sun is in abundance and sea all around us. This is Emera speaking and we will also resist this in lieu of better options. The Arawak and the Light & Power Generation plant both pollute the air. Do they ever publish air statistics of the surrounding area daily. Piss in my PJs. #SMH


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