By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A waste-to-energy provider has reached a “critical stage” in its negotiations with the Government over a $600 million-plus plant at the New Providence landfill, its principal confirming that no final agreement had been concluded.
Dr Fabrizio Zanaboni, Bahamas-based Stellar Energy’s chief executive, confirmed that the company had signed a Letter of Intent with the Ministry of Works for the project .
“Everything is progressing. I’m happy that they have progressed to a critical stage. We are continuing our discussions with government. I don’t wish to say anything beyond what is already out there at this point,” said Dr Zanaboni.
A Letter of Intent is effectively an ‘agreement in principle’, which normally means numerous other conditions have to be fulfilled before such a project becomes reality.
Tribune Business reported exclusively last November that Stellar Energy was offering to build and operate a plasma waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill, creating 400-500 full-time jobs in the process.
Dr Zanaboni at the time said Stellar Energy’s integrated solution offered the Bahamas far greater benefits than proposals which were then being considered by the Government.
The Christie administration has since selected Renew Bahamas as its preferred landfill manager, with some local waste services providers - who had offered similar proposals - slamming the Government for its secrecy.
With Stellar Energy now in the picture, it remains unclear what impact this would have on Renew’s contract and future operations. Calls to the office of Deputy Prime Minister and minister of works, Philip Davis, were not returned.
Attempts to reach parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works, Renward Wells, who was said to be on vacation, and minister of the environment, Kenred Dorsett, who has direct responsibility for the landfill, were also unsuccessful.
Dr Zanaboni told Tribune Business back in November that Stellar had been having discussions on its proposal with the “highest levels” of government, including Prime Minister Perry Christie and the Energy Task Force, over a 14-15 month period.
The company, which has offices in Nassau, had contracted APP Tetronics, a waste-to-energy plasma technology specialist, and planned funding a $200,000 waste analysis study of the New Providence landfill.
“The Government is looking for a short-term solution in terms of managing the landfill, and a long-term solution regarding waste-to-energy. We can do both straight away. We are able to propose an integrated solution whereby we can start to manage the landfill and start recycling, possibly with a joint venture with the Government if they are interested, and we can immediately plan the building of the plant once we get the go ahead,” Dr Zanaboni previously told this newspaper.
“The plant would be completed in 18 months. Approximately 2,000 temporary jobs would be created during its construction, and 400-500 full-time jobs between waste management and waste-to-energy running, 95 per cent of which would be Bahamian.
“We don’t have a full estimate on the plant because we first need to assess the output of the waste at the landfill. The lower the waste quality, the higher the plant cost, but a good estimate is between $500-$600 million, which would which would totally be funded by Stellar.”