The company at the centre of the Letter of Intent (LoI) controversy over its proposed $650 million waste-to-energy plant yesterday said PowerSecure International’s selection as BEC manager gives it a “huge opportunity” to revive the project.
Stellar Energy executives, coming out in public after months of hibernation, said they had secured the $650 million in financing necessary for their proposed plasma gasification waste-to-energy (WtoE) plant, which would be located at the New Providence landfill.
They said they had not been idle despite retreating from the public eye once controversy erupted over the signing of Stellar’s Letter of Intent (LoI) by former Ministry of Works parliamentary secretary, Renward Wells.
However, it seemed clear that Stellar Energy has been unable to make tangible progress with the Government in moving its proposal forward since it became tainted by the controversy that resulted, ultimately, in Mr Wells’ departure from the Governme nt.
The message delivered yesterday is that Stellar is now pinning its hopes on PowerSecure, BEC’s manager-elect, to give a more favourable response than the Government and to facilitate the $650 million project coming to fruition. In effect, it is almost hoping to do an ‘end-run’ around any government hesitation and reluctance to approve the proposal.
Stellar Energy executives said they were essentially now awaiting the “green light” from the Government to proceed with further technical assessments, having already determined from its first front end engineering design (FEED) study that the project was technically and financially sound.
Dr Fabrizio Zanaboni, Stellar Energy’s chief executive, said yesterday that the company’s objective was still to build and design a plasma gasification waste-to-energy plant, which could operate for 40 years with proper maintenance, ultimately handing it over to the Bahamian people.
The company he said, was ultimately looking to secure a power purchase agreement with BEC, although everything hinged on the Government’s decision over which direction to take with energy reform.
“We have no guarantees right now. At the end of the day Government will decide which components they want to use in their overall energy reform,” said Stellar Energy’s chief operating officer J P Michielsen.
“Waste-to-energy is a small component, or could be a small component, to the overall set-up of energy reform. We know that there is a strong push towards renewables because you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket, which is fossil.”
“With the announcement of PowerSecure, I think there is a huge opportunity for us to do what we would like to do, which is build a plasma gasification waste-to-energy plant that will further remediate whatever is sitting at the landfill right now,” said Mr Michelson.
“We are now ready. We have done FEED 1. FEED 1 was done in November 2013, which has clearly shown us that this is a viable option for the Bahamas and for investors, and we are waiting now to go to FEED 2 and FEED 3.
“With FEED 2 and FEED 3 comes a large hiring of Bahamian talent. We have $650 million in financing available to fund the venture and we’re looking for the Government to give the good ahead for FEED 2 and FEED 3, so we can get all of the engineering studies out of the way and start looking at making this plant a reality.
“What we need is a clear indication that waste-to-energy is what they want to its
Stellar Energy said their project would not conflict with the work of current landfill manager, Renew Bahamas, even though the latter says it has rights to every piece of waste going into the New Providence landfill. Given that the two companies are effectively rivals, Renew Bahamas will have little incentive to facilitate any studies by Stellar Energy.
Gerhard Beukes, Renew Bahamas’ president and chief executive, previously said several years worth of studies on the landfill’s waste streams needed to be performed before it could be determined whether waste-to-energy is viable in the Bahamas.
Mr Michielsen, meanwhile, said Stellar Energy has continuously spoken with relevant government ministries on its proposal, and spent $2 million in start-up costs to reach this stage.
“To go to FEED 2 and FEED 3 will be millions of dollars more, and you really don’t want to do that until you have some sort of surety that this really makes sense in the end, business wise. We have been involved with trying to make this happen as a business for about there years now,” said Mr Michielson.
He added that Stellar’s project could create thousands of Bahamian jobs, remediate the landfill and ultimately lead to lower electricity rates for Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) customers.