Delays to geothermal project over; 2011 date set

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CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Thursday November 18, 2010 – The company that has been working to develop geothermal energy on the small island of Nevis is giving the assurance that the delays that have slowed down the project for the past months are now over and residents will get cheaper power by next year.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of West Indies Power (WIP) Nevis Ltd, Kerry McDonald, says the project will move forward quickly early next year.

He made the disclosure in an interview with the Department of Information, during a field visit with members of an advance team who are on the island to lay the groundwork for construction of a 10-megawatt geothermal plant ahead of the planned start of Phase II of the project.

“January is the date that this project will begin. The contracts are in place, the financing has been finalised and we will begin drilling in January. The rigs will arrive in January and the holes will begin drilling the end of January, first part of February. The plant will be started for installation in March and we plan to be producing power no later than the end of 2011. So in 2011, the people of Nevis will have their cheaper geothermal power,” McDonald said.

He explained that the project had been delayed because financing for it had been adversely affected by the global economic downturn.

However, the Export-Import Bank of America and the Bank of Novia Scotia have agreed to fund the US$31 million required to complete the project.

“We were luckily able to get our financial support to go forward with the project. The project itself will end up costing US$45 million. We have spent, since 2007, US$14 million on the island for drilling the three wells and doing all the exploration work, plus doing a lot of the work that people on the island don’t see – the engineering, the design, the environmental studies that we have to do. Those have been ongoing for this last year but those are critical for us to develop the plant,” McDonald explained. 

Now that funding has been secured, the WIP boss said, the project will move ahead rapidly once it commences in 2011.

Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Joseph Parry has welcomed news of the pending start of Phase II of the project.

“This stage of the project means everything to the Nevis Island Administration. We have placed our bets on the development of geothermal on the island as a means to diversify the economy and to provide cheaper and consistent electricity; to provide electricity for St Kitts and possibly beyond St Kitts,” he said.

“The government of Puerto Rico is interested in the geothermal energy if we are ever able to supply geothermal energy to them. So it means everything – jobs, more cascading industries, other industries and, furthermore, to make Nevis the first green government in the western hemisphere and eventually to make St Kitts and Nevis the first green nation in the western hemisphere.”  

It’s estimated that about 40 new jobs will be created in the construction phase of the project.

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