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Opposition legislator critical of government over geothermal project

Geothermal

geothermal drill in Montserrat

Montserrat never gets mentioned in any geothermal discussion in the region, worse yet in the OECS. The question now is however, what is the status of geothermal development in Montserrat which went on pause now for well over a year.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – An opposition legislator has criticised the agreement reached between the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government and a group of foreign investors to develop the geothermal sector.

Daniel Cummings of the New Democratic Party (NDP) has described the accord as “a sinister plot to enrich people at the expense” of nationals and that the Ralph Gonsalves government missed the opportunity to plan and implement a geothermal power plant.

Prime Minister Gonsalves piloting the Resources Development Bill, 2015, told legislators that the legislation seeks to establish a National Energy Committee and provide for the development and utilisation of geothermal resources in a manner that is beneficial to the country and protects the environment.

The geothermal project – which is expected to become operational in 2018 — is a joint undertaking between the Government, Icelandic firm Reykjavik Geothermal, and Emera.

The Clinton Climate Initiative is providing technical assistance to the project that is expected to be completed by 2018 and should provide the country with 10 to 15 megawatts of energy.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is providing 25 per cent of the US$82 million project.

Gonsalves said that VINLEC, the state-owned power company, prefers to fund and own the transition facilities for the 10-15 megawatt power plant.

Reykjavik and Emera will produce the electricity and sell it to VINLEC, which will re-sell it to consumers.

But Cummings, an engineer, who is also the Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, told lawmakers that although geothermal energy has been bandied about as being a game changer, when he listened to the Prime Minister’s presentation, he tried to get a picture in his mind “of what exactly is this game”.

He said there can be little doubt that, properly done, the exploration of the island’s known geothermal potential can bring considerable benefit to all residents of the country.

He said he represented the opposition at one of the government-organised consultations and got a firsthand understanding from the consultant.

“And I took away from that consultation a very dark picture of a sinister plot to enrich people at the expense of the people of this country,” Cummings said.

Cummings said the ULP missed the boat to plan and implement the geothermal power project, saying that the government entered into an agreement with a company purporting to be an expert in the field, but it turned out that the company had no known experience in this regard.

However, between 2005 and 2014 Dominica has made significant strides on its own geothermal energy efforts, including   drilling three exploratory wells, one production well and one reinjection well.

Cummings noted that the exploratory phase of Dominica’s geothermal power project was paid for with grant funds from the Organisation of American States and the European Union.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune. Clearly, the people of Dominica will be the beneficiaries of the resource that is being utilised in Dominica,” Cummings said, suggesting that St. Vincent should follow the example of Dominica and seek grant funds to pay for the research and drilling for the geothermal resource

“It is in that phase and the drilling of the wells that you have the greatest risk, because, indeed, if you don’t get it right, you can drill several wells at tremendous cost and have nothing coming.

“That is why the people of this country will be saddled with a company coming here, putting its money upfront, and as soon as we start producing electricity the biggest slice of the pie going to them because not only they want back their money, they want it back with very high interest rate; very high!

“That the nature of venture capital. You think I would come if I have a few million dollars unless I know, one, it has a good chance of coming back, and, two, I getting an excellent rate of return?

“That is what this government has done,” Cummings said.

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Geothermal

geothermal drill in Montserrat

Montserrat never gets mentioned in any geothermal discussion in the region, worse yet in the OECS. The question now is however, what is the status of geothermal development in Montserrat which went on pause now for well over a year.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – An opposition legislator has criticised the agreement reached between the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government and a group of foreign investors to develop the geothermal sector.

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Daniel Cummings of the New Democratic Party (NDP) has described the accord as “a sinister plot to enrich people at the expense” of nationals and that the Ralph Gonsalves government missed the opportunity to plan and implement a geothermal power plant.

Prime Minister Gonsalves piloting the Resources Development Bill, 2015, told legislators that the legislation seeks to establish a National Energy Committee and provide for the development and utilisation of geothermal resources in a manner that is beneficial to the country and protects the environment.

The geothermal project – which is expected to become operational in 2018 — is a joint undertaking between the Government, Icelandic firm Reykjavik Geothermal, and Emera.

The Clinton Climate Initiative is providing technical assistance to the project that is expected to be completed by 2018 and should provide the country with 10 to 15 megawatts of energy.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is providing 25 per cent of the US$82 million project.

Gonsalves said that VINLEC, the state-owned power company, prefers to fund and own the transition facilities for the 10-15 megawatt power plant.

Reykjavik and Emera will produce the electricity and sell it to VINLEC, which will re-sell it to consumers.

But Cummings, an engineer, who is also the Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, told lawmakers that although geothermal energy has been bandied about as being a game changer, when he listened to the Prime Minister’s presentation, he tried to get a picture in his mind “of what exactly is this game”.

He said there can be little doubt that, properly done, the exploration of the island’s known geothermal potential can bring considerable benefit to all residents of the country.

He said he represented the opposition at one of the government-organised consultations and got a firsthand understanding from the consultant.

“And I took away from that consultation a very dark picture of a sinister plot to enrich people at the expense of the people of this country,” Cummings said.

Cummings said the ULP missed the boat to plan and implement the geothermal power project, saying that the government entered into an agreement with a company purporting to be an expert in the field, but it turned out that the company had no known experience in this regard.

However, between 2005 and 2014 Dominica has made significant strides on its own geothermal energy efforts, including   drilling three exploratory wells, one production well and one reinjection well.

Cummings noted that the exploratory phase of Dominica’s geothermal power project was paid for with grant funds from the Organisation of American States and the European Union.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune. Clearly, the people of Dominica will be the beneficiaries of the resource that is being utilised in Dominica,” Cummings said, suggesting that St. Vincent should follow the example of Dominica and seek grant funds to pay for the research and drilling for the geothermal resource

“It is in that phase and the drilling of the wells that you have the greatest risk, because, indeed, if you don’t get it right, you can drill several wells at tremendous cost and have nothing coming.

“That is why the people of this country will be saddled with a company coming here, putting its money upfront, and as soon as we start producing electricity the biggest slice of the pie going to them because not only they want back their money, they want it back with very high interest rate; very high!

“That the nature of venture capital. You think I would come if I have a few million dollars unless I know, one, it has a good chance of coming back, and, two, I getting an excellent rate of return?

“That is what this government has done,” Cummings said.