United States-based New Fortress Energy (NFE) on Friday broke ground for the construction of a combined heat and power plant at Jamalco’s Halse Hall headquarters in Clarendon.
94MW of baseload energy from the power plant will be sold into the national grid, and the project is expected to provide 450 jobs for Jamaicans during construction.
The plant, which will be powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) is estimated to cost US$265mn.
Construction of the plant will take approximately 24 months, with connection to the national grid scheduled for December 2019.
Major components of the operation will include floating storage and a regasification terminal, the installation of a pipeline from Rocky Point port to the Jamalco refinery, the construction of the natural gas power station at Hayes, and the construction of an electricity distribution network.
"This development signifies the power of win-win partnerships with the benefits for Jamalco, including reduced cost, as well as increased reliability and efficiency," Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed.
He said the plant should help to ensure lower costs and lower emissions and will benefit the Jamaican economy.
The development has been in the pipeline for a while as the Cabinet had given its approval as far back as June 2016. The Jamaican government has a 49% stake in Jamalco.
Jamalco will not be the only beneficiary of the new plant to be built as Holness said that the Jamaica Public Service would also benefit through the power-purchase agreement, yet to be negotiated.
Founder and Chairman of New Fortress Energy Wesley Edens gave the thumbs up to the Office of Utilities Regulation, which he said had played a major role in facilitating the investment.
“This has been by far the best regulatory environment that I have dealt with,” he said.
Edens said the advancements in the diversification of Jamaica's energy sector are remarkable.
“Two years ago, virtually 100 [%] of the energy in Jamaica was generated by oil, and two years from now virtually 100% of it will be natural gas or renewables.
“The country has been upgraded [in] its credit rating by Moody's, citing specifically the energy footprint.
“Energy costs [are] 30% lower and the environment is much cleaner, so with this I think Jamaica is a model not only for the Caribbean but throughout the world.
“It's remarkable what has been accomplished here,” he said.