A new solar power plant planned for Westmoreland is expected to supply the lowest cost solar energy ever in Jamaica.

The Office of Utilities Regulation, OUR, has selected Eight Rivers Energy Company as the preferred bidder to build, own and operate a 33-megawatt solar energy plant at Paradise Park in Westmoreland.

The company prevailed over 19 other bidders – including proposals for wind, hydro and waste-to-energy projects, with its proposed price of just 8.54 cents US per kilowatt hour.

Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley says it’s the lowest cost ever for solar power in Jamaica.

In a statement today, OUR Director General Albert Gordon says the proposed tariff sets the bar for future renewable energy projects.

The 8.54 US cents submitted by Eight Rivers is also lower than the 12.88 US cents per kilowatt hour proposed by Energy World International, EWI, in their failed 2014 bid to bring Liquified Natural Gas, LNG, to Jamaica.

Then-Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell had cited the price as the benchmark for future energy projects.

The average cost of producing electricity in Jamaica is about 21-cents US per kilowatt hour, which is down from 45-cents just two years ago, due to low oil prices.

Although the proposed 33-megawatt plant represents just a fraction of Jamaica’s energy needs, Dr. Wheatley says it shows that renewable energy is becoming more competitive.

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Eight Rivers Energy Company is owned by the UK-based Rekamniar Frontier Ventures and French group Neoen International, which both hold a 50-percent stake in the company.

The OUR says the next step is for them to finalize the project agreements with Eight Rivers.

If the company fails, the OUR says it will move on to the next bidder in line. However, the regulator notes that the company has so far met all its deadlines. Dr. Wheatley says he’s confident they can deliver.

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