Bonaire - In the presence of many invited guests, the so-called Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) between EcoPower Bonaire and WEB, the Government owned utilities company of Bonaire, was signed on 27 November 2007. Under this agreement, EcoPower will supply WEB with electrical power for a period of fifteen years, starting end 2009. The power will be generated by a (bio-)diesel power station and a wind turbine farm yet to be built. This project will provide Bonaire with a 100% sustainable supply of energy. Furthermore, the change will result in a structural reduction in the cost of electricity. The project involves an investment of more than 130 million Netherlands Antilles guilders, including the required capital expenditure by WEB.

Signing the PPA, finalises approximately 12 months of negotiations between WEB and EcoPower, the syndicate formed by the Dutch energy development consortium Econcern, the German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, and the German engineering company MAN. The agreement was signed by Richard Hart, General Manager of Bonaire Holding Maatschap, who is responsible for the management of WEB, Ramonsito Booi, Chairman of the Board of WEB, and Dennis de Lange on behalf of EcoPower Bonaire and the Board of Directors of Econcern.
Hart: "We have been very exacting in our negotiations. In order to be able to dot every i and cross every t, a number of additional investigations were needed. However, we are very pleased with the end result. We believe this enables us to guarantee a unique, affordable and, what's more, a sustainable energy supply for Bonaire in the coming fifteen years." After signing the agreement, EcoPower will have 24 months to construct the new diesel power station and wind turbine farm. According to the project manager, Gilbert Gouverneur, General Manager of Ecofys Caribbean (a subsidiary of Econcern), preparations have been underway for some time. "Construction of the power station will start within one month. The entire project will take 24 months to complete. This is mainly because of the lead times involved in supplying the machinery and the wind turbines. Demand for diesel engines and wind turbines is enormous at the moment. As a result, prices have risen and lead times have lengthened during the past 12 months.
In addition to the construction of the power station and the wind turbine park, WEB will put in place the necessary facilities for bringing the power supplied by EcoPower to the customer. WEB itself will invest 42 million Guilders to expand and enhance the electricity grid: 32 million in the electricity grid and 10 million in the water supply.

Lower prices

As a result of this project, the structural cost of electricity on Bonaire will fall. Richard Hart: "When signing this Memorandum of Understanding with the EcoPower group at the end 2006, we anticipated a structural reduction in the cost of electricity to the consumer, of around 20%. This is still our objective today. If the price of oil continues to rise, as many experts predict, the cost of electricity on Bonaire will, in the coming fifteen years, increase less sharply than in the rest of the world. In addition to a much more environmentally-friendly way of generating electricity, this will eventually mean the greatest benefit to our island."

A unique project

According to Gilbert Gouverneur, this project will give the island something unique:

"Econcern is involved in various alternative energy projects in many parts of the world. The project on Bonaire is by far the most advanced. If we succeed in running these diesel engines on fuel we produce ourselves from sea algae, something that Cargill is busy doing, then we will be the first in the world with 100% sustainable energy generation. That is to say, generation of electricity without the use of fossil fuels, using renewable fuel instead." In addition, Bonaire will also gain global recognition through this project. Every month, WEB is approached by all kinds of people who want to develop projects on the island, related to alternative energy and sustainability generally.

Source: National Newspaper Amigoe
28 November 2007

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