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WIPN, NIA clash over new geothermal arrangement

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): West Indies Power (WIPN), the company previously contracted by the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) to pursue geothermal energy on the island, is seeking a stay of execution against the CCM led administration to prevent it from pursuing the project with a new company. On Thursday, in a press release, the NIA announced that energy company Nevis Renewable Energy International (NREI) won the bid to pursue geothermal on Nevis. The NIA said NREI was selected last Friday November 15 through the procurement process released in September 2013. 

But West Indies Power CEO Kerry McDonald says the NIA is still legally contracted to his company to pursue geothermal energy on Nevis and the matter is in court. “From the West Indies Power point of view, the action by the NIA is totally invalid and illegal since the question of is the WIPN contract valid or not is in the courts,” McDonald said.  “Before the court is the question of was the contract ever breached by WIPN as alleged by the NIA? WIPN’s position is it was never breached and the contract is still valid,” he added. The case will be heard in February 2014. 

Progress on developing geothermal energy on Nevis has been stalled in recent years with the previous administration entering into a contract with West Indies Power to pursue the project. The matter was brought before court and according to the previous minister of energy Carlisle Powell, the court relieved the NIA from the contract with West Indies Power on the position that that NIA claimed West Indies Power could not pay its bills. The company has since refuted this claim and filed an appeal. 

However energy minister Alexis Jeffers refutes Mr. McDonald’s claims that the NIA is still legally contracted to West Indies Power. “If the matter was brought to court and the Nevis Island Administration would have won the matter then, I cannot understand why someone would indicate that there is a still a contract in place when in truth and in fact there was a letter written by the  junior minister then, the Hon. Carlisle Powell terminating that contract,” Jeffers said.  

Mr. Jeffers says the government will pursue geothermal energy with NREI regardless of whatever court action is taken by West Indies Power. “We are forging ahead because we feel that based on that particular letter of termination that was sent to West Indies Power terminating that contract I feel there is a ground for us to move forward,” Jeffers said. 

Meanwhile, the CCM led administration said the company NREI that has won the bid has worked on developing geothermal power projects in the USA, Canada, Chile, Peru, St Lucia, and Kenya, as well as other sites worldwide. Minister Jeffers told WINN that the US state department assisted in the procurement process. The minister said an agreement will be signed with the company in December. 

A government release said NREI will assist NEVLEC and NIA to design and implement a geothermal program that will enable Nevis to develop the expertise needed to serve as a center of excellence for geothermal development throughout the West Indies. The government asserted both NEVLEC and the NIA placed a strong emphasis on identifying a technically and financially qualified development partner for the island’s geothermal resource potential that would create the most value for the island and NEVLEC’s customers.  

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