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Int’l financing package will help set up Jamaica wind farm

January 26, 2015 GMT

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A nearly $63 million financing package was announced Monday to create a wind farm to help Jamaica offset its high power costs and near total dependence on imported fuel.

The new wind farm could provide up to 36 megawatts of power to Jamaica’s sole electrical utility after it begins operations next year, according to the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank.

“With this project, we hope to demonstrate the viability of the renewable energy sector and open the door to future renewable energy projects,” IFC Caribbean manager Jun Zhang said in a statement Monday.

The announcement came as Caribbean leaders converged Monday in Washington for a U.S.-led summit aimed at helping them convert diesel-powered plants to cleaner natural gas and increase use from renewable resources such as the wind and sun plentiful across the islands.

Renewables make up about 6 percent now of the electricity distributed by the Jamaica Public Service Company, the island’s sole power utility. With mostly diesel-fueled power generation, consumers in Jamaica pay some 42 cents per kilowatt hour, often as much as four times more than power on the U.S. mainland.

Most of the financing for the 36-megawatt BMR Jamaica Wind Ltd. project in Jamaica’s St. Elizabeth parish will come from a loan from the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corp.