French development agency to finance geothermal plant in Dominica

ROSEAU, Dominica (GIS) — The Agence Francaise De Developpement is prepared to finance the construction of a 15 megawatt geothermal plant in Dominica.

This was confirmed by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit during a press conference last week.

The Dominica leader recently led a delegation to France where talks were held with French officials about its support for Dominica’s geothermal energy pursuits.

Skerrit told reporters that the meeting yielded positive results for the Dominican delegation.

The French government has also expressed interest in supporting Government’s plans to construct a 120 megawatt plant.

“AFD has said to us very clearly that they are prepared to finance the construction of the 15 megawatt plant in Dominica. Of course [this is] subject to a formal request by the government of Dominica for the financing. What we will be doing in Dominica is to continue our discussions with the particular partner with whom we’ve been discussing to see if they would want to enter into an agreement with us to continue having this small plant jointly; or if it means that government may have to own the plant and allow a company to manage it on behalf of the tax payers of the country,” Skerrit said.

He continued, “Now as to how much of this total amount will be by way of grants and loans is a matter for further discussions and negotiations with the AFD. Suffice this to say that they have indicated that they are prepared to finance the construction of the 15 megawatt plant in Dominica for domestic consumption. The French government is certainly keen on purchasing the energy from Dominica; in fact they will purchase energy from Dominica.”

“The French want to play a very critical role in the construction, the management and the financing of the bigger plant. There are French companies who are in discussions with the French government about their involvement in the construction of the 120 megawatt plant in Dominica and French government has indicated that the AFD will certainly be buying energy from Dominica once we are at that particular stage,” Skerrit revealed.

The French government has also given a commitment to provide technical assistance towards the successful development of Dominica’s geothermal project.

Skerrit indicated, “The AFD has agreed to provide us with technical assistance by way of paying for a legal expert to further review the geothermal bill and also they will be drafting the regulations for this piece of legislation. Additionally the AFD has been able to negotiate on our behalf with the European Union for an amount of over one million dollar Euros that would go towards providing technical assistance to Dominica with the creation of a project development unit. So we’re moving from a project management unit under the geothermal project to a project development unit to deal with the development of the actual plants and that technical assistance will be over a period of 60 months, 5 years.”

The Skerrit administration has already spent millions in its geothermal exploration and drilling efforts.

One of the main objectives is to reduce the cost of electricity.

“The cost of electricity in Dominica is too high and when each of us looks at our light bills it’s very difficult for us to survive having other expenses with the high cost of electricity bills in Dominica. I’m talking about domestic consumption and also in the private sector. There are situations where the hotels have their air conditioning units on all day, there’s a high consumption of energy at those establishments. It’s going to pose a challenge for these properties to really realize the kind of profits that they could generate,” the prime minister stated.

The Dominica leader has called for support for Dominica’s geothermal energy project.

“The question is if not geothermal then what? What is the alternative to fossil fuel? What is the alternative to the high electricity bills that our people have to pay? The government has a proposal and a plan to address that. My hope and prayer is that all of us in Dominica despite having different views or whether we may not support this totally, that we can find sensible responses towards addressing the concerns which some citizens may have legitimately or otherwise,” he urged.

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