Published on August 9th, 2018 | by Joshua S Hill0
Richard Branson-Owned Clean Energy Firm Buys Solar Plant Damaged By Hurricane Maria
August 9th, 2018 by Joshua S Hill
BMR Energy, a clean energy company purchased by English business magnate Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2016, has this week stepped in to acquire a 4 megawatt (MW) solar plant on the Caribbean island of St. Croix which was damaged by Hurricane Maria in September of 2017 and which has been running below 45% capacity ever since.
Formed on September 16 of 2017, Hurricane Maria swept through the Caribbean and locked itself a ranking as the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the worst natural disaster in the history of Dominica and Puerto Rico. With an untold death count and nearly $100 billion in damages throughout the region, Hurricane Maria also managed to create political disasters throughout the region and, distressingly, in the United States as well.
A sometimes overlooked casualty of Hurricane Maria, however, is the region’s clean energy projects, many of which were battered, bruised, and broken following the hurricane’s passing.
One of those projects to be hard hit was the 4 MW Spanish Town Estate Solar Project located on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. The project was developed by NRG Energy, one of the largest solar companies in the US, and construction for the project began all the way back in April of 2014, with solar modules provided by Canadian Solar, and was completed by October of that year.
The Spanish Town project is one of many clean energy projects across the Caribbean, specifically across the US Virgin Islands, which were dramatically impacted by Hurricane Maria and suffered enough damage that clean energy production has been significantly decreased since its aftermath — and with very little effort or money to repair.
That has led, of late, to a Caribbean-wide effort to increase the resiliency of clean energy projects in the hurricane-prone region.
As part of this effort, BMR Energy — which was acquired by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2016 — announced this week that it had purchased the 4 MW Spanish Town Estate Solar Project from NRG Energy, and will take over the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and restoration efforts of the project.
“BMR Energy is an expert in developing clean energy – the team also acts as a long-term partner and is working to make a huge difference in the region,” said Richard Branson, founder at Virgin Group. “The world needs to find ways to introduce more resilient clean energy. The Caribbean has an abundance of clean energy sources, and BMR are taking great strides towards helping create zero-carbon energy supplies for years to come.”
“Restoring the solar facility in Spanish Town, St. Croix, to full capacity generation is core to our mission of supporting clean energy infrastructure in the Caribbean and Latin America,” added Bruce Levy, CEO of BMR Energy. “This acquisition is an opportunity to show how to build for stronger hurricane resiliency and offer greater value to the region. As the prolonged restoration in these hurricane-devastated areas highlights – with Puerto Rico being the most extreme example – we must remain committed to rebuilding our infrastructure right and successfully maintaining projects through long-term ownership.”
A BMR construction manager is already on-site managing the repair efforts and replacing inverters at the project, while BMR continues to work closely with the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority — the local utility and power purchaser of the Spanish Town power purchaser.