Focus on Impact Award Winner: BMR Energy, LLC
OPIC’s work to help address the world’s most critical development challenges takes many shapes. But one of the key ways is through investing in clean and reliable energy. Earlier this month OPIC recognized BMR Energy, LLC with an Impact Award for its work building a wind power plant in Jamaica.
Many may not realize that energy security is a major challenge for the Caribbean. Like many small island nations, Jamaica depends on expensive imported fossil fuels for much of its electricity and the country’s dependence on outdated oil-fired electricity generation has led to high electricity prices, which create a burden on the economy. This high cost of energy diverts resources away from economic development, reduces competitiveness, and renders the energy sectors of Caribbean nations vulnerable to supply shocks.
OPIC financing, together with support from the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Government of Canada, helped BMR build a 36-megawatt wind farm, the country’s largest private-sector renewable energy project.
The plant is helping Jamaica reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels and move toward its goal of generating 20% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. The project has the capacity to power up to 36,000 Jamaican households. Throughout the construction phase. The project employed over 700 local Jamaican workers.
The project is supports the U.S. Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, a government effort announced by Vice President Joe Biden in 2014, to help strengthen the region’s energy sector. As Biden noted during the Caribbean Energy Security Summit last year, the BMR project is a “tangible example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together.”
The Caribbean Energy Security Initiative is helping to address these challenges by coordinating a portfolio of products designed to assist the transformation of the Caribbean’s electricity sector including increasing access to financing and maximizing the impact of existing donor efforts.
“It’s profoundly in the self-interest of the United States to see the Caribbean countries succeed as prosperous, secure, energy-independent neighbors — not a world apart, but an integral part of the hemisphere.”
During the July 7 OPIC Impact Awards for excellence in development, BMR’s Bruce Levy spoke about the ways that OPIC supported the project and the positive impact it is having.
BMR Energy’s impact for Jamaica’s renewable energy sector is both promising and pioneering. On an island where importing oil can cost far more than the renewable alternatives, examples like this show that clean power both benefits the environment and can make sound financial sense.