POND ISLAND–The waste-to-energy proposal agreed to by the former National Alliance (NA)-led government has the potential to “financially cripple” utilities company GEBE. This was the position Energy Affairs Minister Miklos Giterson said was communicated to him by GEBE management.
The proposal, described by former Minister Christophe Emmanuel as the solution to the country’s mounting garbage management crisis and constant dump fire, calls for GEBE to purchase the electricity to be produced by the plant at rate higher than its current rate to customers.
The agreement with the company is currently with Governor Eugene Holiday for his approval. However, his cabinet had called on the former Government, before it demitted office, to respond to a series of concerns raised by the agreement between Enviro Green NV and Government.
One point of concern, according to Giterson, is that the agreement was signed when the NA-led government had a caretaker status and, by law, was not permitted to make any new decision or commitment on behalf of the country.
The former Government “should have been reluctant to sign” the proposal knowing that it might not have the support of the majority in Parliament, Giterson said.
Missing, based on the query of the Governor’s Cabinet, are supporting documents about the company Enviro Green N.V. No extract from St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) was attached to the proposal and there was no indication who its shareholders and/or owner are, said Giterson.
The plan was touted by the former Government as bearing no financial risk to the country for the building and operation of the plant. However, Giterson pointed out that while cash might not be involved, other costly items are sewn in such as Government granting long lease land for the plant site.
Government, based on the agreement, must stand as “primary” guarantor for GEBE, must help Enviro Green with the acquisition of a power purchase agreement with GEBE, must speed up the issuance of permits to the company and guarantee a “sufficient flow” of garbage to the plant.
“These concerns raised by the Governor are being investigated by the Ministry at the moment. Those concerns are the main reasons why the agreement has not been signed [by the Governor – Ed.],” Giterson said.
He cited that the Social Economic Council SER had advised the then-Government in 2016 against a waste-to-energy plant. SER advocated for an integrated solid waste management system with the French side.