With a promised multi-million dollar renewable energy facility yet to get off the ground, the Canadian energy firm which last year pledged “much cheaper” energy than what Barbadians were paying to Barbados Light & Power is seeking to reassure the country that the sun has not gone down on the project.
When DELTRO Group Ltd announced last December that it would set up a $26 million solar manufacturing plant on the island, including a solar farm to produce electricity, DELTRO President David Del Mastro promised that the line would begin operating no later than April of this year.
Del Mastro told Barbados TODAY at the time that the equipment for the project had already been purchased and was awaiting clearance from the Bridgetown Port.
However, three months past the deadline, Chief Financial Officer Dean Del Mastro is blaming unnamed frustrations for the delay.
“We certainly have been frustrated about the process. It is taking us longer than we expected and it’s been a bit more costly than we expected, but we are undeterred. We remain committed to the market and . . . we are very positive on the future. It is just taking a bit longer than expected, but there is no lack of effort. It’s just that the adjustment in the timing process is something we have to get used to,” Del Mastro told Barbados TODAY in an interview Tuesday morning.
Del Mastro was reluctant to give a new start date for the plant – to be located in Kendall Hill, Christ Church – although he suggested that work could get off the ground by the start of the third quarter of this year.
He confirmed that talks were under way with Town & Country Planning and Minister of International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss in an effort to get the project moving.
“We are moving forward. This week we filed contextual designs with Town & Country Planning for a change of use permit on the building that we intend to set the manufacturing plant up in. We are working with Minister Inniss in getting the plant equipment moved to location. It’s been here on the island for sometime now,” he revealed.
“We hope the approval for the change of use will happen soon and as soon as we get that we will get moving on renovating the plant and getting the equipment installed. At some point while that is going on we will move onto hiring people to work on the plant,” he added.
Del Mastro repeated the promise made in December that the company wanted to play “a big role” in expanding the local solar industry and transitioning Barbados to “a centre of excellence” in renewable energy.
“For an island like Barbados I think it is realistic for the people to actually put a timeline and determine a point at which they will only consume renewable energy.
“Technology is increasing to the point where we cannot only get the energy from the sun or from the wind but we can also store that very affordably and make sure it’s available when the sun isn’t shining and when the wind isn’t blowing and when other environmental factors aren’t generating. That’s a path Aruba has announced that by 2020 they want to be 100 per cent renewable; that is the kind of target Barbados can reach for,” he said.
When the solar firm executive spoke to Barbados TODAY last December, he said the company had received “some tax concessions and some import concessions” from Government, but insisted that the Barbadian taxpayer would not be asked to fund any part of the project.
The Barbados Renewable Energy Association, the local non government organization that focuses on renewable energy, immediately demanded from the Freundel Stuart administration information on special concessions offered to the company and whether it would meet acceptable standards. The answers were not forthcoming.
Just two days after announcing plans for the project, it emerged that Del Mastro, a former Canadian parliamentarian, had spent one night in jail in June last year for overspending on his electoral campaign in 2008, before he was released on bail pending an appeal,
His cousin and President of the DELTRO Group David Del Mastro, had also been charged with wrongful contributions to Dean’s 2008 campaign.