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Power plant plan for East End

Closed to the public: part of the dockside at the former Marginal Wharf, now Ships Wharf, at St David’s (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A new $300 million-plus power plant and cargo port could generate a fresh role for Marginal Wharf in St David’s.

The two schemes, expected to cost more than $150 million each and take several years to complete were announced yesterday by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister. Colonel Burch said: “Our island’s current energy infrastructure is nearing the end of its life cycle and more energy resources are needed to improve stability and reliability, especially during times of peak demand and energy situations.

He added the new power plant would provide at least 20 megawatts of power, compared with Bermuda’s capacity of 160 megawatts in April last year.

Colonel Burch said the Marginal Wharf area, also known as Ships’ Wharf, was “the last commercial port available for redevelopment and was “a great opportunity for all of Bermuda”.

He added that the Bermuda Land Development Company had launched two requests for qualifications to help explore the redevelopment ideas.

Colonel Burch said: “Through these RFQs, BLDC will invite local and international investors to submit their qualifications for the design, build and operation of these two major infrastructure projects.”

The announcement marks the end of a 3½-year “exploratory period” for the BLDC.

The BLDC called in 2014 for expressions of interest to develop the dock at Southside largely unused for several years.

Colonel Burch said redevelopment of the dock area, handed back to Bermuda by the United States Navy in 1995, would boost shipping capacity and “allow diversification into other services”.

He added: “The location could also accommodate bonded warehouses on site that would facilitate the breakdown of containerised goods at the port, enabling the transporting of goods in smaller vehicles on Bermuda’s roads.”

Fish processing, suggested as another possibility for Marginal Wharf, has been branded an eyesore by area MPs.

The minister was joined by Francis Mussenden, CEO of the BLDC, who said the request for qualifications would be open until May 23.

Mr Mussenden did not give details on the type of fuel for the new power plant and said that financing would be sought “locally and internationally”.

Grant Gibbons, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development, said the BLDC’s redevelopment plans went back several years. He added: “Any proposal would have to be included in the overall integrated resource plan.”

Dr Gibbons said: “The size of the facility and the cost of electricity would need to be included in that.

Obviously there are issues with the kind of fuel to be used.”

Dr Gibbons said there was “nothing new here” and called it “a continuation of the process”, other than the request for qualifications.

Marginal Wharf’s potential as an alternative to Hamilton docks was suggested earlier this month after the island’s primary port was forced to close for repairs. Mr Mussenden said the East End wharf may need to be dredged to accommodate cargo vessels. A handful of businesses and boatyards operate at Marginal Wharf and the BLDC said it planned to meet its tenants tomorrow. The tenants’ meeting will be followed by a community meeting at Clearwater Middle School at 6.30pm on April 5.