Branson’s Virgin Group Buys Storm-Damaged Caribbean Solar Farm

by Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg

A clean-power company owned by billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has taken over a Caribbean solar farm that was damaged last year by Hurricane Maria.

Virgin’s BMR Energy unit, which develops, owns and operates clean-energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, plans to restore the 4-megawatt farm in St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and take over a power-purchase agreement, according to a statement Tuesday. It has been running at less than 45 percent of capacity since the September storm. Terms of the acquisition from NRG Energy Inc. weren’t disclosed.

Some Caribbean islands have turned to renewables to diversify fuel supplies for electricity generation. Branson — who owns and lives on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands — has previously advocated for clean and renewable energy sources. Virgin bought New York-based BMR in 2016.

The overhaul of the solar farm in Spanish Town, St. Croix, should be complete by October, BMR Chief Executive Officer Bruce Levy said in an interview. While many of the panels survived, BMR is replacing damaged inverters with salt- and moisture-resistant equipment, he said. BMR also owns a 36-megawatt wind farm in Jamaica and a 5-megawatt solar farm in Guatemala and is working to buy another undisclosed solar project in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Developing new projects is a challenge and takes time,” Levy said. “Putting broken projects back together goes faster.”

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