“The project applicants placed too much reliance on DARD and it’s agents..”

A few points to make about this statement, which appears on the Northern Ireland Executive website, in relation to the final report of the Review of the Wind Energy For Rural Businesses project (WERB) – one of number of projects funded under the EU programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity, which ran from 2001 – 2006. The report recommends “that DARD should consider making an offer of an ex-gratia payment to cover some of the costs incurred by each of the 11 applicants who, under this scheme, purchased Powerbreeze turbines.” There’s no ministerial comment, just a quote from the department’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Malcolm McKibbin who, according to the notes, requested the review. The actual report, which has been presented to the Assembly’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, is elsewhere. Direct link to pdf file here. As to the question, ‘What went wrong?’ Just about everything.. But of particular interest is what happened during the tendering process..

Adman Ltd did not meet the tender eligibility criteria and should have been disqualified. Scores should have reflected the actual status of EETS Wind Ltd. This should have been recognised by all or any of DARD, WREAN, RBT and the applicant through control and monitoring systems.

From the final report [pdf file]

9.0 CONCLUSIONS

• DARD applied standard BSP procedures in the assessment of the WREAN application.

• The project application met the policy objectives of BSP

• The project was complex because it involved emerging technology and because of the number of organisations and people involved. DARD and WREAN should have taken greater steps to manage the risks outlined in the EA.

• There were obvious pressures under the N+2 Rule, which the Review Team believes led to decisions being taken in haste.

• The tendering process and application of the Scoring Selection Criteria became complicated and tendering was developed in two distinct stages. This led to confusion in respect of roles and responsibilities. Consequently, the Review Team concludes that tendering procedures were not strictly adhered to and the project applicants did not have ownership of the process.

• The project applicants placed too much reliance on DARD and it’s agents. Many of the applicants made the basic error of not reading and comprehending the Letter Of Offer and signing documents such as the “On Site Inspection Report” without paying due regard to their significance.

• The imported Powerbreeze turbines were faulty on leaving the premises of Qingdao Anhua New Energy Development Co Ltd so regardless of the systems and processes in place it was inevitable that problems would arise. These were exacerbated by the opportunistic and indifferent approach adopted by Adman Ltd and EETS Wind Ltd.

• The systems introduced for the installation and commissioning of the Powerbreeze turbines were inconsistent and poor when compared with that adopted by Renewable Energy Services. In conclusion the Review Team believes DARD should intervene to try and ensure the appropriate closure of this project.

• Adman should have been disqualified from the tendering process by WREAN and the applicants.

• Reliance was mistakenly placed on the role of EETS Ltd whereas EETS advise that it as actually EETS Wind Ltd who imported the turbines into the UK and supplied them to Adman.

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  • The Raven

    “DARD and WREAN should have taken greater steps to manage the risks outlined in the EA.”

    I don’t know what the risk assessment looked like for this, but I’d be interested to know out of all the tenders that the Department handles, how many have been fucked up. I’d actually wager very few. Despite what I am about to write next, I wish the Department would take a few more risks and then we might not have…..

    ….”There were obvious pressures under the N+2 Rule, which the Review Team believes led to decisions being taken in haste.”

    No one to blame here but the Department. I have direct experience of this. Constant prevarication means that virtually no EU programme gets opened without huge n+2 pressure. Anybody doesn’t understand N+2, please ask.

    “Adman Ltd did not meet the tender eligibility criteria and should have been disqualified.”

    Perhaps someone who has read the report might be able to say how many actually tendered. Was this a case of no-one else tendering, financial pressure being applied, and the Department taking the view of “well…half a programme is better than none”?

  • Pete Baker

    Raven

    Read the report.

    There was a second company which emerged successfully through the tendering process.

    Even though the turbines they supplied also failed to match the expected output at least they didn’t fall apart – unlike the Powerbreeze ones whose blades separated from the turbines.

    And that other company’s behaviour in properly installing and commissioning their turbines, and in seeking to rectify any problems encountered, was in stark contrast to the [“opportunistic and indifferent”] approach of Adman Ltd [and EETS Wind Ltd].

    Seriously, read the report.

  • Pete Baker

    Raven

    One small example given of the problems with the tendering process was that in the scoring Adman Ltd was awarded [a maximum] 5 points for ‘company history’ despite being a newly formed company.

    The report suggests they should have scored 0.

  • Pete Baker

    Raven

    The other company was Renewable Energy Services Ltd [RES] which was awarded a contract for 15 x Jacobs 31/20 model turbines.

    1.16 STATUS OF TURBINES

    In summary the turbines are categorised:

    • Category 1: Total Failures / Non Repairable. These are the four Powerbreeze turbines, installed by Adman, which shed their blades.

    • Category 2: Failed But Repairable. These are 3 of the 15 WERB Jacobs turbines supplied by RES.

    • Category 3: Powerbreeze Blades Tied. Adman tied the blades of these five turbines with straps to prevent the blades rotating.

    • Category 4: Potential solutions. These are the test turbine modified by the manufacturers and the hybrid arrangement of the original Powerbreeze tower fitted with the running gear of a three phase Jacobs turbine.

    • Category 5: 12 Jacobs turbines in Service producing lower than predicted outputs.

  • The Raven

    “The report suggests they should have scored 0.”

    *bangs head off table* See all those “maybes” I had in my post? Delete, delete, delete.

  • Pete Baker

    Raven

    Here’s another quote from the report.

    7.11 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RBT / ADMAN LTD / EETS & EETS WIND LTD

    Based on discussions with Adman Ltd, RBT and EETS it is evident that discussions took place before tenders were submitted. It is difficult to determine the exact nature of this contact without further in depth investigation.

    It is the Review Team’s opinion that Adman Ltd provided vague and ambiguous information in the Tender bid. It is unclear if RBT and EETS Wind Ltd were involved in this. If so, the tender process was undermined. [added emphasis]

    RBT – Renewable Building Technologies Ltd – the appointed consultants “who were employed by WREAN. RBT was required to carry out the duties listed in their letter of appointment, which did not include providing on-going direct advice to applicants.”

  • Pete, I’m looking forward to your forensic analysis of the Rathlin ferry report, hyperlinks and all!!

    DRD somehow forgot to post a press release and the report yesterday but you’ll find the report and the DRD committee press release linked to NALIL blog.

    The Belfast Telegraph was briefed about a year ago about some peculiar aspects of the procurement process but the best it could do yesterday was little more than a rehash of a press briefing. It disgracefully IMO more or less ‘named’ one of the complainants even though personal details were redacted from the official report. Perhaps there’s been some malicious briefing going on …