CORE programme grows another 2MW

| 02/05/2016 | 12 Comments
Cayman News Service

Caribbean utilities Company (CUC)

(CNS Business): The Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has sanction an expansion of Caribbean Utilities Company’s Consumer-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) Generation Programme, which will see more residential and commercial customers who are using alternative power, such as solar and wind, to feed back another two megawatts of power to the grid. The Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) programme, which started more than five years ago, is now at 6MW capacity of renewable energy, split evenly between residential customers and commercial customers.

According to CUC, together the CORE programme and the 5MW solar farm in Bodden Town, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, will provide a reduction of about 14,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) per year and provide renewable energy to over 2,000 homes on average. But until the solar farm comes on line, the CORE programme is the only source of alternative power distributed by CUC, which still uses purely diesel to generate the power supply for Grand Cayman.

As well as the increase in capacity, CUC has also conducted a review of the rates paid back to customers for their renewable energy for all new contracts after 1 May. Smaller systems with higher installation costs attract higher payments, and the promotion of smaller systems will make the CORE programme attractive to a wider cross-section of the consumer base and will provide opportunities for the greatest geographical distribution.

CORE Rates

The ERA said that the programme continues to provide incentives to generate energy from renewable sources and be compensated through stable, long-term rates. Although it is still just a fraction of Cayman’s energy production, the ERA said it was diminishing the Cayman Islands’ carbon footprint.

The programme allows customers in Grand Cayman to connect renewable energy systems, such as small scale solar systems or wind turbines, to CUC’s distribution system and to reduce their monthly energy bills by generating their own electricity while remaining connected to the CUC grid. The 25-year FIT contract agreements allow the owner of the renewable energy system to recover their capital investment with an assured return on their investment. Consumers are responsible for making their own arrangements with suppliers of renewable energy systems for their installation and inspection by the electrical inspector.

The maximum permitted size of the individual renewable energy systems will remain unchanged and will be the lesser of the CORE customer’s peak demand for existing systems measured over a period of up to twelve months, where that information is available, or estimated peak demand for new connections, with a maximum of 20 kilowatts for residential systems and 100kW for commercial systems.

ERA Managing Director Charles Farrington said the regulator was pleased with the success of the programme but the rates needed to come down.

“Whilst the ERA recognizes the benefits that the growth of CORE is providing to the health of the environment and the bottom lines of both the CORE consumers and the vendor industry, the ERA is also cognizant of its duty to keep costs as low as reasonably possible for all consumers and hence the lowered rates. Whilst the amount of energy produced by CORE consumers is relatively minor, consistent downward pressure on the FIT rates must be maintained if Grand Cayman is to realize the maximum benefit from the expansion of this form of renewable energy,” he said.

“The ERA is of the view that in order to ensure that as many consumers as possible get the opportunity to offset some of their cost of electricity, it was time to stop encouraging the over-sizing of systems by way of the actual payment of credit balances,” Farrington added.

CUC’s President and CEO Richard Hew said CORE has proven popular and that the company remained committed to promoting and developing renewable energy as a source of electricity generation. He said CORE provides an excellent opportunity for both CUC and its customers to participate in protecting the environment and creating long-term energy security.

Meanwhile, the duty waiver on renewable energy equipment that has been in effect since 1 December 2008 and allows a full exemption from import duty on renewable energy equipment for residential homeowners continues. Waivers on similar equipment imported for commercial use are also available on a case-by-case review. The government has also recently approved the addition of solar water heaters to the list of renewable energy equipment for the duty waiver.

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Category: Alternative Energy, Local Business, Technology, Utilities

Comments (12)

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  1. James says:

    Your feeding into the very simplistic ERA argument focused solely on price and in doing so (like them) you miss the salient issue regarding the value of distributed solar (rooftops) and conjunction with utility scale systems.

    To claim it costs to much you have to look at ALL the benefits of DG not just the costs. In Cayman at the prior rates the benefits (economic, social, environmental) clearly outweighed the costs to anyone willing to see beyond the grossly simplistic view of price.

    In that simplistic view there should never be a justification for solar on rooftops because 10 panels on a roof could never compete with 10,000 panels in a field in any circumstance. Yet the product and technology innovation, job creation, economic stimulus and virtually every other evolution in clean energy is thanks largely to distributed solar not utility scale solar.

    The fact is we should have both, not one over the others….embracing utility solar and dismissing distributed solar purely on price is akin to not being able to see the Forrest because of the tree.

    Lastly you can’t build any quality utility scale system in Cayman for 8 cents and be profitable. We’ve done the math.


    • Mark says:

      I did the maths two years ago James and it has only gotten better.
      No profit James build by the people for the people!!
      That’s what I am pushing for.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this sentence sums it up nicely, “The government has also recently approved the addition of solar water heaters to the list of renewable energy equipment for the duty waiver.” I would substitute ‘only’ for ‘also’ because of all the available alternative energy equipment solar water heaters are some of the best established – ask the Israelis, they mandated their use over 30 years ago. This is a classic example of ‘too little, too late’ and the reality is this should all have been in place years ago. If CUC hadn’t tried to duck the issue back in 2006/7 and/or CIG had stood up to them when they obstructed alternatives like solar energy we wouldn’t now be engaged in frantic attempt to catch up with the rest of the world.

  3. Robert Smith says:

    The CORE program should be cost neutral in that CUC should pay the same rate for the power that you sell them from your solar panels as they charge you for the power that you buy from them when your panels can’t supply the required amount due to rain, clouds, etc.

    • Mark says:

      CUC overhead is about 10 cents/kWh so I would say going rate minus 10 cents/kWh would be fair to all concerned and would require no subsidy.

    • Anonymous says:

      So the “solor power producer” contributes zero to the grid maintenance used to sell their power? Does that work in other industries? Can you sell a supermarket the fruit you grow at the same price as they sell it to others?

  4. Mark Hennings. 916-7332 says:

    The rich get richer.This program is ten years out of date, the price to install solar power has fallen so much over the last ten years it is no longer nessecary to subsidies it.
    The people of the Cayman Islands should not be asked to pay rich people 28 cents/kWh for their power it is just stupid and it will keep the average price of our power that much higher many years into the future.
    We need the goverment to do a utility scale power plant that can sell the power to CUC for 8 cents/kWh.
    When this happens we will all enjoy the benifits of cheap power.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mark, why should government be involved in producing power? Surely that should be left to the private sector/individuals.
      So off you go and raise the capital to create a utility scale solar farm that can provide 24×7 electricity to sell to CUC for distribution. Don’t forget to allow for maintenance down time, usage peaks & troughs, etc.
      Then CUC can shut down their generators completely and everyone can enjoy your 8 cents/Kwh throughout every 24 hour period.
      Just remember that the day/night the power is not available the consumers (like me) will come looking for the production company (you) not the distributors (CUC).

      • Mark says:

        The private sector is going to be providing CUC power at 16 cents/kWh out of the 5 megawatt solar facility in BoddenTown.

        That is why the goverment has to do it, cut down on the rape and pillage.

        Don’t worry your CUC shares are safe we will always need CUC generators we want to cut down on the diesel burn which is currently about 14 cents/kWh.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why is it always “good news, bad news” with CUC and the ERA? Expand the program, cut the rates. The ERA needs to look out for Cayman’s interests first, not protecting CUC’s monopoly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Seems to me that the ERA is looking out for Cayman’s interest first. Slowly increasing the amount of renewalable power and keeping a reasonable rate of return so that thos os us that cannot install solar systems do not get to pay a higher price to those who can.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is nice, but there is no law stopping people from buying solar and a few power walls and be completely off the grid and still have power 24/7.

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