CUC opens up more CORE capacity

| 11/05/2017 | 6 Comments

(CNS Business):  The new utilities regulator has approved the allocation of two more megawatts of capacity for CUC’s Consumer-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) programme as the 6MW previously allocated has reached its limit. Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) said that customers will have access to only 1MW right now; the second megawatt will be released before the first is filled, but possibly at revised feed-in tariff rates.

The extension of the programme will be limited to smaller systems of capacity, with one rate for system sizes up to 5 kilowatts (kW) and another rate for system sizes over 5kW and up to 10kW. As before, the size of any individual consumer system is restricted to the normal kW peak load of the consumer. The rate to be paid by CUC for all electricity produced by the CORE systems is 30 cents per kWh for the smaller systems of up to 5kW and 26 cents per kWh for the larger systems.

Louis Boucher, the acting executive director for energy and utilities at OfReg, the government’s new Utility Regulation and Competition Office, said the goal was to continue growing CORE by paying fair rates to participants but making sure that does not increase costs to non-CORE customers.

“With that in mind, OfReg and CUC will review the programme at the earlier of six months or when the take-up has reached 750kW of the first 1MW tranche of capacity,” he added.

This CORE programme takes into consideration the long-term goals of the recently passed National Energy Policy, the Integrated Resource Plan study and the demand rates initiative, officials said in a release that came from OfReg and CUC. 

The rates paid to customers under CORE for all renewable energy generated for new contracts concluded after 5 May will be based upon the following schedule:

In light of government’s newly published energy policy, OfReg has also approved 1MW of capacity to be allocated to the public sector, which will include the central government departments, statutory authorities and government-owned companies. These entities will be offered the existing rate of 21 cents per kWh for capacities of 20+ to 100kW, subject to the usual peak demand limit.

CUC told CNS Business that this could include solar panels on government buildings and allow public sector entities to take advantage of new technology and alternative energy sources. OfReg said it anticipates that it will stimulate the expansion of the renewable energy industry in Cayman.

The Feed In Tariffs (FIT) programme continues to incentivize consumers to generate energy from renewable sources and be compensated through stable, long-term rates while staying connected to the grid, the release stated. It allows customers 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.

CUC President and CEO Richard Hew said he expected the growth and use of renewable and alternative energy to continue which would help reduce the Cayman Islands’ dependence on fossil fuels and diminish its carbon footprint.

“Our company remains committed to promoting and developing renewable energy as a source of electricity generation and we believe that programmes such as CORE demonstrate that commitment,” he added.

OfReg has also approved CUC’s request to introduce demand rates. These are standard rate structures for large commercial customers, similar to what is available in most other markets. They allow the customer’s billing to be itemized into fixed demand and variable energy based costs. 

“Fixed costs are largely driven by peak demand and demand rates will give consumers the ability to reduce their overall electricity bill by managing their peak demand,” officials explained.

“The demand component will be a proportionately larger part of the bill if the customer’s power demands are high and over a short period of time, and a smaller part of the bill if the customer uses power at a more or less constant rate throughout the month. Demand rates will be introduced to the 125 large commercial customers and will be offered as an optional rate outside of the FIT programme for customers who wish to have renewable energy systems on their premises, they added. 

These rates will be introduced by December 2017, following the roll out of an OfReg approved customer awareness plan. 

CUC’s Interim Infusion Study indicated that the electricity grid could accommodate up to 17MW of renewable energy without reliability or efficiency impacts. 6MW has already been allocated to CORE customers so the next 2MW offering for small systems, the 1MW for public buildings and the 5MW Entropy Solar Farm in Bodden Town leaves just 3MW for CORE in future, the rates for which will be determined by OfReg and CUC.

CUC said that it expects to have its Integrated Resource Plan finished by June, which will outline how greater levels of renewables may be connected without significantly increasing costs or reducing reliability to consumers.

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Category: Alternative Energy, Local Business, Technology, Utilities

Comments (6)

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  1. Haranguer says:

    The rich get richer. The rich people who can afford to put in solar systems at the inflated prices that the local installers can charge because of the over generous subsidy are fleecing the rest of us who are paying their utility bills.
    The stupid poor people "you" think that CUC is paying the bill it is you paying the subsidy. The rich win again.
    Oh by the way, I am rich!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Don't bother with CORE, just go off the grid. Sunshine is free, ffs.
    I know of many people in Cayman that are off grid and I am providing professional services to a company that will help many more Caymanians and residents go off the grid.
    CUC will eventually feel the effect of their brutal monopoly.
    They can provide power to themselves and leave the rest of us the hell alone.
    I am tired of making Canadian shareholders rich at the expense of our own people.
    Remember what Fortis did in Belize. It was shocking and Cayman needs to wake up.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    It would be beneficial to know how much of the "used up" 6MW of production capacity is actually in production?
    In my opinion, persons or companies should NOT be able to sign up for this program if they will not have their system actually in production within 12/18 months. Otherwise they are simply grabbing up the capacity (to lock in the price) and possibly preventing someone else from setting up a system immediately.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You only have 12 months from your application being approved to bring your system online. If you aren't on by then you lose your allocation.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Apparently this is not so for the original allocation! How much of that is still only "on paper"?

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