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Anthony Chen wants gov’t to introduce net metering

WORLD-renowned Jamaican atmospheric physicist and renewable energy expert, Professor Anthony Chen is calling on Government to mandate the Jamaica Public Service Company to introduce net metering locally.

Wind cowls and solar panels as used at the eco-freindly Beddington Zero (Fossil) Energy Development (BedZED) in England. Professor Anthony Chen is proposing that Jamaicans who use similar technology be allowed to benefit through a system of net metering.

Net metering should replace the current policy of net billing, Chen said, in order to encourage more perople to get engaged in the generation of solar electricity.

Net metering is a process which involves a customer connecting his small solar or wind electricity generator to the JPS power supply, which causes his electricity meter to run backwards. The customer gets a negative reading from his meter, and is credited by the electricity company for the power supplied.

In net billing, however, the customer has two meters – one measuring the power supplied and the other the electricity used. The customer is paid for the power supplied and billed for the power used.

But Chen says the current policy does not encourage people to generate their own electricity, because JPS purchases the current for much less than what it sells it for.

“JPS buys from householders and pays the 10 cents per kilowatt hour, while when the householder buys from JPS in the night they have to pay JPS 23 cents per kilowatt hour. That is no incentive for owners of photovoltaic cells to sell electricity to JPS,” he said, adding that the present policy was “grossly unfair”.

The distinguished professor noted that the current policy forces producers of solar electricity to purchase back-up batteries for storing energy at night, thus adding to the already high cost of acquiring photovoltaic cells.

Chen said many countries in Europe and states in the United States of America allow net metering by householders.

“If government made net metering mandatory, there would be many more players in the photovoltaic market,” Chen said.

He added that the amount of electricity produced by renewable sources should not be a problem for JPS as it constitutes less than 10 per cent of the company’s output.

Chen, a former head of the Climate Studies Group in the Department of Physics, at the University of the West Indies, Mona, was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which, along with former United States vice-president, Al Gore Jr won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007.

He made the comments while accepting his citation at the UWI commemoration dinner in his honour last Thursday.

In July last year, Energy Minister Clive Mullings said the introduction of net metering would require a changing of the agreement between the Office of Utilities Regulations and JPS.

President of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association Damian Lyn said while he is in favour of net metering, he believes it should be allowed for residential properties, and that commercial producers of electricity should abide by separate rules.

“When looking at residential properties, no one is spending money to get back any money from JPS; they acquire a system that is appropriate for their home,” Lyn told Environment Watch.

He explained that JPS counters arguments calling for net metering by saying it causes instability to the power grid.


Category/ies:Featured, Jamaica News.
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