CORE Programme Grows Another 2MW
(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.
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.
Category/ies:Cayman News, News, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy.
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