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Regulator Approves Growth in CORE Power

Cayman News Service


Caribbean utilities Company (CUC)



(CNS Business): The Electricity Regulatory Authority has approved an extension in the capacity of the consumer-owned renewable energy generation programme, known as CORE by 1MW and extended the contracts to 25 years. The ERA and Caribbean Utilities Company said the growth of the programme, which allows CUC customers to feed renewable energy from private solar panels and wind turbines back to the grid and use the grid themselves, is helping the island reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. 


There are currently more than six dozen CORE customers generating on average 135,000 kWh per month.


Although the rates for new customers have been lowered, the extension of the contracts will ensure those in the programme will recover their investment in alternative energy, officials said Tuesday.


ERA Managing Director, Charles Farrington, said the regulatory body was pleased with the success of the CORE programme and had extended the contract period to allow the CORE rates to be lowered, cutting the price for energy consumption and matching reduced equipment pricing and a longer expected useful life.


“This benefits all consumers,” he said, adding that it was always anticipated that the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) rates would come down over time, “thereby providing the opportunity to lower Cayman’s energy costs in the longer term. The ability to lock in the cost of energy is one of the major advantages of FIT over other systems of compensating consumers for renewable energy.”


The continued duty waiver on renewable energy, which has been in effect since December 2008, also allows a full exemption from import duty on renewable energy equipment for residential homeowners, which Farrington said he hoped would continue to incentivize the growth. He added that the use of renewable and alternative energy was diminishing the Cayman Islands’ dependence on fossil fuels for electricity and had helped in reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.


Richard Hew, the president and chief executive officer of Grand Cayman’s power supplier CUC, said there had been a significant uptake of CORE customers who are generating renewable energy while still connected to the company’s electricity distribution system.


“Currently we have 79 CORE customers generating on average 135,000 kWh per month. We anticipate that there will be continued positive customer participation and the resultant increase in renewable energy available to our system to displace fossil fuel and its associated emissions,” he said in the wake of the announcement regarding a number of changes.


Following an interim decision made in February to increase the CORE capacity by 1 MegaWatt MW, additional revisions to the Feed-in Tariffs programme have been completed and the ERA and CUC have agreed to extend the period for CORE agreements to 25 years effective from 1 April.


With this revision to the programme, a maximum aggregate of 4MW capacity of renewable energy generation will be allowed to connect to the CUC Transmission & Distribution (T&D) system with a maximum of 2MW allowed for residential customers and a maximum of 2 MW for commercial customers. The rates paid to customers for all renewable energy generated have also been revised and will be CI 32 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for residential customers and CI 28 cents per kWh for commercial customers. These rates apply to new CORE contracts submitted after 1 April, officials said while the rates paid to existing CORE customers will remain unchanged.


CORE customers will be billed monthly at the normal retail rate for their total energy consumption and will be credited monthly at the FITs rate for the total output of their renewable energy generation system to the grid. At the end of each calendar quarter, CUC will make a payment to each CORE participant for any accumulated FIT credit balance on their account.


Officials from the ERA said that the revised twenty-five year FIT contract agreements up from 20 years will allow owners of renewable energy systems to recover their capital investment.


Duty waivers on equipment imported for commercial use are also allowable subject to a case-by-case review by the ERA.



Category/ies:Cayman Islands, News.
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