CUC plans CORE expansion as client base grows

| 30/12/2015 | 24 Comments

alternative energy solar(CNS): As the number of customers using solar panels and wind turbines grows, Grand Cayman’s power provider is planning another expansion of its Consumer-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) generation initiative that allows clients to remain on the grid and feed their surplus energy back to CUC. The firm revealed that the programme is almost fully subscribed, despite a revision in March this year to deal with 4MW capacity of renewable energy.

At present CORE provides for that capacity to be divided equally between residential and commercial customers but as it is near to being filled, CUC will make a decision about the further extension of the programme by the beginning of February

“If in the interim the approved capacity is filled, CUC will continue to accept applications but those customers will be put on a waiting list until any additional capacity becomes available,” a spokesperson stated.

The CORE programme, which began in 2011, has proven popular with users and has provided the monopoly power provider with a way to meet its obligation to generate energy from alternative sources. At present the firm uses only diesel to generate power — one of the worst of all the fossil fuels. The introduction of CORE was the first time CUC could claim the use of any renewable or alternative energy. But with more people using alternative energy, especially installing solar-panels, sharing the surplus energy they generate in the day has proved a success.

The rates paid to customers for all renewable energy generated were also revised this year to 32 cents per kWh for residential and 28 cents for commercial customers, which CUC said at the time was the best estimate of the customers’ production cost. Although small producer costs have been coming down, they are likely to remain at a premium to the cost of large-scale renewables, which is today at CI14 cents per kWh and diesel fuel, which is also at CI14 cents.

CUC said in a statement this week that it continues to explore large-scale alternative energy options and was looking forward to the completion of the 5MW solar farm that is being developed in Bodden Town.

“The company remains committed to promoting and developing renewable energy as a source of electricity generation,” the spokesperson said in a release about CORE. “CUC has demonstrated this with its various requests for proposals for wind and solar energy. We understand that there are other benefits to the utilization of renewable energy, such as achieving sustainable and competitive energy costs for customers, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and long-term energy security by utilizing more renewable energy and less diesel”

However, Cayman will be heavily dependent on diesel for many years. Despite the exploration of alternative energy, CUC said it will need to ensure that the implementation of alternative energy technologies on a large-scale will not significantly increase electricity rates, cause grid instability or reduced reliability.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The price of solar and battery backup are coming down. If CUC continues to be blinded by greed and continues this path of exploitation they will end up closing up shop in 10 years.

    If they put the massive amount of profits that they are extracting from the local economy to work; to figure out a model where they can sell renewable energy to the island profitably, they would survive.

    But they are too greedy and currently charge the consumer ALL of their overhead and then on top of that charge the consumer a rate that should cover overhead and profit. So its like you paying a car company all the cost to produce a car and then you buy the car at full price again. Say a $20,000.00 car cost $15,000.00 in overhead to produce. In the real world you pay $20,000 for that car. In CUC fantasyland economics they make you pay $35,000.00 for that car. This is how they are charging the charge the cayman islands for power. I don’t understand the outrage over fuel prices but CUC gets a pass?

    Anyhow, when the time comes that it becomes affordable for consumers to generate their own household energy needs CUC will be a thing of the past. Might be the best thing for the country.

  2. Nancy Easterbrook says:

    I do not get it. The sun is out 12 hours a day, Cayman could be close to 100% solar power. CUC is just plain not being cooperative, fair or forward thinking – not a leader. CUC needs someone who can develop a new business model for them. Just a week after the Climate Change Summit in Paris where 195 countries signed on to reduce carbon, Cayman takes another step backwards. Government, please help!

    • Anonymous says:

      Nancy, this is CUC policy as stated in 2007 –

      1. Solar power doesn’t work because the sun doesn’t shine at night.

      2. Wind power doesn’t work because the wind doesn’t blow 24/7/365

      3. In any event, there is no safe and effective equipment available for net metering any surplus power from either source into the grid.

      And all that was contained in a press statement! About the only thing they’ve really moved on from then is the last point.

      At the time they were pushing OTEC, which they knew didn’t work, as a viable alternative to solar and wind energy. It’s not rocket science to figure out that CUC simply do not want any alternatives – they own multi-fuel generators that can be run on LPG or bio-diesel but do see those being options being used?

      Bluntly, I think it’s time for property and business owners to take the law into their own hands and just do it. You can get solar water heaters (the Israelis have been using those for over 30 years), kits that heat water using pipes buried in the ground, low voltage solar, small wind turbines – there’s a whole pile of things that could be installed without CUC being able to do anything about. The Israelis have even developed solar (photovoltaic) windows that could be built into new buildings feeding power cells that would make them virtually self-supporting.

      • Anonymous says:

        anon 4:57 under those rules wind and solar energy would never work and yet many countries use it. ever heard of batteries.

        • Anonymous says:

          5:13 If you remember this debate CUC even refused to accept the fact that countries like the UK and Germany were operating successful solar energy projects. It almost seemed like they couldn’t grasp the idea that photovoltaic panels don’t need bright sunshine to work, they just need light. I have a small 12v solar trickle charger on my boat – that produces good power during the daytime even when it’s wet and cloudy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Renewable energy is emerging as a bright spot in the global energy economy—and is poised for a worldwide takeoff. Solar power generation has more than tripled globally in the past five years, and wind power generation has nearly quadrupled. Political will and the right mix of policies—not vast resource potential—have made wind and solar power the world’s fastest growing energy sources over the past decade.
    In Germany, Japan, Spain, and a handful of other countries, clear government commitments to renewable energy have overcome barriers and created the demand for these technologies that has led to dramatic growth, while advancing renewable technologies and driving down their costs. With a fraction of the U.S. potential in wind power, Germany has more than twice as much installed wind capacity and is a world leader in solar and other renewables as well. And Japan, which has far less sunshine than California, uses and manufactures more solar cells than any other country.
    Around the world, a growing number of nations have recognized the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy, and are enacting tax breaks and other policy measures to partially offset the advantages enjoyed by fossil fuels. Among the nations where policy changes may allow dynamic new renewable energy markets to emerge in the next five years are Brazil, China, and India.

    – Access to the market must be ensured. Governments must provide renewables with ready access to energy grids at prices that reflect full costs of conventional energy and provide sufficient incentive to stimulate renewable energy market growth;

    – Financial Incentives (including tax credits, rebates, payments, and low-interest loans) are also important for encouraging investment in renewables by reducing investors’ risk and compensating for high capital costs;

    – Education and information dissemination are essential for informing potential leaders, investors, and customers about the potential of renewables, the state of technologies, and available government incentives, as well as to dispel myths;

    – Public participation and ownership in the renewables development process increase political support and the likelihood of success;

    – Clear Industry Standards and siting regulations help prevent inferior hardware from entering the marketplace, thereby increasing investor and customer confidence while addressing potential sources of opposition such as noise and visual impacts.

    Policies must be sustained and consistent to avoid boom-and-bust cycles that shake investor confidence and inhibit the development of strong domestic industries. Those countries that stay the course will end up not only with a more efficient and cleaner energy system but will reap economic rewards in the form of new industries and jobs.

    2017 Newly Elected CI Government Top Priorities ( Energy Action Plan )

  4. Anonymous says:

    The best way to hit our targets is to get behind home-grown, renewable energy right here in the Cayman Islands. We need to encourage our government to re-think its strategy because the overwhelming majority of voters support renewable energy. The latest government poll shows that 80% of us back solar and 76% support wind. People clearly want clean electricity – why wouldn’t they? It could be the Cayman Islands success story.
    The message from this latest poll is clear – ordinary people see renewables as the Cayman Islands success story and want to see us increasing their use further. We hope that PPM Ministers will look at these figures carefully and listen to what the thousands of voters who took part in this official Government poll are telling them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I dont remember seeing any decrease in CUC rates as alternative energy has been added to the grid. Strange.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are not seeing it or feeling it yet but the increase in cost is there which is the main reason the amount of rooftop energy purchases is being controlled by the regulator. Current estimates of the premium being paid by all consumers based on 15 cents/KWH for diesel energy and 32 cents/KWH CORE rate and 4MW of rooftop solar is $1.2 million per year. The price of solar is coming down so it only makes sense to review the rate again to see whether it is fair and reasonable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    To much MLA and there families self interest in CUC for solar power to be adopted.
    With this countries climate every new build should have solar panels like a lot of Europe. Just another example of backward thinking self interest to the long term detriment of this country.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I hope Brac Power and Light are required to move in a similar direction when their licence is next reviewed…..

  8. Sharkey says:

    I hate to be so negative, but you would not see wind and solar energy take of in Cayman Islands because it has to be justified against the good old diesel price to the money hungry. That is why you would be put on a waiting list, we would not know how many were on that waiting list , and I could say there was not enough people signed up to continue with the renewable energy.

  9. SwampCrab says:

    Why are they considering claiming more of Cayman’s limited land to build a solar farm when there are so many commercial and residential roof tops, parking lots etc that could easily be agreed with their owners to allow the otherwise unused areas to put panels on top? Solar parking lots like what Caledonian built are a perfect example, fully covered with functional panels producing energy while providing shade for employee vehicles etc. They could do the same for all the commercial building tops in GT, put solar “canopies” over them creating shade the same as the parking lots. I think it would be very easy to come to agreements with the property owners knowing that they are positively contributing to the country as a whole, with little to investment of their own, and also benefiting from it themselves. Sometimes you really have to wonder if there is something wrong with these people, this is really a backwards country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great comment. If some of the politicians got their heads out of their a***s for a minute and took a look at what’s happening in the UK right now with wind and solar energy they’d get a big shock.

      The other thing that isn’t being addressed is reducing consumption of electricity. I’ve got friends in the UK who tell me they just had a ‘smart’ meter installed with a 4″ display monitor that shows them exactly how much power is being used and what it costs them. It was part of the on-going government policy to reduce energy consumption – it took about an hour to fit and didn’t cost them a penny.

      Simple measures to replace old equipment (scrappage schemes), duty incentives on energy efficient products, double glazing and proper building insulation could dramatically decrease power bills. The reason it won’t happen is because CUC is a protected monopoly that’s only interested in profit.

      • Mr. Sunshine says:

        Your last sentence says it all, Anonymous 1:52……….,”The reason it won’t happen is because CUC is a protected monopoly that’s only interested in profit.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    If the solar farm wasn’t being built there’d be greater scope for CORE and that’s a far more cost-effective application of solar panels. The only obvious disadvantage for CUC if CORE is expanded further is that it costs them money.

    As for any long-term commitment by CUC to renewable energy? You can see from the final paragraph that’s almost as much complete BS now as it was over 10 years ago. I guess this all comes to money and keeping CUC shareholders happy – as long they have the monopoly things will never move forward.

    • You say “keeping CUC shareholders happy” as though that’s a bad thing. Well, the C I government is galloping towards socialism as fast as it can, but we’re not quite there yet. The free-enterprise sector is being gradually elbowed out by the socialists, but it’s still alive, and private businesses are still entitled to make a profit without excessive government interference. As a (very small) CUC shareholder, I would be disappointed indeed if its Directors did not keep me happy!

      • Anonymous says:

        Gordon, I agree that private businesses should be entitled to make a profit, but when said private business has a government granted monopolistic hold on T&D rights, there by extension needs to be government oversight and intervention to ensure that it doesn’t translate into unfair practices in regards to generation. Currently CUC is toeing the line in that regard by creating barriers for private generation to utilize their T&D infrastructure by capping CORE generation to a tiny amount of what could be utilized to protect their de facto monopoly on generation. As you know, capitalism works best for the consumer when there if unfettered competition to provide goods and services for sale, which is definitely not the case here.

        • Anonymous says:

          This whole debate is very interesting and I agree with renewables being introduced; it is a positive step. I also think that CUC needs to have a greater imagination and that it’s current management is not inventive and very much like another branch of the CIG. I haven’t seen much of a change at the top for many many years. A quick review of the Directors and C level suite gives you a good indication of what is going on- No change/No Vision. Its business as usual and for another CUC shareholder (Modest) it does concern me that this is the approach.

          On the other hand, until Telsa builds it battery factory in 2020 I don’t think we are going to have much of a choice in how the electricity is distributed. Another aspect to consider, is why the ERA is allowing long term investments in non renewable capacity? Obviously, if CIG/ERA allows such investments it is going to have a hard time then turning the ship around and telling CUC to discontinue usage of such a high cost capital good. Like telling Cayman Airways to purchase a (DC3) plane and then 3 years later park it.

          By that time, it will not even be able to sell such obsolete technology at any decent price. A little vision and short term pain by the consumer by bridging the gap using temporary rental CAT gens until more renewables come online would likely be more prudent.

          My vision and it is a scary one is that technology is going to kill CUC but that is not before the CIG/ERA attempt to ban such technology like they have made the attempt to do so with Airbnb! The taxi dispatch business will be dead -Uber The MLS listing system will be dead (Zillow) and thankfully (Flow and Digicel) will be dead (courtesy of FB and Google) with internet wifi being sent down from the heavens. CUC will be dead too..The battery will be its downfall.

          Buts that a long ways off and at 6.2% return I will have tripled my investment long before then.

        • Anonymous says:

          If it was a truly competitive market rooftop solar would not be in existence today as the cost is still twice the cost of conventional energy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cue all the ignorant pro CORE/ RE comments now. Do you all realize that the biggest endorsers of CORE are the RE installation companies. I would rather pay cheaper rates for utility scale RE than continue to subsidize the high rates that CORE producers get. People the money for CORE doesn’t come out of CUC’s pockets, we the regular consumers pay for it, yes we the majority are subsidizing the CORE program. Please stop drinking the kool aid.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is like big shots fighting over the small mans money. CUC is getting away with murder on its rates. Solar panels are too expensive for people living from pay check to pay check. So alternative energy will be for those that have a decent amount of money to spend and hope to recoup the cost over time. Of course Mother Nature with hurricanes may have something to say about that.

        • Anonymous says:

          The only reason solar panels are so expensive here is because CUC, backed by the government, are doing everything then can to make it like that. If there were duty concessions and incentives like there are elsewhere the cost would fall considerably. Properly installed solar panels are also a heck of lot more hurricane-resistant than overhead power lines.

          • Anonymous says:

            Appears that you would like for all taxpayers who pay their fair share of duties to subsidise your business!

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