Homeowners snap up green energy option

| 05/06/2020 | 44 Comments

(CNS): The Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure (CPI) has re-allocated 700 kilowatts from the government’s Consumer Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) power capacity, paving the way for affordable and smaller homes to include solar panels and allowing more people in the community to use renewable energy while remaining on the CUC grid. The policy change was implemented last month and within a week the full allocation for the private sector had been snapped up by homeowners, officials said.

Grand Cayman’s electricity provider recently closed the popular CORE programme, stating it was fully subscribed and, given that it is subsidized by regular customers, there were no plans to expand the programme.

This meant it was very difficult for individual homeowners to make the much-needed switch to alternative energy as they could no longer remain connected to the grid as a back-up unless they owned a sophisticated battery system or were generating enough energy to join the Distributed Energy Resource (DER) programme, where CUC would store the power.

However, government had been allocated 1MW of CORE capacity for use in the public sector which has remained largely untapped. Therefore, the ministry responsible for infrastructure recently issued a policy directive to give almost three quarters of that capacity back into the community to provide 500kW for residential consumers, 100kW for private sector affordable homes 2,000 square feet or less, and 100kW for homes built under the National Housing Development Trust (NHDT) programme.

Solar companies have been asked to provide solar to people living in low cost homes built by government and the private sector at an affordable rate to help these homeowners cut down their energy costs.

The ministry made this move in early May but within a week the applications received exceeded the 500kW allocation for residential consumers and all applications are now being reviewed. There is, however, some capacity remaining from 100kW allocated to affordable homes and owners are invited to apply (see here).

CPI Minister Joey Hew said the reallocation was part of government’s stimulus package and would also help towards its plan to reduce the Cayman Islands’ dependence on fossil fuels.

“The government is confident that this will have an immediate and direct effect across the industry, in particular to our residents, the small businesses in this sector and energy sustainability,” he said.

“We anticipate that this will provide local jobs in around eight to ten companies while helping to reduce our carbon footprint. We will continue work to foster the development of a sustainable energy industry in our Islands as set out in our National Energy Policy,” he added.

CUC’s Vice President, Customer Services and Technology, Sacha Tibbetts said CUC supported the decision by government to reallocate this capacity and re-boot what has been a very popular programme.

Not only does this revive the CORE programme at a time when the economy is slowing down and in need of such a stimulus, but also I am especially pleased that a specific portion has been allocated to affordable housing and to the National Housing Development,” he said. “This allocation of CORE will provide a CO2 reduction of approximately 635 tonnes per year.”

The CORE programme, which was revised and approved by the regulator in 2012, has been very popular with both residential and commercial customers. The programme has allowed customers to connect 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 programme is subsidized by non-CORE customers as the rate paid to CORE customers for their electricity production is higher than the cost CUC would normally incur and charge to customers for the same energy.

To date the total number of connected customers is 482, equal to 6MW of alternative power, providing a CO2 reduction of about 5,432 tonnes per year.

However, government has far greater ambitions for increasing alternative energy sources. According to the National Energy Policy, it intends to cut fossil fuel use by 70% over the next 16 years. When government released its energy policy in 2017 only 0.9% of power generated in Cayman came from non-fossil fuels, a long way from the goal it has set for 2037.

While the addition of the solar farm in Bodden Town and the growth of CORE has fuelled an increase in green energy, in 2019 CUC said it was then producing just 2.5% of the company’s energy capacity through green sources. It is not clear by how much that has increased over the last year.

CUC also has its own energy plan and claims it will be producing a quarter of the power it supplies through renewable energy by 2025, which means green power will need to increase ten times the current level over the next five years.

CUC said it is currently going through the implementation phase of its Integrated Resource Plan, which provides a general roadmap for energy generation plans for the next 30 years. Once implemented, the plan will see a “a rapid increase in renewables connected to the grid which will provide cleaner energy at competitive and more stable costs”.

Read more about CUC’s renewable energy programmes here.


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Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, the people who can afford the solar panels are the one that are able to pay their CUC bills. Most people can’t afford them and never will.

    One more thing the government should do is to make it a law that any new buildings must include solar. They also need to either renegotiate the deal they have with CUC to rape us monthly as well as an investigation should be done under the price gouging law to find out why the two major gas companies are still charging us exorbitant prices for fuel. Fuel costs is the one reason that the cost of living is so high in Cayman. Get the Gas Companies in order and CUC will have no excuse but to drop their ridiculously high fees.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    am I right in that CIG only allow a certain amount of persons to have solar.
    Cannot I not install it and be self sufficient

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Richard Hew should be ashamed of himself, as the head of CUC. In this time of need, the cost of electricity is increased to the customers?

    CUC has always spoke about how much money the company has made over the last few years.

    Now is the time to give back to your customers!

    Other countries are decreasing the cost of electricity to their customers.

    Paying a few elderly people’s grocery bills at the grocery store, is not enough!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Insane that people who can afford solar are denied. We shouldn’t be reliant on oil, we should have it as a back up. The sun here is shining more than not. We were lucky enough to be approved for solar but it’s going to be expensive. But less expensive then paying the monopoly for their scam.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This program literally costs more… that’s why it’s noted as being subsidized by all other customers.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Only because of the way it has been designed instead of net metering.

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        • Anonymous says:

          https://www.publicpower.org/periodical/article/net-metering-leads-substantial-subsidies-dg-customers-report

          To note, net metering leads to substantial subsidies; they’re just less visible because the cost of grid services not being paid by net metering customers will still be borne by all other customers. This is well documented across utilities and countries – it raises serious concerns about equity and the fact that those who can personally afford to access renewable energy systems are shifting costs on to those who cannot. “Net metering” is not a panacea.

          Increasing renewable energy and decarbonizing that sector are important activities, but realistically should be progressed in a manner that doesn’t disadvantage those who cannot afford to access individual benefits. Inequalities are already bad enough, no? Maybe let’s not make it worse…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes let everyone who can afford it produce as much solar as they can. Do they want to sell to us non-producers or retain it all for their own use? If the later then go for it. If the former, what happens to us non-producers when we have days of clouds? Do you the solar producer guarantee that I will still have power? What happens at night?
      When dependible, efficient and affordable industiral grade batteries are abundant we can talk with more clarity. Unfortunately, until then, it seems that we need to have some form of reliable constant power production. Gues that is oil.
      Hope the waste to energy helps in this area.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You quite clearly do not understand Solar.
        Friends of ours have solar in the UK and use it to heat there water all the time so if they can you surely can here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          My home in the UK is rural Norfolk. You see solar panels on properties everywhere and the farmers are using small wind turbines to provide power at off grid locations. As the saying goes – it’s not rocket science. In fact a lot of the condos on GC have roof structures designed to take solar panels but nobody has been able to take advantage of that because CUC has run a programme of obstructing alternative energy going back at least 14 years.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I understand it fine I think. Your ‘UK friend’ would be option 2 – using all of the energy themselves. You can do that in Cayman as well. Go right ahead. The issue being discussed was putting energy back into the grid and not wanting to contribute anything to the cost of operating and maintenaining the grid. That is net metering.
          We cannot have our solar cake and then eat the oil cake when we need to. It has to be well balanced.

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      • Anonymous says:

        7:32 ‘What happens at night?’ That’s straight out of the 2006 CUC and CIG hymn book. Guess we know who you might work for?

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  5. Anonymous says:

    No “ifs”, “ands” or “buts” – they’ve had their monopoly for way too many decades, they’re way too bloated, inefficient and thus expensive, they had the audacity to charge us to rebuild their distribution system after Ivan (the original “surcharge” on all our bills) AND THEY GOT TO KEEP IT, they are granted 25 year deals by inept, undereducated politicians (“solar power won’t work at night”) – NET METERING NOW!

    Anything else is just an insult to our intelligence.

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    • Anonymous says:

      BS on net metering. I do not see any other product that has “net” pricing. Electricity is a product the same as vegatables. The farmer (wholesale) does not get the same price as the supermarket (retail).
      If you (the solar power producer) want to sell me your solar power then you must contribute the distribution infrastructure costs. So the price I pay (retail) cannot be the same as the price you receive (wholesale). The distributor has to make a margin to cover their costs and the distribution.

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      • Anonymous says:

        …..so how come practically every other place around the globe allows for net metering except the monopoly that is CUC…..and their servants in CIG……..

        …..actually BS on us the people of the Cayman Islands rebuilding CUCs distribution network after IVAN and we got zero thanks or gratitude in return…that is true BS!

        • Anonymous says:

          Find us a country that is offering net metering WITHOUT a behind the scene subsidy? Every country/state that I know of that did net metering to encourage green energy has either stopped it or is activily phasing it out ASAP.
          p.s. – think we did not pay to rebuild other stores and infrastructure after Ivan. If you do, sleep on.

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  6. Bob12 says:

    CPI Minister Joey Hew said the reallocation was part of government’s stimulus package ” what a joke, it’s been going on for 6 months, how is this a stimulus package, how long will the next one take??? 12 months

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Shit….16 years to change to 100% solar! WTF. Many countries round the world done 100 % solar least than 8 years!

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  8. anonymous says:

    “CPI Minister Joey Hew said the reallocation was part of government’s stimulus package ” how is this a stimulus package its taken them Ofreg & CUC over 6 months to release 500KW which was used up in less than two weeks??? how is that a stimulus package

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  9. Anonymous says:

    That picture cannot be a house in Cayman. The angle of attack is completely wrong.
    I do however stand to be corrected. CNS?

    CNS: No, that is not in the Cayman Islands. However, it gives you the idea.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    This power company is terrible… where was this advertised how was it decided who could do this where is the information on this and why are only a certain amount of people allowed to use solar? Keep those rates high cuc need to keep paying dividends to the owners!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    When & how was this advertised?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic, first I pay a surcharge to replace CUC’s infrastructure and now I am paying to subsidize others use of solar panels. What next?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The reason you pay to subsidize those solar panels is because CUC is buying power from those homeowners cheaper than it costs CUC to produce the same amount of power. If you find a problem with this perhaps you should look into producing your own power, whether by Solar, Wind, or somehow harnessing your misplaced and misguided anger for energy.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Opposite of what you stated

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      • Anonymous says:

        Try reading comprehension ” given that it is subsidized by regular customers”. I am not subsidizing the solar panels I am subsidizing the rate paid for the solar energy to those homeowners.

      • Anonymous says:

        You clearly dont understand what this person is referring to. Another one who thinks CUC has huge battery and that people only pay for what they actually use versus the rates being constantly adjusted for the difference between overhead and revenue.

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      • Anonymous says:

        …if there was a free market for generation and another for distribution….then the electricity rates would drop like a stone…..remember the Cable & Wireless rates before the advent of competition?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Get some solar panels?

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