Slow progress on renewables an ‘abysmal failure’

| 01/04/2021 | 141 Comments

(CNS): James Whittaker, the chairperson of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, has said it is an “abysmal failure” that in twelve years of aiming to introduce alternative energy, Cayman has only managed to reach a renewable power provision of just 2.5%. He has warned that the country is “nowhere near meeting the goal” of 70% green powered electricity by 2027 because to do so would have required increasing renewable provision by at least 10 megawatts each year since the policy was published in 2017, while Cayman is not even managing 1MW per year.

“One of the big failures is this constant… mismanagement of the consumer renewable programmes and all of this volatility,” Whittaker said, when he appeared on the radio talk-show, Cayman Crosstalk, alongside Gregg Anderson, Executive Director of Energy and Utilities in the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg). Whittaker pointed out that residents cannot even install solar panels on their roofs right now because of the latest halt on the CUC Consumer Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) Programme.

Anderson claimed that the limited capacity of the CORE Programme was a technical issue that had to be resolved regarding battery storage to protect the rest of the grid. But Whittaker said this was not a technical challenge but simply a lack of planning, which was OfReg’s responsibility. Comparing Cayman’s efforts to increase renewables with countries that started working towards green energy long after this country, Whittaker said they had already surpassed us in capacity.

Anderson said that OfReg’s goal was to ensure that everyone benefits from the renewables and “we have to consider who pays for this”. With the increase of utility-scale solar, it would reduce the price of power bills by 25% by 2023, he said and claimed that Cayman would jump to 22% renewable in just a couple of years.

But Whittaker challenged Anderson’s claims about what was on paper and what could be done, saying there was no way to jump 20% in less than two years. He said OfReg has no plan to help people to have solar on their roofs and is trying to kill off the CORE Programme and replace it with Distributed Energy Resource (DER) programme. OfReg is facilitating commercial solar and other renewables and is not providing the regulation needed for residential and domestic alternative energy, he said.

Anderson denied this, saying that CORE had not been discontinued and OfReg was not trying to prevent residential renewables. But the debate between Whittaker and Anderson did not make it clear for homeowners whether or not the CORE Programme will be replaced completely by DER.

CUC’s goal to switch to natural gas also raised concerns for Whittaker, given the massive cost of infrastructure to replace the diesel tanks with an energy source which might be greener than oil but it is still a fossil fuel and not a renewable.


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Comments (141)

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  1. Although not all countries are the same and there are many factors that influence. I am sure that with great perseverance, patience and knowing how beneficial it will be to introduce alternative energies in our day-to-day lives, the goal will be reached and we will be able to reduce carbon emissions. Gustavo Copelmayer

  2. Anonymous says:

    Completely unsurprising, solar energy as the great fossil fuel saver is total a crock of shit based on incredibly ambitious wishful thinking science.

    Solar energy is rife with problems in comparison to the efficiency of generating power form fossil fuels or nuclear.

    1, generation of power: Consumption of real estate… To generate the equivalent of a diesel plant takes many footballs fields of land area. Further, peek energy generation only occurs between 10:00am and 3:00pm when the sun is directly facing the panels and maximum capacity. Between 6 and 10 am and 4-6 pm the energy generation is less, not to mention overcast days and nights. To introduce moving panels to maximize power generation only adds costs to the systems. A generator makes its optimal power capacity 24x7x365 as long as there is diesel.

    2, storage of energy: the battery system is expensive and does not last. Maintenance is also very expensive as compared to a _gas tank_. The energy density of a gas tank far supersedes the energy density of batteries.

    3, Conversion of energy. Inverters are expensive and creates additional power losses though heat.

    For these simple reasons and many many more, there is no way in hell you will every get solar energy to replace fosill fuels (to 70% – laughable!) unless you want to quadruple to cost of power (or more)and turn the island into a giant solar panel and wind farm.

    • WhaYaSay! says:

      @7:36am – I see you have opposed the idea. Where is your proposal? Continue with the status quo? Nuclear? Carry on and “hope” climate change is a myth?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is one big rip off

  4. Anonymous says:

    For an island with natural power generating source like sea, sun and wind. The fact that renewable energu has advanced so abismally does not surprise me. Between CUC raping the populous with thier fees and the inept government officials with too much money to lose in CUC. It will never happen. As a born/bredCaymanian I have to laugh. We tout, well the government touts us a progressive nation till you drive on the roads, look at the dump or import fees. I pray dead weight in Parliment is cut this year starting with a certain speaker.

    • Anonymous says:

      Electricity is cheaper in Cayman than almost every other island in the Caribbean. That’s a simple, easily verifiable fact. Enough with the being raped stupidty, it’s ignorant at best.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So people who own Tesla’s use electricity generated from dirty diesel. Sad that gas powered cars are better for the environment on this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not quite. If you do the math an EV in Cayman does about 50mpg of CUC’s diesel. Which is better than most ICE cars. But obviously not exactly very ‘green’.

      • Anon345 says:

        and 2.5% (and climbing albeit slowly) of the energy currently being used to charge your Tesla is coming from renewables.

    • Anonymous says:

      Many people who have Tesla cars which also have solar panel on their home roof with batteries means cars are charging by the sun!

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s nice to pretend that’s what happens but the reality for most is that the solar generated power is fed to the grid and the car is charged from the grid meaning 95% diesel power during the day and 100% in the evening/night.

    • Anonymous says:

      You fail to understand the effeciency of a diesel power generator compared to a car. If suddenly every single car were electric but power generation were left to fossil fuels, our carbon footprint worldwide would plummet.

      Gas powered cars are extremely inefficient at converting heat produced to usable energy as opposed to a diesel power plant.

      You may use the argument of the carbon footprint needed to produce a EV which is a viable statement but, long-term the EV won’t produce any carbon emmissions and it’s carbon footprint would be almost stagnant in alignment with the carbon produced to create the car. As opposed to a gas-powered car than uses carbon to produce it and continues to emit carbon when it’s being used.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We should all go solar on our own and dump cuc. I already have off grid plans, legal or not!

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      It is legal to go completely off-grid. There are also systems that are hybrids, such as the a/c systems that use your solar during the day, and the grid at night.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It seems to me that there are two key issues in play here.

    One is the capacity granted to the CORE programme. CUC blames the grid. I don’t believe that this is the big issue CUC and Ofreg says it is. I believe it is a convenient excuse especially at the current rate of solar energy. I’m not saying that there aren’t grid issues associated with solar at a high enough percentage, but I don’t believe it is a factor at our current rate of solar.

    But if it were a real risk, it’s well within Ofreg’s capability to sort it out. As CREA says, there has been plenty of time to address these technological issues if there had been the motivation to do so – and there clearly isn’t despite the ambitious goals in the National Energy Policy and nearly a full page in the PPM manifesto on climate change.

    This seriously needs to change. Ofreg needs to stop trying to kill residential solar.

    The second issue is the CORE rate. Ofreg has a duty to ensure consumers have appropriate rates for utilities. That’s part of their mandate (where were you with the ‘expensive gas’ debacle, Ofreg?). I fundamentally support providing subsidies to solar. But I would be sympathetic to Ofreg, if Ofreg decided to agree a lower rate for solar if they were securing more CORE capacity.

    It is absolutely clear that they are trying to kill residential solar by both giving a low rate for solar energy AND not providing capacity.

    It begs the question – why? Why are they refusing to look out for the consumer and the island and the environment?

    Oh yea – ve$ted intere$t$

  8. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    Making alternative energy equipment duty-free is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. We must give concessions to the people who want to endorse renewables. It’s not an easy thing, and it’s expensive on the front end.

    If a person can afford to invest $80,000 or so without needing an immediate return on their investment, then they can outfit their whole house, unless it’s a sizeable place. For the rest of us, we’re looking at getting a loan for $20-40,000 and having to monitor it and tweak it all the time to get the most out of it. It will pay for itself, IF you don’t figure in the cost for your own labour and time.

    The hard truth is that when alternative energies are a great deal for the common person, we won’t have to talk anyone into anything. Who doesn’t want to save money?

    We all wish we could go “green” (how I detest that term and all the baggage that comes with it), but the real truth is that most of us just can’t afford it, so we keep on paying the big businesses that burn fossil fuels, and hope some governmental entity has an L.E.D. lightbulb brighten over their heads and create a system whereby the rest of us peons can get onboard with alternative energies.

  9. Anonymous says:

    caymanian know nothing of environmental issues…..they ahve for decades and will continue to generate electricity like a 3rd world backwater….

    • Anonymous says:

      and the great MURICA is any different?

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not Caymanians, James W is Caymanian and trying to change things. A bunch of us are in fact. It’s the political ties to our only electric company that’s the problem.

  10. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for the cayman islands civil service…

  11. Anonymous says:

    this issue requires broad thinking, international experience, expertise, degree level education……hence the lack of progress by caymanian politicians and civil service.

  12. Anonymous says:

    another story that makes a mockery of the caymankind mantra….and again demonstrates the incompetence, short sightedness and general ignorance of caymanians politicans toward environmental issues.

  13. Anon says:

    6 years ago we installed solar. It cost less than a new car (something Ive never owned). It pays me back every year whereas a new car would not. Sometimes you need to look at ‘unaffordable’ in a different way.

  14. Anonymous says:

    CUC makes money from burning oil. Government taxes that oil. Government relies on this consistent income and doesn’t want to give it up.

    Any questions ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Fair point. In the latest unaudited accounts govt on an annualized basis makes around $15M from oil imports. So a tiny tiny fraction but not insignificant. Like anything it depends on how you want to measure something. The govt will make a lot more money than that by embracing renewables, lowering costs, employment, local spend (which is significant) and making us even more competitive on a macro level and attracting more investment. We just need to have either have the right acountant realizing this or someone at leadership level with an aptitude for the longer game making this decision.

      Or we can continue being penny wise and pound foolish.

      • Anon345 says:

        The Gov’t might lose the tax on not buying the oil but it could simply add these lost revenues onto the price of electricity directly (that’s where it ends up anyway as CUC include the diesel duty in their kwh price).

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ok. So the people in government own shares in cuc. The anti corruption commission is stopped from investigating certain people. They inturn cant remove the cancer that plagues these islands. So. What does anyone think is ever going to happen? This island is walking a line a very thin one. I wish better for this place. I really do.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The part CREA avoids discussing is how their lobbying for higher-margin (to them, passed on to everyone else) roof top solar is in effect a large transfer of wealth from those who cannot afford to put in the system to those who can. Rooftop solar tends to create a highly regressive societal impact and exacerbates energy poverty.
    Ask CREA how many low income households they’ve put solar on, versus how many in Crystal Harbour, Grand Harbour, Vista Del Mar, etc.
    Realistically, the only available avenue to reduce energy costs to all consumers is through large systems achieving economies of scale. As much as CREA purports that they are creating value add, what’s really taking place is that they’re achieving unregulated profits by selling luxury equivalent equipment to the wealthy, supported by lobbying for continued subsidized rates, which are financed by people who will not in fact see a benefit from the addition of this solar, but actually pay a premium price.
    In fact, as can be read in the public reports issued in the OfReg determination, CREA’s very own submission regarding price pressures from lower CORE rates showed that the use of value-level equipment actually provided their customers with better returns on their investment in solar, but was presented by CREA as if having to find ways to save on their sales pitch and compete on pricing was a negative outcome.
    The fact is that CREA is a special interest group for roof top solar sales and doesn’t appear to be doing much else to further the country’s aspirations and endeavors towards renewable energy generally. They carry about as much credibility for furthering what’s good for all people living here from an energy perspective as does the CPA for having a balanced view on sustainable development and the environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Solution.. Govt require wealthy to have solar at 2x the cost and pay CREA to install solar on the lower end houses or subsidiaries to low income neighbours. Govt has a policy of creating affordable houses in neighbours that are low income so all they need to do is take out a map find they low income housing draw a circle 1 mile around it and that’s where the grand harbour, crystal harbour SMB solar tax will go. Its called progressive taxation and can’t be avoided unless they want to move house and that’s fine too. Might create some affordable homes.

      • James Whittaker says:

        A fair comment about subsidies and facilitating low income homes with solar.

        Getting solar on the hands of all consumers, especially those on the lower income bracket has been a focus of CREA for years.

        CREA’s members have proposed numerous ways to get solar into the hands of low income homes and yet none of them have ever garnered the support it needs, but the same folks that are not helping facilitate it complain about it. You really can’t make it up.

        FYI, CREA has already agreed with Government to put solar on affordable homes far below competitive market rates and at near cost. This to help power the barriers for low income families to participate in solar. This is publicly available info and you can find the press releases on this online.

        CREA and it’s members are committed to ensuring ALL consumers have access to participate in the renewable energy transition; despite the claims to the contrary.

        It’s quite frustrating and sad that the constant accusation of solar only being form the wealthy comes from those very persons in charge, who have the power to help us ensure that isn’t the case, but don’t.

        James Whittaker
        President – CREA

        • Anonymous says:

          “Solution.. Govt require wealthy to have solar at 2x the cost and pay CREA to install solar on the lower end houses or subsidiaries to low income neighbours. ”

          “A fair comment about subsidies and facilitating low income homes with solar.”

          Who does CREA think should pay for these subsidies?

        • Rodney Barnett IV says:

          Is it possible to establish a system of neighborhood-based cooperatives that would install solar panels on member’s roofs and power packs within the area of connected homes (the cooperative)? This would be at no cost to the consumer-members and provide virtually interruption-free electricity to members at a minimal cost. Also this would eliminate the use of fossil fuel to create the electricity for homes and electric vehicles.

          In this manner, electricity would be collected by the panels, stored in the power packs then redistributed to homes in the cooperative. Consumption would be billed on a metered use basis on a strictly profit-free basis to participants. Fees would also include administrative and system maintenance costs as well as payback of the original cost of constructing the network. The government would collect feels on the import of equipment and Caymanians would be employed to administer the program and maintain the system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well I’ve been in this game long enough to know exactly who wrote this. 😆 (Hint: He’s @ OfReg) but since he wasn’t brave enough and had the guts to post his name I’ll not ‘out him’. It might cost him his job if I did.

      As to his arguments at this point they are tired, regressive and easily disproven.

      A) We’ve asked OfReg to allow direct payments from cuc so that we (the solar industry) can financing systems ourselves for customers with $0 down. THAT will help get solar into the hands of people living in affordable homes but I’m afraid my friend that is YOUR (continued) failure not CREA’s. So there’s no shortage of irony in your criticism there.

      B) As for GreenTech specifically we have donated our time, money and services to low income housing, schools and an orphanage on Haiti for kids whose parents were killed after the earthquake. That is in addition to going over to the Bahamas after hurricane Dorian to help save lives by getting hospitals and clinics back up and running days after the storm with solar and battery systems. Again if you had the courage to tell everyone your real name you could tell us all your own ‘altruistic efforts’ instead of trying to defame others. Perhaps you should come on the talk show next time, see if you fair better than Gregg with these arguments. 😉

      C) CREA and the local solar industry are adding millions of dollars ABOVE and beyond the cost of all subsidies combined not to mention the jobs and another pillar of economic growth. All of which is part of the NEP you are so obviously not fit to implement because you simply don’t believe in all of what it says (despite the fact it has YOUR signature on it!). So your argument that CREA and rooftop solar is costing the country, hurting not helping, is complete and utter nonsense and your own ignorance. This is quite easily provable by the numbers alone. The reality is rooftop solar is a net economic benefit the world over which is why virtually every country supports it; but sadly you have not yet come to accept those facts no matter how many times they are presented to you. When the 3rd party consultant is hired to assess the true ‘value’ of rooftop solar to Cayman that will be it for you and these tired old arguments and you and I both know it. This is why you dread having these experts come in and deal direct with government and the EPC and why you are intent to try and control that process. Not if I have anything to say about it.

      D) You and your bosses have purposely avoided verifying the value the local solar industry provides to Cayman for 7 years now despite being requested to do so time and again. The fact that you still ‘lack this data/knowledge’ is your own fault and frankly is another reason that change and an upgrade in competency is needed in that office.

      E) Your complete lack of understanding for the industry tour regulate shines through, the ‘value level’ technology you speak of comes at the cost of higher risks to the consumers. Perhaps you should take time out and come over to our offices and let us show your our O&M team fixing all these ‘value’ systems others have put out over the years and you can even talk to the customers to get their take on it. The NREL data you continue to ignore is a cross section of teir1 quality products that the market decides is best value. Not quality levels forcibly dictated by regulators actions who simply don’t know what they’re doing which is quite easily demonstrable.

      F) The last thing I’ll say is it’s probably best you not post your name because what you’ve proven here is everything we have said about you guys at OfReg. You have a completely philosophical disagreement with Caymans National Energy Policy as shown by your ignorance and contempt for rooftop solar and the solar industry itself. I do appreciate you yet again proving that CREAs description of OfReg in this regard remains accurate.

      We can’t have regulators implementing policy who do not believe in the policy. Change is coming, whether you’re a part of that change or you have to be moved aside to facilitate it remains to be seen.

      I look forward to you finding the courage to debate these issues with CREA publicly and transparently for all of Cayman to decide who is right and who is wrong; instead of hiding behind these posts anonymously and trying to dictate policy (as a non policy maker) instead of implementing it from behind your desk in OfReg.

      Happy Easter,

      James Whittaker
      President- CREA

      • Anonymous says:

        If the CORE programme offering was consistent, that would likely address many of the socio-economic issues. It would facilitate funding and grant opportunities because consistency reduces risks.

        There is a lot of Green Money out there we could benefit from, but not if Ofreg keeps going as it is.

      • Courtney Platt says:

        A) We’ve asked OfReg to allow direct payments from cuc so that we (the solar industry) can financing systems ourselves for customers with $0 down. THAT will help get solar into the hands of people living in affordable homes but I’m afraid my friend that is YOUR (continued) failure not CREA’s. So there’s no shortage of irony in your criticism there.

        Setting up a zero$ down loan to install, with repayment through the savings earned will be a total game changer and set this ball rolling! Please make it so OfReg!

        • Anonymous says:

          We can be the banks for our own product! Promise to share some of those solar credits while we lobby to keep them high! We’ll work real hard to bring down those installed costs that we’ll be financing too. Can’t imagine any reason why that doesn’t pass the sniff test 🤣

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow this comment is frightening. And incredibly short sighted or biased at best. Vista Del Mar does not allow panels easily FYI. Renewables actually breaks down and levelizes socio economic barriers. But only if programs are supported by financing. Without a) programs and b) financing then as most things the affluent will always benefit the most. The ‘author’ of the above comment fails to grasp this crucial point and appears quite bitter in their view.

      Having large systems in the mix undoubtedly helps bring down cost but doesn’t this also conflict with the argument that less affluent people have a barrier to entry. Doesn’t someone say who doesn’t live in the places mentioned above have the right to put solar up on their own property and pair with storage? If the grid goes down with no storage so do they.

      Let go of the control and stop being part of the problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        The post isn’t necessarily against roof top solar, but it is more expensive in many, many ways that has been shown to fall on the less affluent, particularly in the types of programs being promoted (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/07/30/which-is-cheaper-rooftop-solar-or-utility-scale-solar/amp/). This is not to say that it won’t have a place in the overall mix to meet the NEP goals – but in its current form it isn’t necessarily doing so in a way that is beneficial, let alone optimal.
        It did seem to strike a nerve with CREA, mainly because there is a direct failure to engage in nuanced, balanced discussion that acknowledges legitimate issues with their primary members’ interests (roof top solar installers). As a pretty good read on the topic, see the following links – https://www.ourenergypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/net-metering.pdf and https://www.eei.org/issuesandpolicy/generation/NetMetering/Documents/Straight%20Talk%20About%20Net%20Metering.pdf
        There are plenty of opportunities for improvement, such as removing barriers to lower installation costs, looking at different rate structures, but the key point is that net metering (which is touted by CREA) has an extremely regressive impact on society.
        The issue of renewables is complex – and there are trade offs that policy makers will need to address (transparently). But beware the propaganda campaign ongoing currently, as what is being promoted as facts and truths might be leaving a lot unsaid. Anyone who claims there is a clear and obvious solution with minimal or no drawbacks is lying, quite bluntly. And that can leave most of us paying for it for years to come. Credit to CREA on one point though – we are way behind where we want (and need) to be, and that failure falls squarely at the feet of OfReg as these discussions (as can be seen from dates in the links provided) should have started and progressed years ago.
        Last thing – people absolutely have every right to pay for and put up their own solar (and storage). What’s up for discussion is what that energy is worth, and also if they’re connected to the grid, how to make sure their share of grid cost isn’t shifted to someone else, particularly the poor – presuming that is something we value.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Important people make plenty of money from CUC so do not expect anything to change

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well, when the people in charge, and their cronies, own tons of shares in CUC, what exactly is the incentive to promote solar?! Oh Cayman, you make me laugh.

  19. Chris Evans says:

    Hurricane Ivan put CUC’s generating plant 100% out of action, no electricity was being generated. Within two or three days those diesel generators were back up and running. If 70% of the Island’s electricity is to come from renewables I fail to see how all those solar panels and windmills, most of which will need to be replaced in an Ivan event, can be back up and running in anything other than a protracted period and a majority of the Island, presumably 70% initially, will be without electricity for months – a man-made disaster of unimaginable proportions and consequences. If the answer is that there will have to be standby generation capacity anyway for those times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, so they can be spooled up to replace the lost renewable generation, the question has to be how much will all this duplication of generating plant, which has to be kept in a state of constant readiness although not actually generating electricity or revenue, how much will this add to our electricity bills? I would be interested to hear Mr. Whittaker’s views on this troubling aspect of the suggested move to non-fossil fuels.

    • Anonymous says:

      Spot on. The need for duplicate backup systems (always run on fossil fuels) is never discussed or even acknowledged by the greens.

    • Anonymous says:

      You think every solar panel will be damaged?

    • James Whittaker says:

      Hi Chris,

      Some points to note.

      A) It’s not CUCs generation (gensets) that is the risk after a storms; it’s their T&D grid. That was down for months, not days, after Ivan.

      B) You don’t have to duplicate fossil fuel generation, we already have it. It’s been paid for many time’s over and not using those existing thermal energy sources as your primary daily energy source extends their useful like in a backup capacity.

      C) Renewable energy power plants can be engineered to withstand cat-5 storms. It’s a matter of cost and once the Caribbean tends to have to pay higher prices for versus non hurricane prone regions. There’s plenty of examples of RE systems surviving major storms with minimal damage and minimal downtime. The post-storm issue as I pointed out is usually T&D not generation. This reality is not novel and you can see it across the region already; understand that CUCs ‘OWN’ 20 year plan (IRP) calls for 100’s of MWs of solar and wind energy.

      D) Distributed energy, solar on homes and commercial buildings paired with energy storage provided MORE resiliency (not less) than CUCs centralized generation and T&D system. When thousands of homes and businesses all have solar and battery systems they can operate in isolation at times when the grid goes down. This again is nothing new, I can take you to many homes in Cayman right now that can do this. The key then is proliferation of those systems, which can’t happen under the current OfReg thinking. So while your impression may be the renewables are less reliable you’re in fact exactly wrong, renewables, especially distributed generation, is MORE reliable and it’s one of the main reasons so many (other) counties push for grater adoption.

      Hope that helps.

      James Whittaker
      President – CREA

    • Rodney A. Barnett IV says:

      It would seem to me that CUC’s generating capacity after an event such as Ivan is immaterial since even though those generators are grinding away, most of the “grid” is unusable as wires and poles need to be replaced. I had no electricity for about 5 weeks after Ivan, so this is a good place to analyze how long the island will be out of power the next time.

      I’ll assume the Cayman Islands has one of the best planning laws globally and the best administration of those laws. Thus the claim that solar panels will fly off the roofs is without significant merit. As far as turbines, there are NO turbines the size shown on media. Small home-sized turbines can easily be lowered before a storm and quickly (and easily) uprighted within a few hours of the storm passing.

      Unfortunately, there has been no mention of the elephant in the room. That is INDEPENDENCE. With a full off-the-grid home system, homeowners are totally independent of CUC, its price hikes, operation, and of course, government taxes. All good reasons to go solar.

      Are there issues and concerns about the overall viability of solar? Of course, but assembling a group of scientific minds and business experts can easily address those. Another way to evaluate solar power is to look to other countries and implement a blend of solar, wind, water, and fossil fuel programs in a manner called “Best Practices.”

      • Anonymous says:

        To note, there is nothing precluding anyone from going off-grid with renewables (or any other generation). Why don’t you see that here though? Because what happens when your system goes down due to a broken part, a faulty wire, etc.? So then you need backup – maybe a small generator – to get you through until you can repair your system. Suddenly, you’re looking at some major investments, or some major risk of going without power. So you decide to have a “backup” connection to the grid, and use it only when you need it. Except if you do that – you’re not actually paying the cost of your fair share to have that equipment connected and ready to serve you at a moment’s notice, which means someone else (other grid customers) would be. The utility has to be able to serve any customer needs at any time, so even if you don’t use the grid much, they still have to put in sufficient capacity to support you at all times anyway. There are ways to change how you get billed so that you pay for that standby capacity, but that lowers your “return” for putting in solar from what your expectations might be despite it being fair and equitable and so there’s broad opposition under the idea that it will chill solar deployment and development. Point being, not quite so straightforward as much people think, and certainly not so straightforward as certain people are preaching lately.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually yes. If the roof flies off or there is a projectile then the panels won’t work. But in a catostophic situation like this then the solar will work when the sun shines. Add to this battery storage then we are way more resilient. Who do you think paid for all the new lines after Ivan? Renewables when paired with storage works in all weather. Just look at the last minor storm we had in October…we would all still be riding donkeys with the type of thinking that renewables won’t make us stronger and more resilient.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Too funny James youll be cut out by dart soon enough as the WTE is CUCs competition …read that again! Remember the bid against cuc he won years ago.

  21. Anonymous says:

    James you talk a good game but the truth is that the cost of panels, batteries and installation are literally through the roof.

    • Janes Whittaker says:

      No, I’m talking facts and data. NREL is a branch of the US Government’s Energy Department. They track solar market data more than any entity in the world. See below….

      https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy21osti/78625.pdf

      Fact: I (and others locally) will sell you solar for at or below the US average today. That thus dispels any arguments to the contrary on the cost comparison issue.

      Regards,
      James

      • Anonymous says:

        Unsaid is that almost every utility in the US pays out at a lower credit rate as well for purchased renewable energy from rooftop solar, so what does that say about the idea that local installations prices are at par or lower, but local credit rates are higher?

      • Anonymous says:

        According to that link a 10kW domestic system costs ~US$25k installed. You’re really cheaper than ~CI$21k, from nothing to commissioned system?

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        What is your cost to us for storage batteries? That is the weak link in the whole process. Grid tie in Grand Cayman is a joke, and nonexistent on the Sister Islands.

        Thus, we are faced with having to store our own energies and hope the life of the batteries justifies their cost.

        They are currently duty-free, but that’s just a small drop in the costs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, but that’s because our government makes it difficult.

  22. James says:

    A few myths to dispel..

    – The cost of installing solar in Cayman is the same as installing in the US, quite an achievement for a tiny market with the world highest living costs and cost of doing business. See the NREL 2020 solar reports as verification. You can get solar cheaper than the US average on a cost per watt basis. So the high cost is a myth.

    – Financing is key to helping more consumers; unfortunately this is also a failure of regulation. If OfReg will make cuc pay the financing company then local solar companies and other 3rd parties would provide all the consumer financing needed because the solar companies would provide the system with $0 down and share the savings with the customer. This has been requested from OfReg and the Utlity to no avail. Yet they still talk about financing being an obstacle but won’t do the very thing required to resolve it.

    – The average payback period on North America is 7-8 years, returns are typically 12-15% ‘before’ any financing costs. This assumes Caymans rates are aligned with US and Caribbean averages. Currently OfRegs rates are misaligned and tied to CUC returns (which are after financing costs are accounted for) which is a violation of the National Energy Policy and a further attempt to kill off the residential program.

    James Whittaker
    President- CREA

    • throw 'em out says:

      Mr. Whittaker is absolutely right. If OfReg would stop being the government suck-up to CUC — and instead advocate for the people of Cayman like their mandate requires — consumers and the environment would benefit big-time. OfReg’s failure to do its job is another powerful reason for throwing out most of those who are running for reelection and have set up these self-enriching, cozy relationships with outfits like CUC and certain developers.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      You fail to note that while we have intense sun, we also have interruptive humidity and disruptive cloud cover. We do have a general breeze, however rarely a consistent driving wind, at least that which might produce significant wind-power wattage.

      I would love it if you would put together a plan for the average 2000 sq. foot house here with, say, two split a/c systems, electric washer and dryer, water heater. We should all be using propane stoves by now, because it’s the best deal going in the Cayman Islands.

      Thank you. I don’t mean to sound confrontational. I am aware of some of the many problems which prevent the average person from going solar/wind. It’s a LOT more than mere choice. Most people simply can’t afford it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Those solar panels will all fly in the next hurricane. Then solar panel sellers and installers can rip off the public some more and distract from their high prices by attacking the most reliable utility company in the Caribbean…

    • Anonymous says:

      They won’t go flying off unless a) the roof itself goes off or b) their had been a poor installation. CUC, when compared to the region, have been great. What is even better for the country and for CUC is if people have solar and storage at their premises- large or small. Makes us far more resilient and nimble when these occur.

    • Anonymous says:

      And what happened to CUC poles and infrastructure after Ivan. I had no electricity for nine weeks.

      • Anonymous says:

        I had none for almost a year!

      • Anonymous says:

        … quite right and then adding insult to injury, we the consumers of electricity in the Cayman Islands were afforded the “privilege” of paying fur the rebuilding of the Transmission and Distribution grid of the poles and cables through the forced inclusion of the infamous “ surcharge” on our subsequent CUC bills, that lasted for years.
        And more insult- we did not even own what we paid for – CUC kept it all.

        CUC should be forced to fund/ insure for their inevitable hurricane loss that will come next.

        This island is awash with alternative insurance and capital markets expertise that can counter the lame excuse that “ insurance” is not available for T&D. However that of course reduces net profit and thus dividends to shareholders and other “interested” stakeholders.

        #smashcucmonopoly

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      They don’t have to be installed on the roof. They can be installed with quick-release hardware, allowing a person to take them down rapidly. And, as others have mentioned, properly installed on a roof, they present a very low profile to the wind and would take a huge wind to tear loose.

      There is this thing, also, called insurance…

  24. Anonymous says:

    As long as CUC can control all the flow of electricity. There will never be a free “do solar as you please” situation on this island.

    Or any other energy source. Too many influential people who have 50K ci plus invested with and receive dividends (money back) from CUC, who do not want to see CUC reduced in size, what so ever. Hopefully dart can nagivate through it and provide a second electricity service and reduce the costs of electricity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shareholders will still benefit from the transition. Look at National Grid in the US and UK. CUC just need to let go of power production. Adapt please for the good.of the country. They own and get paid well from maintaining the grid itself – which is crucial for a island country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true. You can build completely off grid and there’s absolutely nothing cuc can do about it. Unfortunately the cost of such systems installed here make them uncompetitive due to the installers pricing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not true, even if you go off the grid, you can not get CO without being connected to CUC.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’ve got that backwards. You can’t get cuc hookup without CO. Not the other way around. Electrical inspection only is needed

          • Anonymous says:

            If you don’t care about sending them your excess power, just get a power cutoff on your side of the CUC meter. When you switch them off your CUC bill drops to practically nothing. If you need their power just switch them back on.

      • Anonymous says:

        You can also build off the grid in the US, but it is not cost effective without government incentives.

      • James says:

        The cost of off-grid is not materially more than on-grid in terms of install costs or costs per watt.

        As I pointed out the solar install costs in Cayman is at or less than the US average, per the US government data from
        NREL.

        https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy21osti/78625.pdf

        The ‘cost issue’ with Off-Grid is the “amount” of solar and energy storage need.

        It’s the same costs per watt, but the systems need to be 3-5x larger than an on-grid system in order to account for using purely energy stored during times where you have bad weather and/or low solar energy production.

        If you’re happy for your home to have power only 80-90% of the year then offgrid is quite cheap.

        The big cost is paying for “all that extra equipment” for that 10-20% of the year and that is where people see the overall “high cost” dollar figure.

        We have built multiple off-grid homes to date, all outside Cayman. It makes economic sense today in “some places and some instances” particularly were you have little or no grid reliability (through operation or storms) and you have the $ capital to do so.

        As the costs of energy storage falls (predicted to drop 90% over the next 10 years), off grid will be accessible to more and more people.

        https://ieefa.org/u-s-energy-department-aims-for-90-reduction-in-long-duration-battery-storage-costs-by-2030/

        Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a debate and whether the utilities and regulators will give people good financial reasons to “stay connected to the grid” is another.

        When off-grid does finally become “least cost” it will be interesting to see how much utilities and regulators advocate for “least cost” purely, as they do today.

        But that’s the reality of off-grid. It has nothing to do with ‘high install costs in Cayman’ relative to other countries, especially those whose systems have to be Cat-5 engineered.

        Hope that is helpful.

        James Whittaker
        President- CREA

        • Anonymous says:

          “The cost of off-grid is not materially more than on-grid in terms of install costs or costs per watt.”

          You giving the batteries away for free then? What complete nonsense.

          • Anonymous says:

            Read the mans words you dumba$$. Cost per kw is the same…more kw needed for off grid. The tech doesn’t change. And before you say it…batteries are beneficial to both on and off grid solutions.

            • Anonymous says:

              He said the cost per watt was not materially different. So the cost of a 10kW system with battery is not materially different from a 10kW system without? Garbage. Obviously a bigger system is both more expensive and cheaper per watt. Claiming a bigger system with battery is the same cost per watt and same install cost as a smaller one without is disingenuous at best.

              Dumba$$ MEng

              • MP says:

                On ‘on-grid’ solution presumably comes with connection costs and monthly O&M / T&D costs. That’d be where the equivalent to the battery costs are sitting.

                Unless you foresee CUC converting to a charity and doing their work for free?

          • James Whitaker says:

            I think you misunderstood.

            Again the point is with regards to offgrid systems it is not the installers costs or cost per watt that is materially more versus an ongrid system. It’s the fact that you have to buy much larger systems to be offgrid.

            For example 2K sqft home in Cayman with an average electric bill of $300 a month could have a $30K 7KW solar & battery system which would offset 80-100% of his monthly electric bill and provide him backup power that would avoid all temporary outages.

            That same home would require a system 3-5x that size to be offgrid (plus a genset) and thus the overall cost is 3-5x more as a result.

            Simply put, Offgrid costs more primarily because you require a larger quantity of equipment.

            Not because the installers are charging more than they would on a cost/watt basis for an ongrid system.

            You don’t have to take my word for it. There’s good reference material online that explains this.

            https://news.energysage.com/going-off-grid-with-solar-cost/

            Hope that helps.

            James

            • Anonymous says:

              I understood just fine. An off grid system of the same size as a grid tie is considerably more expensive per watt due to the storage and backup equipment. It will also cost more to install. An off grid system that is 3 times the size of the grid tie one will be far more expensive again, but obviously, will be a lower cost per watt; add in the cost of storage equipment and you might get a similar cost per watt but your install cost of a system 3 times the size including storage and backup will be nowhere near the same. You can have a similar cost per watt (by installing a much bigger system) or you can have a similar install cost (by installing the same size) but you can’t have both.

              How much is a 10kW grid tie system installed in Cayman?

          • Anonymous says:

            Good comment. Balance of Systems and labour make solar prohibitive…. unless….. You put it up yourself.
            It is not difficult. I have enough to be totally off grid.
            It is a learning experience, but do not be afraid to learn.

        • Anonymous says:

          Let’s do some quick math. Per CREA, they’re around US prices as quoted in NREL. Debatable, but for this purpose we can work with it. PV + storage is listed at an average of US$5,900/kW AC, with 2-3 hours of storage. PV alone, in the 10-100kW range was at US$3.50/w AC, or US$3,500/kW AC. So roughly, US$2,400/kW AC, $1,000/kWh AC for the storage (averaging at 2.5 hours).

          The average household here is probably in the range of 5-10kW, so for the capacity requirement let’s use 8kW to have a small safety margin from the average. This would mean at minimum, the batteries have to be able to issue 8kW supply to avoid underserving demand. That’s US$19,200, and we’ll be generous and imagine it provides 3 hours of storage at that capacity. You’re going to need more than 24kWh hours of storage, of course, since the sun isn’t available all the time, let along all day. Based on the most recent annual report from CUC, a residential customer on average uses 1,129kWh/month, or 37kWh per day. Given consumption is much higher in the summer due to AC usage, let’s say you need 60kWh for any given day in the worst case. Some of this will be supplied by your solar system during the day (unless it’s not sunny!), so for this basic review you will only need to double your battery storage (8kW, 48kWh). You’re now at US$38,400 and mostly, but not fully, de-risked. Coupled with that will be your backup generator – a 10kW AC Generac propane generator, not including the tank, piping, and fuel, will cost around US$3,800 plus labor and permitting costs to install. The size of your tank will be based on how long you want to be able to run your backup power without refilling. Let’s say US$45,000 for your storage and backup.

          Obviously, the solar system needs to charge this battery capacity (8kW, 48kWh) in addition to household consumption at the same time (max 60kWh). Cayman’s solar insolation is, on average, around 5-6kWh/m²/day, so pretty good. This translates to around 1,600kWh produced by every 1kW AC of solar installed per year, or 4.38kWh/day. So, unless you want to run your backup generator fairly frequently because you run out of juice in the summer, you’ll need to put in a 13.7-14kW AC solar system to hit your 60kWh day in the worst case. At US$3.50/w AC, you’re around US$48,500.

          Your initial investment is then US$93,500, or CI$78,540 (plus fuel for your backup generator). If you paid this cash, great, no financing costs to do so. Otherwise, don’t forget to pay your interest on your 10-year loan (at best, considering that’s how long your batteries will last before you need to add more to account for degrading performance).

          Using straight-line depreciation for your investment, with 20 years for your solar (your inverter will need to be replaced sooner) and 10 years for your battery and generator, not including fuel for the generator, maintenance for the system and any financing costs, your annual cost to be off-grid will be CI$5,817 over the first 10 years. Dividing by your annual consumption (13,548kWh), you’re paying CI$0.43/kWh, compared to the CI$0.22/kWh you would have paid to be on grid in 2020.

          So for a 100% increase in your costs, you can go off-grid (and you get to have all the risk of what happens if your system goes down, and/or your backup generator doesn’t work). And, as those technology costs (battery and solar) fall, remember that it also falls for whatever is being used on the grid side (which is expected to become largely renewables with storage as that pricing drops). So don’t expect that off-grid is going to become “least cost” anytime soon. The idea literally runs counter to economies of scale and pooled risk creating optimized cost outcomes for participants.

          Oh, and to note that if you’re happy to just have power 80-90% of the time, even dropping the storage back to 8kW, 24kWh AC and the solar down to around 9kW means you’re still at CI$0.27/kWh, or 23% premium and without power for 876-1,752 hours per year (slightly more than 1-2 months equivalent). Great deal and “quite cheap,” indeed. Oh, and that 1-2 months equivalent without power? More of it will be in the summer. Fun.

    • Anonymous says:

      Our electricity is relatively cheap… much cheaper than similar islands like USVI and cheaper even than countries like Germany.

      • R. U. Sure says:

        That is hard to believe.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your numbers are screwed up. The US is about $0.15 ($0.10 where I am.) Germany is $0.36 on the site you list. Beating out Germany is meaningless. You are twice the US.

            • Anonymous says:

              The price quoted was USVI (US Virgin Islands). The US isn’t a small island system (excepting Hawaii, the USVI, etc.), so you’re comparing apples and oranges. Practically apples and aardvarks.
              The extra cost is scale and redundancy given if some generation sources fail here, you can’t just get the power from somewhere else, like is possible in the US mainland grid through interstate transmission networks.
              On the whole, local prices are competitive or better than all regional comparable utilities (except those that have oil – like T&T), on par or better than US islands, and impressively, even competitive with some European utilities.
              I recognize this is hard to give credit for, but all factors considered the prices and reliability here are pretty good, and certainly amongst the best in the Caribbean.

            • Anonymous says:

              Wholesale power that your US local distribution utility buys from the large interconnected US Grid powered by very large coal, gas, nuclear and hydro plants costs in the US$0.03/kwh range, depending on region. Diesel alone is currently at US$0.14/kwh on CUC bills. This is the big differentiator. the rest of the costs,grid costs, customer service and admin,cost of capital, are not significantly different. The Islands just do not have the large economies of scale that the mainland has and the options for generation. These economies of scale also apply to renewables.

            • Anonymous says:

              No his numbers are spot on. Comparing a tiny island of 60,000 in the Caribbean with the US is, frankly, idiotic for what should be blindingly obvious reasons.

              If you must compare to the US try Hawaii, unfortunately for whatever case you’re trying to make; Hawaii, despite being 20 times the size of Cayman pays 29c/kWh compared to 26c here.

  25. Anonymous says:

    The only truth that is clear for all to see is the fact that nobody involved with renewable energy in the Cayman Islands is actually looking out for the average resident. Wasn’t there a lady within the CIG that had overall responsibility for the strategic goals and objectives of the government? What is her position on all of this?

    • Anonymous says:

      The comment that no one in the renewable industry is looking out for the average resident is totally off-base and unfounded. Renewable energy is for everybody if the plans in place cater for everybody. One of The arguments being put forward is this very fact. Less than 1% of the population can access it which is so wrong on so many levels.

    • Anonymous says:

      She’s too busy sending empty buses around GT…

  26. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry. If we reelect Joey Who, he’ll get right on this. Right after he gets back from drinking champagne on a mega yacht in Monaco.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Once a group gets control of selling electrical power to an area, they do not want to make any changes that might mean a reduction of income on their sales. If you were selling millions of dollars worth of electricity to your customers, would you like to sell them less or reduce the price of service? Love isn’t what makes the world go around………. It’s GREED!…. and it is alive and well in th Cayman Islands.

    • Rick says:

      Correct. Sadly, they could have reviewed their business model and led on renewables, selling the services themselves for a huge improvement in profit margins. Given the cutting edge technologies required to continue the revolution in energy production and storage taking place, they could have expanded regionally also. But, like most incumbents, disruption is not even recognized from the inside until it is too late, then they spend their time doing what CUC is doing right now; collaborating with beneficiaries to maintain the status quo. However, technology and cost improvements will soon make all of this moot. CUC will be merely history in a few short years. You heard it here. Let shareholder panic begin.

  28. Anonymous says:

    When I looked at installing solar a few years ago the issue wasn’t CUC, it was the rip off installation pricing which gave a breakeven at about 18 years despite CUC having one of the most generous grid buyback prices on the planet. Horrible investment. By contrast the dividend yield on CUC would double your money in 14…

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you got terrible advice. Installation costs can be measured against International data. Check NREL. You will find that Cayman installations are bang in line with our northern neighbours. So your comment is very misguided factually.

    • Anonymous says:

      But yet you dont question how CUC can give you such great dividend returns. Because they are ripping the public off. You for get the Ivan charge that gov had to request they remove from out bills as it was no longer justifiable? They would still be charging that now if they could.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t and have never had any CUC shares but the observation that they’re a better investment than solar holds some truth. In any event I don’t really think CUC are ripping us off; relatively the price is high compared to the US but the same as the UK, way less than Bermuda and even Germany and 30-40% less than the rest of the Caribbean with WAY better reliability than the latter.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes…… It seems that CUC and CPA are right at the top for ripping off the people of the Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        CUC dividends are not all that impressive. But they’re pretty stable, so that makes up for it being a few percentage points or more below what you could get with higher performing stocks (that have greater volatility).

        • Anonymous says:

          Nonsense, that’s comparing apples and oranges. Among utilities, they have great dividends.

          • Anonymous says:

            Nonsense. The dividend yield last reported was 4.7%, which is around typical for utilities (4-6%).
            And the point is to compare apples and oranges – utility stock is slow but steady, other stock has greater opportunity for reward, but higher risk of lost value or low dividends. It’s a trade-off, or at least it’s part of considering how to mix and balance your investments.

    • Anonymous says:

      You should have gotten additional quotes. Mine were paid off in 5 years now all power they generate is free.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      CUC having one of the ost generous grid buyback prices on the planet? Not even close, unless they’ve upped their prices sevenfold in the last year.

  29. Anonymous says:

    The only thing we recycle around here are politicians. It’s unfortunate, as they’re better placed to be sent to Trashmore.

  30. Anonymous says:

    One needs to look at the islands of Hawaii, specifically Kauai, to see what is possible.

  31. Anonymous says:

    James, what will the cost be to the public purse to maintain CUC for redundancy even if we go 100% renewable please?

    • Anonymous says:

      Current renewable is 2.5%, I don’t think we’re at risk of making CUC redundant.

    • Anonymous says:

      At a guess it’ll be roughly the sum of all our bills minus the fuel surcharge…. the total cost of having all the infrastructure ready to switch on at a moments notice isn’t going to be much different to running it flat out minus fuel cost.

    • Rick says:

      Why would we want to do that? What reason would an off-grid entity with generation and storage have to be in need of emergency generation so badly, that they were willing to pay a premium to maintain standby at CUC? Simply have your own standby or enough battery storage. How difficult would it be to restore solar and repair your lines? Less than a day at the most. Storm-proof your solar panels or make them removable. Have a mobile battery.

  32. Anonymous says:

    It should be a requirement that ALL NEW BUILDS from this point on have solar.
    Such a shame that with the amount of sunlight that shines upon us each year can’t be used for some good.

    • Anonymous says:

      But that solar energy costs CUC money , any way you want to cut the numbers. They prefer to stick with dirty diesel and fuel oil so they get the concessions & energy charges you are whacked with each month.
      We had the option of fitting solar to our house after Ivan in our rebuild in 2007 , but I smelled a rat with the entire “Sell Your Solar Back to The Grid” farce that has run since then. Somewhat glad now , given the current fiasco. A shame.

      • Anonymous says:

        The change to the CORE agreement only apply to customers who sign up after the changes are made. If you had signed up after Ivan, you’d be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Sure, and let’s mandate that every new car is electric, despite the fact that charging stations are powered by CUC.

      Those are wonderful and great things to aspire toward, but they aren’t financially feasible. WHEN people can AFFORD alternative energies, they will FLOCK to them. They won’t have to be talked into it.

      • D. Truth says:

        Beau, …. Would a home solar charger be practical for Caymanians?

        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          Absolutely feasible and practical, but for now, on a personal level. I was protesting changing legislation to require solar when the framework isn’t in place for it. We have to create the system before we mandate changes in building codes…. or electric vehicles.

          I very much want us to be in a position to convert to solar/wind on personal and national levels. We must create that framework before thinking about mandating it.

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