Solar panels at the Tomlinson Furniture Building (Photo Credit: Affordable Solar Cayman)

(CNS): Both the Utilities Regulatory and Competition Authority (OfReg) and the Caribbean Utilities Corporation have made fair progress for solar providers and customers as the Cayman Islands nudges toward much-needed expansion. A separate and independent investigation was initiated to gather evidence regarding the price. of alternative renewable fuel supplies. However, in the face of the current energy and climate crisis, regulators are urging people not to install solar panels until these studies are completed and the new CORE and DER programs are rolled out by CUC and approved by OfReg. I am advising to

The two surveys are expected to be completed by the end of November 2022. A new iteration of the Consumer-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) program will be announced after both parties review the study.

In a press release issued on Friday, OfReg said both studies found that the cost of solar power purchased from customers with distributed generation renewable energy systems would be passed on to other customers on the grid. said to be guaranteed to be reasonably priced. But OfReg also said customers should be careful when ordering new solar systems and wait patiently until the new structure and payment guarantees are in place.

“Some solar installers sell solar to customers without access to programs approved by regulators and grid owners,” the regulator said in a release.

Future CORE programs may set energy rates that differ from those currently being billed and customers should consider that the return on investment cannot be estimated until new rates are determined. These rates are unlikely to be finalized until late next year, after years of delays in any meaningful move towards using solar power in the Cayman Islands. Spur more.

OfReg’s executive director of energy, Greg Anderson, said the approved program is designed to offer customers the opportunity to install rooftop solar systems. This allows customers to connect small solar PV systems and wind turbines to his CUC’s distribution system to generate their own electricity while remaining connected to the grid, thereby reducing their monthly electricity bills.

“But there are a lot of questions about the costs involved in maintaining and protecting the reliability and stability of the local grid,” says Anderson. “These include determination of appropriate service costs for utilities, determination of full ‘solar value’ which could potentially determine the rate at which solar customers are credited, CORE and DER contracts, utility concerns about potential loss of revenue. ”

Anderson added that OfReg’s research is important for understanding the costs and benefits of solar energy, as national energy policies are based on an accurate perception of the value of solar energy.

“OfReg recognizes that rooftop solar is an integral part of the National Energy Policy (NEP) energy transition goals and is taking the necessary steps to support strong solar growth. he said.

Sacha Tibbetts, CUC’s vice president of customer service and technology, said CUC has always been committed to bringing solar energy into the mix, as outlined in its integrated resource plan.

“IRP will provide a rapid increase in grid-connected renewable energy, providing cleaner energy at a competitive, more stable cost,” he said. “We will work with regulators to bring renewable energy onto the grid so that it not only meets the needs of our customers, but also keeps the grid safe and reliable.

“Over the years, CUC has consistently said that adding renewable energy to the grid should not compromise reliability and create substantial additional costs across our customer base. We embrace effective and fair competition.”

According to the country’s National Energy Policy, it aims to generate 70% of the Cayman Islands’ electricity from renewable sources (mainly solar) by 2037. Only 3% is solar powered.

Two studies that will help determine pricing and drive more renewable energy deployment are the Value Of Solar Study (VOSS) by OfReg and If More Renewables Were Connected to the Grid Earlier of the CUC on the fuel efficiency of existing power generation engines. That battery storage project will be finished next year.

In 2020, CUC announced that the CORE program is now fully subscribed. However, OfReg has approved an additional 3 megawatts of capacity for the program and has been fully allocated since then. The parties agreed that he would have a two-week notice period before the introduction of the new CORE and DER programs.

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