The Minister of the Environment has defended the Government’s energy self-generation programme as “a good start that can always be adjusted” to technology and market demands.
Responding to calls for more clarity from renewable energy providers on the Residential Energy Self-Generation Programme, Kenred Dorsett said there was currentlly no initiative available to compensate Bahamians for energy they placed into the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) grid.
“Bahamians who are now using solar energy in their homes and businesses are receiving nothing,” he added. “The plan set forth and approved by Cabinet is taking the Bahamas in the right direction by promoting alternative energy use and, hopefully, reducing the amount of energy needed from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.”
The Government’s National Energy Policy has confirmed it wants the residential energy self generation (RESG) initiative to generate 10 per cent of this nation’s total energy mix as early as 2014, although limits have been imposed on each individual homeowner.
The only permitted technologies are wind turbines or solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, while BEC can limit the number of participants. To facilitate all this, the Electricity Act has to be amended, which Mr Dorsett promised would happen “in short order”.
On New Providence, residential RESG participants can only supply a maximum 5 kilowatts (KW) to the BEC grid. This amount is further restricted on the Family Islands:
• On Abaco, Eleuthera and Exuma, homes with renewable systems can only supply a maximum 3 KW to the grid.
• On Long Island, Bimini, San Salvador, Andros, Inagua, Cat Island, Great Harbour Cay, Black Point and Staniel Cay, the limit is 2 KW
• And for all other islands, the maximum is 1 KW.
When it came to commercial/business renewable energy systems interconnecting, and feeding excess power into the BEC grid, Mr Dorsett said the only permitted participants are public/government buildings and approved manufacturers under the Industries Encouragement Act.
And the maximum amount of power they can supply is limited to BEC’s “estimate of the customer’s peak demand” or 50 KW, whichever is greater, on New Providence.
For Abaco, Eleuthera and Exuma, the limit is placed at 25 KW, and for all other Family Islands it has been set at 5 KW per commercial/business renewable system
Mr Dorsett said yesterday: “The amounts of kilowatts that will be accepted in the grid is based on the research and expertise of BEC. It is a good start, in my view, and can always be adjusted in the future.
“Persons should also keep in mind that under the current regime, the option is available for those who are fortunate enough to power their entire home or business, by wind or solar options, to request permission from the minister responsible for electricity for full disconnection and removal from the grid.”
He added: “The steps that the Government is taking as regard energy sector reform are progressive, and will change the country for the better, lowering electricity costs, lowering the Government’s fuel bill, creating new entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs and lessening our collective carbon footprint.”