By YOURI KEMP
A renewable energy provider yesterday said an eight month to four-year approvals process featuring “out of sync” government agencies is the greatest obstacle to the technology’s adoption.
Philip Holdom, president of Alternative Power Supply (APS), spoke out following comments made by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority’s (URCA) regulatory manager, Jonathon Hudson, on a talk show last week where he spoke about the body’s application and approval process for Small Scale Renewable Generation (SSRG) systems.
Mr Hudson said there was nothing preventing homeowners and businesses from implementing these solutions, adding: “It is possible today for small businesses and homes to do this today. Persons under that framework (SSRG) are being compensated for the energy they consume.”
Mr Holdom, though, begged to differ, telling Tribune Business: “The biggest hindrance to homeowners and installers is the time that it takes to complete the process because it involves three government agencies that are not in sync with each other or not communicating with one another.”
Describing parts of the relevant laws as completely “archaic”, he added: “Any time that we have to interact with the Ministry of Works the process stalls at the department responsible for electrical inspection.”
Mr Holdom said he was once told that the Ministry does not have vehicles for their inspectors, and this was the chief reason for the delay and backlog in approving renewable energy applications.
He added that he sometimes has to “transport the inspector to the site”, and said: “This is not conducive to the ease of doing business. That needs to stop.”
Mr Holdom also recalled the extreme case of his client, the Windsor School, which he said has been waiting for an inspection certificate for four years. He argued that URCA, which together with Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) are the other two agencies involved in the approvals process, needed to put more pressure on the Ministry of Works to get such inspections done.
“After you get the electrical inspection certificate back from the Ministry of Works you then have to submit the inspection back to Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), and then on and on and on it goes,” Mr Holdom added: “The worst thing is that the Ministry of Works does not work by e-mail and you can’t speak to any inspector directly.”
He suggested Ministry of Works inspectors ultimately do not view solar and renewable energy installers as their technical equivalents, even though “the training of a solar installer is extremely intensive and covers all aspects of electrical training. You are training in both Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) with theory and practice”.
“The net effect is that many of the solar installers are not engaging the process and are going through the backdoor,” Mr Holdom said.