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FTC increases renewable energy cap to the benefit of BLPC customers

The Barbados Light & Power Company (BLPC) can now buy more electricity from renewable energy customers.

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) announced today that it has increased the cap under the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) from 7 megawatts (MW) to 9 MW. This comes a year after the FTC first set the energy cap.

The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) has welcomed the development but insisted that the limit was still less than half what it should be.

The RER, introduced in 2010, facilitates the sale of excess electricity to the grid by customers using a solar photovoltaic or wind renewable energy system to offset electricity consumption from the grid. More than 500 customers already benefit under the programme.

“In light of the positive response to the Renewable Energy Rider programme, and having considered the request from the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited to expand the capacity limit by 1MW and representation from the Barbados Renewable Energy Association and renewable energy installers, the Fair Trading Commission has raised the RER capacity limit, with immediate effect, to 9MW,” the FTC said in a statement.

“This additional 2 MW is to be allocated on a first come first served basis.”

The regulatory body advised that in order to prevent any dislocation, prospective owners of renewable energy systems should first obtain approval from the utility company to ensure that their systems could be accommodated under the RER programme, prior to committing to the investment.

BREA’s executive director Clyde Griffith told Barbados TODAY that he was happy for the increase and expressed gratitude to those who worked with the association to lobby for the adjustment.

However, he said, the association wanted more.

“BREA is pushing for 20 MW but we have to be mindful of the security of the grid and I think that is what everybody is concerned about  .  .  .  although we believe that 20 MW would not do any damage,” said Griffith.

“We have to accept that [2 megawatt increase] for now . . . it is better than what we had,” he added, noting that since the BLPC had commissioned an Intermittent Renewable Energy Penetration Study to determine, among other things, the level of solar and wind energy that can be safely accommodated on the grid, “we can’t go too far until we see what the study recommends as far as the intermittency is concerned.”

The FTC said it expected to receive the results of that study by December.

“At that time, an in-depth consultation to determine a viable long term RER capacity limit will be undertaken,” the commission explained.

In an e-mailed statement in response to the FTC decision, the BLPC told Barbados TODAY it “acknowledged” the ruling.

The utility company said the results of the Intermittent Renewable Energy Penetration Study would inform any decision related to “potential adjustments to the capacity levels and rates” on the RER.

“We remain mindful of the potential stability risks inherent in grid-tied intermittent energy, and we will continue to protect the stability and safety of electricity service for all Barbadians. Also, we remain committed to working with the Minister of Energy, the Energy Division, the Fair Trading Commission and other stakeholders towards a sustainable energy future for Barbados,” the BLPC said.


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