Lighting the way

BL&P Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Worme.
BL&P Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Worme.

The island’s utility regulator will soon tell consumers if they will have access to a permanent system of making money from selling excess electricity to the Barbados Light & Power Company, and the terms and conditions under which this should be done.

This afternoon, the Fair Trading Commission completed its public consultation on the Light & Power Company’s application to make its Renewable Energy Rider pilot project, more permanent.

Chairman of the FTC, Sir Neville Nicholls told the final hearing at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre that the commissioners will now “go away” and review all of the information gathered throughout the course of this consultation process before providing direction on the terms and conditions under which the RER should be permanently instituted.

The BL&P’s Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Worme, who presented the case for his company, explained that one of the main objectives of the RER pilot programme was to facilitate the interconnection to the grid of customers who install photovoltaic or wind systems for their own use, and may want to feed any excess energy into the grid.

Worme said it was also to assess the technical and economic impacts of interconnecting these systems to the grid. In his 30 minute presentation, he put a series of recommendations to the five-man panel of commissioners, which proposed that credit refund cheques to those who use the RER be issued quarterly at the request of customers for balances over $500.

It was also recommended that the credit factor be fixed for three years or until the next rate case, whichever is sooner; that at the end of a calendar year, credit balances of $500 and over be automatically refunded, and under $500, request for refunds should be made.

The COO told the consultation that the reason for these limitation was to minimise the cost of administering the programme. BL&P is also recommending that the maximum amount a customer would be billed, would be similar to having a stand alone system which provided all, or a portion of their electricity load.

The power company’s spokesman also submitted that the credit refund be set at 1.6 times the fuel clause adjustment up to a maximum of 1.5 times the customers’ energy consumption.

“Energy produced in excess of 1.5 times the customer’s energy consumption will be purchased at the FCA,” he added.

Worme noted that this credit factor was based on the fuel cost avoided by distributed renewable generation sources.

“We assumed five mega watts of installed capacity is made up of 90 per cent PV and 10 per cent wind. For this, the credit factor varied between 1.5 and 1.6 times FCA over the review period, at an average 1.58 times the FCA,” pointed out the BL&P executive.

The company, Worme informed the commissioners, is recommending that billing arrangements be done on a ‘buy all, sell all’ basis in both cases. That is, the customer pays the utility at their appropriate tariff for all energy consumed and BL&P purchases all energy produced by the renewable system.

He said this would reflect the true cost of providing the service to the customer. This too, the chief operating officer reasoned, would eliminate the cross subsidisation between participants and non-participants.

Worme revealed that the company was close to connecting the initial limit of 200 customers to the RER system and as a result had asked the FTC this month to remove that restriction as well as to increase the total capacity on the Rider to five megawatts. (EJ)†††

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