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Bahamians selling power back to BPL

There are currently 160 Bahamians who have the ability to sell electricity back to Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) grid as a part of the company’s small-scale renewable generation plan launched in April 2017.

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) gave BPL the green light in late 2016 to begin its first phase of tying renewable energy systems that meet certain requirements into its grid.

URCA CEO Stephen Bereaux said the small-scale renewable generation program allows small residential users or small commercial users to generate electricity for personal use and sell any excess back to the BPL grid.

“Effectively you sell it at the fuel charge; so right now the fuel surcharge is 19 cents, so it’s a good time for people with those systems because you sell it back at the fuel charge,” Bereaux said, while appearing as a guest on Guardian Radio talk show “Morning Blend”.

“Last count we had there were 160 people that had gone through the process, since last April. So it is significant; people are doing it. You are allowed to do your average customer demand as a residential user on New Providence plus five kilowatts, so you can install a solar system up to that size.

“So, let’s say if your bill is somewhere between $500 and $800, you probably have an average customer demand of one to two kilowatts a year. You would be allowed to install up to seven kilowatts.”

Bereaux said being able to tie into BPL’s grid makes solar systems more affordable for consumers.

“This allows for solar systems without battery backups, and that makes it much cheaper. Battery costs can double the cost of going solar or more,” he said.

The small-scale renewable energy grid tie-in program is a part of BPL’s larger renewable energy reform program. While there is no plan to expand to cover large-scale use of renewable energy, Bereaux said there are currently studies going on under the Office of the Prime Minister to test the viability of distributor generation using renewable energy, particularly solar power.

“The problem, though, is BPL’s grid would have to be much more advanced than it is today, because it has to be able to manage power coming into the grid at thousands of points. It would require a significant investment, but that is a useful and very viable plan for New Providence,” he said.

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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