URCA focused on increasing small-scale renewable generation systems
The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) will focus on growing the number of small-scale renewable generation (SSRG) systems installed at homes and businesses, the regulator’s chief executive officer, Stephen Bereaux, said yesterday, adding that it will also attempt to clearly define what its boundaries are as a regulator for Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), while it hopes to conclude the jurisdictional challenges with the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC).
Bereaux, who was speaking at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s energy forum, explained that there are significant system problems at BPL that cannot be fixed through regulatory channels. He added that the matter with GBPC is still before the courts.
Bereaux also revealed that BPL’s utility-scale renewable generation plan could be ready by August.
“We do understand it is at an advanced stage now,” he said.
Bereaux explained that URCA wants to continue to be relevant as it sorts through these challenges. He said the low-hanging fruit for the regulator is to continue to push forward the SSRG program.
He said although people have been relatively slow to implement SSRG systems, to date 2.1 megawatts’ worth of systems have been installed, and URCA has 4.2 megawatts approved in principle for installation.
He lamented that the process to get approval for these systems has been marred by too much red tape.
“The process for engaging in renewable has some bottlenecks in it, and it’s perhaps a little more complicated than it has to be,” said Bereaux.
“One of the things we want to do this year is to firstly clearly outline it, so people know what the process is meant to be, and then to review and ensure that the process makes sense and that we cut out any unnecessary red tape that might be in the process, or help those who have to string the red tape, to do it more efficiently and effectively.”
According to Bereaux, people who want to install residential SSRG systems have to get approval from BPL first, while commercial entities have to receive URCA approval at the outset.
Another hindrance, he said, might be unattractive feed-in tariff rates for those selling electricity back to the grid. Bereaux explained, however, that BPL customers, in order to benefit from the tariff, must understand what size system is correct for their needs.