Solar design and installation company Alternative Power Supply (APS) has expressed its “complete” disagreement with the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority’s proposed “buy-all, sell-all” arrangement for renewable energy self-generation (RESG) systems.
APS, in a statement, claimed that URCA’s stance is unfair and will greatly negate the proliferation of private solar and wind systems, therefore maintaining the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.
“URCA has recently released a consultation document with recommendations for renewable energy systems in the 100KW to 1MW range,” the statement noted.
“The recommendation is that for ‘fairness sake’, no business would be allowed to install a solar system and self-consume the solar energy produced, but could only sell its solar energy to BPL. Additionally, BPL would only buy the customers’ solar power at a reduced or ‘avoided cost’ equal to about half of what the general public pays for their BPL electricity.”
APS equated URCA’s buy-all, sell-all arrangement between Bahamas Power and Light and RESG systems to a person who has sunk a well to reduce dependence on city water, but is forced to route the well water into the city system for a small credit while continuing to use the city’s water.
“You go ahead and plumb pipes to connect to the water pipe ‘grid’ and prepare to sell any excess water back to W&S, when you have excess water,” APS said.
Now W&S (Water and Sewerage) provides water to you from ‘outside their meter’ (BPL meter). The well provides you with water (solar power) from ‘inside their meter’.
“No one would obviously have a meter on their own well because it is ‘free water’. The alternative water source…the well, the pump and the pipes (solar system) is paid for by the business owner at their expense. If the business turns off the valve from W&S and then turns on its well pump, it would not be charged for any water from the well. In solar terms this is called an ‘off grid system’. If the business sells water to the W&S pipe grid, that would be called a ‘grid tied’ system.
“A grid tied system allows you to save money by using as much water (solar power) you want for your business from your well (solar system) first and then only using W&S (BPL) water if you don’t have enough well water (overcast days). The business would still pay its base ‘water bill connection’ charge and have the option of drawing water as needed.”
APS explained that URCA’s suggestion is for businesses to consent to placing a meter on their own generation systems so that BPL can track how much energy they supply to the grid through their RESG system and then compensate them with some sort of credit. But they can only consume electricity supplied from the grid.
“Businesses cannot consume their own self-generated electricity,” APS pointed out.
URCA’s document explains: “Consistent with URCA’s position on pricing stated in the preceding sections, URCA reiterates that by the nature of these renewable installations, a buy-all, sell-all arrangement is proposed where two meters are typically employed. In a typical buy-all, sell-all arrangement the normal electric bill does not change. Buy-all, sell-all means that RESG customers will buy all of the power that they use from BPL as usual and all of the power that these customers’ solar panels or wind turbines produce will be sold back to BPL. The RESG customers will be invoiced with an avoided cost credit. This avoided cost credit is proposed as the applicable monthly fuel rate charge per kWh during the period when the electricity was produced. URCA notes that the fuel charge may not be adequate to actually compensate the RESG customer for all of the avoided costs, as BPL will likely realize additional savings in its transmission, distribution and supply costs, which URCA has not yet been able to quantify. URCA proposes to conduct a full review of the avoided costs to determine a more appropriate avoided cost which should be paid to owners of RESG systems.”
URCA’s document also calls for RESG owners to fully insure their systems to protect against damage to BPL’s personnel and equipment.
“Alternative Power Supply completely disagrees with the URCA proposal and cannot understand how this could be forwarded as a ‘fair’ solution or a serious attempt to increase solar penetration in The Bahamas, reduce our fossil fuel dependence and lower an individual’s or businesses’ light bill,” the statement noted.