Backbencher encourages alternative energy use

| 17/04/2012

solar-power-systems-for-homes.jpg(CNS): With the increase in energy costs and a need for environmental responsibility, government has accepted a private member’s motion to eliminate imposed restrictions by power providers on the domestic generation of renewable energy and send it back to the grid on a net metering basis. The motion brought by the West Bay UDP member Cline Glidden seeks to make it easier for people and businesses to use wind, solar or other renewable power while still on the local CUC grid, feeding excess power back when it is not needed and buy it back when it is at the same rate.

The goal is to eliminate fuel bills for green consumers as presently they are restricted in the amount of renewable energy people can move back and forth to CUC.

Speaking inthe Legislative Assembly last week, Glidden told his parliamentary colleagues that net metering would give people a way to reduce the strain of energy bills in face of the high cost of living as they were fast becoming the second, if not the largest, bill in the house. As Cayman is dependent on oil price fluctuations and the challenges that come with that, he said, encouraging people to install alternative energy options at home would cut costs, reduce the islands’ carbon footprint and create new jobs.

He acknowledged that CUC had made various efforts to encourage people to reduce their consumption and introduced the CORE and FITS programmes to deal with renewable energy. But while they have their benefits, he said, not many people had taken them up as there were too many challenges that were discouraging to the regular consumer.

The latest one is the feed-in tariff system, he said, but all electricity consumers had to be allowed to be as creative as possible about energy use to reduce fossil fuel dependence and Cayman needed to do more to encourage people to turn towards renewable energies. He said he did not want to eliminate the feed and tariff option for people that were interested in the commercial generation of power for sale to CUC, but for people who had their own turbines or panels at their home or business a better system was needed.

As he expanded on his motion in the debate, Glidden said that what he wanted to propose was a system that would allow a home owner to generate their own electricity via solar or wind, and sell back any extra power to CUC at the same rate as it would buy it from the grid, making a net zero bill at the end of the month.

He said that some people had already made significant investments in solar and wind systems and needed to be able to feed back to CUC without limits and at a fair rate, and therefore the limits needed to be removed. The MLA said he wanted people to be able to send power to CUC during theday and buy it back in the evening and eliminate the need for them to have to spend thousands of dollars on batteries, making the purchase of wind and solar power systems even more attractive. 

Glidden said his proposal might well have an impact on CUC earnings but it would be beneficial for consumers and would encourage the development of an alternative energy business.

“This motion seeks to take away restrictions and encourage individuals to benefit …reducing their costs and dependence on fossil fuels, making us more environmentally friendly and providing jobs for those installing the systems,” he said.

The deputy premier, who has responsibility for energy, said that the government supported the motion and was already  working on the issues Glidden had raised and it would form part of the energy policy which would be revealed later this year.

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Comments (42)

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  1. anonymous says:

    This is just a CG/UDP politing stunt. Why??….

    1. The cost of the initial solar, batteries, switches is out of reach of most Caymanians. We cannot afford it.

    2. The cost to produce power here by solar is still above 50 cents/kwh. That is more than CUC charges you.

    so….even those that can afford this will unlikely want to pay MORE for power than CUC offers.

    CG just playing games with you all saying he is helping you with your bills. If he really wants to help you he would get us a JOB. They are only for rich people this lot.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would be very interested in how you determined the cost for your solar system and cost per kWh of electricity generated.  I'm sure a number of other people would be interested in this as well. Please post as soon as possible.

       

  2. Anonymous says:

    World wide web,

    your funny, the little man "majority of us" will not benefit from

    CG;s proposal and if he knows we will, he should do it for himself

    and prove it.

    and we know he can afford to provide us with an example that works.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The few ill-informed critics of CNS who complain that those who post comments CNS are somehow anti-UDP, should take note of the vast majority of comments here. CNS readers are not anti-UDP just anti-idiocy. When a UDP politician does something sensible he is praised for it by those who comment on CNS. Imagine how much praise would be given to anyone in the UDP that figured out how dump McKeewa.

  4. The lone haranguer rides again! says:

    No but we put up a weather radar in east end that stops us from ever utilsing wind power in a serious way in Cayman, I wonder what the kickback was on that.?

    • Anonymous says:

      It was a gift from Europe for heaven's sake.  Cayman is not a good candidate for windpower-not enough land and it kills lots of birds. In California they have to rake up the dead bodies.

      • Mr. Spooner says:

        Too bad they don't kill Green Iguanas.  I'm going to be pulling some cheap permits for some friends from central america to deal with these pests.  Bon apetite.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don't think anyone is against going GREEN!

    Cost will keep the Majority from taking part.

    However it is not yet,  all it is made out to be,

    especially when you consider servicing costs,  SALT spray and other factors.

    I went green with my pool, i had to change the batterys often and,

    2 months after it paid for itself, it crashed due to corrosive piped in city water,

    salt spray etc.. it was serviced as per the manual.

    went back to the old pump and CUC. increased the water intake pipe size,

    reduced the time the pump ran and cut my costs.

    A good rule of thumb to keep our cost down is,

                                                            Need what you use,  but  only use what you need!

    why have all your lights on when less will do,

    your A/C on 75* when 79* along with the fan is very comfertable.

    if you have to set your thermostat below 78* to feel comfertable

    something is wrong at your residence.

    If you want to wrap up like you are in Alaska then what do you expect!! 

  6. Anonymous says:

    No doubt Camana Bay wants to produce its own electricity and sell it back to CUC. In other countries "net metering" only occurs when Govt subsidises it. Otherwise, any power production company would not let a producer/consumer use its infrastructure for free.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Please stop fooling the little man/woman,

    you treat us with contempt.

    As they will not be able to afford (purchase) and install the equipment needed

    to produce the excess energy needed to reduce their electric bill.

    this is a trick to fool the majority of voters.

    If it is not,   THEN,

    explain to us how the majority who are struggling to pay monthly bill

    of $300.00 are suppose to create excess energy to sell back to CUC.

    Show us,     better yet,

    do it at your house and then give all the info including costs to the people. 

    • Learn how to use the internet! says:

      Show us?  Do you need the UDP or PPM to click your mouse for you?  If you're on this site, you're already on the world wide web – it's not a big secret – do a search, read, and get your answers!   

  8. Anonymous says:

    I hope the govt can assist the poorer people of CAYMAN with maybe a loan to buy these solar pannels and is possible make the payments small, I HOPE YOU'RE ARE LISTENING UDP/PPM!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    At the moment CUC pays 37 cents per kWh for green energy, a rate established when the cost to the consumer was at around 26 cents per kWh. In the very short time since this rate was agreed, the cost of a CUC generated KWh has shot up to 36 cents. Net metering is the perfect answer, as it insulates the  green energy provider from future price increases of energy. If this bill is passed, it will remove the final reason I had for refusing to install soilar panels on my roof.

  10. Truth says:

    Watch as third world minds crush this motion.  Its still their island.  The big question on the island is are the people ready to take back control and move Cayman out of third world type leadership?

    • caymancoyote says:

       

       

      Dear “tyoical politrics” author. Please, look up at the sky surrounding the CUC stacks. IT IS YELLOW with sulfur emissions. Now take a deep breath….right down to the lungs, then make a contribution to the Cayman Cancer Society.

      You ask who would use solar and wind? I have. I paid to have an off-grid home. Not because it is cool, or I enjoy spending money BUT BECAUSE I CARE. Politicians don’t do this sort of thing for the same reason you don’t – they are not yet educated. Mr Glidden, thank goodness, is becoming well educated.  If we don’t do everything in our power and pocketbooks NOW to clean this tiny polluted island up,  you and yours along with everyone else will be forced to move off toxic-island to become expats in places where recycling, plasma gasification and co-generation plants, compost collection, regular air, ground water  and soil contamination testing are the norm.   Bottom line – We should ALL be paying more to have clean electricity. For those of us with the ability to go solar and wind right now all impediments to sharing our clean energy with our neighbors should be removed.  Further there should be incentives to encourage all homeowners and condo complexes to install as much green tech as can be afforded. It will take a great number of forward thinkers and committed individuals to get us off our oil and gas dependency. Please, don’t continue to be one of tthe naysayers who just stand in the way.

       

       

       

      • In Perso Nator says:

        Tell us how you did it and we will try…
        Many of us are naive and easily mislead by schisters looking to make a quick buck…
        Help lead the way!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          There are no a number of reputable on island companies who deal in renewable energy systems. Talk to them, as questions. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.

      • Anonymous says:

        Coyote,

         

        While I'm glad that you assume things, I am trying to get to the facts.

        I am off grid (partially) myself and have no problem heading towards a green environment.  My point is that Mr. Glidden is simply trying to play politics when he knows good and well that the average Caymanian will not be able to afford an alternative energy system.  You must realise that not everyone is raking in $10k a month.

         

        Electric cars for example have been available around the world for how long now? And yet people everyday choose to buy gas powered cars.  Not beacaue they don't like the sound of it but because when you look at what you get for the $money up front the gas is more attractive.

        So if everyone is willing to pay more for their electric bills then Mr. Glidden is right on the money. If Mr. Glidden wants to prove he is not playing politics get the legistalure to pass a bill that provides incentives such as cash back on the purchase of the equipment.  I know I've lost my money by paying full duty already but thats fine.  I think the average income earner needs to see how it will be beneficial to them and what will happen if and when the system breaks?

        I'll say it again… Typical Politricks!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Typical politricks.  If this method of generating electricity was so effecient why don't the politicians have it installed in their homes?

    Glidden needs to do the research and understand that green/clean energy is not cheap!

    Bottom line, who is going to pay more just to have clean energy?

    That's like saying an electric car is the solution… who is going to pay $50,000 for anelectric sedan (Tesla) when they can buy one with more options for $20,000 (gas powered)?

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Educated and intelligent people will consider alternatives to the CUC method, that is for sure.  While the initial cost may be more the long term security of not having to rely on the flucuations of fuel costs and a depleting fossil fuel supply make it very worthwhile to look for long range planning for alternative energy sources including solar, wind and geothermal all of which are viable in this country.  Additionally as more and more countries turn to alternative energy sources the cost for the supplies and materials are coming down in price.  Do a little research.  I can see that someone would oppose competition to the CUC monopoly if they own CUC stock afterall a rather nice dividend is paid regularly

    • Anonymous says:

      You are quite right Anonymous, and while we are at it, who is going to step in if they saw a women being attacked in the street when it is far safer and easier to walk on by and ignore the problem.

      It's called doing the 'right thing'. There is a certain book that eludes to it… Luckily there are plenty of people out there who are willing to do the right thing.

      I don't believe that anyone said green or clean energy is cheap? we all know that it is expensive up front HOWEVER have you ever heard of a payback period? If you installed solar panels today it would take around 7yrs to recoup your costs for your investment. After the 7yrs is up however you would have FREE electricity for as long as your system keeps working! Do you understand this concept? Not too tricky.

      If you don't have anything intelligent or useful to say, best not say anything.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ok genious… since I already have (had) solar panels powering some of my equipment you should be the one to not say anything.  The electricity is not free.  Every year lightning destroys some of the equipment.  Every year salt spray corodes some of the wiring.  You have no idea about the cost of solar energy and nothing in life is Free so please keep your uneducated thoughts to yourself.  

         

        Let's talk about return on ivestment (since I know something about that myself).  A 4500 watt solar set up is being sold on island for around $15,000.00.  Do you know that it would take over 20 years, if nothing happens to the system, to repay for itself?  On top of that, you could only power a tv/pump/fridge and a few fans/lights at best.  So you figure that using that same equipment on CUC power would cost you about $50 per month/ $600 per year/ $15,000 per 25 years.  So tell me where my return on investment is?  If I put $15,000 in the credit union I will get 3% interest per year and will be much further ahead than if I had bought this system.  But hey, I don't have anything intelligent to say.

         

        Typical Politricks!!

    • Anonymous says:

      08.57 You are right, nobody is going to pay a premium for green energy, but solar has moved into the territory where if you finance it yourself, then with net metering you can get your capital back in about 7-8 years. Even sooner, if energy prices rise over that period, which they certainly will. Solar panels make good sense now, considering how hard it is to generate an income from savings. My pension is worth less than it would have been had I just stuffed the cash under my matress over the past 15 years. The only problem with that is Ivan would have washed it all away.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don't tell me about where Solar has moved… I have it on my house.  I know what it cost and continues to cost me and if I get anything back in 12 years I'll be surprised.  I can't even make enough to power my house so how can net metering help me?

        • Anonymous says:

          14.59. As you have actual experience of solar on your roof, I can't argue with you, so give us some facts. Is your roof ideally oriented, and if not, what % of the power are you losing for this reason? When did you install the system? How much per kW generated did your installation cost? $5? Less? How many square feet of panels do you have? Do you use battery storage? You have expressed a forceful point of view, but you haven't taught us anything interesting  about your own experience of  solar power. I, for one, would be interested to learn more, as I plan to install a system on my roof, and the calculations look promising. My roof angles give around 67% optimun efficiency, but the yield still works.

           

          • Anonymous says:

            Let me tell you about my system.

            I have a pump system installed with 2 panels.  It works for 7 hours a day and was angled for optimum sunlight.  It is on the South Side of my house with no obstructions.

            The system runs the pool circulation.  It cost me over $4,000.00 and in the few years it has been in operation it has been struck by lightning several times costing me an additional $2,000.00 for parts.

            It has been sitting in an unusable state for the last 6 months as I continue to wait for parts since the original company has actually gone out of business.  Basically, when I plug my electric pump in 2 things happen: 1) the pump works and 2) it only costs me maybe $200 for the year.  

            So again, doing my math, at $200/year I have another 16 or 17 years before it actually pays for its original cost (not including the extra expenditure that I've put in it because of environmental factors).  

            Does this teach you something?

        • Anonymous says:

          How do you have it connected at the moment? With a net metered, grid tied system, every kWh you generate is one kWh you don't have to purchase from the utility. With Net metering, what ever excess you generate during the day is exported to the grid for a credit. During times when your using more than you generate, you import from the grid using up those credits. Over the billing period (typically a 12 month period) if you use more than you generate, you buy the difference from the utility at retail. No details have been published on how any excess you export over the billing period will be handled (There are many different ways this can be handled – bought by utility at retail, bought at avoided cost, deemed deeded to the utility, pooled for a specific purpose etc).

    • Anonymous says:

      The same person that is going to buy to big Mercedes or Audi and not the Toyota Corolla…

       

  12. Ants Nest says:

    I'm hopefully this will past this issue has been ignored for a long time, great job CG for making the effort !

  13. Jolly Green Giant says:

    So the rest of use will subsidise these people when they need to get power from the grid? That is unfair and these people should at least pay an uplift on the power they take from the grid.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no subsidies or green credits here!

      • NeoSurvivor says:

        Currently, alternative energy equipment is duty free.   That's more than a little bit, when you consider that the shipping is often 25% of the cost of the stuff itself. 

        No, it's not cheap.   If/when alternative energies become efficient enough that people save money by installing them, then everyone will flock to them.   Truth is, unless a person is rich enough to not care how long it takes to break even, anyone installing alt. energy systems has to radically change their lives to make it work.   Thus, only people like me will get a loan for $15,000 and install solar and wind systems.    Due to escalating conventional energy costs, I will break even in five years.  

        Sell the excess back to CUC?   Maybe, if they ever give us full value for the kWh.   As it is now, we are offered far less.    Better to do as I did, and buy a battery bank, store the energy and use it for yourself.    If you do this, spend the extra money and acquire GOOD quality batteries — something that will last for ten years, with proper maintenance:   IBE, Surette, Trojan, Deka. 

        We had to make many changes, and I have to tinker with the system all the time.   Fortunately for me, I'm a tinkerer.    My sense of things is that most people I know don't want to maintain a system — they want to push a button and forget about it.    To embrace alternative energies as a country-wide effort requires a shift in our paradigms — a different way of thinking and living.   It's not hard, but it requires effort, planning and more than a bit of luck.  

        For instance — yes, we have hot, beating sun.  We also have a lot of cloud cover.   That is why places like Arizona and New Mexico are "solar central" — because of their nearly constant sun and little cloud cover.    Wind, we have.   

        Another variable  that changes the complexion of alternative energies in the Caribbean is the threat of tropical cyclones.    Keep in mind that when you install these systems, you need to be able to take them down prior to TCs.   Yes, insurance will cover them, but it still takes a lot of time to replace the ruined components.   Much better to use quick releases, wing nuts on your PV frames and pivot points on the wind generator gin-poles, so you can take them down and stow them away.  

        If I can do it, anyone who can borrow the money can do so also, but it's going to take up a portion of your life to maintain it.    I'm glad we went this way, but please………..  don't try to tell people that all they have to do is pony up $20,000 and presto! your problems are solved.    It's not the truth.    If you are willing to change, to become more efficient and careful with your power, to maintain your battery banks and related systems, then you can eventually break even and after that save LOTS of money.    We had to give up our overuse of air-conditioning.   We had to fabricate a solar collector to heat our water.   We had to give up having two TVs on at one time, and we've switched out all our interior lights for L.E.D. lights.   

        That is the truth of the situation.   It takes work.   It's worth it.   It's the right thing to do………. for some of us.

      • Jolly Green Giant says:

        If this plan goes through ordinary bill payers will be subsidising those with solar panels by bearing the full cost of the grid which the “greenies” will use too but never pay for.

      • Anonymous says:

        If 10% of the daily power use would be supplied by netmetered solar than that would mean a 10 % drop in the fuel used by cuc, and a 10% drop in the fuel surcharge for everyone in cayman.

        In that way they greenies would be subsidizing the not so greenies. 🙂

         

    • Anonymous says:

      Your already subsidizing the FIT program. Where do you think the premium comes from…CUC?

  14. Whodatis says:

    Nice one Mr. Glidden!

    In any event, the majority of residents will not be able to afford an investment into renewable energy, therefore CUC has no reason to be very concerned in regards to their extortion – sorry … I meant 'profits'.

    When seasonal regions of the world are going to great lenghts to utilize as much of their feeble sunshine and heat energy – we really ought to be doing more with the amount we receive here. It only makes sense.

    Lastly, where there may be some debate as to which is the greatest expense in a Cayman residence,  there is no question that our energy bills is the number one factor in the high costs of business and living.

  15. Kosher Nostra says:

    Great Idea!

    Any thoughts for the baby sister islands? They are always looking for a lil' assistance.

    • Anonymous says:

      At least they have the pay as you go electricity that my sister keeps telling me about.  We just get stuck with a high bill every month here.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Net metering is just one factor that begins to improve the metrics for early adopters. Duty concessions on green tech would go a long way towards creating the demand, skills, and jobs for this new industry. Assuming that is the genuine intention. It is hard not to be skeptical with this regime.

    • Anonymous says:

      They already have duty concessions in place for alternative energy systems.  People wont buy them because they feel like its not worth it at the moment.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Good I hope that this passes and that the same net metering is extended to the Sister Islands where electricity is even more expensive than on Grand Cayman.

  18. Anonymous says:

    welcome to 25 years ago CG!….the sad thing is cayman will still be 'talking' about this in another 25 years……