Grand Cayman gets greener

| 15/01/2009

(CNS): In a major step to the introduction of renewable energy in the Cayman Islands, CUC customers will soon be able to use solar energy panels and wind generators and sell the energy generated but not used back to the power company, following the approval by the Cayman Islands Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA). CUC expects to be able to connect customers and commence billing by mid to late March.

Consumer Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) will allow customers in Grand Cayman to connect renewable energy systems to CUC’s distribution system and to reduce their monthly energy bills by generating their own power from renewable energy while remaining connected to CUC’s grid.

Jonathan Tibbetts, Manager of Cayman Brac Power and Light Company, which provides electricity to both Sister Islands, said that the CBP&L licence does not allow for CORE.  However, he said they were looking into it.

According to a CUC release, the CORE program will also provide for customers to be credited for self generated, renewable energy, whether consumed by the customer or used by CUC for other customers, through the existing transmission and distribution system.

CORE is energy generated from a technology such as small scale solar systems or wind turbines. Such renewable energy options will have a positive impact on the island’s environment and also help to reduce its dependence on fuel oil, diversify its power supply, lower sensitivity to fuel price fluctuations and to help limit further increases in air pollutants including greenhouse gases, says CUC.

Customers wishing to obtain further details or wishing to participate in the program may sign up immediately by contacting CUC’s Customer Service Department at 949-4300. CUC expects by mid to late March to be able to connect customers generating power from renewables, and customers can begin to reduce their monthly bills through sales to CUC at that time.

This programme is available to customers as the result of approval being given by the ERA to the terms and rates. Kendal Ryan, Chairman of the ERA, noted, “The ERA is pleased to approve the CORE programme, in furtherance of the recently passed ERA Law (2008 Revision), and CUC’s new licences issued in April 2008, in which there is a requirement to encourage clean renewable sources of power. We encourage consumers in a position to install renewables to assess their options for doing so.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of CUC, Richard Hew, said, “We are pleased to facilitate this important step in establishing renewable energy in Grand Cayman. Customer-generated renewable energy will have a positive impact on the environment. This plan offers consumers who generate energy through renewable means that may not be continuous, the opportunity to interconnect with and benefit from the reliability of CUC’s electricity distribution system.”

CORE participants will receive a credit (CORE Credit) for energy generated through renewable means. The CORE Credit equates to costs which CUC avoids by purchasing CORE generation, such as fuel and lubricants plus an allowance towards other avoided variable costs. The CORE customer will be billed monthly at the normal retail rate for their total energy consumption and credited at the CORE rate for the output of their generation. This billing arrangement will ensure that infrastructure costs required to operate the transmission and distribution system for CORE participants will not be subsidized by non-CORE consumers.

If the net energy for the month is negative (CORE generation exceeds consumption), then the surplus energy will be banked for that consumer to use against net positive consumption in the future.

A CORE Credit agreement between the consumer and CUC will set out the terms under which services, connectivity, metering and billing credits will be governed. There will be a limit of 10 kW of capacity or the peak load of customer’s premises if less than 10 kW, for each residential CORE installation to avoid over-sizing of the CORE installation, and the CORE program will be in place for a trial period ending December 2010 after which time a review of its operations will be undertaken.

The CUC release says the CORE program provides an excellent opportunity for both CUC and its customers to participate in protecting the environment. By utilizing renewable energy instead of fossil fuels to generate electricity, CUC and its customers will be able to reduce exhaust gas emissions, reduce the use of natural resources and contribute to the overall protection of the environment both in Grand Cayman and globally.

CUC provides electricity to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, under a non-exclusive Electricity Generation Licence expiring in 2029 and an exclusive Electricity Transmission and Distribution Licence expiring in 2028. Further information is available at, or the Electricity Regulatory Authority site

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  1. Jim Knapp says:

    The ERA has done a tremendous disservice to the people of the Cayman Islands.  If in fact, this agreement has been ratified by the Government, it will be one of the worst deals struck in  the 17 years that I’ve lived in Cayman.  It will not encourage renewable energy development on island; it does not pay customers for energy they produce, it only provides for credits against future use; and it only benefits CUC because they can sell at retail, to everyone, energy that they didn’t produce and have paid nothing for.   What kind of a deal is that?  No wonder CUC is happy to announce this agreement.

    As a member of the Cayman Institute we discussed, with Government, the changes required in the CUC license agreement, the Electricity Law and its regulations to promote renewable energy in these islands and the benefits that would come to all by doing so.  It appears that they either forgot everything that was presented to them or are shareholders in CUC and were merely paying us lip service at the time. 

    In other municipalities the energy utilities have embraced renewable energy and promoted it effectively with net metering and conversion of their own systems to make use of renewable resources.   It appears that CUC has chosen, not to do this but instead, to squeeze the last pennies it can get out of our economy.  The 10kW limitation is ridiculous because the people that need these systemsthe most are consuming more than this limit will allow.   We built our new renewable energy home to insure that we could run everything, including our air conditioning, and now cannot apply to be a part of this program because our home has a 16KW system.  Brilliant CUC!  Once again a stroke of genius by their executives.  They know how to maximize shareholder benefits at the expense of this country.  This reminds me of a movie quote where a man asked the owner of the largest buggie whip company, how he felt as he saw the first automobiles driving down the road.  CUC has 100% of the market share on electricitytoday but I assure you that this island will be using renewables soon enough and I and others like me are going to help it happen with or without CUC. 

    Needless to say, I am very unhappy with the ERA.  This action shows that it is either completely uninformed about how grid tie systems work, the world around, or that they just don’t care.   In either case it an embarrasment to our country.

    • Marek says:

      Be creative.Order two meters from the CUC. One for your A/C with 7KW and one for the house with 9KW… both are under the 10KW limit…

      Might need to rewire a few of your panels… problem solved with regard to credits… but do agree this could have been a much better deal for the end user.





  2. Anonymous says:

    The 10 KW cap and the fact that there is a large differential between the consumption charge and the excess generated buy back credits are major disappointments in this agreement and only go to show that the CUC is really controlling the ERA decision making process. What appears at first to be a step forward in embracing renewable energy (RE) technologies is a mere publicity stunt and CYA exercise by the CUC as the conditions granted to them in this agreement are in fact real restrictions on the development and implementation of RE in this country.

    As a "consumer" (residential or commercial) you do not need a generation license to generate energy for "self use", regardless of the source of that energy (short of a nuclear reactor), however, if you want to exceed the 10 KW in renewable energy, your going to have to design to be completely off grid as CUC will not allow you to connect to their CORE program (please correct me if I’m wrong). Enough people design for full energy independence and CUC will change their tune quick enough. There is absolutely nothing legally preventing you from building a RE system and supplementing that generation capacity with your own standby generator for periods when your RE system cannot meet the demand and be totally independent of the CUC. You simply cannot supply what you generate to a third party "for reward". Think about a design using a hybrid system, part solar, part wind and that should help maximize generation capacity 24 hours per day.

    The agreements are complicated but worth researching and understanding especially if you want to employ RE technologies either in a new building or as a retrofit. You likely won’t see any duty concessions because every KW generated by RE is a reduction in fuel taxes to our "out of money" government.


  3. Jim Babe says:

    The cost of solar panels is dropping world wide very quickly due to productions capacity
    in Europe. The cost of storage or conversion is also going down due to market pressures.
    At 10KW per installation either for sell back or use it makes dollars and cents for the Brac and Little Cayman to go solar as fast as possible. Everyone saves money and the enviorment both. If you have questions on solar just do a web search and you will find more data than even a PhD would read.

  4. whodatis says:

    Hurricane Proof Panels??

    I’m concerned about how these solar panels will stand up to a Cat 3/4/5 hurricane. Seeing how Ivan / Paloma hammered away at anything elevated with a lip/edge/corner during their visits, I wonder if these panels will not in fact further complicate the issue?

    Can anyone shed some light on this issue?

    I would be quite annoyed to invest $50k on a package this summer and end up having to do it all over again come end of year.
    Furthermore, will these panels be covered under current home policies – I’m guessing ‘no’.


    • Marek says:



      From an engineering point of view, there is no reason that you couldn’t install a hurricane proof system. Ideally the panels should be south facing and mounted on brackets tilted on an up angle of about 35%. These brackets can be adjustable for tilt so if a hurricane was coming you could lower the panels to lie flat.

      Personally I don’t like the roof tile systems. What I intend to do is user a ‘tracker system’. Google it for the details. It’s a pole mounted system. Basically a large flag pole with a concrete foundation and brackets that can hold 4-6-8-10-12-14-16 panels.

      Trackers (good ones) will run $7,000 each ( I need two). Any storm strong enough to damage your panels is also most likely going to render you without power for several days (at least) and quite possibly longer.

      Solar panels are quite manageable:

      So in my yard I would have two pole mounted trackers with 12 panels each.

      Anything above a cat2 and I would simply disconnet all the panels and bring them inside.

      This would most likely take 2 men 4-5 hours to do but the day after the storm they could easily be put back in place and supplying power to the house.

      A couple of points for those considering solar. Most solar applications for residential WILL NOT run your A/C system. You can do it but it’s very cost prohibitive (pretty much double your cost). Solar means SUN… no sun… no power… you can do a battery system so you use your power during the day with all excess going to the batteries and a night you draw your power from the batteries.

      This is quite costly, it’s very time consuming. The batteries require considerable upkeep and have a number of risks.

      Another option for self generation is WIND… they now have some very small wind power units. They ARE NOT those giant windmill looking things.

      The ones I like are called Vertical Access Wind Turbines VAWT here is a link.

      They operate at lower speeds, are not as ugly as the windmill design and can be mounted much easier.

      Do your homework, be careful and ask lots and lots of questions.

      Like everything else there are good systems and …not so good systems.

      Interestingly many people wo have installed these systems have extensive blogs about what they used, like … didn’t like… recommend, etc..

      Many will respond to emails and recommend systems, products and installers.


      This concludes today’s lesson 🙂


      Peace Out

      Marek… West Bay




  5. JabJab says:

    I’m guessing that if you want to generate more than 10 killowatts ‘they’ expect you to apply for a full generator’s licence. I guess they had to set a ‘recreational/professional’ demarcation somewhere. Still whish they’d gone with a simple reverse metering but I guess its better than nothing. Good opportunity for all the strip mall owners to suplement their income by solar panelling their rooves.

  6. Anonymous says:


    The public has been hearing for years that a fair agreement was being “hammered out” behind closed doors. This latest announcement comes 4 months after their latest deadline. Why the delay? They wanted the consumer, public and the media to let this slide to the back burner and cool from being the hot topic it was a few months ago.  
  7. Anonymous says:

    As long as there is a financial incentive to do it I think more people will, but looking into it however as it stand right now most of the Grid tied systems cost between USD $15 (lowend)- up to 40K (max allowed by CUC). I agree Marek about the duty waiver if not that how about a rebate?? In case u look this up on the internet to buy from the us I checked already we are on the same frequency etc as the US so the products will work

  8. Marek says:

    As I understand it from past published articles the interconnection costs for the dual metering will be about $250 (which is fine). Not completely happy with the 10 kilowatt cap or the credit system for future consumption (but it is better than nothing. Bottom line, you can not ‘profit’ from a solar installation but you can certainly reduce your costs.  My residence bill is 2,400 kilowatt hours per month or 80 kilowatt hours per day. If we have 9 hours of sunlight and I can install a 10 kilowatt solar system then I should be able to come fairly close to a ‘zero’ CUC bill. During the day (sunlight) hours when I am not home I am giving all my excess power to the CUC.

    A 10 kilowatt system could be done for about $45,000 and at current CUC rates save me about $500 a month for a payback period of about eight years.

    If … or perhaps I should say when oil returns to its former high prices, the payback period would be cut in half or less.

    The installation of solar adds value to your home (and) if properly installed can withstand hurricane force winds… you can make a lot of new friends in the weeks after a storm being one of the few homes that has power during the day.

    As an aside. I think the Government should waive import duties for ALL alternative energy products… including lightbulbs and hybrib cars.

    Especially hybrid cars!!! 

    If you could save 27% on the purchase of your next new car, you are buying a hybrid – period.

    We are at the forefront of being able to make our beautiful islands GREEN…  and SMART.






  9. Anonymous says:

    Sounds good but also sounds expensive.

    I’m guessing they will charge us thousands to install this technology