Government to invest $15M in solar panel project

| 26/04/2012

bipv1.jpg(CNS): Under a new government initiative, the elderly and the indigent will be receiving free solar panels from government to help reduce energy costs. Joey Ebanks, the new managing director of Cayman’s Electricity Regulatory Authority and chair of a new committee to promote the government's new renewable energy programme, will be spearheading the initiative designed to begin reducing Cayman’s carbon footprint. Government has announced a planned $15 million investment in the green project, which will see 1,500 homes fitted with solar panels. Ebanks told CNS that Cayman “has been too, too slow” in making steps towards reducing its carbon footprint and this project represents a serious step towards reducing the 100% dependence the country has on fossil fuels.

Ebanks, who resigned from CUC some two months ago, said that the first people to receive the panels will be those who are being assisted by the social services department to pay light bills, and after that government will then help pensioners who are on fixed income to get panels fitted on their roofs. Where houses are not suitable, free standing panels can be erected on people’s property.

The project will generate new opportunities for local companies as well as create new jobs, Ebanks said. At this point, government has not selected a solar power firm to work with and he expected the work would go out to tender. The former CUC employee, who is eager to see Cayman improve its green credentials, said that the new government initiative alongside the recent proposal for the introduction of net metering will make solar energy more accessible to everyone and help fuel a new local industry and new jobs.

Cline Glidden, who brought a private member’s motion to the Legislative Assembly asking government to remove all the barriers to the domestic generation of solar power, will be on the new renewable energy programme committee alongside Ebanks and Jim Knapp, who built one of Cayman’s first eco homes.

The solar panel project was announced by McKeeva Bush at a press conference on Tuesday to which Cayman News Service was not invited. However, on hearing of the project CNS contacted Ebanks, who was able to reveal the details of the green initiative.

“This is about addressing our dependence on fossil fuel and reducing the carbon footprint as well as helping people in our community cut their light bills,” Ebanks stated. “It is a progressive development in a push towards adopting alternative sources of energy.”

Although CUC’s support will be required to expand the programme and implement a net metering system, CNS understands that government has not yet discussed either plan with the power firm.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    No one should be fooled by this initiative. Lets think back, why is the electricty so high?… answer government added 25 cents fuel tax therefore CUC bills sky rocketted. 1500 people in need of relief therefore we now are handing out 15 million. There would be no need to help people with their light bills if the Government had not raised the fuel tax.
    So in a nutshell the Government took the money from the poor people in fuel tax and now giving it back to them in solar panels.
    People this not an intiative to help the people. Election soon come. it's only politics 101
    Think People Think.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want to know how we are going to pay for all the land used to build roads by the last government. More and more landowners are coming forward seeking payment that was promised to them by the last government. Dies this mean the deficit was even more than the $81 million discovered by the Udp on taking office?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Everybody chill, this is all crap. Nothing going to happen with this, just another way to try and deflect from criminal investigations and attempt to buy votes again. Watch and see all those solar panels never arrive and never be installed. Cronyism at its best with Joey in there, XXXX

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, we all got the answer to what's being given out election year now.  Dang, solar panels.  Brown nosing time.  lol!  

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is a great project designed to stimulate the use of renewable energy on island, its about time the Government took this step to move this forward. I fully support this program and look forward to being able to use the new businesses developed to implement this to purchase my own and reduce my CUC cost.

    My question is, why has CUC not taken the lead on this themselves and provided us with some relief from fuel cost? XXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a classic case or the correct thing being done for all the wrong reasons.



  6. Beachboi says:

    Oh but the price of a vote has gone up!!!  Ten thousand per home???  Oh but the recession is getting really bad!!!!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    It would be nice if social services were helping me to pay my bills.  I make less than $1500 per month so after rent and other expenses (car insurance ,gas, food, bills etc) there's not much left.  I budget myself.  I turn off my lights and fans when not at home.  My water heater is unplugged unless I am about to use it.  I rarely run the ac and never below 80 degrees.  Most nights I sleep with my windows open and just a fan on.  My CUC bill rarely tops $60 which I would say is affordable for most people you just have to limit yourself and be sensible with your power usage.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is the Managing Director of the CECA really Mr. Joey Ebanks, the same person, who was in the hot seat at the Turtle Farm?  God help the Cayman Islands and guide us through this tumultimous storm. 

    • Anonymously!! says:

      This is so he can run for election in north side, nah gah happen BO BO.we dont want you..Cant beleive how desperate people can get at election time.

      It would be nice if we could truly say that its a genuine effort, but I smell something funny here.

  9. Czech Mate says:

    "Under a new government initiative, the elderly and the indigent will receive free solar panels to help reduce energy costs"

    Really, and where exactly does the government expect those who are indigent, i.e. suffering from EXTREME poverty, to put their solar panles? On top of their BMW's?

    Another Cayman farce. Gimme another story. Fools.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing but another vote buying ploy like the status grants, money to churches, appliances and other handouts at election time (ashamed to admit that some of the worthless rags in my family sold their soul/vote and benefitted from these) and the list goes on and on….. 

    Can England seriously not see that we are up to our asses in corruption?  

  11. Anonymous says:

    I would expect that the UDP appointed management (after a few resignations, firings, etc.) would be able to purchase nearly 100 of those nice 200 watt panels with $15 million.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just replying to a couple of points being made.

    Properly installed (and this is the issue with properties occupied by the target group here) these panels are safe to 150mph+. In fact it's more likely that the roof will come off before the panels.

    The maintenance/cleaning argument also need to be addressed because, again if the panels are properly installed in the first place, this should be a minimal requirement.

    In both cases the key phrase is 'properly installed' and with CIG running the show on someone else's dime is that likely?

    But there's one point being made that is worth re-visiting. You can comparatively cheaply build a good, stand alone, solar and battery-based power supply using 12/24v equipment. It won't power things like a/c, a cooker or a freezer but lighting, a small fridge or electric cooler box and laptop are definitely no problem – just copy the set up designed for sailboats – and it for sure won't cost CI$10K per home. A 12v system can also be used to power the pump in a solar water heater.


  13. Anonymous says:

    For another 30 million why not build a solar plant that can provide 10,000 homes and also reduce pollution. I am sure by time its passed and all the red tape the Government coffers will have that to invest or make the Cayman people invest – all 20 or 25 thousand of us. Minimum investment is CI$2500.00 

  14. The lone Haranguer says:

    This is very very good. I want to get a piece of this action. Nothing like making money while been socially responsible.

    • I'm in Favor says:

      Good Idea 'The Lone haranguer' – I'm one of those unemployed but qualified Caymanians who is making a living the best way I can to look after my Family and I have done EVERYTHING  in my power to AVOID having to declare myself as an 'indigent'. I wish my light Bills (with all the precautions that another commentor takes to keep their light bill at $60) would come anything less than $ 400.00 a month.

      If the reward for all my hardship is missing out on Free Solar Panels, then bring it on…..maybe I should start applying for indigent status…..

      It's near Christmas, I wonder if they'd throw in a Flat-Screened TV ( I promise I'd only use it when the power failed as a piece of Test equipment)….oh, and my Fridge is on the Blink – a Solar Panelled Fridge would be nice too….

      Now if I can only get the Supermarkets to give me all the 'sell-by or near sell-by' food they throw away on a daily basis at the end of the day – I'll have it made.

  15. Anonymous says:

    15 million come on, invest this in jobs, and education.  Even better force CUC to bring down their rates.  Giving people solar panels won't solve our problems, we need jobs and education.    

    • Truth says:

      Nothing your inept government can do will help you or most of the unpriviledged Caymanian people.  If you want something done, really done and done well you will have to just do it yourself.  You could all keep complaining but as you should be able to see by now it gives you nothing because no one is listening and hasn't beeen listening for sometime.  Jobs and education are not on the short list for this Bushit type way of leadership.  Good luck.  Your going to need it.

    • Anonymous says:

      This project does provide Jobs.

  16. Anonymous says:

    just another nonsensical gov soundbite that will not happen…….

    i have lost count of the times gov makes these announcements plans that never come to anything….. heres a few examples…. gaming referendum, gov tv station, airport extension…..etc…etc….

    why do the journalists of cayman never follow up on these issues?

  17. Anonymous says:

    If this project is truely to improve the sustainabilty of the islands and to reduce the light bills of those who live of benefits then surely the most effective thing to do would be to;

    Create a $15m solar park, and then hand it over, for free to CUC/Brac Power. 

    CUC/BP then manage it, reducing maintenence, theft issues etc.

    CUC/BP then divide the amount of power generated by 1,500 homes (or however many the total number is that are classed as 'needy'), and apply a monthly credit to their light bills.

    You get economies of scale in purchase, installation, maintenance and management.  You get a truely equitable system so that everyone in need gets a bite at the pie.  You get a system that can be better protected in the event of a storm.  What you don't get it votes. Oh dear……back to the drawing board.


    • Anonymous says:

      All Gov projects are designed to get votes, the roads and schools were also vote purchasing programs.

  18. Peter Milburn says:

    Here we go again.More stupidity on behalf of our (arent they broke)govt?Where the hell will you get this $15000000 from mr premier?You guys are already squarking about a $19000000 million deficit and now you come up with this?Are we all completely stupid or is just a dream going on here?I can bet that ONLY UDP supporters will get a hold of any of this latest BS.From Microwaves to Heatwaves in the stroke of a pen.Well done mr.premier.

  19. Anonymous says:

    ah the soon to be west bay solar farm then.

    not buying votes with fridges and ovens anymore, use government funds to give your voters solar panels instead

    too cynical?

  20. Anonymous says:

    While I agree with the premise, I see a couple of big problems:

    1) Maintenance, the panels will need cleaning etc, will this be an ongoing effort with a lot of the 15m put aside for this, or will this be the usual put the panels up and forget about it

    I can't see a lot of pentioners climbing on the roof to clean the panels.

    2) Theft and quick profit, I can see a roaring trade in 2nd hand sales on these panels. they are put on 1500 homes that is a lot of homes to check on, most people will probably see quick money now rather than a dribble of reduced bills for a few years.

    I can see this being a rather large and expensive white elephant

  21. R.U. Kidden says:

    I read two headlines today: 




    WTF!  Am I missing something?

  22. Anonymous says:

    What a foolish project! That is $10,000 per home to save $100 a month!  I trust that there will be a transparent process to procure the supplier of the solar equipment XXXX! This already has a flavour to it that is becoming too familiar!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Better late than never. Bring it on.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The country has no money. Which part of that message does McKeeva Bush not understand? He keeps on appointing useless new staff ( eg a Chief of Staff ) and coming up with stupid expensive ideas but we have NO money..In the name of God Mac, go!

  25. Anonymus says:

    Cost A) Installation

    Cost B) Maintainance

    I hope that they budget to help with cost B as well, considering who they are spending Cost A on.

    • NeoSurvivor says:

      Don't forget Cost C)   Insurance on the panels, and/or personell to remove and store them prior to tropical cyclones.   

      At $10,000/home, that looks to me approximately 1000 watts/home + installation + charge controllers, inverter, additional wiring/grounding for what……… to run a refrigerator?     Remember that we frequently have a lot of clouds, which means that PV array rated at 1000 watts might pull in a PEAK of 800watts for a couple of hours.  

      I think it's a good idea to get onboard with alternative energies, however as you and others have aptly noted,  the country doesn't have the money and using PV panels (in my opinion) alone to offset costs is not a good value for the money. 

      If we DID have the funds, a better strategy might be to purchase 24-volt fridge/freezers (at about USD $2000 for each home;   these are heavily insulated and can be powered directly with a much smaller PV array, without the need for an inverter.   Then, at least, there would be a measurable improvement and good value for the money.   Sundanzer and other 12/24 volt systems have a good track record for such refrigeration.  

  26. Anonymous says:


    How about the Government also introducing some form of major Tax Incentives Assistance Project on both import duty and rebates for energy efficient products and technologies deployed in their homes and Businesses as is done in many countries including USA.

    Some of those items would be:

    • Residential insulation, windows, heating and cooling systems and water heaters
    • New homes that use half the energy of a home building to model codes
    • High-efficiency refrigerators, clothes washers and dishwashers
    • New and retrofitted commercial buildings that use half the energy of a building built to model codes
    • Plug-in electric drive vehicles
    • Combined heat and power systems
    • On-site renewable energy systems including ground-source heat pumps
    • Fuel cells and microturbines
    • Anonymous says:

      Most of what you suggest is included in the draft Natioanl Energy Policy. Please be patient.

    • Anonymous says:

      Government import duty on energy efficiency products was removed 2-3 years ago.

  27. Is this another promise says:

    This would be one of the best things done by the Government, but lets see how much they will dragg foot and red tape to get it.

    I hope the elderly and indigent will not die before getting this. 

  28. Anonymous says:

    And let’s see who the owners/shareholders/directors of the company that is “contracted” to install these solar panels will be. It just gets better and better. The corruption has no bottom.

  29. Knot S Smart says:

    And the party members debated and debated and debated: "How can we get rid of the independent member from North Side and the member from East End?"

    Then they hit upon a solution: We will choose two candidates to replace them in their districts. Then we will use 15 million of tax payer money to give away some solar panels to the major families there, and anywhere else where it looks like we might lose our seats.

    Once these families have seen the generosity of 'our party', then this should 'ENSURE' that they will vote for the very same people who dealt with them, in giving them the solar panels.

    This is the best election year plan ever, so it will be in next year's budget.

    Since we are awash in deficit, we will need to increase taxes again for everybody to 'ensure' that we will be able to do this giveaway.

    We are so very smart!

    And the foolish public are more 'fool-fool' than we thought, to fall for our scheme to 'ensure' that we get their votes by using their very own tax-payer funds…

  30. SKEPTICAL says:

    Beats the Hell out of a washing machine or fridge – BUT who pays the premiums so that they can be insured against loss in a storm ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would anyone bother insuring them (or there house for that matter), when they know that in the event of an Ivan/Paloma size storm the Government will bail you out anyway?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Where's the $15 million dollars coming from?  I thought we were in debt.  My parents always told me not to spend monies I don't have.

    Oh,  I forgot an election is coming up.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Joey Ebanks – the same one that used to be at Turtle Farm?

    • Anonymous says:

      can someone remind me of his previous record at turtle farm?

      • Anonymous says:

        Joey quits CUC to run Turtle Farm, position thanks to the PPM, has a good time(lots of drinks and smokes), UDP discredit Joey just prior to the last election- releasing information on mismanagement at Turtle farm, bar tab, personal loans and the mysterious 60,000 cash repayment, Joey loses, gets kicked out of the PPM , friends support him and give him a job at CUC, he works on a commission not in the interest of CUC,while employed by CUC, UDP give him a plum position at the electricity authority (CUC's regulator)- so he won't run in the next election, position is contrary to the interests of CUC and it's shareholders….. Who are Joey's friends? UDP, PPM, CUC….. I guess it depends on who is picking up the tab!

  33. The Truth is Out There says:

    This sounds like a votebuying scheme to me.  It would be better to build a solar farm with the $15 million, feed it back into the grid and reduce everone's CUC bill.

  34. expat says:

    Another desperate attempt to buy wotes!

  35. Anonymous says:

    More vote buying I guess – who decides who gets?

  36. Anonymous says:

    How does a broke government comeup with a spare $15mln within the same week that they have been cautioned about a $19mln fiscal shortfall?  Our adolescent politicians cannot help themselves can they?  It is all about pandering to the peasant vote with "election year gifts" and never about adopting proper accountability!  They continue to mistake our national priorities, pander for headlines, and saddle the future generations with legacies of debt!  I will vote for any politician exisitng or new that will take their oath of office seriously and get our checkbook in order.  Is there anyone with a pulse that is up to that task?   

  37. Anonymous says:

    Great news and long overdue just hope that CUC won't be reaping profits from this scheme as we certainly need to lower cost of energy and look to green alternative energy. Good work CG and hope that you'll push to get a solar farm built and also offshore wind energy.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The phrase, "A day late and a dollar short," comes to mind here.

    If the UK can have a triving solar power industry when the country is in the middle of a major recession and it's been raining in some areas over there for most of the last month doesn't that tell you something?

    Why not just take CUC out of the loop on this. They have forfeited the right to dictate energy policy in the Cayman Islands by consistently putting profit before any realistic environmental considerations. 


  39. CashHasEveryCorputSmiling says:


    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

    • The Philosopher says:



      People of questionable character are put in positions of authority  so that  when something goes wrong and the money is missing and the work is shoddy and the contractor has disappeared , we are left holding the bag, and "SOMEONE" has taken the cash. Folks these are no accidents! Those who  perpetrate these atrocities  on the one hand, and on the other try to convince us that  they are our great benefactors. These people should never be trusted.

      The perpetrators of these atrocities still have the illusion that we are all "Pavlov's dogs"  and that whatever they put in front of us we will sit around salivating, believing,trusting that the "THE  GREAT LEADER" will soon provide the anticipated goodies that have been promised. Get real people! Think for yourself  for once! These people think only  about themselves. Some of them  are payed to do nothing. Think  of our legislators and tell me of  one who actually puts in a forty hour week doing the people's work? UMMMM lets see? See what I mean!  

      We, you and I, in the private sector, and most Government employees have to work for fifty two weeks to earn a two or three week vacation, for which we have to pay out of pocket! We are not reimbursed for our travel expenses. But these guys and gals Party-Hearty on our money and are never questioned about  how the money was spent. Because those who would dare may be transfered to another department or at worst find themselves out of a Job. These are some of the intimidating tactics used to keep people in check. THIS IS THE MODUS OPERANDI!! 

      So until we have Governors,Judges, Police, Legislators "AND" the citizens of this Island that are insistent upon having a place where ethics,morals,honesty,compassion and the love of country  comes first. We will continue to suffer the consequences of  social decay.

      So whenever your asked to do anything unethical and you know it is unethical  then you should think about the future repercussions, which may effect, your son, your daughter or  even oneself. So let us :




      LET'S DO IT "GODS"' WAY.







  40. Peanuts says:

    Pork, I smell Pork

  41. Anonymous says:

    Will this help unemployed seniros who live in a strata with a family member who is supporting them?

  42. Anonymous says:

    Math lesson.


    $15,000,000 for 1500 homes =$10,000 per household of votes.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Solar power needs battery storage, a lot of batteries. Why don't the government force CUC to invest in large scale solar or wind generation to eleviate the reliance on diesel during the busy daylight hours.

    • Anonymouse says:

      They are essentially uing CUC's wires as their batterry. The panels will produce electricity during, say, 9-4pm, and all of it will get used up by the general demand, therefore no need for batterries. Don't think of it as personal solar power, think of it as a distributed (solar) power generation. As if we each installed  small diesel generator and hooked it up to the power grid.

      This is not a defence of the plan, just a clarification of the batterry issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        My point exactly, but wouldn't a commercial solar/wind farm in the central area of East End be a more worthwhile project for the future generation of power for the islands? However, to keep prices competitive the tendering must go off island and not be restrained by internal self interest. 

  44. Pitiful bloke says:

    I hope this isn't another Turtle Farm!

  45. Stiff-Necked Fool says:

    It seems to pay to "brown nose" these days!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Gotta be one of the most stupid ideas yet!  Better to spend the 15M on alternative energy for EVERYONE!

    There is no way 1500 homes can be selected fairly.


  47. Cheese Face says:


    I bet they end up using that stick on solar crap too, utter utter garbage.


  48. Anonymous says:

    Program seems to have full funding, although no money in the budget, hired a former managing director of the turtle farm- who quit due to financial irregularities, recently worked for the entity he now is to regulate and has not contacted or communicated any of this to the sole power provider and entity who owns the transmission and distribution system on GC- at least it was planned properly and has the right people on board- Joey and Mac…..

  49. Anonymous says:

    If any government wishes to invest in solar power production, then why not seek a partner to invest equally in a solar farm. The power produced can be sold to CUC for resale to ALL consumers so everyone benefits in a small way. If a government wishes to assist even more, they could sell their part of the power produced to CUC at a rate to only cover maintenance (no profit) to reduce the resale cost even more.

    If this project goes ahead what is to happen with maintenance, repairs, replacement, etc.? Do the home owners who are benefitting pay from their savings?

    I would also like to hear a debate between this committee & CUC on just how the proposed net metering will work. My understanding is that in countries where net metering is used, the local government is subsidising the process to result in net metering. I have never understood how someone expects to sell a product (electricity) at wholesale and get the retail price.