Will CUC practise what it preaches?

Now that CUC bought its newest and largest generator ever it is time to look back at what CUC has promised in the past.

In 2000, CUC published a report called CUC partnership through transparency.

It is true CUC has done a wonderful job and is very committed to delivering electricity that none of us could do without. The latest 16-megawatt generator proves this. When this system comes on line in June 2007 CUC will have the power they need to ensure reliability for Cayman, at least for now.

If you haven’t noticed, Cayman is growing and against many peoples’ best wishes I don’t think it will stop any time soon. Does this mean another 16-megawatt generator tomorrow? It doesn’t have too. Now it’s time for CUC to take its published future projections to heart.

In 2000, former President and Chief Executive Officer Peter A. Thomson stated: ‘CUC must continue to maintain a flexible position to respond quickly to change.’

This doesn’t sound like a greedy company that would hold the government and people of Cayman to a contract with no chance of negotiations. This statement sounds like a company ready to do what it takes to bring Cayman to the forefront of island energy producers.

He also said, ‘The Challenges we face today are in many ways more complex than those of yesterday. We must operate differently and be more creative and innovative in meeting the expectation of an increasingly sophisticated consumer base.’

This again sounds like a good company that is ready to embrace new technologies like customer-based generation through solar grid -tie and wind generation. Many CUC customers are more than ready to act on solar and wind grid-tied systems. They look at the rest of the world and see the benefits of alternative energy in places with far less sunlight and wind. We should all pray that we do not have to wait until 2011 for a chance to use the great resources we are so blessed with.

His last statement in the report is ‘There is no alternative. Choosing the right combination of business strategies – one that is turning to technology for solutions – will be as critical as ever, not just for increased shareholder value, but also to enable us to provide cost-effective energy solutions to our customers.’

This again sounds like a progressive company ready to change and adapt to satisfy its customer and their needs. After all isn’t customer service the number one priority of any company?

Once again, I have the same suggestion that I’ve stated so many times in the past. The Cayman Islands Government must work harder to urge the apparently willing CUC to renegotiate their current license and make revisions to allow the safe use of solar and wind power by home owners and businesses. It is time for the Cayman Islands Government to put their foot down and demand that CUC follow up on their previous statements regarding their commitment to the future.

The future is not burning fossil fuel. It is solar and wind power. This step alone can postpone the purchase of the next 16-megawatt diesel generator. Furthermore, it will create jobs and allow time for research into other alternatives. There are Caymanian certified electricians out of work on this island right now. They are capable of filling solar electric installation positions with further training.

As for ocean thermal energy conversion, this technology needs a lot more research. No island has a functional large-scale plant. Until this new alternative is proven safe to marine life, and economically reliable, I don’t think, it is a good idea for Cayman to be used as a guinea pig. Wind and sun are proven alternatives that are here for us to use today; we should not have to wait until 2011.

CUC could follow examples set by their fellow members of the Edison Electric Institute. Many of its members are offering financial incentives toward the installations of renewable energy sources. For example, the Hawaiian Electric Company gives a $1,000 instant rebate on a solar water heating system. Just go to www.heco.com and you can see it for yourself. It is right on the front page of their website. Many other utility companies provide similar incentives to non-profit organizations such as schools and churches. Talk about a utility company giving back to the community.

Of course, I am biased toward alternative energy because it is my career and my passion.

If you can see any reason why I should not promote and support its use, please tell me, for this is my life journey. My co-worker, Eric Mildenberger, and I are committed to doing everything we can to help the people of Cayman and CUC become aware of solar and wind energy.

Mother Nature is so kind to deliver this gift to us everyday. Let’s be appreciative and use it to help preserve this beautiful slice of heaven for generations to come. Come on Cayman, let’s be green!

Jeremy T. Mills

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