Time for clean energy

I am in complete agreement with Mr. Jim Knapp, whose letter appeared recently in the Caymanian Compass.

After 20-plus years of experience in design, installation, and maintenance of offshore oil producing platform power generating stations large and small, I have some idea of the requirements for these systems.

The agreement between CUC and the Electricity Regulating Authority, regarding private power generation systems connected to the power grid, maintains the Cayman Islands’ archaic position, in terms of moving the nation toward clean, renewable power possibilities. With the exception of reliability, very little change has occurred in this field since it’s beginning on the island.

Both Cayman daily news publications carried articles recently about the announcement concerning the agreement between CUC and Government.

The Caymanian Compass article gave the most complete details of the pact. As I read the particulars about restrictions on the size of generating stations allowed connection to the grid, I realised that CUC has no intention of allowing any home, condo complex, or business the flexibility of building a station large enough to meet even most residential needs.

The more that I read, the more irate I became. This agreement also assures that each homeowner who invests in clean power generating equipment will always sell any power to the grid at the wholesale rate or less and purchase any power used at the current retail rate, i.e., net billing. Net metering, the worldwide standard, is tossed out the window because it does not give CUC enough profit. With net metering, the meter runs backward and forward depending on whether energy is sold or consumed. The customer is credited or billed with the net meter through-put. The customer is not paid for energy ‘sold’ to the grid. He is given credits against future power usage.

Although I am not Caymanian by birth, I am Caymanian by choice. I am married to a Caymanian and have permanent resident status. I moved to Cayman and enjoy life here tremendously. I have learned that this nation is years behind the rest of the industrialised world in its view of clean, renewable power. This seems to hold in both consumer electric power and automotive design. If ever a locale lent itself to the use of plug-in electric autos, this is it. It seems that those in the ERA wish to perpetuate the CUC stranglehold on this island.

While I do not believe the hullabaloo concerning global warming, I do believe that we are responsible for keeping the air that we breathe as clean as possible. Home owned and business owned wind and solar generating stations are our first step in achieving that end. The costs of installing renewable, clean power generators can easily double the cost of new home or business construction.

If there is little or no consideration given the forward thinking individuals who might consider installing power stations, where is their incentive? As the law stands, they are stuck with too small a system for their needs and connected to the grid or, they have a system that meets and sometimes exceeds their needs with no grid connection for the sale of excess power or the purchase of power when needed.

Mr. Knapp explains, in his letter, that he is a member of the Cayman Institute, a non-profit organisation, and that the members gave a presentation concerning clean and renewable power at an ERA meeting. The agreement between CUC and ERA disregards every world standard concerning this matter. Mr. Knapp said, ‘They did not subsidize my renewable energy plant or my distribution system to deliver clean energy to their grid, but they are going to charge their customers full price for that energy even though they only pay a fraction of its cost to us.’

Mr. Knapp titled his letter, ‘A disservice to Cayman.’ II believe that this situation is one of the outstanding examples of the disservice that Government can add to its long list.

As long as officials here continue in this direction, change for clean, renewable power and clean air in Cayman is a distant dream. There is a tremendous amount of technology under development that could benefit this nation. Let’s remind our representatives in Government that it is now 2009.

Randy Kinsey

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