More power for Cayman

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The Electricity Regulatory Authority of the Cayman Islands has announced it will invite bids from power companies next year to generate additional electricity capacity in Cayman. 

If an electricity company other than the Caribbean Utilities Company is chosen to provide the additional power, it will be the first time CUC will face a competitor in generating electricity in Grand Cayman. 

According to a news release issued Tuesday, the regulatory body this week launched the process of competitive bidding to provide extra power generation capacity – up to a potential 36 megawatts by 2016.  

Louis Boucher, acting managing director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, said, “In 2012, the authority will undertake a rigorous process of reaching out to potential bidders; establishing a qualified bidders list; issuing the request for proposals to those bidders; evaluating their proposals; and selecting a winning bidder. The evaluation will be based on objective criteria that will be laid out clearly in the request for proposals.” 

A transmission and distribution licence issued to CUC in April 2008 mandates the power company to determine when Grand Cayman need additional electricity. It found that, due to projected peak demand growth and existing generating capacity becoming obsolete, there was a need for more electricity generation. 

Mr. Boucher said the demand for extra electricity was based on projected growth, estimated through the number of work permits, planning permission applications for building projects and GDP, among other factors, as well the retirement of some of CUC’s existing generators. 

He said that, according to CUC’s transmission and distribution licence, the company has to have a reserve margin of a minimum of 35 per cent and a maximum of 55 per cent of the Island’s peak load. 

CUC relies on diesel generation to produce electricity for Grand Cayman and its power system has a combined capacity of 151 megawatts. The record peak load the company has experienced is 102 megawatts, in June 2010. 

Sherri Bodden-Cowan, chair of the board of the authority, said, “Competition for new generation on Grand Cayman is one of the core principles on which new licences were granted to CUC back in 2008, and the authority encourages all qualified bidders to respond to submit statements of qualification for consideration. The authority will use these SOQs to determine the companies that will receive the request for proposals to provide this generation.” 

Prior to the issuance of the 2008 licence, CUC had the exclusive right to generate electricity in Cayman. Since then, some home and business owners have generated their own electricity, which they can sell to CUC. 

The licence retains CUC’s exclusive transmission and distribution rights. 

In March 2009, CUC calculated Cayman needed 32 megawatts of additional capacity by 2013. This launched a bidding process which marked the first time CUC had potential competition for generating electricity. Kingston-based Jamaica Energy Partners was in competition with CUC on that bid. 

However, six months later, in September 2009, the Electricity Regulatory Authority announced CUC had determined the economic downturn meant the projected additional capacity was not needed and the bidding process was cancelled. 

Mr. Boucher said bidders who had expressed an interest in generating electricity in the earlier bidding process would be contacted to see if they were interested in rebidding. 

In the latest certificate of need filed by CUC, the projected date for additional generation of 18 megawatts of power is 2014, with a second increment of 18 megawatts capacity needed in either 2015 or 2016, depending on the growth of the economy and development in Grand Cayman and the related demand for electricity.  

The transmission and distribution licence requires CUC to maintain adequate reserves of power by identifying its needs three years in advance, taking into account the need for power, the retirement of existing generation plants and other factors. 

Earlier this year, CUC invited expression of interest and preliminary proposal for the creation and operation of renewable energy generation facilities to generate up to 13 megawatts of energy on Grand Cayman. 

electricity pole

Cayman will need an additional 32 megawatts of electricity by 2016, according to CUC. – PHOTO: Chris Court

1 COMMENT

  1. Its about time! A monopoly is never a good thing in any economy, this competition will hopefully make a difference when you get your bill.

    I really hope that Cayman can some how figure out how to build a solar and wind farm and go green. Vacant land in EE would be perfect for this…. we like the rest of the world have to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels.

  2. To have a Competitor to CUC would be nice. But if they are using Diesel Generation there will not be much competition. We will not realize a bit of savings.
    If the Government is serious about competition then have a Solar or Wind Farm
    Company Compete with CUC.
    With USA Government subsidies and incentives on Solar and Wind home generation ending soon, the renewable Home Energy Market in the USA is
    Slowing down as it is not competitive with buying from the Grid.
    Grand Cayman on the other hand has everything going for it for Homeowners to take advantage of Solar (and Wind) Home generation. Costs for Electric on Grand Cayman are close to 4 times the cost in the USA. Abundant Sunlight 2 to 3 times the Average USA numbers.
    The USA Electric companies must install reversing meters and refund an amount just under their generation costs (not distribution charges) I understand the CUC does not offer reversing Meters and buy back is at a very low price.
    C.I. Government should demand CUC offer a similar program as the USA for it’s Citizens.
    Many companies in the USA are offering installation of complete Solar packages with a set price of US .11 /Kwt’s generated with a 20 year contract.
    It’s time for the Cayman Islands to stop the strangle hold that CUC has on it.

  3. The only competition we will see is government offer up for bid the opportunity for another company to share the captive consumers.. Us!. We are still captive because CUC own the grid.

    Now if Government had maintained ownership of the grid and guaranteed CUC their profit margin, that would have made better value for money for Cayman, and the introduction of competition possible.

    You noticed Digitiser erected their own towers for their supposed telecom competition..

    When CUC calculate their expenditures and earning to arrive at their then guaranteed profit, expansion and maintenance of the grid is part of our cost..

    So if we are paying to build and maintain the grid why do we not own it..

    We all need to see the specification that would make the generation of electricity competitive with objectives being value for money to the consumers.

    Competition?.. The headline said more power.. Show me the specifications.

  4. Caymanian on guard,

    In reality we don’t pay for the cost, it’s so happened CUC is monopolize in nature and have to be transparent to show in their billing the effect of major maintenance and expansion. Though increased in power capacity, consumer/usage would still be the same unless CUC can sell the excess power outside Cayman Islands. In return consumer will be assured of non-interrupted and quality power.

  5. do you think our electricity bills will go down, new company will befriend CUC or compete with ?

    and Criscross,google how many abandoned wind turbines there are in USA, UK, and throughout the world(14 000)it’s a scam. they are being abandoned throughout the world because they don’t work !

  6. Caymanexpat,

    Electricity bills may go up instead, the new company has only one customer (CUC ) and one major competitor (CUC again). It’s suicidal to a new company to come in without assurance CUC will purchase their power at a given capacity up to the point of investment recovery. One of the possible assurances is by giving subsidy/grant to the new company. This subsidy will be borne by consumer once the expected demand for power is not successful, on other hand bills may go down if the demand for power exceeds expectation.

  7. caymanexpat:

    Wind power has been working in San Francisco for over 30 years with over 13,000 turbines… Scam?? US and UK abandoning 14,000 is insignificant.

    Those wind turbines can power the whole city of SF… hmmm I guess you have been misinformed.

    Google: Lillgrund Wind Farm, and tell me this a scam too…

  8. criscross, i have not been missinformed, you have a point with SF, but look at the rest of cali, hawaii, UK, u still need to understand that it’s a bubble that bursts as soon as the government subsidies end.

    14000 bird choppers that are abandoned is insignificant ? ok then.

    google: abandoned wind turbines

  9. Caymanexpat:

    You said they were a scam and I have proved you wrong.
    You have to understand that the go green crazy made people build these things with out proper feasibility studies and due diligence… As far as the 14,000 scrapped mills… well that was just bad business decisions. That would like me telling you all restaurants fail cause 1/3 fail in the 1st year.

    Wind power works… and you are misinformed.

  10. Two words. Nuclear power

    Mini nukes to be exact.

    Solid concrete bunkers, 40 feet long. 20 feet wide. Buried 20 feet into the ground. Not even hurricanes can move these bad boys.

    End of expensive electricity on the island, forever.

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