The long-awaited opening of Cayman’s first utility-scale solar electricity operation and non-Caribbean Utilities Company power source will take place June 20.
CUC cautioned that “testing and commissioning” of the 5-megawatt east Bodden Town farm’s more than 20,000 solar panels, which is currently under way, may disrupt power supplies locally.
“While we do not expect any interruptions in service during the commissioning process, it is possible that we may need to take local sections of the grid offline and unfortunately disrupt service for some customers during short periods of time,” said Sacha Tibbetts, vice president for Customer Services and Technology.
He said CUC would “take all possible steps to ensure that power is not interrupted.”
The June 20 opening caps four years of on-again, off-again effort of government calls for companies to build renewable energy facilities, the sale of the contract to North Carolina-based Entropy Management by the original Pittsburgh-based tender winner, subsequent construction and financing delays and a yearlong building process, reportedly costing $4 million.
“CUC has been pursuing utility-scale renewable energy projects for many years now and we are pleased that after so many challenges and delays we are at the stage where energy flowing from this solar project is imminent,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
CUC spokeswoman Pat Bynoe-Clarke said power would begin to flow to local consumers immediately after testing is completed.
Builders completed the project in late April. As of May 25, Ms. Bynoe-Clarke said CUC and Entropy had not agreed on an opening, but were working on a date.
On May 31, Louis Boucher, former deputy managing director at the Electricity Regulatory Board, the overseer of CUC, and now acting executive director for energy and utilities at the Utility Regulation and Competition Office, said “the plant is entering final stages of testing and will be operational any day now if all systems are a go.
The 5 MW farm will supply only a fraction of Cayman’s approximately 100 MW demand. CUC will pay Entropy 17 cents per for each kilowatt, adding its own 10 cent “base rate” costs, pegging consumer prices at levels similar to diesel-fired power.
According to CUC, the array is capable of powering the equivalent of 800 homes.
The solar panels, in 52 rows, at the Bodden Town farm, generate raw direct current which is converted by 173 inverters to consumer alternating current, and interconnect with the national power grid.