The amount of renewable energy the Caribbean Utilities Company can purchase from residences and businesses has been increased, but the rates CUC will pay for that energy has been lowered.

CUC announced on Wednesday the Utilities and Competition Regulation Office (OfReg) has approved the new electricity rates for the release of the final megawatt of capacity of CUC’s Consumer Owned Renewable Energy program, known as CORE.

The program seeks to encourage individuals and businesses to develop their own rooftop or backyard renewable-energy systems – usually in the form of solar panels and wind turbines. The utility pays the system owners for their kilowatt hours, places the power on the national grid, and then bills them at a lower rate as they consume electricity for their own needs.

The new rates CUC will pay renewable-energy producers are 28 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for system sizes up to five kW, and 24 cents for systems between five and 10 kW. CUC will keep paying 21 cents to government entities that generate between 20-100 kW. This rate reduction was approved by OfReg in conjunction with CUC releasing the final megawatt of the CORE’s 9 MW cap.

When the CORE was fully implemented in 2011, CUC paid program subscribers 37 cents per kWh.

In February 2015, CUC paid residential customers 38.5 cents per kWh and businesses 37.5 cents per kWh for their electricity.

Since then, CUC has reduced the amount it will pay CORE subscribers.

In April 2015, CUC revised CORE to pay 32 cents for residential and 28 cents for businesses.

Residential rates were again reduced in May 2016, to 30 cents per kWh for systems up to 5 kW. Rates for businesses and government remained at 28 cents per kWh and 21 cents per kWh, respectively.

Before this latest reduction, CUC was paying residences 30 cents and businesses 26 cents.

Despite the lower rates, CUC CEO Richard Hew said he anticipates the final 1 MW of CORE’s capacity to be snapped up quickly by subscribers.

“The CORE programme has proven popular with both residential and commercial customers, and we anticipate that the extension to the programme will be rapidly taken up by our customers and will assist in our goal of reducing the Cayman Islands’ dependence on fossil fuels,” he said. “Our Company remains committed to promoting and developing renewable energy as a source of electricity generation, and we believe that programmes such as CORE demonstrate that commitment.”

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