The Compass asked utilities regulator OfReg for a detailed response to some of the concerns raised by the Cayman Renewable Energy Association about its decisions.
Here is their point-by-point response:
On why it took 13 months to decide on a new allocation of CORE:
OfReg has a statutory duty to consult and began this process in April 2020 shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Obviously, the comprehensive consultation process that included an initial consultation round, cross submissions by stakeholders, draft determination, a second round of consultation and final determination, like many other projects, was impacted by the pandemic and incurred delays.
The consultation was conducted to obtain the views of all stakeholders that would be affected by OfReg’s final determination and not just one party; the final determination was made in February 2021 and published in March 2021.
Many extraneous factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, impacted the economy locally and globally.
On why the new solar rate is lower than the rate voted for by an independent panel:
A Special Purpose Ad Hoc committee (including one representative from the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure) was formed to provide advice to the board.
The committee’s recommendation of a higher rate was considered by the board but was not accepted.
The CORE programme, while well intended to promote solar PV uptake and deployment, is a subsidised programme.
The approved rate continues to provide subsidies to owners of CORE systems. Accordingly, the decision process was conducted with honesty, integrity, and was in the best interest of consumers and the people of these islands, whom we have an overriding duty to protect.
On the absence of clear alternatives to CORE for homeowners to install solar:
OfReg have made several public statements on this subject of renewable energy initiatives that it is pursuing and/or has authorized. For example, the 20 MW Battery Energy Storage System project which will make available an additional 12 MW of capacity for the Distributed Energy Resources programme.
On claims its decisions go against the ambitions of the National Energy Policy:
OfReg is tasked with executing several of the National Energy Policy’s goals and will continue to do so in a fair and balanced manner. In a recent presentation to the Energy Policy Council, OfReg indicated it will be working on new programmes and rates for the additional 12 MW of DER capacity.
Critical to the rates and tariff making process, OfReg has commenced the process to undertake a value of solar assessment to inform rates going forward.