The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) has promised that the cap on how much power renewable energy customers can sell back to the grid will be “constantly reviewed”, but a limit will always be in place.
Managing director Peter Williams made that position clear as he welcomed yesterday’s decision by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to give consumers the right to choose their billing method with the utility company under the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) programme.
A major bone of contention for players in the renewable energy industry has been the cap of 7 megawatts of installed capacity under the RER programme which was designed to facilitate the sale of excess electricity to the grid by customers using a solar photovoltaic or wind renewable energy system to offset electricity consumption from the grid.
But Williams said the amount that could be fed into the grid had a lot to do with maintaining stability on the national grid and available technologies.
“We continue to work with the regulator in a very positive way to ensure that the rules and regulations are appropriate and we believe this is a decision that will give flexibility to customers . . . The capacity limit that they have set is one that will continue to be under review,” he said.
He added that the company was currently carrying out a study to determine the amount of energy that could be fed from intermittent sources, which would include solar and wind energy.
“But there is a limit of electricity demand on the island. So where the cap is now will certainly create a limit to the number of installations that can be undertaken, and even if that is increased there will still be a limit. I think our businesses have to respond and remember we are also in the business. So it doesn’t affect just others, it affects our Emera Caribbean Renewables [Limited] business as well,” added Williams.
The BL&P boss said the company was looking at how best to manage that business reality and examining the possibility of expanding in the region as well as into areas of energy efficiency and energy management.
“But we recognise that people would want to expand their business. It is natural and understandable that it is a situation they will not be happy with but it is one that we have to take very seriously. And certainly [we are] in discussion with our regulator to ensure that the grid is maintained and managed in a manner that is responsible to all of our customers,” he said.
Williams also reported a decrease in the demand for electricity from the grid and said the company was in the process of assessing how much of that was due to the expansion of renewable energy and what percentage was as a result of other factors including the downturn in the economy.
The drop in demand for electricity, he said, was the same throughout the region.
The FTC yesterday handed down a decision, which takes effect on September 1, to give customers the option of the “buy all/ sell all” or the “sale of excess” billing arrangement.
The BL&P had initially indicated its preference for the “buy all/sell all” arrangement, under which the customer is billed at the normal electricity rate for all the energy consumed regardless of the source, and then credited for the electricity generated at the RER credit rate.
Williams said the FTC decision was “in line” with what the company expected.