Government’s decision to standardise the rates of return for green energy suppliers to the national grid within the next two months has been given the thumbs up from a major player in renewable energy, Ralph Bizzy Williams.
In a Barbados TODAY interview, Williams said that while he has never slowed down his investments in the industry, he blamed the unreliability of rates for chasing away others.
The industrialist said: “This is definitely going to give the industry new impetus. This is something that we have been waiting on for a very long time and I would like to publicly thank the Government for finally making a decision. I think it is a brilliant idea and it is exactly what the alternative energy sector needs.”
He said that the decision did not come as a surprise and that he had always anticipated that Government would eventually get wise to the needs of the renewable energy industry.
“The only thing that held us up was getting licences. We always believe that common sense would eventually prevail,” said Williams.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, revealed yesterday that the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has been given the responsibility to define the feeding tariff for producers who contribute up to one megawatt of electricity to the national grid.
The minister explained that investors would be locked into this rate of return for the next 20 years.
Abrahams further revealed that the FTC would not be constrained by the feeding tariff pricing structure for larger systems producing over one megawatt.
Noting that he expected rates to fall below what is currently being offered, Abrahams gave the assurance that the new permanent rate would ensure that investors receive fair returns, in light of significant reductions in the cost of the technology over the years.
Williams said that he had no problem with the rates going down, as it is only fair that the rates reflect changes in the sector. Over the last seven years, the price of solar panels has come down by 60 per cent, he added.
He said: “This is how business works, as the cost of the technology decreases the price will come down. This is what we have been talking about all along.
“As a matter of fact, I believe that a new tariff should be announced every year and it would come down as the price of the technology comes down. That is what we have been asking for years.
“So I have no problem with it at all, systems that are put in after July 6 should get rates based on the cost of technology at that time.”
In 2016, the FTC set a temporary rate for the power being sold to the national grid under the RER programme at $0.416/kWh for solar photovoltaic and $0.315/kWh for wind “until such time as a permanent rate may be established”. At the time, the FTC said the decision was taken to increase the capacity limit to 500 kW from 150 kW.