A source close to the Bermuda Sustainable Energy Association said: "It is difficult to understand why there has been such intransigence in formulating and agreeing the necessary interconnection and power purchase agreements her in Bermuda, especially considering that there are numerous agreements already in existence all over the world representing all sizes of jurisdictions which can be used as a model.

"There is absolutely no requirement for Bermuda to reinvent the wheel — we simply need to select the best proven models and get them implemented without any further delay."

The source said that an agreement between Grand Cayman's Caribbean Utilities Co and commercial users had been in place since early 2011, while Bermuda has yet to introduce a policy and a buy-back tariff.

Belco does buy back power from domestic solar power plants under an agreement thrashed out in 2010 — but a proposed agreement has been with the Department of Energy's Energy Commission since May without a decision on how to implement a buy back scheme from large-scale commercial solar power users.

The source said: "There are many geographic and demographic similarities between Bermuda and Grand Cayman as well as comparable scale in terms of power generation, customer base and pricing per kilowatt hour.

"Cayman has adopted a feed in tariff model for both residential and commercial customers that has been in place since February 2011."

A feed in tariff system defines the rate at which power is purchased by the utility company from the residential or commercial customer and guarantees the term of the agreement, usually 20-25 years, to allow the owner of the solar grid to get an assured return on investment.

The Caymans agreement on interconnection and power purchase is only eight pages long, while the domestic buy back agreement in Bermuda runs to more than twice that length.

The source added that Government had set a target in the 2011 White Paper on Energy of 20 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.

But he said: "However the growth of solar electric photo voltaic systems in Bermuda has been severely hampered by the lack of commercial interconnection and power purchase agreements."

The Royal Gazette reported in October that large scale solar systems, including Gorham's hardware store, were already supplying energy to the Belco network, which is then sold on, but not receiving payment for it.

The source said: "Obviously, this arrangement is beneficial to Belco but provides no incentive for the investment in commercial solar photo voltaic systems as evidenced by the very low growth in commercial installations."

Belco referred requests for comment to the Energy Commission.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education and Economic Development said: "The Ministry recognises the importance of developing fair and equitable interconnection agreements as a basis for the further expansion of solar and other alternative energy production in Bermuda.

"The Bermuda Energy Working Group which was established earlier this year has been working diligently for some time and is very near to proposing a recommended interconnection agreement."

The spokeswoman added: "With regard to the interconnection agreements, the challenges are in the technical requirements and the cost recovery mechanism for any amounts paid.

"The primary concerns are of course the purchase price, but it is also the quality of power, intermittency, the safety of the systems, and the fairness of pricing — not only in terms of what the utility will pay for power produced, but also how that cost is then absorbed by the rate base.

"This must be done so that it is sustainable, safe, and equitable to all rate payers, not just to those who are producing power.

"This must be done in close collaboration with the industry stakeholders, power producers, the Department of Energy and the Energy Commission. The process is complex, and it must be done correctly to avoid risk to the entire grid, or inequitable subsidies."

Original article

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