Net billing to be implemented this month

Luke Douglas

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

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THE Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) has so far received 10 applications for licences from producers of electricity from renewable sources to engage in net billing thus paving the way for them to be paid for selling power to the national grid, energy minister Phillip Paulwell said last week.

Paulwell said the entities would be visited by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) this week for the installation of new meters to measure the energy going to the grid, after which the OUR would recommend to him those which are to get licences in about two weeks.

"We are now urging others to come forward and apply," Paulwell said of generators of electricity from sources such as the sun and wind.

He said the OUR had assured him that the energy producers would be paid "in the region of 18 to 25 (US) cents per kilowatt hour" based on current prices in the market.

"That I believe is a good start," Paulwell said.

He was speaking at a press conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston shortly after the launch of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme to reduce the usage of electricity in the public sector.

The minister also urged persons involved in importing or manufacturing of equipment to produce renewable energy to approach the ministry immediately to see how their ventures could be assisted.

He also promised additional incentives to the renewable sector when he makes his budget presentation.

Plans to implement net billing were announced by the previous government late last year.

Earlier this year, Paulwell announced that he was converting his home to use solar electricity thus cutting his electricity bill in half, and reported last week that his house was fully off the grid.

"As you know I am leading by example. My home is fully independent and I do intend to apply to the minister for a licence to sell to the grid," he quipped.

The minister said he would "highly recommend the use of photo voltaic equipment" but said any renewable electricity source could be accommodated.

Paulwell also disclosed that Cabinet decided to remove the exclusivity for renewable projects from the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, thus opening the sector to full and open competition.

"We believe out of this we are going to produce opportunities to create jobs. We're calling for small and medium enterprise sector to get involved," he said.

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