February 8, 2023

The Editor Speaks: Don’t be fooled – Cayman is not embracing renewable energy

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Colin Wilson2web“Additional capacity for consumer owned renewable energy announced by Cayman Islands regulatory authority” was one of our headlines on March 31st.

The story was a press release issued jointly by the Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd. (CUC) and The Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) of the Cayman Islands. It proudly heralded the news that Additional Capacity for Consumer-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) is to increase by just 1 MegaWatt to a miserly 4 MegaWatt. Wow!!

The release actually does spell it out how little this is:
“It allows customers in Grand Cayman to connect renewable energy systems, such as SMALL SCALE solar systems or wind turbines to CUC’s distribution system and to reduce their monthly energy bills by generating their own electricity while remaining connected to the CUC grid.”

The contract agreements have been extended by 5 years from 20 to 25 and I bet CUC are smiling at this. No need to worry about renewable energy. We can keep our outdated, pollution making and high cost diesel power system for a quarter of a century.

The Cayman Renewable Energy Association (CREA) were also quick to spot how CUC have pulled the wool over the eyes of ERA Managing Director, Charles Farrington who thought we would all be thrilled.

CREA issued a statement saying:

“The Cayman Renewable Energy Association (CREA) is disappointed that the ERA and CUC have chosen to regress the CORE program, despite their claims that these changes represent an expansion of the program and is good for the Cayman Islands, CREA believes these actions accomplish the opposite and are in fact detrimental to the sustainability of the Cayman Islands and will negatively impact the economic, social and environmental benefits to Cayman that come from promoting renewable energy. Through the ERA and CUC’s actions Cayman has now in effect taken a position, in reducing the levels of solar adoption, that is opposite to what all progressive and forward thinking regional countries and industrialised nations around the world are doing in regards to promoting renewables.”

CREA Chairman Mr James Whittaker in an interview he gave the Cayman Reporter spelled it out nicely.

“They will try to spin these changes as positive and beneficial for Cayman but do not be fooled. This is not promoting solar energy; it is diminishing the adoption of solar in Cayman, plain and simple,” he said. “We at CREA recommended to the ERA and CUC that the solar FIT rate remain at the existing levels, with a special increased rate of 42 cents for small solar energy systems catering specifically to the lower income consumers. Clearly with 1% of our energy from solar we should not be discussing measures to reduce the adoption rate of solar in Cayman. At the existing rates, which CUC pays for solar power produced by Cayman’s consumers for 20 years, there is no way CUC could buy a better hedge for fuel prices on the open market. Now they’re going to offer you less money for your solar energy and lock you in for more years to sell it to them.”

Whittaker in the same article said CREA had recommended the CORE program be extended to a total of 10 MWs. This would have created “the ability for consumers to put solar on their homes and businesses for the next decade.”

“There is absolutely no technological reason why 10 MWs could not be put on the grid; this has been proven all over the world. With 10 MWs allocated to CORE this would have allowed for the other 90% of our energy needs to be produced by large scale solar farms and other renewables over time. All of which we support collectively as an overall solution, ” he explained.

CREA had also suggested an increase to the 100KW’s limit for each commercial business.

It is very easy why CUC want limits. It limits the expansion of solar energy!

When CUC won the contract for continuing supplying power to us government had said solar power was included in their proposal and they were keen to promote it. At the same press conference CUC CEO Richard Hew took great pains to play down any advantages of solar power pointing out its expense and everything else he could think of that was negative to going forward with solar energy.

He didn’t fool me then and he hasn’t fooled me now.

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  1. I suggest that you conduct an interview with the ERA Managing Director and see who is fooling who. In otherwords, what would be the impact of having unlimited renewable energy added to the grid by private individulas/companies under the CREA wishes?

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