Free Solar Power Systems For Cayman Islands Households

The Cayman Islands government is taking an interesting approach to helping low income families battle increasing electricity costs – by providing free solar panel systems.
    
Cayman Islands’ Premier, the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP announced last week a free solar energy programme for 1500 households that will generate electricity bill savings of nearly 70% for beneficiaries and ensure these families will always have access to electricity for basic applications.
     
The $15 million programme will not only benefit the households, but also generate between 150 – 200 new job opportunities for Caymanians. 
     
“We will be using reliable data from the Economic and Statistics Office, the Electricity Regulatory Authority and the Department of Social Services, in order to target those in most need of assistance. We will ensure that the myth is broken that renewable energy is only for the very wealthy and elite!” said Premier Bush.
     
The Cayman Islands government has been pushing renewables uptake since revising its Electricity Regulatory Authority Law in 2010. A pilot feed in tariff program was launched in 2011, paying AUD 42c per kilowatt hour for all solar electricity produced by a system.
       
The Cayman Islands has a special interest in low emissions electricity generation. Like many small island nations around the world, the Caymans currently has a high dependence on electricity generated with expensive imported fossil fuels and is especially vulnerable to the projected impacts of climate change. The island of Grand Cayman was hit by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, flooding many areas and damaging an estimated 95% of the buildings on the island.
     
In August 2011, Caribbean Utilitilies Company, Ltd. (CUC) issued a request for Expressions of Interest for the construction and operation of renewable energy generation plants; with view to establishing 13 megawatts (MW) capacity of grid-connected facilities on Grand Cayman. 20 proposals were short-listed and the CUC is currently in discussions relating to power purchase and interconnection agreements with two successful bidders.