BELCO Revises Solar Net Metering Program

August 17, 2016

BELCO announced today [Aug 17] that it will “no longer offer Net Metering for new residential and commercial [i.e. non-utility scale] solar PV installations.”

A spokesperson said, “The only exception will be for customers who were in the process of installing solar PV and can verify that their Planning Department permit was issued on or before 15 August 2016.

“Residential and Commercial customers already on the Net Metering Program will continue to receive the net meter rate at the capacity that was approved at the time of installation, on or before 15 August 2016.

“All new customers interconnecting with BELCO will be compensated at avoided cost, which is largely the cost of fuel. The avoided cost number will be submitted to the Energy Commission [EC] monthly for approval.

“BELCO has included changes to the Net Metering Program in its most recent compliance filing to the [EC]. In 2010, BELCO established the Net Metering Program to incent the early adoption of small-scale solar PV systems.

“The Net Metering Program is a subsidy provided by BELCO that compensates residential customers who feed excess renewable energy to BELCO’s grid at the same retail rate that customers pay for power purchased from BELCO, without the expense of the fixed costs associated with generation, transmission and distribution.

“It was intended that the Program would be reviewed when it exceeded 200 participants. There are now 335 customers on the Program.”

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Denton Williams said, “The goal of incenting adoption of small-scale solar PV has been achieved. This is also confirmed by the Government’s elimination of solar rebates in 2014. With a broad number of participants the current approach is unsustainable for large-scale deployment, equitable cost-based ratemaking principles need to be applied.”

The spokesperson said, “The Net Metering Program was limited to small-scale renewable energy systems 15 kilowatts and smaller.

“The transitional interconnection program contained in the EC filing does not limit the size for residential installations, but caps all installations [residential and commercial] at 500 kilowatts and caps the number of new installations at 350, all subject to the BELCO’s grid’s ability to safely accept the interconnection.

“The filing proposes that the new avoided cost tariff for payment to new residential and commercial customer solar installations be available on a first come, first serve basis for a two-year period.”

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Comments (36)

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  1. Sage says:

    Fossil fuels stink and BELCO is full off ******!!

  2. voltage says:

    Another BELCO decision that appears to place their profit ahead of our community.

    A legal monopoly, BELCO continues to call the shots within our Bermuda Government, Department of Energy and our recently appointed Regulatory Authority – who apparently only have the authority to do what BELCO wants.

    This decision can be traced to the close relationship of a few men who make their decisions without evidence of public consultation, community engagement or financial accountability.

    Signed, sealed and delivered for you in the summer of 2016.

    • George says:

      Provide proof of your allegations! Let me guess you can not?

      FYI: The Regulatory Authority do not currently regulate BELCO the Energy Commission does so again check your facts before alleging anything!

      • innna says:

        George… I have seen you before… you own mucho shares in BELCO or have a significant vested interest in their well being, i think i know who you might be… but anyway this is obviously a backwards move, where other countries continue to encourage renewables we actively fight against them!
        Pity, the public will pay for your selfishness

    • Photon says:

      Thank you OBA for this gift of a monopoly to provide all our expensive power.

  3. Real Deal says:

    so much for the work plp did back then. it in smoke now.

  4. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    Ascendant Group’s electrical monopoly games will continue until further notice. Anyone seen oil prices lately? Historic lows you will not see reflected in your next bill . . .

    HOW ABOUT SUPPLYING CLEAN POWER ONE DAY BELCO????

  5. life says:

    Stop eating meat… animal farming is way more harmful to the environment look it up..

    • innna says:

      but that will not help lower overall cost of living in bermuda will it???

  6. Chaos Theory says:

    Well done in trying to shut down the adoption of solar and other alternative energy. This approach by BELCO is so backwards.

    I can understand that 1 for 1 credit most probably does not make economic sense, but to allow the excess power being generated to be simply wasted is asinine – or do they expect the consumers to put is back in the grid for free.

    Idiots !

    • Chaos Theory says:

      Well – bad press release from BELCO – I see, after reading it several times, that new installations will get an “avoided cost” tariff – whatever the hell that means.

      They say is is essentially the cost of fuel, but will that include the monthly adjustment, which is about the same as the rest the bill.

  7. Kathy says:

    What is happening here is absolute bollocks! How on earth can you call the Net Metering system a subsidy by BELCO to the solar panel customer. We are generating energy for you to sell back to your customers and we want to be compensated fairly for that. By removing the Net Metering system in effect, the solar panel customers are now subsidizing BELCO!!!

    Say goodbye to all the solar panel companies in Bermuda and all the jobs that go along with them! What incentive do people have now to buy solar panels! There is certainly a connection between the current government and BELCO and it is the almighty $$$$!!!

    DISGUSTED! The people of Bermuda need to start a revolution!

    • Frank says:

      Thanks Kathy Scott Cervino for those wise words of wisdom all the way from Italy!

    • George says:

      A few assumptions are being made in several of the posts above including your own Kathy.

      BELCO does not pay current net metered customers for every watt of electricity they produce. It only pays out for those net metered customers who produce an excess of electricity in any month i.e. those who produce more than they consume hence the term NET.

      Any one want to guess what % of those net metered customers receive a payment/credit from BELCO on a monthly basis(they actually pay out every six months) I would hazard a guess that this is a minority of those 335 customers, especially in the summer time when production from solar PV will be far less than demand for electricity with all those air conditioners going.

      So yes this will affect the pay back period for anyone considering investing in solar PV but lets put this into perspective before encouraging the Island to light the torches, grab the pitch forks and march on BELCO eh Kathy?

    • serengeti says:

      The people it protects are the rest of us who don’t have solar power. Net metering arrangements are great for the people who got them, and they are terrible for everyone else.

      Personally I don’t want my Belco bills to subsidise endless and limitless net metering arrangements for other people.

      they’re another example of how solar energy costs us all more. It doesn’t work unless it’s subsidized.

      • Chris W says:

        I have modelled electricity rates in Bermuda with high penetrations of solar PV and it most certainly can reduce electricity rates for the average consumer who does not have solar, though I completely agree that net metering is not the correct approach to achieve this – a stable but reducing feed in tariff can provide the necessary balance of security for those who want to invest in solar and reasonable prices that help to bring the cost of power down for everyone else.

  8. sage says:

    So the well to do who were the first to get solar, got the government rebate first and were paid full price for electricity sold back to Belco and now all incentives are ended and and Belco is allowed to pay less now ending “net metering”. The rich must love the preferential treatment, they’re used to it.

    • sage says:

      Oh wow, missed that, they are going to keep paying the “solar pioneers” top rate! Any new installations should sell directly to their neighbors, above “avoided cost” but below the ridiculously high regular rate. I wonder if there was an increase in pre august 15th applications, when the friends and family who got the “heads up” moved to beat the cut off date?

      • mayonnaise says:

        inna? A little bit of public warning may have been fare, but its belco clearly protecting their freinds and political ally’s is all they care about…

        • sage says:

          Tom Jenney
          Mr. Jenney is the Arizona state director for Americans for Prosperity: Some bright ideas should never see the light of day. Take the example of a common state energy policy that enriches a select few companies while allowing some consumers to lower their own utility bills at the expense of their friends and neighbors. These so-called “net-metering” schemes, which exist in over 40 states, are finally getting the critical attention they deserve—and as my home state of Arizona shows, the special interests that benefit from them are fighting to protect their handouts.

          Net-metering policies have swept the nation in recent years, driven by state lawmakers attempting to burnish their green-energy credentials. Each program, while different in some respects, is built around the same basic policy: They allow consumers who generate their own power from rooftop solar panels to sell their excess electricity back to the grid at a generous rate.

          Ostensibly, this is a downside-free way for consumers to lower their energy bills and achieve some level of energy independence. But this sunny-sounding deal looks much darker when examined closely.When net-metering users sell their extra power, utilities are legally prohibited from purchasing it at the wholesale rate, which is how much they would pay to generate the power themselves. Instead, they must buy it at the retail rate. This is the rate that consumers pay when buying power from the grid; it is significantly higher because it includes the cost of the poles, wires and other infrastructure that keeps the grid functioning. The wholesale rate in Arizona is roughly 73% lower than the retail rate.Net-metering users are thus being paid for a service they don’t provide—a subsidy that adds up fast. This also allows them to become “free riders.” They rely on the grid to sell excess electricity and buy it back when the sun isn’t shining, yet they don’t actually pay for the infrastructure they use. They get all the benefits but pay none of the costs.

          Somebody has to foot the bill, though. Sure enough, the rest of a state’s electricity users—read: everyone else—cover the difference via higher rates. The Arizona Public Service Company, the state’s largest utility, estimates that net-metering is already responsible for $42.7 million in higher costs—a number that grows by $740,000 a day. On the current trajectory, the company estimates its consumers will be forced to pay over $1 billion in higher rates thanks to net-metering.

          • Chris W says:

            He makes some fair points, but wholesale rates are not a fair price either. Solar is being generated much closer to points of use. Consider also that solar is generating the most power during the middle of the day when BELCO are typically having to run their least efficient generators that use the most expensive fuel. The net metering rate could easily be lower than the cost of generating power at that time of day from those generators.

            The real issue here, that everyone should care about regardless if they plan on installing solar or not, is that net metering is not being replaced with a sensible rate that has been designed to encourage stable long-term investment in solar, it is being replaced with an avoided fuel cost that is a product of a rate structure designed for highly volatile fuel costs. The rate being offered is unstable (as are fuel costs) and could be hugely damaging to the solar industry. Over the long term more fossil fuels and less solar will almost certainly cost everyone more.

            Provided governments do their part to reduce the risks associated with investing in renewable energy such as solar, the cost of the energy produced can be incredibly low, as evidenced by more and more projects worldwide where solar and wind are offering lower prices than oil, nuclear, coal and gas.

            • Zevon says:

              Chris, solar power is a rich person’s toy, unless there s a government subsidy that substantially takes away the financial risk. For most people it just isn’t viable. That is not to say there is no market. It’s just that most people can’t wait 15-20 years to maybe break even on a large nonessential investment.

  9. Y-Gurl says:

    Ha Ha Ha Ha BELCO your really are a joke!…yet another smoke and mirror tactic, we really need to get a grip of these clowns who are driving up the price of doing business in Bermuda

  10. Sailboat says:

    “…unsustainable” for whom? BELCo shareholders protecting their dividend check again?

  11. Shame says:

    BELCo discontinues the program after those that can afford solar got connected, however what will happen when us regular folk want to install it now that it’s cheaper to do so?

  12. Truth is killin' me... says:

    BELCO giving the finger to renewable energy. They can’t make a profit out of it. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  13. San George says:

    I love BELCO; lights, running water, A/C, refrigeration, Internet, TV/cable, hot water, etc. – turn off Sage’s power and see what you hear. Thanks BELCO.

    • mayonnaise says:

      thats because you can afford it….. when the cost of fuel goes up in the next 20 years and we don’t have a viable alternative who you be thanking then Sherlock Holmes???? Lack of foresight and intelligence on your part there bud

  14. Cha says:

    This is a huge step backwards for Bermuda and sustainability. BELCO are feeling their pockets are getting lighter.

    Got to love monopolistic greed!

    On the plus side with the advancements in saltwater batteries soon BELCO may be unnecessary anyway.

  15. Bermyman says:

    Is government not supposed to have enacted legislation to regulate this kind of thing. or was grant just talking BS for the last year at all of the Energy Summit meetings and passing things in the house etc?

    • Ray Ban says:

      Government jus pretending to regulate BELCO, jus like they pretend to consult with ya.

  16. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Chris Famous!?I’m interested to hear your thoughts bredren.

  17. BE Solar says:

    Bermuda, don’t worry, a top quality, real value, BE Solar system is still just as great an investment as it has always been, especially with the recent Belco rate increases and this hot summer weather!

    The updated version of the current net metering program simply encourages clients to invest in a suitably sized solar system, which can still result in reduced, zero or negative Belco bill.

    BE Solar are dedicated to providing the highest quality solar systems, contact us today (279-5907) to learn more about the BE Solar Advantage and our superior solar products, service and installations!

    • innna says:

      good luck…. they will eventually find a way to push you out, think uma take my engineering degree and go elsewhere to a place more favorable of progress and prosperity