BELCO’s Net Metering Scheme Inquiry Report

October 26, 2016

Today the Ministry of Economic Development released the Energy Commission’s report on the inquiry into the proposed termination of BELCO’s Net Metering Scheme.

“The inquiry was initiated at the request of Dr. E. Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, following BELCO’s notice [to the Energy Commission] of its intent to terminate the current Solar Photovoltaic [PV] residential and commercial Net Metering Scheme and replace it with a new tariff structure,” the Ministry said.

“The Net Metering scheme had been introduced by BELCO in 2010 to encourage renewable energy and allowed customers with rooftop solar systems to receive credit at the full retail rate for any excess electricity generated and sold to BELCO.

“The Energy Commission provided their report to the Minister after inviting industry and public comment.”

The Ministry said the report includes the following recommendations:

  • The continuation of the current Net Metering Scheme until December 31, 2016;
  • The introduction of a new feed-in tariff as of January 1, 2017, based upon a BELCO avoided cost rate of $0.1736 per KWh;
  • That, as a matter of priority, the Regulatory Authority after assuming responsibility for regulating the electricity sector, conduct a more thorough Solar PV economic and market study to create a comprehensive rate determination methodology;
  • That until such time as a final decision is made by the Regulatory Authority, BELCO fully absorb the cost of purchasing that power and allocate it to a recovery account similar to the Commission’s ruling in a recent rate case filing directive; and
  • That the Government give consideration to establishing a policy regarding the importation and utilization of power storage solutions.

The Ministry said, “The Minister welcomed the completion of the report and thanked the members of the Energy commission for their analysis and recommendations.

“He noted that due to the limitations of the existing Energy Act 2009, the Energy Commission is precluded from issuing Directives on any matter other than the rates that BELCO charges to its customers and is therefore unable to implement these specific recommendations. The rate that BELCO pays for the purchase of power is outside the authority of the Energy Commission.

“However, the Minister noted that the transfer of responsibility for electricity regulation from the Energy Commission to the Regulatory Authority is imminent and that he will shortly be issuing a Commencement Notice for the Electricity Act 2016.

“Since the new Electricity Act gives the Regulatory Authority the full scope of powers to regulate all aspects of the electricity sector, it is the Minister’s hope that the Authority will, as a matter of public interest, address this issue as one of its first orders of business and issue a final decision as soon as is practically possible.

In regard to the report, Dr Gibbons stated that, “The regulation of electricity and the setting of rates in particular is a delicate balance of many factors. We all want to see more renewable energy used in Bermuda, but we also have a duty to understand any inherent subsidies and ensure that renewable energy comes at a price we can all afford.

“The Energy Commission’s report highlights that complexity and demonstrates the necessity for the new regulatory regime. I have every confidence that the Regulatory Authority will meet this new challenge with the same due diligence and professionalism they’ve exhibited in regulating the electronic communication sector.”

The report can be found here on the Government portal.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Y-Gurl says:

    BELCO need to be properly investigated

  2. M.C. Beauchamp says:

    When energy costs on the back of a barrel of oil are stagnant and at near bottom levels, how is it possible that the Bermuda consumer faces ever-increasing Belco rates that are among the highest in the world?

    • Family Man says:

      They’re spending the extra money on share buybacks. This increases their earnings per share number and management gets bigger bonuses.

    • George says:

      I would encourage you to look at your BELCO bill a little more closely then MC Beauchamp. The price of oil is reflected in the FAR – although delayed usually by several months due to BELCO purchasing oil 3 months in advance you will see the fluctuating price of oil reflected in this rate.

  3. Not the island I grew up in . says:

    Here is how this scam works and as a paying customer am more than miffed at Belco . The more electricity you use the higher percentage you pay . After getting a 700 + bill last month I had my wife call and find out what was the reason for the excessive bill. She was told that for months the meter was estimated because of a dog loose on the property . I have been here almost 5 years and have never had a dog . I called customer service manager and she did indeed confirm that her records showed the meter was estimated because of a loose dog . I explained ( NO DOG HERE ) . She in turn said she would be happy to work with me to pay in installments to avoid disconnect and she will look into the meter reader’s supervisor and find out the reason and get back to me . A month has gone by and I have heard nothing . Because of their ( for whatever reason ) Inability to do the job that we are already paying out our A$$ for , They have found a way to penalize us even further . Am sick and tired of these companies in Bermuda charging a premium dollar for a less than adequate service . And that is across the board . I do however give prop’s to the linemen and workers who work their butts off to get the island back up and running after every storm . Don’t just look into Belco , do something about it . And look into other companies with the same shady practices .

    • George says:

      This is a customer service issue Not the Island I Grew Up In. This has nothing to do with the Net Metering Programme which the article is about. Take it to senior management of Customer Service if you are not happy with the response you have gotten so far. If you are not happy with that then you can go to Consumer Affairs – you have plenty of options. Whining about it is not going to resolve the issue!

    • Clear View says:

      I understand that difference in the bill was a shock, but you was essentially under paying for the whole time they were estimating. And I’m sure each bill said “estimate” each time. The thing with electricity unlike with other services Iike cable, telephone, cell, etc is that you only get charged for what you actually use. There is no scam on usage, maybe the prices can be higher than we hope them to be. But the meter is seldom U faulty or wrong.

      • Sailboat says:

        Yes, we are charged for what we use, but at what rate are we being charged as compared to the cost of the fuel and its provision in the first place? I suggest BELCo and its shareholders are not wanting because of that disparity. What adds insult to this injury is the Fuel Adjustment and everybody blames everybody else for the rate of the Fuel Adjustment. Gov’t blames, BELCo. BELCo blames the Commission. Everybody blames the Government. It’s all a mess and the consumer is left with the short end of the stick. #offthegrid

  4. PBanks says:

    I dare say that if we could trust government not to screw it up, Belco should be nationalised. Of course we can’t trust government not to screw it up, so it’s all moot. Belco sucks.