Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Net billing arrangement to resume in weeks

Published:Wednesday | July 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Member of Parliament Delroy Chuck (right) displays the SolarMill, a hybrid renewable energy system that harnesses the energy of the sun and wind, on the roof of his law office in downtown Kingston. With him are Phillip Paulwell (centre), minister of science, technology, energy and mining, and Kelly Tomblin, chief executive officer and president of the Jamaica Public Service Company.

The net billing programme is to resume within another two to three weeks following its suspension earlier this year, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell says.

Net billing allows customers of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), who own renewable energy generators for producing power for their personal use, to sell excess energy to JPS.

The programme began in 2012 under a two-year pilot phase and was extended to May 2015. It was, however, suspended towards the end of May to facilitate what the JPS said was a review and assessment of the pilot before going forward.

But Paulwell says the government is now ready to proceed with the programme.

"I have issued, so far, over 300 licences to enable Jamaicans who want to establish their facility to generate electricity, to be able to sell the excess amount that they generate to the grid. They get some money in their pockets from that investment that they are making," Paulwell was quoted as saying in a release on Monday.

Additionally, he said Cabinet has given approval for 14 schools to be outfitted with photovoltaic panels.

"We are hoping that those schools can come off the grid and sell some energy to the grid eventually," he said.

Paulwell is encouraging more persons to "make this worthwhile investment".

Sudden suspension

In May, the Jamaica Solar Energy Association said many of its members risked incurring millions of dollars in debt as a result of what it called the abrupt and unexpected suspension of applications for net billing.

President of the association, David Barrett, said the JPS and the Office of Utilities Regulation did not inform the group that they would have suspended accepting applications on May 1 under phase one of the pilot project.

He explained that in 2012, the association was informed that the phase would last until 2014, but an extension was later granted.

Barrett said his members who had been making plans could run into financial problems because of the suddenness of the decision.