Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Energy Ministry now responsible for net billing, wheeling

Published:Wednesday | January 4, 2017 | 1:00 AMNeville Graham

As of January 1, 2017 the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology took over responsibility for applications for net billing, electric power wheeling and auxiliary connections.

Information about the new arrangements, posted on the ministry website, comes after a period of uncertainty characterised by legislative changes, delays and temporary arrangements.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology

Dr Andrew Wheatley announced in April 2016 that the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) would resume accepting applications on behalf of the ministry for net billing. This would be under similar terms as the previously concluded net billing pilot project, which ran for two years until May 2015. Up to that time, the ministry had received 351 applications for net billing, of which 311 were approved.

Net billing allows persons who produce electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar to sell the excess to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), thus offsetting the electricity consumed when they use power from the grid. The OUR was charged with the responsibility for continuing to accept applications until the details of a permanent programme were finalised.

Public education specialist at the OUR, Elizabeth Bennett Marsh, says that with changes to some aspects of the legislation, the responsibility for approving net billing was passed back to the ministry.

"There was a brief hiatus where we had stopped accepting because we said we really wanted to get everything clarified. The ministry subsequently asked the OUR to continue accepting applications. So we agreed to continue until they could sort it out, and now that it has been completed we handed over," Bennett Marsh said.

According to the information on the ministry''s website, "All persons who are desirous of connecting to the Jamaica Public Service grid are required to obtain a licence from the minister with responsibility for energy. The Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, therefore, advises the public that, effective January 1, 2017, all applications for net billing, electric power wheeling and auxiliary connections are to be made directly to the ministry."

READY TO DO ITS PART

The ministry declined to comment by telephone on the new requirement and did not respond to emailed questions up to press time.

JPS Director of Corporate Communications Winsome Callum said the light and power company was aware of the changes and stood ready to do its part in adding new systems to the grid.

"This new development came out of the review of the net billing process in 2015. It was decided that the ministry would start accepting applications as of January 2017.

"JPS will continue its role in facilitating the contracts and the commissioning of the systems. We will continue our efforts to ensure that the connections are made as seamlessly and as quickly as possible," Callum said in a written response.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com