The Jamaica Public Service has connected its first official net-billing customer to the grid.
The customer, Gordon Lawrence of a Corporate Area address, was officially commissioned after rigorous preparation and testing of the solar system at his home, supplied and installed by Alternative Power Sources.
Any excess energy from the solar system, not used by Lawrence, will be sold to JPS.
Lawrence was one of 11 JPS customers who received net-billing licences from Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell earlier this year. Net-billing customers will be paid the avoided cost of generation for the electricity JPS purchases, as well as up to a 15 per cent premium on that price.
JPS President and CEO Kelly Tomblin, in commenting on the landmark event, noted that the company was pleased to fulfil its mandate to accommodate customers on the grid, as part of the development of the new energy landscape in the island.
For his part, Lawrence said he was not new to generating his own power supply as he installed his system four years ago.
He said the process of getting on to the JPS grid - from application, to obtaining a licence, to dealing with the Office of Utilities Regulation, JPS, Alternative Power Sources and the government electrical inspector - was relatively smooth.
"The system is superior to that of a standby generator, as the changeover is seamless and silent," he added. "It is also better than a generator in terms of cost as generators require fuel after purchase of the equipment."
Lawrence's current system produces roughly 10 to 15 kWh per day on average, with the surprise being that the so-called winter months from October to February have proven to be the most efficient months in terms of energy output.
JPS project manager for net billing, Volton Campbell, also recognised the advantage of Lawrence's system.
"Unlike some solar systems that will not operate once there is no sunlight, Mr Lawrence's system can operate when it's cloudy, as well as at night," Campbell said. "This is because his system also has backup batteries which are charged by the solar system."