Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
A household in Old Fort Bay in Mammee Bay, St Ann, has become the first rural entity to sell electricity back to the grid under the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS) net-billing system.
Householder Mike Drakulich, who has installed a 60-panel 20kW generator system in a five-bedroom villa, got his licence this week to sell excess electricity to the light and power company.
"We were issued licences," said a pleased Drakulich. "Eleven original licences were issued by JPS under an agreement with the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) in April 2012, and today, 18 months later, we're being hooked up to the grid by JPS. This is the first system to sell back to the grid under the net-billing system outside of Kingston and St Andrew."
Drakulich explained that the system is hybrid and consists of solar, wind, and battery.
"The battery system is when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. At night-time, for example, it switches over and runs off the batteries."
The house consumes what is needed and the excess goes to charge the battery. When the battery is fully charged, the system switches over and sells the electricity to the JPS.
The system was installed by Alternative Power Sources, the same company which had earlier installed a solar system at Drakulich's Mystic Mountain. Mystic Mountain is totally off the JPS grid.
Managing director Damian Lyn spoke of the benefits of the system.
"We'll sell back to JPS, and this will only happen when the house is not consuming what the system is producing at any time," Lyn explained. "The system has been designed to be totally free from JPS. Everything is fully automated. There's no noise, there's no generator to service, there's no fuel to go and buy.
"The panels are warranted for 25 years; the inverters for 10 years. The life of the inverters goes up to 15 to 20 years, the panel up to probably 30 or 35 years. It's a long-term investment; it's a good investment."
Voltan Campbell, the project manager for implementing net billing, said the move to issue a licence to Drakulich was a positive one.
"The plus about this is that it shows that eventually, we are implementing the programme - not as fast as we want to - but this is another step in the direction of complete implementation," he said.
Campbell added that the JPS had received more than 100 applications and this was the fifth to be approved. He said before year end, another 60 systems would be hooked up.
Photos by Carl Gilchrist