As the price of fossil fuels sky-rocket or fluctuate, so do the cries of local industries, firms and households. The price of oil and, by extension, the price of electricity drives the cost of almost all goods and services. Industry experts, policy makers and their advisors have long declared that harvesting electricity from renewable energy sources is a critical component of Jamaica's economic viability and sustainable development.
A clear and efficient regulatory framework for net billing and wheeling are important drivers for the renewable energy sector. I am happy to see that the recently circulated Electricity Act Bill includes provisions that address these two issues. The provisions in the Bill should be carefully reviewed by stakeholders to ensure that the Act, when passed is of assistance rather than a hindrance to the renewable energy sector. Currently, the regulatory framework on wheeling and net billing are contained in the Office of Utilities Regulation ("OUR") "Revised Determination Notice in relation to Standard Offer Contract for the Purchase of As-Available Intermittent Energy from Renewable Energy Facilities up to 100kW" and the OUR Determination Notice in relation to Electricity Wheeling Framework, respectively. The Net Billing Determination Notice has been in effect for some time now, but the Wheeling Determination Notice is delayed in being promulgated.
The current regulatory framework for electricity, including the All-Island Electric Licence issued to the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited ("JPS"), does not prohibit or restrict self-generation. Self-generation occurs where a person generates electricity exclusively for his/her own use. Therefore, persons who acquire solar panels for generation of electricity for domestic use, or a firm which sets up the world's largest solar mill for its own commercial use (as Myers, Fletcher & Gordon my firm recently did) access renewable energy within the purview of the law.
Self-generators often remain connected to the JPS grid because the supply of electricity from renewable energy sources may fluctuate, or their facility is simply not adequate to meet 100% of their needs. However, they benefit from savings on their total electricity cost.
Net billing permits and regulates an arrangement whereby JPS would credit the self-generating entity or person for excess electricity generated at any particular point in time and supplied to the JPS grid, and JPS would bill for the JPS...