Gorham's and other commercial users have been pumping power into Belco for more than two years — but have never been recompensed because of bureaucratic delays in thrashing out a payment agreement.

And yesterday Gorham's hardware store chairman Rod Ferguson — whose firm invested more than $1.5 million in solar power and has campaigned for a payback scheme — welcomed the news.

Mr Ferguson said the move came only a day after he e-mailed Education and Economic Development Minister Dr Grant Gibbons asking for action.

He added: "In less than 24 hours, it's happened. I think Grant Gibbons got on the case and said 'let's at least make a bit of peace in the neighbourhood and let the other guys work out a final agreement'."

And Mr Ferguson said: "I'm delighted — we haven't had the details yet, but it's great news and I'm happy to receive it."

Mr Ferguson estimated that his firm alone had contributed $14,373 worth of power to Belco between April 2013 to the end of March this year.

The payback scheme, however, will not be retroactive.

Mr Ferguson said that the temporary scheme would encourage other business users to start using solar panels because guaranteed payments will make the investment more attractive, as well as providing a boost for companies involved in installation.

Belco CEO Walter Higgins confirmed: "As of very soon, we will be paying those who put excess power into our system on a temporary basis until a final agreement is reached, which may take some time."

He added: "These are complex issues — Mr Ferguson justifiably would like to be paid for the power he is putting into the system.

"He was putting power into the system so we didn't have to burn oil, therefore the fuel adjustment charge for all other users was lower."

An agreement to buy back power from domestic users has been in place since 2010 — but a proposed agreement for commercial users has been with the Department of Energy's Energy Commission since May last year without a decision on how to implement a similar arrangement for commercial users like Gorham's, supermarket Lindo's and beverage firm Gosling's.

Government said last month that a specialist Canadian law firm had been hired to help draw up a buy-back scheme, which would also cover large-scale solar power farms.

A spokesman for Dr Gibbons said: "As previously indicated, we see this as a priority. But interconnection agreements are very complex.

"They involve economic, regulatory and legal issues. This cannot be rushed."

And the Ministry said that it had been working towards "a short-term agreement that is useful to the Energy Commission".

The spokesman added: "The Government appreciates the efforts of all commercial and residential installers of solar power units.

"It affirms a collective movement on the Island toward conservation and greener solutions to our energy needs.

"To that end, the Government continues to work toward facilitating these efforts."

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