net_meter_2.jpgIt is important to note that at this stage, the Net Metering agreement Belco have drawn up is a proposal that must be approved by the Energy Commission. It may take a bit of time for this to happen. It is still a political situation and as such can change.  Greenrock went to meet with BELCo and were able to ask a few questions and look at the basic Net Metering agreement between the consumer and Belco. In the BELCo Press Release, Net-Metering would be limited to the first 750 customers. When asked, BELCo representatives feel that it will take quite a few years for this number to be reached, and that the number would be adjusted as it is neared. BELCo is trying to gauge whether there is going to be any spare electricity to 'harvest' or whether these panels will mainly just supply power to their owners and the effect on the grid will be negligible. It is possible the commission may simply decide that net-metering is here and force BELCo to accept all comers.Overall, the proposed agreement is very straightforward and similar to the precedent that has been set in 62 other countries of the world (and the 42 U.S States) that offer net-metering.Main Points:

1. Only one meter required. customer pays for the install of the meter  upgrade if it is necessary, not the price of a new meter. It is not a 'smart meter'
2. Billing will be quarterly, excess generation can be carried over as a credit.
3. BELCo will inspect your system before switching it on. 
4. Bermuda electrical code will apply. (The code does needs to be updated for solar etc, but BELCo engineers are aware of this)
5. You will need planning permission/all necessary permits etc. Even panels on a roof require a minor works permit.
6. The inverter will conform to UL1741  (ie disconnect from grid if power goes down, anti-islanding protection. A common standard for all good inverters etc)
7. A lockable disconnect to isolate all the solar panels etc from the grid, and an example of a warning  sign for this disconnect is in the agreement.
8. Ipf you don't generate power for 12 months your capacity to generate will be switched off, until you are ready for re-inspection.
9. Normal service rules apply i.e., if you don't pay your bill, don't allow BELCo access to your house ,you can expect to be disconnected etc.
Any of these terms might later change or be adapted, but it does give an indication of what we can expect.
renewable_energy.jpgSo the first stage for those who wish to install solar panels is to look at the planning depts. "Guide to Renewables" and apply for planning permission before you order your panels. Panel mounted on rooftops can sometimes be installed with a minor works permit. An upshot of the long wait for Net Metering has been that the price of panels has dropped by about 25%, but you should still wait for this agreement to be approved by the commission and for planning permission to be granted before purchasing a system. There are at least 4 qualified Solar installers and one wind Turbine installer in Bermuda if you require assistance with your project.
solar-panel1.jpgAlso , before you purchase any technology, it pays to optimize your energy consumption in the home. Every one dollar you spend reducing home power consumption will save you at least ten times that on your panels. If you think that a 200w solar panel can cost $1000 dollars, replacing 2 x 100w lightbulbs with energy efficient lightbulbs might help save you the purchase of a panel. If you are planning to upgrade any home appliances, look for the energy star compliant versions at the very least. Consider Solar hot water as a first step, as it is cheaper and easier to install than electrical, then see what your power consumption is. Don't be fooled by adverts for energy-efficient or green Air Conditioners, as the whole AC process consumes huge amounts of energy, that could add tens of thousands of dollars to the panels you need. 
Remember that Solar panels and inverters are duty free items, but shipping is expensive as they are bulky products.
So exciting news, but proceed with caution! 

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