The Solar Thermal Rebate Initiative (SWRI) is also kaput.

This news follows hot on the heels of BELCo's announcement on Monday about declining profits and an estimated liability of $2.4 million due to over-billing of both demand and commercial class customers.

Is this an attempt by Government to slow the rate of solar installations to protect BELCo from the solar-powered death spiral being experienced by many utility companies in the U.S.?

Energy sector stake-holders invited to participate in Government's recently formed Bermuda Energy Working Group (BEWG) were not consulted about cancelling the scheme. While not opposed in principle to a gradual phase-out of solar rebates, several BEWG members did express their shock at the abrupt scheme termination and lack of consultation, with one member stating they were "extremely disappointed and insulted".

Government describe the Energy Plan of 2011 as "a 9 year plan of how the Government will reduce fossil fuel dependency, establish greater energy security and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions below 10 metric tonnes CO2 equivalent per capita by 2020" on their website. The plan cites specific measurable targets of;

  • 30% of electricity to be generated by renewable energy by 2020
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions below 10 metric CO2 equivalent per capita by 2020 (to meet our  Kyoto Protocol obligation)

With less than 6 years to go until 2020, little measurable progress has been made towards the goals set in 2011. Govt now appear to be back-pedaling and vague on their current plan of action. 

Greenrock would like to see renewed commitment to, and more tangible progress towards, the 2011 Energy White Paper goals.

Today's Government Press Release reads;

The Department of Energy's Solar Photovoltaic Rebate Initiative which began in 2009 will end this month following five years of steady growth and a notable increase in solar panel and residential solar hot-water installations. The rebate scheme began as an incentive to offer residents up to $5,000 for the installation of solar photovoltaic panels in their homes and was shortly followed by solar hot-water rebates of up to $1,500. Although the rebate programme has been successful in encouraging the adoption of residential solar installations, the initiative has now surpassed the $191,000 in budgeted funds available for this fiscal year.

Minister of Education and Economic Development, Dr. Grant Gibbons noted, "When the initiative began in 2009, it was intended that the total allocation for the programme would be $500,000. To date, the Department of Energy has issued over $650,000 in solar rebates, and at the end of this fiscal year, it is anticipated that more than $800,000 will have been spent on rebates. Now there are more than 150 homes interconnected to the grid, selling their excess energy to BELCO at a one-to-one rate – meaning that whatever rate the customer is paying per kilowatt hour is what they are credited for excess production."

Dr. Gibbons added, "Technical advances and a thriving international marketplace for solar technologies have caused manufacturing prices to drop by more than 25% on average for solar PV panels since the initiative began. Now the Government must focus its efforts and resources on creating sustainable and targeted strategies to increase the adoption of renewable energy technologies. Examples of these efforts include working with BELCO to increase the number of interconnected residential customers allowed onto the grid beyond the current limit of 200, and working with the Department of Planning to streamline the installation approval process. The Government is also exploring options to reduce the 'soft costs' of renewable energy, which include expenses that are not strictly defined as labour or cost of goods, but rather things such as permits, licensing fees and processing times. Finally, there is a complete overhaul of energy legislation under way, which will also encompass regulatory reform.

"Government remains committed to renewable energy and other means of supporting sustainable development. We are focusing our efforts on legislative reform, which, in addition to modernizing Bermuda's energy regulatory regime, will also provide a robust and sustainable platform for renewable energy developments of all sizes."

While the rebate programme is ending, the Department of Energy will honour all applications that have already been received and assigned rebate numbers. The rebate budget for this fiscal year has already been fully subscribed; therefore, as of today, no new numbers will be assigned. For more information, rebate holders can contact the Department of Energy at 292-4595, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can follow reaction to the news in the local media coverage below.

Local Media Coverage:


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