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Alternative-Energy Users Get Opportunity to Exchange Power with WAPA

Feb. 12, 2007 — Residents throughout the territory will soon be able to participate in a net-metering program that will ultimately reduce their monthly utility costs, officials from the V.I. Water and Power Authority and V.I. Energy Office said Monday.
Over the past few months, the two entities have collaborated to develop a net-metering standard that would allow ratepayers who create their own renewable energy through wind- or solar-power generation to sell their excess net energy to WAPA at the end of each month.
WAPA and the V.I Energy Office recently got the go-ahead from the Public Services Commission to begin drafting the final agreement, which should be completed within the next two weeks, WAPA Executive Director Alberto Bruno-Vega said Monday.
"The agreement states that, in any particular month, if a customer produces more power than they consume, they will send that excess energy back to WAPA," he explained. "We will hold that as a credit to the customer, so if that customer does have to take power from WAPA, they can use the credit and won't have to pay us anything. If the power they use from WAPA exceeds the amount they have been credited, then they pay for what has been used."
After one calendar year, Bruno-Vega added, whatever credit the customer has left over will be given to WAPA "for free as a grant."
As a safeguard, a cap has been placed on how much power a producer can donate under the net-metering program, Bruno-Vega said. On St. Croix, the amount of power given to WAPA cannot exceed five megawatts (or 5,000 kilowatts), while the amount of power given to WAPA on St. Thomas and St. John can not exceed 10 megawatts (or 10,000 kilowatts.
On the mainland, Bruno-Vega said, the cap is set at one-tenth of one percent of a utility's peak load, allowing only about five customers to participate in a net-metering program.
"That's not significant enough to make a difference in the territory," he said. "We need to use, to the max, our natural resources, which are solar and wind power. So we've raised that cap to 10 percent of the peak load generated by WAPA's system."
Over the past few months, Bruno-Vega and Bevan Smith, director of the V.I. Energy Office, have stressed that a net-metering program will allow customers to produce and consume power "almost free of charge." However, residents do have to pay for the equipment necessary to participate in the program, such as photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity.
Residents would also have to get certified to participate in the program, and pass an inspection conducted by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources before WAPA can provide net-metering service.
"For those customers in the program, WAPA will also install a bi-directional meter that measures both power delivered to the customer and the power the customers deliver to WAPA," Bruno-Vega said.
Data collected from the meters will help Public Services Commission members to determine whether to keep the net-metering standard or make changes, Smith said.
Once a final agreement has been implemented, participation in the program is limited to a "first-come, first-served basis," Bruno-Vega said.
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Feb. 12, 2007 -- Residents throughout the territory will soon be able to participate in a net-metering program that will ultimately reduce their monthly utility costs, officials from the V.I. Water and Power Authority and V.I. Energy Office said Monday.
Over the past few months, the two entities have collaborated to develop a net-metering standard that would allow ratepayers who create their own renewable energy through wind- or solar-power generation to sell their excess net energy to WAPA at the end of each month.
WAPA and the V.I Energy Office recently got the go-ahead from the Public Services Commission to begin drafting the final agreement, which should be completed within the next two weeks, WAPA Executive Director Alberto Bruno-Vega said Monday.
"The agreement states that, in any particular month, if a customer produces more power than they consume, they will send that excess energy back to WAPA," he explained. "We will hold that as a credit to the customer, so if that customer does have to take power from WAPA, they can use the credit and won't have to pay us anything. If the power they use from WAPA exceeds the amount they have been credited, then they pay for what has been used."
After one calendar year, Bruno-Vega added, whatever credit the customer has left over will be given to WAPA "for free as a grant."
As a safeguard, a cap has been placed on how much power a producer can donate under the net-metering program, Bruno-Vega said. On St. Croix, the amount of power given to WAPA cannot exceed five megawatts (or 5,000 kilowatts), while the amount of power given to WAPA on St. Thomas and St. John can not exceed 10 megawatts (or 10,000 kilowatts.
On the mainland, Bruno-Vega said, the cap is set at one-tenth of one percent of a utility's peak load, allowing only about five customers to participate in a net-metering program.
"That's not significant enough to make a difference in the territory," he said. "We need to use, to the max, our natural resources, which are solar and wind power. So we've raised that cap to 10 percent of the peak load generated by WAPA's system."
Over the past few months, Bruno-Vega and Bevan Smith, director of the V.I. Energy Office, have stressed that a net-metering program will allow customers to produce and consume power "almost free of charge." However, residents do have to pay for the equipment necessary to participate in the program, such as photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity.
Residents would also have to get certified to participate in the program, and pass an inspection conducted by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources before WAPA can provide net-metering service.
"For those customers in the program, WAPA will also install a bi-directional meter that measures both power delivered to the customer and the power the customers deliver to WAPA," Bruno-Vega said.
Data collected from the meters will help Public Services Commission members to determine whether to keep the net-metering standard or make changes, Smith said.
Once a final agreement has been implemented, participation in the program is limited to a "first-come, first-served basis," Bruno-Vega said.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.