Watt? Belco surcharge needs looking into
Now that concerns have been aired in the media about Belco's policies towards those with solar installations, I would like to add my two cents' worth.
When Belco first started paying for power sent back to the grid, their facilities charge was $30 and they used to pay the fuel surcharge for the power from the net meter customer. There was no loss on their part, as they charge the other customers using that power for the fuel surcharge.
Since the Energy Commission succumbed to the last revamp of their billing structure, the facilities charge has increased 33.17 per cent to $39.95 and they have stopped paying the fuel surcharge, but they are still charging those who use the power we generate for that wattage.
This means that they are selling our generated power at a premium while we are deprived of any benefit.
This is further compounded by Belco still charging us the surcharge for the power we draw from them. Even if we produce twice as much as we use from the grid, we still have to pay Belco.
Here is an actual calculation: in a recent month, I used 256 kilowatts from Belco and sent back 526kW, yet I had to pay them $25.24.
This is unacceptable, as they sold that 526kW to my neighbours and charged them a $71.01 fuel surcharge for it. This is actually a bonus we are paying to Belco for having installed a photovoltaic, or PV, system.
I would like to suggest to the energy commissioners that they have another look at Belco's billing system and recommend that in all instances the power produced by the customer should negate any fuel surcharge up to the amount received from Belco and that the excess, if any, should be paid to the customer at half the prevailing surcharge rate.
Belco would still be selling that excess to our neighbours at the full rate, thus making a 50 per cent gain.
I also note a “Regulatory Authority Fee” now being applied to all customers.
If this body was appointed by the Government, their stipend should be paid by the Government and/or Belco, not the customer. Although this may seem a small charge, how many millions are being collected and where are they going?
I hope that the others who have installed solar power systems will find the time to let us know how they feel.
ASHMEAD M. ALI
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