HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 584: 05 October 2011

Te Aponga Uira Clarifies Netmetering
Te Aponga Uira Clarifies Netmetering

The “news” item that headlined in Saturday’s, 1 October 2011, Cook Islands News paper, has so many inaccuracies that a point-by-point rebuttal seems pointless.
To say “Cook Islands green dreams have been torpedoed....” makes for sensational reading, but it simply isn’t correct.
The Board of TAU are committed to implementing Government’s renewable energy policy, and TAU welcomes applications from the private sector to install their own renewable installations.
TAU staff are being directed to assess all applications for grid-tied renewable energy. Installations up to 2kW will automatically be eligible for net-metering, so long as the equipment and installation meets the relevant standards and regulations. Good quality 2kW installations are expected to have minimal impact on the grid , and so will not need in-depth study. Installations larger than 2kW need to be assessed in the context of the grid area they will be connected to.
The first consideration is always safety, both for personnel and equipment. Large solar installations have potentially lethal high voltages, both DC and AC, and their design and connection is not a job for hobbyists and enthusiasts, but needs to be done by properly qualified and experienced personnel.
In some instances, specific special equipment is required to ensure a safe installation. Issues of harmonics, reactive power and voltage rise need to be addressed to ensure neighbouring consumers are not adversely affected. TAU, until recently, was the only supplier of electricity into the grid, and could readily take responsibility for the quality of supply. TAU must continue to be responsible, and needs to assess all grid-tied generation equipment, and the design of the electrical interface for larger installations.
If large amounts of reverse energy are to be put back into the grid, then the grid in that area needs to be checked for its capacity to accept it. If unacceptably-large load swings are likely to occur, which might exceed TAU’s spinning reserve, then the consumer will need to install storage capability to avoid a negative impact on the public power supply. Large installations require very much more than just a few solar panels and an inverter. They need proper design, and careful consideration of the knock-on effects.
TAU recognises that it is highly beneficial for the community as a whole if a significant proportion of Rarotonga’s renewable energy equipment is funded by the private sector. Therefore installations that meet the relevant standards, and have been properly designed so as not to have a negative impact on the grid, will be permitted to be connected.
TAU is currently recruiting expertise to design storage capability for the Rarotonga grid, which is essential to allow a much greater penetration of renewable energy. This is the next important phase of achieving government’s renewable energy vision. Implementation of grid-scale storage will be an “eye-wateringly” expensive exercise, but is absolutely necessary to achieve beyond 6% of Rarotonga’s energy needs.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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