Solar panels owners need authorization only if they are supplying electricity to the grid — OUR


The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) says that if solar panel owners wish to supply electricity to the public grid a licence is required adding however that no authorization is required from the Office simply for the installation of such panels.


The OUR was clarifying its role, with reference to a story in the Jamaica Observer of August 13, 2013 in which a representative of the Jamaica Licensed Electricians Association (JLEA) warned Jamaicans who plan to install solar panels on their premises that approval must first be granted by regulatory bodies including the OUR.


The Electric Lighting Act requires people wishing to supply electricity to other people to obtain a licence to do so from the responsible Ministry, which is currently the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the OUR said in a statement Tuesday.


“The OUR is mandated under its Act to process all licence applications and submit a recommendation to the Minister. Persons wishing to supply electricity to the grid would also need to enter into contractual arrangements with the grid operator. Therefore customers who want to connect their solar panel systems in such a way as to supply energy to the national grid, will first need to apply to the OUR and the grid operator — the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) — before doing so,” the statement said.


The OUR, after examining the application and supporting documentation and receiving comments from JPS, makes a recommendation to the Energy Minister as to whether or not a licence should be granted. The Minister issues the licence based on the recommendation of the OUR.


“If persons do not intend to connect their solar panels to the national grid, no permission is required from the OUR to install. However, it is strongly recommended that such persons use the services of qualified professionals such as licenced electricians, electrical engineers and/or contact the Government Electrical Inspector (GEI) to ensure that installations are done properly and, safely and conform to standards,” the OUR added.