Oct 10, 2019

Phase 4 Solar: Updates and Challenges

Volunteers celebrate after completing roof install
Volunteers celebrate after completing roof install

Dear Supporters,

We continue to be grateful for all you have done to make our solar panel power production systems possible at Holy Cross Anglican School in Belize. Our two systems, combined, are providing about 35-40% of our overall demand, including the office/computer-lab system (system 1 and 3) and the classroom/cafeteria system (system 2). While I have not been to Belize since late June, construction progress on the new housing for school professionals has continued and is nearing readiness for Phase 4 solar panel installation (see pictures). As I noted in my previous report, a new electrical service meter and breaker box have been installed, and most of the interior wiring has been run. At the time of my last visit, I also met w/ our local provider, Solar Energy Solutions Belize (SESB), to get an update on the Public Utilities Commission grid-tied auction as well as to discuss their role in our Phase 4 installation.

An unforeseen challenge arose over the summer in that, apparently, for business reasons, our partners at Baker Renewable had to dispose of equipment they had planned to donate. Hence, that donation is now off the table. This means that we will pursue working directly with SESB to purchase and install our Phase 4 system, which we are estimating will cost $15K plus installation. We believe a 16-panel system consisting of 240W units will meet the needs of the new building; however, we must still factor in the possibility (or not) that BEL will actually follow-through on stated plans to allow net-metering. If they don't, then we will have to be careful in sizing the system such that we are not significantly over-producing power during low-demand periods.

In my next report, I will update all of you with better numbers on the projected cost of the Phase 4 system, as well as a more well defined timeline for installation. Given the challenges discussed above, we really need as many of you as possible to help us meet our funding goal for Phase 4.

Warm regards, John

Volunteers installing sheetrock for inside rooms
Volunteers installing sheetrock for inside rooms
Local Belizeans working on school housing
Local Belizeans working on school housing
Jul 5, 2019

Phase 4 Solar --- Preparations and Making Progress

New living quarters; site of Phase 4 solar
New living quarters; site of Phase 4 solar

Dear Supporters!

I just returned from a great trip to Belize, where construction on the housing for professional(s) that will assist our school to improve its counseling and social work resources for children and their families is making great progress (see pictures). The roof of this new on-campus structure will house the new Phase 4 solar panel system. Already, a new electrical service meter and breaker box have been installed, and most of the interior wiring has been run. While in Belize, I also met w/ our local provider, Solar Energy Solutions Belize (SESB), to get an update on the Public Utilities Commission grid-tied auction as well as to discuss their role in our Phase 4 installation.

In addition to SESB, our faithful partners at Baker Renewable Energy have graciously  offered to donate substantial hardware to the overall Phase 4 solution. Because construction on the house is making such great progress, I believe we will be ready to develop a final list of materials (1) that will be shipped by Baker; and (2) that will be provided in-country by SESB in the August/September 2019 time frame. I hope to be able to confirm this with my next quarterly report. We expect the roof of the new building to be ready for solar panel installation about this time as well.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, PUC and BEL are moving very slowly on the auction registration process. With elections scheduled for next year, there is concern that this may be no more than political manuveuring, but we are still hopeful and shall continue to inquire on a timely basis.

Again, we extend our utmost thanks to you for your continued support and we look forward to our exciting next steps in our Phase 4 deployment plan.

Warm regards, John

Phase 4 location looking toward the south
Phase 4 location looking toward the south
New electrical service at Phase 4 location
New electrical service at Phase 4 location
volunteers work on Phase 4 site construction
volunteers work on Phase 4 site construction
Volunteer and staff examine existing solar
Volunteer and staff examine existing solar
just some of the 500 children that attend school
just some of the 500 children that attend school
Apr 1, 2019

Phase 4 Solar off to a Great Start!!

System 1_3 combined savings, March 2019
System 1_3 combined savings, March 2019

Dear Supporters! 

While our combined Phase 1_3 and Phase 2 systems continue to function well --- allowing us a near 50% savings over the last month (see attachments), Phase 4 has gotten off to a great start! The school will be constructing living quarters for visiting volunteers that want to stay long term and have specific skills, such as social work, special education, members of the clergy, etc. The living quarters will be a modest "home" of about 650 sq. feet. See the attachment which shows the floorplan. As part of this project, our friends at Baker Renewable Energy have offered to donate 3-4KW of panels, enough to fill the planned south facing roof. We will still need various peripherals and will need to include shipping and possibly import duties along w/ funds for technicians to do the installation. Hence, Phase 4 will focus on raising the monies needed to cover these costs. 

Secondly, the Public Utilities Commission has elected to "auction" off several Megawatts of existing and planned connected solar for inclusion in a new net-metering program. Our Belizean partners, SESB, have taken the lead for us in submitting our application which has now made it through the first steps. The next step is an official site visit. SESB has offered to be on-site when PUC officials come out to the school, to help explain how our system's connections to the grid comply with the (new) PUC standards. While we are not there yet, we are very hopeful that within the next six months, all of our existing and planned Phase 4 solar will be included in the new program. 

Thank you so very much  for your continued support and we look forward to following up with you as things evolve in Phase 4 and w/ the potential to officially be included in the PUC net-metering program. 

John 

System 2 savings March, 2019
System 2 savings March, 2019

Attachments:
 
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