Bright Idea: A couple looks over their new solar panel system on the roof of their home in Texas. The new company Socom Ltd is offering renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power to homeowners as a way to reduce their reliance on Belco generated electricity.
MCT photo
Bright Idea: A couple looks over their new solar panel system on the roof of their home in Texas. The new company Socom Ltd is offering renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power to homeowners as a way to reduce their reliance on Belco generated electricity. MCT photo
Bermuda's sunshine has long been used to draw tourists, but not so much to power your home.

A new alternative energy firm is hoping to change all that.

Anthony White and his father Cecil started Socom Ltd about a year ago are now offering homeowners the ability to reduce or even eliminate their dependence on Belco.

How can they do that?

The White's plan involves solar panels, wind turbines, biodiesel and other forms of renewable energy.

"We can sit down with [potential customers] and see where their primary energy costs are coming from," Anthony said.

The company can provide a range of products, from those want to a small solar panel to power their water heater, to others who want to use renewable energy become completely independent of the island's power supplier.

Affordable housing power

Mr. White noted that Bermudians are increasingly squeezed financially as fossil fuel prices - and thus their electricity bills - continue to climb.

While the firm is seeking to convince homeowners of the benefits of investing in renewable energy, it already has the attention of government.

The company's been working with the Bermuda Housing Corporation to use solar power for the lighting of the 50 new affordable housing units in the city and Southside, according to Mr. White.

The lighting of all future housing projects will run on solar power, he added.

Solar power is not new to the island but Mr. White is hoping to give it the mass appeal that has been lacking.

"I've noticed that people have tried to sell [customers] on the concept and it hasn't worked. What makes us different is that we want to work with the people to help them conserve energy," he said.

"We're not trying to sell them a [renewable energy] system. Ultimately we would like to, but that's not our focus."

The home solar power system he's offering charges a battery that can power all or a portion of a home, depending on what the homeowner is looking for.

The solar panels generate electricity that powers the house and charges the battery, and in times of poor sunlight or at night, a fully-charged battery can provide up to a week's worth of power, he said.

Should that run out for some reason, the system would automatically transfer back over to the Belco energy grid while the solar panels recharged the battery.

Another source of renewable energy he said would be suitable for certain spots around the island is wind power. Like the solar power system, when there is insufficient wind to generate electricity, the system would switch over to Belco power so as not to disrupt the supply of electricity to the home, Mr. White said.

Solar panels or wind turbines can be mounted on the roof a home or on the ground, he noted.

As is commonplace in the U.S. and Canada, Mr. White is hoping that homes that generate more power than they consume could sell the power back to the utility.

He's currently in talks with Belco to see if this is feasible.

Another fringe benefit of renewable energy, of course, is the lessening of our impact on the environment.

"We're in the age of global warming," he said. "Bermuda's a small country, but we can do our part."