Record-breaking fuel costs have pushed the Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) to consider the possibility of harvesting wind power in the Cayman Islands. 

CUC is seeking experienced and qualified wind-generation companies worldwide to look at investing in windmill infrastructure capable of producing up to 10 megawatts or about 13 percent of Cayman's current generation capacity.

Wind turbines have become an increasingly familiar addition to the landscapes of North America and Europe but in the Caribbean wind power is still very much stuck on the drawing board. 

Corporate Secretary for CUC, Douglas Murray, said that when the company took a look at wind power back in 2003 it wasn't economically feasible to implement large windmills but a shaky oil market has changed all that. 

"Certainly the recent spike in the cost of fuel has caused us to push this back onto the radar. We knew that at some point if the price of fuel went up or the cost of wind generation went down or the efficiency of wind generation improved, then the economic factors would improve in that regard," he said. 

While CUC is not offering to assist with the initial construction and implementation of the wind turbines, the company will buy back the electricity generated in accordance with their new licensing and distribution agreement signed earlier this year with Government. CUC says this is part of a commitment to bring cheap and renewable energy to the island. 

"We don't want to bring a party here to the island that starts a project that can't be completed. The parties that are going to do this, we're looking for them to make the investment. We are not at this point looking to make the investment ourselves," Mr Murray said. 

The process could require between two and three years before residents will notice the somewhat hypnotic blades twisting in Cayman's trade winds, he added. Currently 15 diesel generators and two gas-powered units supply all of CUC's power, with another three generators on their way in the next couple of years, bearing a price tag of $24 million apiece. 

The windmills will also most likely be erected in either North Side or East End in line with the direction of the prevailing winds. 

Already a step ahead of Grand Cayman, next year Cayman Brac plans on installing as many as 10 windmills on The Bluff. The 199-foot towers will be capable of supplying 30 percent to 40 percent of the island's 3.3-megawatt power needs. 

Wind power is generally seen as a clean and renewable energy but it is not without controversy. Wind turbines have been blamed for chopping up birds, ruining once-unobstructed views and adding to noise pollution. 

Mr Murray said CUC is prepared for public discussion on any issues of concern. 

"We would be happy to hear from the public on this and by all means, if people have an interest in this, we always want to hear from them and have them let us know what they think," he said. 

Wind turbines are not the only environmentally friendly source of power that CUC is considering. The company is encouraging homeowners and small businesses to embrace the use of solar power and even look at technology that uses the temperature of the ocean to generate electricity. 

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is a process that uses the differences between the temperature of shallow water and deep water to run a heat engine. Because of Cayman's proximity to the Cayman Trench, OTEC could be a viable option for the country but the technology has not yet developed an affordable economic model. 

Other Caribbean countries looking into the usage of wind power include Grenada, the Bahamas and Barbados, with Jamaica leading the way. 

Jamaica has one wind farm boasting 23 turbines capable of producing enough electricity to power more than 6,000 households at peak capacity. 

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Officials at Pedro St James are applauding Cayman National for coming onboard as the first of 10 'Heritage Defenders'. The bank donated $5,000 to Pedro St James in the district of Bodden Town recently. 

The assistance received from the Heritage Defenders will fund the expansion of the national heritage site's cultural mission and improved access for visitors with limited mobility. 

The Tourist Attraction Board, which oversees Pedro St James and other Cayman attractions, said Cayman National is spearheading the establishment of a permanent catboat exhibit and the paving of the main gravel walkway leading from the site's courtyard entry to the Great House, locally known as 'Pedro Castle'. 

"On behalf of the Tourism Attraction Board, I am pleased to welcome Cayman National as the first of the 'Heritage Defenders' who are making it possible for us to enhance our mission of cultural preservation and communication," said Gilbert Connolly, CEO of the Tourism Attraction Board. 
"Cayman National has taken the lead in being a defender of the culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands." 

Cayman National's President, Ormond Williams, said: "Cayman National is a critical part of the socio-economic fabric of the Cayman Islands and as such we are keen to play our role in promoting and protecting the indigenous culture of our country through this project."

Mr Williams added: 

"This project is important not only to give visitors another tourist attraction, but also to provide a historical frame of reference for Caymanians and residents which can be used to influence our society today and in the future." 

With the advice and assistance of renowned architects Burns Conolly and John Doak, in concert with the Cayman Catboat Club, the Heritage Defender project includes the refurbishment of a traditional Cayman catboat and building a boatshed to house it. 

Within the shed, there will be information detailing the importance of these vessels in this country's fishing and seafaring history. A mounted plaque will provide a permanent roster recognizing the 10 'Heritage Defender' companies, the Tourism Attraction Board (TAB) said. 

The second prong of the project involves paving the gravel walk to the Great House. Mr Doak, the TAB said, initially raised concerns regarding the historic accuracy of the first design suggestions. 

Mr Doak has a long working relationship with Pedro St James and the Catboat Club. 

"I fully support the Cayman Islands Tourism Attraction Board with their innovative plans to realise the boatshed and walkway," Mr Doak said. 

The formal announcement of the new additions will highlight an Old-Time Cayman Garden Party at Pedro St James on Sunday, 27 July. Admission is free to the public on this special day, with a live auction, demonstrations of rope-making, gig spinning, kite flying, and thatch work adding to the cultural highlights. 

Live background music will be played by the North Side Kitchen Band. The Garden Party is part of the ongoing celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the restoration of Pedro St James by the people of Cayman. 

Additional sponsorship for the Garden Party is being provided by Cayman National, CUC, Foster's Food Fair-IGA, AI Rentals, and Countryside Shopping Village by Heritage Holdings Ltd, with promotional assistance from the Caymanian Compass. 

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The Cayman Islands real estate market offers many great opportunities for outside investors to enter the market. Real estate prices continue increasing every year. A wide variety of options offers something for everyone. Whether you need a vacation home or want to make the complete transition to the Caymans, Coldwell Banker are here to help find what you are looking for. The Cayman government has reduced restrictions on foreigners purchasing Cayman Island real estate. Plus the burden of taxation on income or property is not felt in the Caymans. A place with an ever rising real estate market with no capital gains or property taxes almost sounds like a dream. Discover the Cayman Islands real estate market on Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac to find out which island is right for you.

Cayman Islands Property Investment 

The Cayman Islands property market spanning the islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac offers an excellent choice of beautiful locations for high quality properties within a political stable country that is a dependant territory of the United Kingdom and has direct flight from the UK and North America. 

Despite being badly effected by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Cayman Island economy has hardly missed a beat and the Cayman Islands property market has fully recovered with many new large scale tourist development projects underway and strong demand for tourist related developments, vacation villas and retirement properties. Additionally, there is a consistent demand for high quality residential housing for the Cayman Islands population of lawyers, accountants and bankers working for the islands financial services sector. 

Property investors continue to be attracted to the Cayman Islands due to the above factors and also the fact that there are no capital gains tax, income tax, property or inheritance taxes. 

Foreign Property Ownership 
There are no legal restrictions on the ownership of property by foreigners, where the property is for the personal use of the owner; however the ownership of property for business purposes is subject to licensing. 

Foreigners may open bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and take out a loan to finance a property purchase. The banks will often lend up to 50 to 75% of the property value to foreigners, but will normally require the first legal hold over the property. When lending to a company, the banks will usually ask for a personal guarantee from the directors or shareholders. 

Property Title 
Most properties in the Cayman Islands are freehold, although there are a few leasehold properties. Title to Cayman Islands property can be held by individuals, either alone, jointly, or in the name of a company. 

Land Registry 
Property in the Cayman Islands is recorded in a registered system maintained by the government and open to public inspection. Buyers may examine the registration of any property and see who owns the property and whether there are any charges against the property. Since the registry process requires each property to be carefully scrutinised before it can be registered, a registered property effectively guarantees title. 

Stamp Duty 
Stamp duty of 7.5% is payable to the government on all property purchases. There is also a 1% stamp duty payable on mortgages up to CI$300,000 (approx. US$240,000) and 1.5% stamp duty on mortgages exceeding this value. 

The Financial Secretary has the power to waive or reduce the stamp duty on the transfer of a property between immediate family members, or between an individual and a company of which he is the sole owner. 

Stamp duty concessions are also available on Cayman Brac where a buyer purchasing raw land and committing to building within a two year period of the purchase may save 5% of the Stamp Duty and importation tax on building materials and supplies. 

Residency and Work Permits 
Foreigners may apply for permanent residency in the Cayman Islands by making an investment of approximately US$200,000 in property and paying a fee of CI$15,000. To obtain residency the foreigner will also need to provide :- 

bank references 

proof of sufficient financial ability to support oneself without employment in the Cayman Islands 

personal references 

a clean police record 

Permanent residency allows the resident to enjoy an unlimited period of time in the Islands but does not entitle the resident to work in the Islands. Any resident wishing to work in the Cayman Islands is required to submit an application for a Work Permit with the Department of Labour. 

Buying a Cayman Islands Property 
The conveyancing of a property in the Cayman Islands is straightforward and can be undertaken by a large number of legal firms based on the islands. The fee for conveyancing a property are usually a small percentage of the purchase price of the property. 

Taxes And Duties 
The Cayman Islands do not have income tax, sales tax, capital gains, property, death, estate, inheritance or corporate taxes. However, there is a departure tax of 5% on airline passengers and a tax on tourist accommodation. 

Rental Income 
There are no restrictions of owners renting their property. Property management companies are generally available and will takes care of marketing and renting properties on the owners behalf. 

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Many factors combine to make real estate purchase in the Cayman Islands a safe and predictable investment. In no particular order, here are ten of the main reasons the real estate industry thrives here. 


1/ Location 

Location is often cited as the main determining factor of the value of a specific property. The same concept applies generally when considering the Cayman Islands. 


Located in the middle of the tranquil, blue Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands boast a temperate climate that seldom sees temperatures above 90F or below 70F. 


Cayman's remoteness in the Caribbean and its lack of mountain river run-off help maintain ultra-clear waters near shore making for some of the best scuba diving in the world. 


Adding tropical plant life, beautiful white sand beaches, and a short flying distance from the United States to the formula and it's easy to see why the Cayman Islands are seen as a paradise to many of our visitors. 


2/ Advantageous Tax Regulations 

The Cayman Islands impose very few forms of taxation upon its people. This holds true for its foreign investors as well.


With regard to real estate ownership, the Cayman Islands assess no regular property taxes or capital gains taxes. 


There is also no tax due to the Cayman Islands government for other income derived from real estate investment such as rent or dividends. 


Unlike many countries, the Cayman Islands have no restrictions on the foreign ownership of real estate for personal use. Land can be owned by any adult individual (either alone or with others jointly or as proprietors in common), or in the name of a company. 


Additionally, the islands-wide cadastral survey and implementation of the Registered Land Law in the1970's took away the risk of previous ownership claims on property. Every piece of property in the Cayman Islands is registered under a unique block and parcel number, and ownership belongs to the registered owner of the property, and the Government guarantees that right of ownership. There is no need for extensive title searches or title insurance. 


The Land Registry in a matter of public record, and for a nominal fee, anyone can inspect or get a photocopy of a particular Land Register which will show not only the registered owner, but any liens, covenants or other restrictions on the property. 


There are also no time deadlines for foreign investors to build on raw land; it can be held undeveloped indefinitely. 


4/ Political Stability 

Many British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean rushed into independence in the years following World War II, often with harmful results. Not the Cayman Islands, where they have happily remained under the gentle rule and protection of the UK. 


Caymanians by-and-large govern themselves, but within a tried and true framework developed by the British. Moreover, the Caymanian Government is keenly aware of the country's position as a financial and investment centre, and the requisite of remaining stable in investors' eyes. 


5/ Social and Economic Stability 

Very few places in the world can combine people from 100 different countries, with a make-up of every possible race and income bracket, and experience the kind of social harmony found here in the Cayman Islands. 


Buoyed by one of the world's highest per capita incomes and a natural tolerance for racial difference, the people of Cayman have not only learned to live together, but to respect each other as well. 


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