Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) Currently Reviewing Rate Structure


BL&P managing director Peter Williams (right) and chief marketing officer Stephen Worme (left) – Source: Nation Newspaper

Recently, Barbados Underground received an email from an individual who expressed some concern at ‘goings-on’ at the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P). We have always tried to be fair to all parties in our reports as far as practicable. It is in this vain that we contacted Mr Stephen Worme who is the Marketing and Communications Manager at the BL&P. To his credit, we have found the gentleman to be one of the most accessible Communications Specialist in Barbados; his counterparts in several of our leading companies in Barbados would do well to follow his lead. Mr. Worme was kind enough to respond to a few queries from the Barbados Underground. Immediately below, please see our queries in blue with Mr. Worme’s responses :

We are about to complete a story which hints that with your recent management restructure and three senior supervisors leaving the company, all is not well. Before we release such a story, we want in the interest of fairness to hear your response.

Thanks for contacting me on these issues. I appreciate your effort to seek clarification to ensure accuracy in the information you share with your readers.

In response to your first query, I am not sure which 3 senior supervisors you are referring to. As over the past few years, several of our senior managers, our professional and supervisory staff have left the Company; most of them after reaching the age of retirement. These retirements and other new developments in the Company have given the opportunity for new appointments both from within and outside of the Company. We encourage our staff to develop themselves to prepare for promotional opportunities like these and, where possible, we support them in their efforts. However, this may also make them attractive prospects for opportunities outside of the Company and sometimes they will move on. Just as is the case of many other organizations, there will also be situations where the goals and expectations of some staff may differ from what they are able to achieve with the Company, and these persons too will move on. However, I am not aware of any recent departures being as a result of or have resulted in “all not being well” in the Company. If you can provide further information on this, I would be pleased to look into this for you.

When you respond, it would be informative for our readers to hear the effort you have made to date to develop an alternative source of energy. Our position is that such an effort on your part runs counter to your core business.

With regards to the alternative sources of energy, you may be aware that we have made an application to the Chief Town Planner for the installation of a 10 MW Wind Farm at Lamberts East in St Lucy. We are still awaiting a decision on this. Discussions are also ongoing with Government on several of their recommendations on alternative sources of energy contained in the Draft National Energy Policy. We will continue to work with Government to see how these can be implemented in the best interest of our country, which will include ensuring that Barbadians continue to receive a safe and reliable electricity supply at reasonable prices.

The other point you can clarify is your recent claim that you will be filing for an increase in rates. Please update/clarify.

With respect to your query on rates, there has not been an adjustment to the basic rate of electricity (excluding fuel) since May 1983. As we had mentioned in another section of the press recently, we have engaged consultants to help with the review of our current rate structure and to look at other issues that are currently impacting on our business. On the completion of this process, a decision will be taken on if and when an application would be made to the Fair Trading Commission for a rate adjustment. Any decision to revise and/or to restructure rates will be carefully considered and communicated to customers.

I hope this adequately covers your queries on these issues. However, if you have any further queries on these or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Light & Power Holdings Ltd. is an investment company with electricity being its core business. The Company has a wholly owned regulated electric utility. The Barbados Light & Power Company Ltd., has been serving electricity customers in Barbados since 1911. Electricity service is available to the entire island community. Sixty-two per cent of the shares in Light & Power Holdings Ltd. are held by approximately 2,800 Barbadian shareholders. The Common Shares of the Company are quoted on the Barbados Stock Exchange – extracted from BL&P Website.


We wish to thank Mr. Worme for responding to the Barbados Underground. We are hopeful that this article will generate constructive feedback which we can use to solicit a further response from Mr. Worme.


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37 thoughts on “Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) Currently Reviewing Rate Structure

  1. Not that I understand what this article is really about but I think BL&P is a terrific company. I consider persons who are employed there to be blessed and I do know a few of them with over 25 yrs under their belts who are very happy with their jobs.
    BL&P has proven time and time again that they are responsible corporate citizens.
    You can try asking Pine Hill Dairy some questions and see what happens. Try it BU.

  2. Anonymous why is it that you people use innuendo out there and expect BU or BFP to work miracles as far as getting info is concerned? If you have info about Pine Hill why dont you email us or post your information?

  3. On a slightly off topic observation.
    A number of people in the past have questioned WHY Light and Power will not accept credit card payment and/or payment online.
    Is there a reason why they do not?

  4. Adrian we checked and there are a couple of banks that offer Internet Banking where you can pay the light bill. But your point is taken, you would have to have a bank account at the banks concerned.

  5. Adrian,
    You can pay Light & Power bills on line through Scotia bank. I am not sure about credit card payments.

    I too think Light & Power is doing a great job and if they need a little increase ( notice LITTLE ) then they should get it. We certainly don’t want to be like Guyana, Jamaica or now South Africa with regular power cuts affecting production because of lack of money for future expansion or maintenance.

  6. It is high time that the Barbados Light and Power Holdings’ monopoly on the supply of electricity to persons, businesses and other entities in Barbados is broken.

    While we accept that this company and its
    predecessors have fairly well served Barbados down through the years, the time has surely arrived to break this monoploy. Currently, Barbados not only urgently needs a diversification in the ownership/production/distribution of electricity in the country, but also direly needs a diversification in its sources of supply of national energy fuels. These things should have long ago been implemented in Barbados, well before world oil prices would have reached or continue to be fluctuating around world record levels.

    It is very disgusting that we in Barbados have had, say, esp. from the 80s right up to now, governments in Barbados that would have allowed this monopolistic rate based regulatory environment to continue at the expense of having greater, more efficient, less costly and market driven supplies of national energy!! These governments, and by extension, persons in Barbados, would have at the same time been failing to take lessons from many countries of this world, eg. the UK and the US, that had long ago approached a modern juncture whereby more market and standards based suppliers of electricity and other utility services and solutions were engaged as ever being so important to their future development.

    Moreover, it is disgraceful that we in Barbados have had, again, say, esp. from the 80s right up to now, these same governments in Barbados that would have allowed us to continue very greatly depending on fossil fuels and their mining and tanker shipping operations, and at the expense of our having come into existence other main appropriate and cheaper sources of extraction and production and conveying of energy!! These governments, and by extension, persons in Barbados, would also have at the same time been failing to take cues from some countries of this world that would have long ago approached a modern juncture whereby the testing for and exploring and using of different sources of energy, like solar and wind energy, and crop based fuels, as well as their specialised ways and lower overall financial costs of extracting, production and distribution of these fuels, would altogether have had to become part of their important and strategic national agendas.

    So, how much longer would persons and other entities in Barbados be made to endure the crass, and sometimes destructive, monopolism of this BL&P? Just like how the Cable and Wireless monopoly in domestic and external telecommmunication services in Barbados was recently rightly broken, so must the BL&P monopoly in the NEAR FUTURE be rightly broken. If PDC WERE ELECTED AT THE LAST ELECTION, ALL LIKE NOW PREPARATIONS FOR THIS MONOPOLY BEING BROKEN UP WOULD BE UNDERWAY!!. Also, NO BASIC RATE INCREASE must be given by the FTC unless it is the policy of this current government to break this monopoly and at the same time allow others that are cost efficient and very customer oriented to enter the electricity market. Also, another company should have been allowed to develop that wind farm in St. Lucy, under special interconnectivity arrangements with the same BL&P and government.


  7. BL&P appear to have been a responsible monopolist. The general warmth of views about BL&P, in an environment of high energy prices, is a little surprising and a testament to Mr. Worms’ and Mr Williams’ skills. Two cheers to them,

    One of the interesting developments overseas has been the laws which allow individuals to produce electricity using solar and wind and put back excess electricity into the grid at the same (or similar) price that they pay for it. This has led to an explosion in the use of solar and wind, so much so that for a while Germany was the biggest users of solar power while not having a lot of sunshine. (Since then Spain has overtaken Germany on solar and Germany has focused more on wind.)

    We need to do the same thing in Barbados. The previous government made some steps in this direction with the home allowance (the solar and wind devices are expensive, around US$15,000) but two more things need to be done.

    1. BL&P need to agree the technical and pricing arrangements and
    2. Government needs to extend the Home Allowance or provide credit facilities to help fund the purchase of these devices where it is clear they are being used to reduce existing bills.

    The right price for BL&P would be the marginal price of generating electricity (not the average price). But it would only make sense for the consumer given the high price of the devices if it were closer to the average price. The BL&P are open to a reasonable pricing structure (three cheers to the BL&P) and I believe discussions were had between the BL&P and the previous government.

    Were we to make further steps in this area, we could have a network of individual generators that would reduce our energy and import bills.

    There is also a chance that we could turn our efforts in this area into a regional export industry. Guyana has the silica used for solar devices and a Barbadian company could exploit the CSME to start the research, development, production and sale these devices. Government should facilitate those efforts, but at the end of the day this needs to be done on a commercial basis by the private sector if it is to be sustainable.

  8. BL&P and Starcom are mired in the 19th Century. Accepting cheques or cash only and sending ‘receipt’ notices with signatures and hand-affixed stamps instead of taking on-line payments. C & W gets a lot of criticism but at least when it comes to convenient paying they can’t be faulted.

  9. Hard Driver, What is this nonsense that you don’t want to be like Guyana. You should want to be like Guyana because oil was discovered offshore and pretty soon the Garden City of the World – Georgetown will become the City of Lights as we use our oil to light up our city.

  10. Barbados Light and Power is run by foreigners, but Guyana Light & Power is run by Guyanese. And besides our country is big so it takes more oil to light it up and at Christmas time too many Guyanese decorated their houses with lights that is why we ran a bit low on oil to run our power stations.

  11. The BL&P’s public relations machine has always been good. We know that because of operating costs caused by the volatile situation with oil rates are likely to be increased. BL&P needs to conduct a more aggressive campaign educating consumers on serious energy saving methods.

  12. Tony..
    I agree with your comments regarding their public relations machine. They do very well.

    On the subject of energy saving, we have over 400 light bulbs on our property. We try and use as many low watt engergy saving bulbs as possible but find they don’t last long (two to three weeks if we are lucky).

    I was amazed to go into a MAJOR hardware store in Barbados recently and the lowest wattage normal bulb they had was 40 watts. No 25 watts at all.

    IF Government is really serious about conserving electricity it would take of ALL the taxes, duties and VAT on every energy saving device including light bulbs.
    And secondly, every Government occupied building would be mandated to use them.

  13. Thomas G, what do you think of the last government’s position of subsidizing the BL&P fuel charge adjustment and the present government’s proposal to remove VAT on electricity bills. Both of these measures make electricity cheaper and therefore to some extent encourage inefficient consumption.

  14. Brutus. Subsidising the BL&P will be indirect reduction which will benefit the company and maybe, the customer might see a little reduction. The other is direct reduction for the customer who will see the 15% reduction on the overall billing. I prefer the latter.

  15. Brutus, the ‘fuel adjustment’ is just a component of the overall cost. Which mean you will get a part reduction on your electricity bill. You will still have the full amount on usage.

  16. Brutus,

    Gosh its refreshing to discuss things with you. You raise an important point. At the end of the day if we want people to conserve electricity and push them to alternatives, we cannot shield them from higher prices. Energy subsidies will lead to more energy consumption than otherwise which is the opposite outcome to what we want.

    That said, people, especially the poor, cannot adjust quickly to big changes in energy prices and so a temporary mechanism, such as a discretionary subsidiy is better than a permanent reduction in the cost, such as a removal of VAT.

    The government may consider a temporary removal of VAT, or a removal of VAT conditional on the price, so that it comes back on, if and when prices fall back. However fiddling around with VAT like that sends confusing signals that does not help businesses invest for the future.

    We are blessed with sunshine and wind. Its why the plantations were here. The obstacle to us using solar and wind power more are energy subsidies and the high capital cost of solar and wind devices. If I were finance minister, I would phase out all energy subsidies to everyone in a clear and gradual manner and I would investigate ways of reducing the capital costs of energy saving equipment – perhaps by facilitating hire and leasing arrangements, low interest loans, low conditions for loans based on electricity bills etc.

    It is also important to point out that while a reduction in VAT and duties is desirable for many reasons, including increasing competition in the distributive trades sector, this is a key way in which our government raises revenue . If we cut VAT we have to raise revenue some other way. As the new government rightly pointed out in opposition our debt levels are too high and so do not provide much room for VAT reduction without a compensating increase in revenues. The principal way of raising revenues would be higher taxes. There are good distribution reasons for raising taxes on higher incomes, but those with higher incomes are quite “footloose” and our CSME competitors are lowering taxes, so I doubt this would be a viable alternative. Perhaps land taxes should rise – after all we are a nation of expensive land and modest wages. There is a strong lobby in Barbados against that.

    The luxury of opposition is that you can come up with policies that do not bear much scrutiny, the task of government is to take a fresh look at every problem.

  17. In case I get accused of being a bit heartless let me explain the economists’ approach to the problem of poor people facing rising energy prices as a result of energy scarcity.

    The problem is less that of energy prices and more the issue of poverty. The solution is to transfer income to the poor, or give them some relief. Reducing energy prices for all is a very inefficient and distortionary way of dealing with the problem: it supports energy consumption in the face of scarcity and it subsidises everyone, including the wealthy and not just the needy. In absolute terms COW will get a bigger reduction in his energy bill through the VAT reduction than a poor person.

    It would be better to deal with poor people and rising energy costs to take the cost of the proposed VAT reduction and push it through the reverse tax credit. Concentrate the cash on the poor. If, of course, we have found a non-distortionary way of making up the extra expenditure…..

  18. In case I get accused of being a bit heartless let me explain the economists’ approach to the problem of poor people facing rising energy prices as a result of energy scarcity.

    The problem is less that of energy prices and more the issue of poverty. The solution is to transfer income to the poor, or give them some relief. Reducing energy prices for all is a very inefficient and distortionary way of dealing with the problem: it supports energy consumption in the face of scarcity and it subsidises everyone, including the wealthy and not just the needy. In absolute terms COW will get a bigger reduction in his energy bill through the VAT reduction than a poor person.

    It would be better to deal with poor people and rising energy costs to take the cost of the proposed VAT reduction and push it through the reverse tax credit. Concentrate the cash on the poor. If, of course, we have found a way of making up the extra expenditure…..

  19. I like the idea of increasing the reverse tax credit, as a more efficient way of providing the benefit only to those who need it.

    I think though that we should investigate whether the reverse tax credit may be paid twice a year, or even quarterly. That would be better than once a year as is the current practice. This will be a lot more difficult (and costly) to administer however – our government is very good at enforcing procedures and controls to prevent the public from cheating the system (and very poor at enforcing those controls to prevent politicians and insiders from cheating!)

    We also need to look at what other innovative ways are being used in other juridictions to give rebates to low income individuals in the most efficient manner.

  20. Brutus,

    You are quite right. The reverse tax credit would be more helpful if it was paid more frequently, rather than a lump sum. I dont know why it is paid in a lump sum and I presume we can find ways to pay it more routinely while minimising the amount that is lost through administrative costs and abuse.

    There are many things we can learn about from others, but the reverse tax credit is one in which others can learn from us. When I was in the UK, and I spent some time advising the UK government on economic matters, the experts were always arguing that the UK government should introduce a reverse tax credit, so I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived here to see we have one.

    I hope this government uses it, expands it and makes it better and an excellent idea is to make it paid as frequently as possible – perhaps initially quarterly.

  21. “There is also a chance that we could turn our efforts in this area into a regional export industry. Guyana has the silica used for solar devices and a Barbadian company could exploit the CSME to start the research, development, production and sale these devices. Government should facilitate those efforts, but at the end of the day this needs to be done on a commercial basis by the private sector if it is to be sustainable.”

    there are some major strides being made in solar—don’t try and reinvent the wheel—analyze the top 5 companies in the world and ask what it will take to joint venture with them in Guyana and Barbados—why watse money on more reseach when these companies have been specializing and developing research for years?

  22. Dear Reality check,

    Thank you. I was not being very clear. You are right that we should not re-invent the wheel and the industry is certainly advanced already.

    But its development relates closely to government regulation. Its why the European companies are the world-wide leaders in solar devices – European regulation led.

    What I was trying to say was that we should look to see what business opportunities arise out of our regulatory support for the solar and wind industry and given CSME these opportunities may be regional rather than just Barbados-sepcific.

    But, this was more the icing on the cake than the main story of fiscal/pricing incentives for solar and wind devices. Certainly any industrial initiatives in this area should be government-encouraged but private-sector led as you say, the private sector may prefer to go the route of joint-ventures.

    But, reality check, you caught me being a little fanciful. Long ago we used to have world-class research in tropical agriculture, especially with regards to citrus fruits. I do have a dream that we could, with some planning and encouragement, be a place for world-class research into the use of solar and wind power, especially with regards to operation on tropical islands. I recall that when Singapore wanted to become a world class centre for commercial genetic research they simply went to the “inventor” of “Dolly the cloned sheep” and brought him to Singapore. Years later, Singapore has an important new industry.

  23. From Errol Barrow’s “Mirror Image” speech again:

    “What kind of mirror image do you have of yourself? Why don’t you sit down there and start trying to put people on the moon, too? Instead of using $100 million to develop the potential of the young scientists that we have, and the young doctors that we have, we spend it putting up an expression of a monumental edifice behind the Cathedral and call it a Central Bank Building, because we think that people develop by ostentation, by showing off, and not by developing people.”

  24. May I join in?

    Why not make the first, say $200, of the BL&P bill Zero V.A.T., and anything above Standard Rate.

    Simple to implement, helps the small user and the conservationist but progressively penalises the large or profligate user.

  25. Anonymous why is it that you people use innuendo out there and expect BU or BFP to work miracles as far as getting info is concerned? If you have info about Pine Hill why dont you email us or post your information

    David let me suggest that you must have read me wrong. I remember listening to a Brasstacks show where a nutritionist spoke to David Ellis on some matters concerning a product put out by Pine Hill Dairy. Ellis in turn asked someone from Pine Hill Dairy to contact them with information to correct or at least comment on the charges made by the woman. I still here listening to hear when they will reply. The thing is I happen to know that the woman was right because we had discussed the same issue in a class on consumer safety and product standards.
    Like I said, I still here listening since on the other hand every time BL&P is questioned or queried, they respond. That was all I meant David. No innuendo intended, just the noticeable differences between the two companies.

  26. Dear Straight Talk,

    Your suggestion is an improvement on a blanket VAT reduction in terms of its distribution effect, (a clever idea) but I come back to the general point that if it is poverty, low incomes and distribution we are trying to deal with, then it is better to give straight transfers than trying to fiddle around with a private corporation’s bill and distort the market signal that energy is now more expensive and we all, rich and poor, need to think of ways to use less of it.

  27. For those of you who are calling for the BL&P to become local we draw your attention to the Barbados Water Authority who struggle to manage that operation. Compare that to the BL&P and C&W which offer worldclass service. We know the other isssues which will surface provoked by our comment but the issue of service and good management at BL&P cannot be disputed.

  28. For the benefit of the understanding of many visitors, commenters, and others of this site, and esp. for the benefit of many of those same persons who might have been so overwhelmingly shortchanged by the enormously distractive and artificial electioneering campaign of the two traditional parties, so much so they did NOT have enough time to focus on our very important messages, we in the PDC make it AGAIN clear that any government led by us in Barbados shall, among other things, do the following:

    1) Abolish Taxation in Barbados;

    2) Abolish Interest Rates;

    3) Abolish Motor Vehicle Insurance;

    4) Abolish Exchange Rates Parities with the Barbados Dollar;

    5) Properly Reform the Hire Purchase regime in Barbados;

    6) Make Imports of Goods and Services Zero-“priced” at ALL points of entry in Barbados;

    7) Make Exports of Goods and Services from Barbados paid for in local currency/prices;

    8) Make Partnerships the ONLY Multi-Member Corporate Business Entities possible in Barbados;

    9) Create a New State Management Entity for Barbados;

    10) Make the “buying”,” selling” or “leasing” of Barbadian lands ONLY at nominal/administrative costs, with NO Foreigners ever capable of owning such -ONLY leasing such;

    11) The Institution of a Regime of Rent Control for Barbados.

    12) Make Constitents debate and pass laws of Barbados in their respective Constituency Assemblies.

    13) The Direct Election of the Cabinet of Barbados, and eventually the Direct Election of the President and Vice President and, still, the Cabinet. Also, the Election of Judges in Barbados; and

    14) The Replacement of the First Past The Post Electoral System with a Variant of the Proportional Representional one.

    These and more policies and measures when correctly implemented and managed by a PDC Government shall make sure that Barbados becomes on a far greater sustainable growth and development path than is now the case, in as much as being put on a path to becoming a world class society.


  29. We read in the Internet press, not the local press, that Nevis is about to bring on-line a new geothermal power plant that will result in a major reduction in power costs and hence bills, and will allow them to sell excess electrical power to nearby islands via undersea cables. Rather than wasting money on “feel good” projects like a windmill, BL&P should go across the water to our nearby neighbors that are hot and get into the geothermal power business. It is entirely clean, would provide power to many islands (including us) via undersea cable, and allow the growth of industries that produce goods with a high added value from energy input. Geothermal power is extremely cheap, the technology is off the shelf, and it is quick and easy to do. Nevis is starting now and will be on-line by mid-year. Windmills produce some of the most expensive power in the world because they produce only when the wind is blowing, so conventional back-up is needed for calm days. The capital invested in the back-up is more than the savings from the free power source. Too, windmills are very noisy, producing a lot of very low-tone sound and vibration that is extremely unpleasant for neighbors. One has to ask if wind power is so good then why has the one wind generating station on the island been idle for donkey years?

  30. Industrialised countries with a spate of wind mills have little choice but to introduce them.

    (1) They signed the KYOTO Agreement and must abide by it–to cut CO2 emission by an agreed date.
    (2) They were the ones who created the mess in the first place–‘Global warming’.
    (3) They have large tracts of land to site wind mills away from dwellings
    (4) Most have ‘Noise regulation’
    You are correct and there is no need to repeat.
    BL&P in its wisdom knows exactly what you are saying, but it must keep its shareholders happy,which they are loyal. The Bajan public is second.
    The BL&P is not responsible for the abandoned wind mill, it is the government.
    The wind industy’s claim that wind is cheap is not correct. Wind is heavily subsidized by the governments in those countries which they are erected. Wind does not produce as much as 50% of the amount stated claimed . The maximum is 33.3% and as little as 8.8%, (research).

    Why not Solar? The price of Solar has come down by more than 70%.
    Would BL&P like to pay you and me for producing electricity? The answer is ‘NO’
    If BL&P was serious at finding alternative fuel, Solar would be the choice and could provide enough power for every home and office during the day in this country,by placing photovoltaic cells on as many roofs as possible, including government’s and could own them until the cost for erecting is paid back.
    Barbados is tiny when compared with countries in EU,USA,Australia,New Zealand.

    Iceland’s government decided the price of oil was rising and likely continue. It invested in geothermal energy and is now self sufficient–no need for fossil fuel for electricity generation.

    If wind was efficient as the industry would have us believe, why are those same countries with thousands of wind mills on land and at sea are now resorting to a new generation of Nuclear power stations to produce electric?

  31. Paradox~in the explanation you gave are you attributing responsibility to the correct quarter? Should we look to the BL&P or the government to ensure the correct Energy Policy is rolled out?

  32. Pingback: Barbados Light & Power(BL&P) Educate The Bajan Blogosphere «

  33. Re PDC comment of January 30: you left out one item – abolish Barbados. After you finish with your plans, there would be no Barbados left. Thank God Bajans are educated and sensible and know who to totally ignore when it comes to politics (i.e. PEP and PDC).

  34. Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. I distinctly remember BL&P wanting to place a wind farm in a St. Lucy area and the residence got very upset. Said BL&P wanted to impact their health although they had little or no evidence.
    We cannot expect world class service and not pay for it….Having said does not mean I support a raising of electricity rates but think about it. BL&P cannot be considered heartless like the LIMERS. They don’t make big profits and then send home people. My other point, the waters rates went up recently (can’t remember the percentage) and all was necessary was for government to go into the house and say so. BL&P had to go before the FTC and invoke the ire of the people to ask for a rate increase, do you think that they would not have considered the repercussions of making such a move.
    My main problem with the increase was the timing. I think the timing stinks but then again I want world peace but that aint happening either.


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