Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) Educate The Bajan Blogosphere~National Energy Policy Needed


L-R: Andrew Gittens, Hal Hunte, Hallam Edwards, Hutson Best, Peter Williams, Stephen
Worme, Keith Richards, Hartley Richards, Tony Watkins

In our January 28, 2008 article, Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) Currently Reviewing Rate Structure, we asked Chief Marketing Manager Stephen Worme to answer some questions about the BL&P’s energy policy, specifically as it related to pursuing alternative sources of energy. It is no secret that at BU we hold the view that the onus should NOT be on the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) to lead the national strategy to discover alternative sources of energy because there is an obvious conflict of interest. The BL&P price model is built on the basis of oil being a raw material and the system of passing-on the cost of the oil component of the energy bill to the Barbadian consumer makes it a winning arrangement for the BL&P.

Let us hasten to add that the BL&P cannot be blamed for the current arrangement. The lack of a visionary energy policy through the years has ensured that BL&P has had to resort to its own policy initiatives to build the stable power supply which Barbadians have become accustomed; some might say that we have taken it for granted. In is known that several companies in Barbados do not have UPS or generator back-up systems for the simple reason that the power supply is always close to 100% uptime. A perusal of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) manifesto makes a cursory mention of transferring 50% of current electricity consumption to solar. This is a laudable and forward thinking objective and we hope that the new Minister of Energy, Darcy Boyce, will be able to deliver on this aggressive election promise. Our recollection of political parties keeping promises made in their manifestos is not good!

In our previous article a commenter suggested that geo-thermal power is one alternative which the BL&P should pursue:

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 neighbours 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 neighbours. 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? – TheWhiterabbit

Additional comments were made regarding other possible sources of energy which Barbados should pursue for example, solar and wind power. At BU, we believe a coherent energy policy to be critical to our forward development as a country and it prompted us to go back to the only source of expertise on the subject of electricity that we know about in Barbados, the Barbados Light & Power.


In an exclusive exchange with the Barbados Underground, Chief Marketing Manager of the Barbados Light & Power company sought to answer the concerns of the BU family, here is a full print of his submission (headings and colour have been added by BU):


Our generation planning process takes into account many factors and aims to select the plan that has the lowest overall cost to the island for a given level of reliability. A detailed expansion plan is developed every three to five years (and before any major expansion is carried out) and reviewed annually. In this process, we consider technologies used for electricity generation, which are commercially proven, are available to us, meet the requirements for reliability and are applicable to our environment.


After choosing the technologies to be considered we look at our growth expectations and issues that will impact on this, develop different scenarios, cost them and select the least cost plan for the country. Wind energy is economically viable today based on fuel savings alone. With regard to the proposed wind farm at Lambert’s, St Lucy, our feasibility study confirms that a wind farm at this location is a viable option for us at the present and future expected prices of oil. However, we would agree that wind energy will contribute only a small amount of our total energy needs, because of the limited number of suitable sites on the island.

Wind does have its challenges. In our feasibility study the need for back up power because of the variation in wind speeds was taken into account and it still proved to be viable. Several of the concerns expressed about this project are as a result of the experience of the previous wind turbine which was installed at this location in 1982. Wind turbine technology has advanced substantially since then and many of the issues, including noise, are no longer a factor. We have prepared an Environmental Impact Assessment Study for this project. This has been submitted the Town Planning Department and we are awaiting their decision. For information on our EIA you can refer to the following on our website.

Natuaral Gas & Hydro-power

There are other projects such as natural gas from Trinidad and hydro-power from Guyana that are being proposed and these too will be considered once proven to be viable. The natural gas project appears to be a viable option and we are actively pursuing this initiative.


With regards to the suggestion that we consider geothermal energy that could be produced in the other islands, such as Nevis, as far as we are aware there is no extensive use of geothermal energy in the islands as yet. Information from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s website suggests that, while production from geothermal sources may be cost effective, this may not prove to be economical source for Barbados as the power would have to be transported to us via submarine (undersea) cable which for the size and length of cables that would be required would be prohibitively expensive. In addition to this, back up generation would be required just as it would be for wind and solar installations, to cater for situations where power could not be provided, either due to the unavailability of power from the geothermal plant or failure of the cable. Information on the geothermal energy can be obtained from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s website.


Solar power is a technically viable technology and we are presently testing two 2 kW grid tied photovoltaic solar systems ourselves. The results so far have been positive. However, solar panels and the associated equipment are still quite expensive and is not yet cost effective for us to use for central electricity generation nor for many customer applications. However, some customers have expressed an interest in installing these systems and we are presently reviewing the technical standards and commercial requirements for interconnection, including the appropriate metering arrangements. In our view, the development of solar power will depend on several factors, including the price of fuel, the reduction in price of the solar power systems, Government’s energy policy and the environmental consciousness of the society. For information on prices of Solar Systems you can refer to the website.


In summary, we are quite open to the use of different technologies, each having its own benefits and risks, as long as they are determined to be in the interest of the country and our customers, and the necessary regulatory approvals can be obtained. It is not a question of one technology versus another but what is the appropriate mix of technologies for the country. Just as investors may have a portfolio of investments to minimize risks, utilities need to identify an appropriate portfolio of generation technologies that balances the multiple criteria of cost, reliability, security and environmental protection. We will continue to work with Government and other stakeholders to achieve the best balance for Barbados.

Thanks for the opportunity to share this information with you and your readers.


From the response given by BL&P they seem to be up to date with the several technologies which are suggested as alternative sources of energy in the Barbados context. What is missing, as we alluded to before is the lack of a national energy policy. Successive governments have failed Barbadians in this regard. Barbadians are fortunate to have an electric company which has been blessed with good management and which has manifested itself in a world class service. Regrettably because oil remains the key raw material for generating electricity in Barbados the time as come to re-configure our electricity supply in the face of a volatile market for oil.

20 thoughts on “Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) Educate The Bajan Blogosphere~National Energy Policy Needed

  1. 08/02/08 – News section

    Power giant’s £32 charge for not paying by direct debit

    One of Britain’s biggest energy firms is introducing a £32 “charge” targeted at customers who do not pay by direct debit.

    About 1.8million Eon customers could find the fee on their bill.

    It is a blow for those who are already having to cope with inflation-busting price rises which came into force yesterday.

    Gas prices have shot up 15 per cent and electricity prices have risen by 9.7 per cent.

    The new charge affects those who prefer to pay bills by cash or cheque, such as many of the elderly.

    If they do not pay within 14 days, they will lose a 3 per cent discount offered to “prompt payers”.

    For a dual fuel customer, the average bill is £1,063 which means they will lose £32 if they do not pay on time. An Eon spokesman insisted the company is simply trying to reward prompt payers.

    Last year, British Gas scrapped a proposed £5 late payment fee after a consumer backlash.

  2. BL&P says:

    There are other projects such as natural gas from Trinidad and hydro-power from Guyana that are being proposed and these too will be considered once proven to be viable.


    Information from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s website suggests that, while production from geothermal sources may be cost effective, this may not prove to be economical source for Barbados as the power would have to be transported to us via submarine (undersea) cable which for the size and length of cables that would be required would be prohibitively expensive.

    Wouldn’t hydro-power from Guyana have the exact same drawbacks for Barbados as geothermal power from neighboring islands? It just seems that the BL&P article (perhaps unintentionally) rules out the viability anytime soon of geothermal power from the other islands, while hinting that hydro-power from Guyana might be a viable option.

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  4. BU said: “What is missing, as we alluded to before is the lack of a national energy policy. Successive governments have failed Barbadians in this regard.”

    20 years ago I wanted to build a windmill and to sell electricity to Bds Light and Power. Light and Power only offers to pay a private electricity supplier the amount of the fuel charge adjustment for private generated electricity fed into the grid, because (they say) it is apparently too much trouble for Light and Power to monitor and for them to depend on private supply, which may (or may not) be reliable.

    Government in Canada makes it mandatory for the Canadian power companies to buy electricity. If the Government of Barbados makes it viable for private peipe to invest in green energy, and legidslates the rate of their remuneration by Light and Power at a reasonable rate, then the ROI (rate of return may decline from 20 years down to 10.

    Then many of us wouldf go aherad to green electricity.

    Let Light and Power lay down guideleines as to reliability, and me (the private supplier) will be legislated as reliable.

    I am only one of the passe ecofreaks who has waited for this for over 20 years. I now have the means to invest in green projects like this though… so the term ecofreak is only self-derogatory!

    David Thompson, please make a government legislated, parliamentary approved, comprehensive electricity policy that will cause green energy to be “created” in Barbados.

    To Bob Worme and Peter Williams of Barbados Light and Power, please allow this to happen, and help it, as it will reduce emissions and reduce costs to Barbados. As a potential private supplier I will pledge to deliver the best service to you and the Bajan public, or you can cut me off the grid!

  5. “Our recollection of political parties keeping promises made in their manifestos is not good!”
    Trying to be corny here. What is not good?

  6. Green Monkey you comment serves to reinforce the point of our article. We need a national energy policy. We continue to rely on BL&P to deliver the goods.

  7. Barbados has a draft national energy plan which was referenced in Parliament in January 2007.

    I can’t find the document online, but the best description I could find was on Liz Thompson’s website (
    The Barbados National Energy Policy (BARNEP)

    The Barbados National Energy Policy (BARNEP) has been developed at a time when the world, and in particular a small, non-oil producing, low-lying, island state like Barbados, faces tremendous economic and environmental challenges brought about by the price of oil and the global consequences of its combustion. The national energy policy may be described as a series of measures designed to ensure that we have a secure supply of energy, at competitive prices, and that we use that energy efficiently and minimise any potential adverse environmental impacts.

    Developed over an 18 month period, the energy policy has captured the views of a wide range of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. It is an example of mainstreaming sustainable development, as the policy embodies the five principles of sustainable development ­ quality of life, conservation of resources, economic efficiency, equity and participation – contained within the Barbados Sustainable Development Policy (2004).

    The major initiatives contained within the national energy policy include a transition to a low carbon economy with a switch from heavy fuel oil to natural gas for electricity generation. The use of natural gas is an interim step towards the ultimate goal of an economy driven predominantly by clean renewable energy. Aggressive but attainable targets have been set for the development of renewable energy technologies ­ 10% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2012, 20 % of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2026. Alternative fuels for vehicle use, including flexi and hybrid vehicles will be encouraged. A 2% biodiesel content in standard diesel and a 20% ethanol content in gasoline to replace MTBE have been approved as soon as the biofuels become available. Legislation to promote energy efficiency and conservation in transport, buildings, industrial equipment and appliances will be enacted.

    The energy policy calls for the introduction of Independent Power Producers using renewable energy. The Government will create an enabling environment to allow entities, other than the current and sole electricity generator, to generate and sell electricity. This could be a small household with photovoltaics on their roof or a company wishing to establish, for example, a wind farm. It is envisaged that this policy initiative will hasten the transition to a competitive, low carbon economy.

    The environmental sustainability of energy usage is also addressed through the initiatives to enact fuel composition standards (e.g. sulphur content in diesel). Emission standards for stationary sources (e.g. electricity generating plants) and from vehicles will also be regulated. The energy policy sets out an environmental framework for onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and perhaps most importantly provides for intergenerational equity by ensuring that a percentage of any discovered reserves are passed on to the next generation.

  8. L&P should state the figures for wind; Solar, geothermal,etc.,so the public can check the figures themselves. To just state a particular renewable is more expensive than the other is not good.
    To date, SOLAR is almost as cheap as wind as we speak and is getting lower.
    L&P gives the impression that wind is cheapest. I understood wind is heavily subsidised in EU, USA ,Australia. Presently in the UK, oposition to wind turbines is growing at an alarming rate. Ireland,Germany,Azores,New Zealand, Australia and the US.
    Why is this happening?
    The winners are the manufacturers and the Land owners and the loosers are those who pay for their electricity bills; rising.
    Residents who live near wind farms have complained of Low level noise. Once the turbines are sited, nothing is done or can be done; the choice is to move. One problem, the price of her/his home can be worth between 20-50% less and she cannot afford another property. In some cases no one would buy.
    The tale being told by L&P that noise was a problem of old wind turbines can not be substantiated. I know of few instances where turbines have been installed one year ago and complaints have already been lodged.
    Those people near the surounding area of the proposed site at Lamberts have got a reason to fear for their health.
    Wind turbines make people sick. ‘VIBROACOUSTIC DISEASE’. This does not happen when turbines are sited away from dwellings. Doctors in ALL the countries stated above, have found this to be true.

  9. On the back page of the Nation Newspaper, Tuesday, February 12, 2008, there is a story under the very bold caption, “PRICE SHOCK”, that deals with the higher feed “prices” that esp. livestock farmers in Barbados are currently going to have experience in the country. However, these “prices” to us in PDC seem more like sky-rocketing and loss-making and business-destroying feed “prices” than simply being higher and steeper feed “prices”, based on comments that are attributed to three livestock farmers in this said story.

    Meanwhile, Pinnacle Feeds Ltd, the island’s major manufacturer and supplier of animal feeds to these farmers, is stating that these increases in prices are as a result of the escalating prices of grain on the world market. Of course, grain is a major ingredient of the animal feed in Barbados and in other countries. Nevertheless, what we in PDC and some other Barbadians know is that these increases in the prices of grain on the world market are primarily as a result of an old, archaic, destabilizing and exploitative global political economic system still being at work, secondarily as a result of the greater material and financial value that is being put by world grain markets on corn as an alternative source of oil/fuel, and otherwise as a result of global oil prices that still remain so obscenely high.


    We assert such based on the fact that if they were a PDC Government in place, today, that all like now there would be being put in place a regime whereby IMPORTS OF GOODS AND SERVICES INTO BARBADOS WOULD HAVE TO BE ZERO-PRICED AT ALL POINTS OF ENTRY. Quite rightly, such a just and modernistic regime would have been seeking to achieve success in insulating Barbados from the “distressing price turbulence” being so mindlessly whipped up by certain economic exploiters within many commodities markets across the world, and primarily being targetted at weaker countries and classes and groups across the world. Also, such a regime would have been seeking to achieve success in regard of protecting final consumers of goods and services in Barbados from the destruction and badness of SIMPLY continuing to receive or accept the price values of other esp. economically bigger more exploitative countries, classes and groups, without making the necessary adjustments in the price factor of imports of goods and services into Barbados to suit our local and more developing circumstances, materially, financially, and socially speaking.


  10. Thanks for the link Brutus to Liz’s website. If this is the semblance of an energy plan we have a long way to go. It is amazing to the BU household that electricity/power which is a large component of the cost of production/powering our economy has not become the BIG issue that it is. This must be one of the key things which we have to conquer to stabilize our high cost of living. A cost effective solution must surely act as a buffer to the external shocks which continue to pummel our small open economy from rising oil prices on the world market.

    We hope that the DLP government has not placed all its eggs in one basket in the hope that we strike oil!

  11. Right now in Barbados bigger businesses buy generators that burn diesel to power up their businesses in preference to Barbados Liught and Power.

    Any provisions for energy in Barbados should enable green energy to be harnessed. A fair deal for small energy producers with reliable products is of absolutely paramount importance.

    The price of oil doesn’t appear to be going down anytime soon. Small island states should act proactively and in a very forthright way. Bigger countries have big industry, and big industry isn’t going to be able to react as we have the ability to do in our sunny, breezy island, an island that doesn’t have much heavy industry.

    Now you may have read today that Chavez threatens the US about turning off the oil. What do you think is going to happen with all this bickering about energy, and what should we do about it from our small oil dependant island about things like these?

    While all right now huge plantations lie idle under the sun, wind and rain?

  12. Hello David

    Unsure. I was told some time back that electricity in factories can be generated at a comparable rate to Light and Power, but I have not done my homework, so if I am wrong someone please correct me.

    To be forthcoming I personally am not interested in generating electricity from fossil fuels. I would like to see wind and solar, and other non-polluting ways of converting narurally available energy, into electricity in the electricity grid(s) of Barbados.

    Let us suppose that a business decides to buy into this concept. The equipment is purchased and installed, a favourable rate is paid or bartered for electricity to Light and Power. This is where we stick, because Light and Power will want to have strict control over what is going into the grid for the sake of reliability. The private supplier will appear to be problematic in that the supply is hard t hook up and it may not be consistent or clean.

    Anyway, those things would have to be worked out by the visionary persons who now run this country. Let us rely on these persons to think about it and to make a start.

    Having a new energy policy that encompasses green energy, the above business, having acquired its equipment generates electricity into the grid and also consumes it from the grid. So the first aspect of the equation is the bartering by some form of deal for its electricity to offset its (these days) escalating electricity bills.

    Then excess electricity can be actually sold to the grid at a fixed or sliding rate.

    The equipment can be depreciated on the business’ books, and I would also like to see government looking into a tax credit for investment by these companies in this sort of equipment.

    If our equipment lasts 25 years and we can pay back in 10 or so years, we can look forward to building more sustainable businesses and using less fuel, all the while reducing the island’s energy consumption.

    For my business proposal I would like to do it regardless of whether it makes more than say a government bond or bank interest rate; but one must seek to create a condition that induces every business in Barbados to see that doing this is not only environmentally correct, but also economically beneficial.

    Invest your profits in ‘free’ energy products Barbados. Over time the equipment will be worth more, the same as your house, and the cost of electricity is rising.

    Free energy to generate funds for you, for us and for Barbados: Given the right economic conditions it can only be a win for all of us.

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  15. ——————————————————————————–
    Saw this article and immediately thought what a goo idea by Dominica.

    Dominica moves closer to geothermal energy development
    Published on Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    ROSEAU, Dominica: The government of Dominica has moved another step closer to developing the country’s geothermal resources as a cheap and reliable source of energy.

    At a media launch on Wednesday, Minister for Energy Charles Savarin and Paul Mondesire, representative of the Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, will provide information on the commencement of a project intended to make geothermal energy in Dominica a commercial reality.

    An important objective of the project is to provide Dominicans with cheaper and renewable electricity and to sell electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique.

    The project is intended to produce the following:

    Measure the size of the geothermal resource and determine its chemical characteristics
    Conduct of a feasibility study on supplying electricity to Martinique and Guadeloupe
    Conduct of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
    The media launch is also expected to provide more information on Dominica’s successful bid to the European Commission for support to a project titled “Preparation of a geothermal- based cross border electrical interconnection in the Caribbean”.

    Dominica was the only Caribbean country to have successfully bid under the European Commission’s Energy Facility which was open to all of the seventy-eight countries comprising the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP).

    A financing agreement, under which the European Commission will provide Euro 1.5 million, was signed by government in January, 2008. To fully execute the project, which is estimated to cost at least Euro 4 million, the European Commission grant will be supplemented with Euro 500,000 from the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) and Euro 2 million from Fonds Francais pour L’ Environment Mondial (FFEM).

    The project will provide assistance for the establishment of a Project Management Unit (PMU) in the Ministry with responsibility for Public Utilities. The unit will oversee the implementation of the project and will identify and develop the statutory and regulatory framework for a geothermal enterprise on Dominica.

    The project will last for 24 months. Upon conclusion it will recommend an approach for the establishment of a geothermal energy enterprise. This will include the capital cost and staffing and other requirements of the operation.

    National Authorizing Officer of the European Development Fund, Edward Lambert is also expected to give remarks at the event.

  16. The commodities market seems to be reacting to the current situation. solar and wind stocks starting to climb. Barbados should be warned.

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