Anti-intervenors Bill

Grenville Phillips
Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

The Electric Light and Power (Amendment) bill, just passed in the House of Assembly, and is now in the Senate. The intent of the Bill appears clear, and the responses of our Parliamentarians during its passage seem to confirm that intent.

The intent appears to prevent expert intervenors (objectors) from frustrating the Government’s efforts from collecting more taxes. Government collects more taxes if BL&P are allowed to charge the public more to supply electrical power. There is so much wrong with the Amendments, but for brevity, I shall present one concern.

According to Section 5A (1) and (2) of the Bill, objectors must inform the Minister of their: (a) interest in the application, (b) grounds of objection, and (c) evidence. Now here is the crazy part.

Section 5A(5) “The Committee shall, in making a recommendation to the Minister in respect of an application for a licence, take into account any representation or objection made in relation to the application that the Minister considers to have merit.”

This situation is so ludicrously not in the public’s interest that we can only lump it. Objectors, who are experts in their field, want to present their case to persons on the Committee with the capacity to understand the technical issues. In Barbados, before an expert objector can approach the technical Committee, they must convince a lay Minister.

Barbadian Ministers seem to believe that they magically become experts in everything within their ministerial portfolio. Based on the responses of our Parliamentarians to this Bill, they are clearly out of their technical depth on this matter.

Expert Objectors may not have the time or patience to teach a busy lay Minister the rudiments of: electrical engineering, structural engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, material science, accounting, law, productivity, etc, and their relation to the rate increases sought by BL&P.

Expert objectors want to make their case to the technical Committee. However, they can only get to that Committee if they can somehow teach the Minister to understand their concerns. If our Senators have the same technical capacity as our Parliamentarians, then we are sunk.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

23 comments

  • my issue is with the fuel clause, why are domestic customers required to pay exorbitant cost for fuel? energy is charged at 0.15 and 0.18 cents per kWh and fuel at three times the cost of energy.

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  • Just bear in mind, Parliament is unconstitutional, 30-0 is a nullity as no opposition is possible.

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  • John August 11, 2022 2:26 PM #: “Just bear in mind, Parliament is unconstitutional, 30-0 is a nullity as no opposition is possible.”
    ~~~~~~~~~

    “Just bear in mind,” it’s YOUR layman’s opinion “Parliament is unconstitutional.”

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  • If it pass, de objectors should take the minister to court after sending in their objections and if the minister rejects their objections, then challenge the minister in court as being incompetent to make such judgements. Simply, test his technical knowledge in a court of law.

    We have to look for the weak points in our law and use it to our advantage

    Liked by 1 person

  • “We have to look for the weak points in our law and use it to our advantage”

    The law itself being administered by corrupt Ministers and Lawyers is nothing short of laughable.

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  • Critical Analyzer

    @Von

    My sentiments exactly, this ammendment putting the minister in the frying pan.

    But I ain’t wasting time with no court. I forcing the minister hand to be fair but putting my intervention details before him and the public domain at the same time so if my objection gets rejected, he have to face the public backlash too if he play politics.

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  • Critical Analyzer

    We need to start objecting with our wallets.

    Don’t like what they charging, we now have the option to buy our own solar panels, batteries, turn off the main breaker to go off-grid and just pay BL&P the $5-10 per month to keep the service or disconnect it entirely.

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  • The bigger issue on this is not the energy issue. That can easily be addressed, by some as CA says, going off grid. Though many cannot afford that.

    The bigger issue is the optics and transparency or lack thereof.

    A government should never appear to act without appropriate disclosures, even if such seems to be quite popular globally.

    But our examples should not be the lowest common denominator, but the highest.

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  • Critical Analyzer

    The energy market has reached the level where electricity distribution and generation need to be separated to be fair to all parties.

    I would really love to see the BL&P broken up into two companies Barbados Power Distribution Company(BPDC) responsibility for the grid distribution and maintenance and Barbados Power Generation Company(BPGC) responsibility for generation capacity.

    FTC would then have an easy job as they will only need to compare and regulate supply contracts between BPDC and the various energy generation facilities at BPGC, solar farms and other commercial and residential generation facilities.

    The FTC would regulation the rate at which each form of energy generated is sold to

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  • ArtaxAugust 11, 2022 4:42 PM

    John August 11, 2022 2:26 PM #: “Just bear in mind, Parliament is unconstitutional, 30-0 is a nullity as no opposition is possible.”
    ~~~~~~~~~

    “Just bear in mind,” it’s YOUR layman’s opinion “Parliament is unconstitutional.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    (1) There shall be a Leader of the Opposition, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General by instrument under the Public Seal.

    Who is the leader of the opposition?

    The country is guaranteed by its constitution a Leader of the opposition, pretty straightforward.

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  • Which lawyer in Barbados can name the Leader of the Opposition?

    However any layman can see there is none!!

    Even a child can see!!

    It’s really embarrassing.

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  • John move it along, we have had this exhaustive exchange in many blogs, resurrecting will solve nothing. Let us see what the CCJ comes back with.

    Liked by 1 person

  • David
    There is always filtering in matters that allow for objections from the public since some are frivolous. In fact, even where there is merit, everyone that submits a request to present at a public inquiry isn’t accommodated. Does it make sense for a Minister to receive a frivolous objection, send it to his advisory panel then for them to send it back to say it is frivolous? We want efficiency or not? But hear this, the Committee is not the same as the the Minister’s technocrats in the ministry. Are we to believe that the Minister would not consult with his technocrats before determining whether an objection is valid? Does the grant of a license include rates, I thought this falls to the FTC? Good luck with a JR on a decision.

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  • @ Enuff
    Ever heard of transparency?
    How does it work when YOU are on the other side of the murky, subjective ‘filtering’?

    Come on…. you are different to the others… you know how to THINK….

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  • @enuff

    Regarding admin efficiency your point is understood and the blogmaster understands the many actors who will see this as an opportunity to grandstand and grow their reputations by making noise. That said there is a heavy responsibility on government to ensure the process is fair to all sides. The fact there is so much confusion about the fairness open to citizens to object suggest there is work to be done. Bear in mind this is stoked by a deep distrust of government.

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  • Bushie
    For transparency all the government needs to do is published ALL objections received. You continue to fail to see that I don’t grandstand and pretend I know what I don’t know.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @David, Mr Phillips is an expert in his field so when he opines that the_”… intent appears to prevent expert intervenors (objectors) from frustrating the Government’s efforts … “_

    … it surely gives the perspectuve of that “deep distrust of government.” But n this case that seems overblown.

    There must be a process to weed out the frivolous challenges in these rate hearings. So the question must be whether govt can or is deliberately selecting objectors who are suitable (in whatever way) to them.

    Over the years or going forward do we not expect to see the experts who previously challenged rate increases and did so with a profound level of technical knowledge … or will they be side-lined by this new process and lackeys selected!

    Is THAT the concern … which is valid based on the debacle of the FTC Chairwoman and her conflict of interest issues!!!

    Bur if an expert is not approved does that stop him or her or them from publishing their data so -that for all practical purposes- the meritorious technical matters are still known to the rate board and or incorporated into the presentations of other approved objectors!

    Rate hearings if truly transparent and focused on relief from corporate overreach and not egotism among objectors should thus be ALL about aggregating the merits and presenting the case as best as is ideal … thus as long as ANY one very competent, independant objector is approved then there should be less fear that the govt can game the process!

    Btw, on transparency it was shocking to see that nearly 25 years later the author Salman Rhusdie of ‘Satanic Verses’ notoriety was attacked (surely under that fatwa edict) today.

    That entire reaction to Rushdie’s “free speech” rights have long been ventilated but this most recent attack exemplifies just how difficult it remains to speak your truths without favor to anyone.

    Long live free speech and truth … fight forever to all forms of governance suppression.

    Lata.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    Aha, I see I have duplicated @Enuff comment re objections being published!!

    Yep, that would effectively resolve some concerns !

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  • @ Enuff
    For transparency all the government needs to do is published ALL objections received.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So will you ensure that this is stipulated in the new Law?

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  • dpD:

    Why can’t the Committee determine which submissions have merit? They are paper submissions, so if they do not have merit, they can simply be set aside. Why must a Minister be the arbiter of what has merit?

    Are you aware that two experts, whose concerns clearly have merit, were essentially ridiculed in our Parliament by our parliamentarians because of their relevant concerns?

    If we are so willing to applaud our parliamentarians for enacting something like this, that is clearly not in the public’s best interest, then Barbados is truly lost.

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  • Bushie
    I am not part of the government. Recently you were adamant that very few experts exist in Bdos. It shouldn’t be hard to filter the frivolous. Much ado about nothing.

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  • Support for intervenor

    I wrote a letter on the cost of electricity which was published on Sunday, July 31, 2022. This letter attracted the attention of some people, among whom was attorney Tricia Watson, an intervenor in the Barbados Light & Power rate hearing.
    From what I have subsequently learnt, Ms Watson is standing like a Trojan against forces that seemingly are stronger than her. However, as I read the basis of her objections, I must agree that she stands on solid ground.
    A summary of the objections follows: 1. No opportunity for public discussion on the Electric Light And Power (Amendment) Bill 2022.
    2. No regulatory framework for assessing licence applications.
    3. No establishment of objective and non-discriminatory process and criteria for interventions in the electricity licensing process.
    4. The bill in its present form works against the interests of all consumers in Barbados.
    As an intervenor whose competencies were sought by Government and private companies, Ms Watson, who is representing the interests of all Barbadians, falls into the category of those who labour and ask for no reward.
    She has my full support.

    – Andrew Bynoe

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