BLPC Rate Case – Closing Statement of Cooperative Coalition

Submitted by the Cooperative Coalition – Trevor T Browne Lt Col (Retired) SCM, CCM, MEMOS, BSc (Hons) FBAPE

It has been an honor and privilege to represent the Coalition of Cooperatives and Concerned Citizens in this important Electricity Rate Review hearing. On behalf of my co-intervenor Mr Hally Haynes and myself, we thank the Chairman and Commissioners, the Director and Staff of the FTC and all of our fellow intervenors
for all the support and encouragement which we received.

Thanks also to the BLPC team, whose professionalism we feel compelled to admire, even as we challenge the flawed narrative which they have attempted to put to the Commission. At the end of the Hearings, The Coalition is even more concerned than we initially were, about the urgent need for radical reforms in Energy management in Barbados.

Local National Energy Legislation has wisely established BLPC as a REGULATED PUBLIC UTILITY to serve the Public Good of Barbados. For over 100 years, this structure served the electricity needs
of Barbados well, with representation from all Stakeholders.

From 2011 to 2014, Emera Inc of Canada acquired 100% of BLPC shares and in our assessment, proceeded to completely transform the company from a regulated Electric Utility, into a mechanism to generate cash for its new sole shareholder.

Whereas for generations previously, about 15% of net income had been paid in dividends to shareholders, and 85% reinvested into the BLPC’s operations, we have seen 86% of income since 2011 being extracted as dividends, and only 14% reinvested into the utility.

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4 thoughts on “BLPC Rate Case – Closing Statement of Cooperative Coalition

  1. BL&P ‘indispensable’
    MINISTER OF ENERGY AND BUSINESS Kerrie Symmonds has responded to public criticisms, including from one of his ministerial colleagues, of the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL& P), calling the lone supplier of electricity an “indispensable partner”.
    Speaking at the Hilton Barbados yesterday morning during the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Renewable Energy Expo, he said while BL& P was not a “perfect institution”, it should be credited for attending to its social responsibilities. During debate in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, October 11, Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr William Duguid, blasted the BL& P for stating in a letter addressed to him that it had done “$4 million in corporate social responsibility in ten years”. He said then: “That can’t be right . . . . It can’t be $4 million in ten years – a company that makes hundreds of millions in dollars to the point that they can pay dividends of $100 million to their entity, as was reported in the press, and in ten years could only give $4 million to the people of this country.
    “It is something that they now send to me to curse me about. What I said was absolutely correct, that they were not good corporate citizens,” the Christ Church West MP added.
    Pointing out that he was not making a case for the BL& P, Symmonds urged those gathered yesterday to remember the aid the utility company gave to Barbadians during the pandemic.
    “I’m not here to make a case for the Light & Power in terms of its perfection, but it is
    indispensable to the process. And even in the House of Assembly, [there were] criticisms which I think do not resonate comfortably with my sense of conscience and sense of decency.
    “When we went through COVID there were people all around this country who were living in households where there was no income and the utility carried the bills without those people losing service. A nightmare situation would have occurred if the utility did not step up to the plate and do that. When the critics talk you don’t hear these things,” he said.
    He added that there were times “in recent memory”, where the Government was not able to meet some of the energy bill requirements in order to keep street lights operational across the country, but the BL& P carried the burden until the Government was in a position to deal with the situation.
    “There have been times when the water that we rely upon, which has been driven by electricity, was not able to be paid for because the energy bill could not be met by the Government. This is in recent memory. And I can tell you the utility was there . . . . I want for us as a country to recognise that though it is not perfect, that there is a need for us to understand that it is a partner and that it is an indispensable partner to this process,” he said.
    During the expo, several businesses and Government representatives highlight where the country stood in relation to the targeted goals for a fully green economy by 2030. Along with various panel discussions, there were showcases of new hybrid and electric vehicles. (JK)

    Source: Nation

  2. It seems the minister is talking about things he heard somewhere.

    National power grid has capacity, says Symmonds
    BARBADOS IS EQUIPPED to handle the integration of renewable energy sources into the national power grid, says Minister of Energy and Business Kerrie Symmonds.
    Speaking at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) Renewable Energy Expo at Hilton Barbados yesterday, he said he was “baffled” by prevailing claims that the country’s power grid would be oversaturated, which occurs when there is more electricity generated than the power grid can handle, or there would be a shortage of power available. “As of October 1 this year we have had 65.5 megawatts of renewable energy installed on our grid. There are, as of the first of October, 22.8 megawatts of capacity which is potential. I
    have licensed it but it has not yet been installed. It therefore means you have a total of 88.3 megawatts of renewable energy capacity either already installed or about to be installed on the grid in Barbados.
    “That is 88.3 out of a likely 750 megawatts. We have only just begun the journey, so it baffles me as the Minister of Energy when I hear the disinformation and misinformation about oversaturation and shortage of availability and this may not work anymore. Not true, when we’re only at 88 and we need to get to 750,” he said.
    The minister also sought to address the claim that Barbados’ feeder lines, which send power from the electricity generating stations or substations to distribution
    points, were also oversaturated.
    He explained that capacity concerns on a feeder line usually arise when “the feeder line gets to roughly five megawatts or more of capacity”, as they were not designed to carry much more than the stipulated amount of power. Symmonds revealed that of the 54 feeder lines across the island, only seven had been “red flagged” as approaching peak levels, those being in the areas of Arch Hall, Green Hill, Newton, Sam Lord’s, Sunbury, Grazettes and White Hall.

    Source: Nation

  3. If we go back to the controversy when an Arthur government wanted to build flyovers, the government does not listen to BAPE.

    Energy policy on wrong track
    By Trevor Browne

    The Barbados energy situation has been in a state of limbo for some years now, particularly since Government proclaimed its innovative and creative Barbados National Energy Policy 2019-2030 (BNEP).
    The BNEP envisions a carbonfree energy future for the island. It is predicated on replacing the use of expensive and environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels as sources of our national energy needs with carbonneutral, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biofuels and waste-to-energy technologies.
    This vision is now completely achievable and technically feasible, given the many recent advances in technologies that allow the extraction and harnessing of renewable energy directly from the environment and in a sustainable and environmentallyfriendly manner. Unfortunately, the vision proclaimed by the Barbados Government also translates into what is perhaps the single most complex, intricate and potentially chaotic engineering undertaking to have been contemplated in Barbados, or indeed anywhere, in the last 50 years. Of particular concern has been the dangerously simplistic idea being promoted at high levels of leadership in Barbados, that the challenge is simply one of increasing the percentage of renewable energy sources on the national grid.
    There is a very simple reason why very few other countries, including those that can easily afford the cost of the exercise, have even contemplated a national vision such as the Barbados’ BNEP.
    This is an extremely complex, intricate and pioneering engineering undertaking, with major risks, some of which are yet to be quantified.
    Any hope of successful implementation of this outstanding national vision will rests on the country’s ability to carefully and meticulously plan, innovate, design, conceptualise and to overcome the many challenges and barriers to success that exists. Even the sociological impacts of such an energy transformation are foreboding, over and above the technical obstacles and, of course, the financial hurdles to be faced in building out the many critical
    assets needed by the new energy framework.
    A quick review of other jurisdictions where similar energy transformations have been tried will quickly identify the enormity of the challenge.
    Spain, based on their relatively good solar profile by European standards, back around 2008, attempted to explore the photovoltaic path with devastating results. Their exercise ended in massive bankruptcies and a highly unpopular ‘National Sun Tax’ being imposed on each solar panel, in an attempt to compensate for the financial chaos that resulted.
    Australia, too, is currently experiencing serious energy chaos in many areas, as a result of imbalances caused by intermittent energy penetration into their national grid, now around 15 per cent.
    Detail plan needed
    Both of these countries’ situations result from an inadequately planned, investment-driven approach to energy transformation, rather than from a proactive engineered plan, designed for national success. The approved plan (model) then drives the legislation, capitalisation, regulation and operation of the completely new energy framework.
    It must be clear then that Barbados is on a completely wrong track with our energy transformation. It is therefore not helpful for our national policymakers to be running around encouraging investors to pump dollars into a complex concept that has not yet been designed, tested or even defined clearly.
    What is urgently required now is a detailed National Energy Transformation Plan, designed and peer-reviewed by experienced professionals, and which can then be tested and costed to guarantee its viability. To repeat, a formal, approved, National Energy Transformation Plan is long overdue.
    Instead, we have been seeing a hurried rush by many investors to grab maximum profits in the early stages of change, without any clear reference to the implications down the road, and mostly based on projections that are derived from a fossil fuelbased framework. Even worse is the present situation where those in leadership positions, who should be listening to all sides of the debate in an effort to arrive at the optimal national position, have instead been taking particular
    sides in the issue, and even directing [attacks] at citizens such as myself who dare to express concerns about the current direction being pursued.
    As president of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers, and as a retired professional engineer of 38 years’ experience in the electrical utility business, I have previously raised professional concerns about the current flawed national path being taken to energy transformation. This is only because BAPE is committed to playing any needed role in supporting the successful implementation of the carbon-free future envisioned for Barbados.
    The innovative BNEP can be achieved, and once successful, would put Barbados in a position to become a global prototype and a reference point for future similar conversions – not only in other small island states, but generally. However, such success will not be achieved under leadership that does not even grasp the enormity of the challenge – far less the grave dangers that will accompany failure.
    Barbados’ energy transformation needs to be led by a professional design team consisting of engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, project managers and financial experts who actually understand the issues involved. Once a coherent, tested, peer-reviewed plan has been conceptualised and approved, then a legal team will be needed to facilitate the legislative framework required for the success of that new plan.
    This is actually quite achievable, and for a number of reasons, Barbados is perhaps better placed to pioneer such a futuristic energy revolution than most other places on earth.
    We have started with excellent vision in the BNEP, but after vision must come proper planning and preparation if we wish to avoid poor performance.
    – Trevor T Browne, President, Barbados Association of Professional Engineers

    Source: Nation

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