Co-op Coalition Report – Energy Mess

…it has taken nearly two years, to fail to adjudicate a straightforward rate review request from the utility

Trevor Browne, Chairman, Cooperative Coalition

We are pleased to share with you the summary report provided to our members on the ongoing BLPC Rate Hearings as at August 30, 2023. After nearly two years, we feel obligated to provide a comprehensive overview of our findings so far for our Co-op members. One of our primary objectives in becoming involved in the process was to ensure that a clear and understandable assessment of the key issues is made available to any and all members of the Co-operative movement, and indeed of the public, who have the interest.

Trevor Browne, Chairman, Cooperative Coalition

The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BLPC) is arguably the most critical asset owned by the people of Barbados. It is a regulated public utility, created by the Laws of Barbados for the public good, and is structured in such a way that its day-to-day operations are leased, by the Ministry of Energy, to a selected franchise holder, who enjoys a long-term contract of service – currently 42 years. The present franchise expires in 2028 after having been granted in 1986. BLPC is regulated by the FTC and operates subject to a number of the Laws of Barbados – specifically the Electric Light & Power Act (ELPA), Utilities Regulations Act (URA), Utilities Procedural Regulation Rules (UPRR) and the Fair Trading Act (FTA).

Just under two years ago, the Coalition of Cooperatives, representing the Barbados Sustainable Energy Co-operative Society Ltd, The Barbados Cooperative & Credit Union League and the Barbados Cooperative Business Association Ltd., applied, and were accepted as one of the Intervenors in the 2021 BL&P rate hearing application.

Our expectation, based on our review of the relevant laws governing the process, was that the process would have been completed by May, 2022 and that we would have benefited from the exercise by being able to better guide the co-operative sector’s stated interest in participating in energy investments in Barbados through a better understanding of the processes involved.

It is now September 2023, and the Hearings blunder on with embarrassing ineptness. There is a clear lack of strategic focus and professionalism, and not even a pretense of even handedness in the process. It is patently clear to anyone who has bothered to look, that this approach is outdated, and well past its ‘used-by-date’.
The very simple fact that it has taken nearly two years, to fail to adjudicate a straightforward rate review request from the utility, is enough to condemn the whole process to nonsense. This, in a world where prices, trends, shipping costs and other critical factors have been changing overnight. It is obvious that an urgent review and modernization of the Utility Regulation Process in Barbados is required, and with immediate urgency.

Read full Press Release from the Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society Ltd

28 thoughts on “Co-op Coalition Report – Energy Mess

  1. The 🐘 in the room seems to be the franchise expiration date (2028).
    This is not to deflect from the reported source of dividend funding, or the time to render a decision.
    The BSECS involvement in the future of the BAMC is also of note.
    The FTCs solution to replace insurance funds over 30yrs bears a striking resemblance to some other recent matters.
    Using the “peoples trust funds” seems to be a National pastime.

  2. Trevor Bowne was always a decent fellow.

    A true professional at his job, as an engineer, and totally dedícated to the credit union movement.

    He’s arguably one of the few Bajans nationally minded, serious-minded.

    However, this writer is concerned that the operator seems not be be perturbed by such a delay.

    Could it be that it maybe satisfied with the status quo?

    That Browne has not even once referred to Emera is of concern.

    Has an interim increase been granted?

    This is the best guess which explains these circumstances.

    For the operators, a publicly traded company on an international exchange on which everything is measured in terms of quarters, would hardly otherwise allow two full years to be marked as their share price stagnates or plummets.

    • How do you not know, the Bl&p got an interim rate increase?
      That aside, it’s a small cog in the Emera wheel, so alone it won’t materially affect the overall. Esp since dividends from Bl&p to emera have been “generous”
      You should also know the BAMC is potentially to be acquired by entities in the co-op space as an ‘energy play’. You will know who currently controls the distribution of electricity.

    • It is bold what the Cooperative Coalition has embarked taking over BAMC. Trevor Browne has been big on calling out government on its failing to lead the RE sector with a strategic plan to see the most value staying onshore. One can only expect this is the kind of approach we will get in this deal if it is closed successfully.

      We wait to hear about the plan!

    • And weeee would like to know where the fuck you baccra boys were when this writer was helping the credit unions to make a quantum leap.

      And of course your ilk continue to presuppose that everybody here dwells on 166 miles square.

      What a fucking idiot!

      This writer has no abiding interest in knowing everything which has happened or will happen in Barbados yuh cunt!

      Has a proviso not been entered.

      You obviously have clothes out drying.

      Centainly, your implicit assumption is not covered by a proviso and represents making an asshole of yourself, as previously shown.

      Fuck off!

  3. Good afternoon Mr Blogmaster.
    First let me thank you for choosing to publish our statement from the Coalition in its entirety. We do appreciate the opportunity to discuss this critical issue in an open and frank environment.
    While it does indeed represent a bold step by the Co-op sector to make a move into the productive sector, we must not ignore the phenomenal work that has been done in the financial arena by thousands of Barbadian leaders in the Credit Union sector. This has created an impressive cadre of professionals and leaders, which gives us the confidence that this move into productive enterprise can enjoy the same, or even higher levels, of professionalism and success as have the credit unions.
    The actual reality is that this represents too critical an opportunity to truly enfranchise ordinary Barbadians, for it to be passed up by the movement – especially when we now have access to the needed professional expertise, the tradition of quality credit union performance, and importantly, the financial resources to make it all work.
    We look forward to hearing alternative views on what is happening in the energy sphere of Barbados, but our reading of the facts as intervenors in the ongoing rate case presents us with much cause for concern that urgently needs to be addressed. Perhaps new information may be forthcoming here that will clarify our concerns expressed.
    Trevor Browne
    Coop Coalition

    • @Trevor Browne

      Hoping the proposal is approved by cabinet and your group executes a good plan. The success of this homegrown project could serve to be trigger for other groups in society to follow.

  4. Cool Move Dub
    You must realise that the time is short
    So don’t be no fool you must be on the move
    Helping yourself is what to do
    Cause when you find it so hard sometimes
    You have no one no one to help you
    Don’t ask me how I know it’s true
    It makes no sense at all
    Just do what you can
    ’cause the time is short
    Man to man is so unjust
    and you don’t know who
    the one to trust

  5. @ Pacha
    I’m certain that by now it is realized that pretty talk and worn out cliches are not synonymous with development.
    So, you are more than correct in your comment. I recently read about frustration and other expertly put deflections.
    I also remember the reminder that Bajan’s have short memories.
    There are many of us suffering from amnesia, pretending we only learnt about certain things last night.
    One cannot speak about who has the shortest memory with any real accuracy. However there is an individual who seems to have no recollection of anything and yet they fingerprints are on every single thing that has happened for quite a few decades.
    This whole energy effort has fallen victim to the same pretty talk that seems to be our primary focus.
    Note that the same people who allowed agriculture to fall into ruin are now applying everyday to establish solar farms or whatever.
    Hero worship bordering on cultism and cementing national interest with political ambition will always lead to stagnation at the socio economic level.

    • Skinner
      How prescient!

      Soon from now they’ll all be claiming primacy of current developments too!

      Developments currently being absent from national consciousness!

  6. It is obviously true that we have had lots of talk in Barbados over the years, and not enough action. However there are a number of differences here that are of note.

    Energy represents a fundamental pillar of our society. Everything that we do, or depend on for survival, requires an affordable, reliable and consistent energy supply.
    If this foundational pillar is allowed to collapse, then the whole society will fail – and there are many examples of such failures worldwide.

    Secondly, as I pointed out previously, there are examples of outstanding quality performance in business by ordinary Barbadians. The Credit Union Sector is such an example.
    It has grown in assets to over of three billion dollars, to membership of 220,000, and has gained the trust , love and patronage of all sectors of the society.

    That the cooperative movement is now in a position to play a leadership role in the critical energy / agriculture business is therefore a clear sign of hope that change is not only possible, but clearly achievable.

    As to Trevor Browne’s role, I thank you for the compliment. I have made some contributions, but I am only one of many, many talented products of the soil who have committed to giving back, and who have been doing so through the Co-operative movement with the impressive results.

    My expectation is that as we move into energy, many more such committed locals will come to the fore in promoting the co-operative ownership model of development for Barbados.
    The alternative is more of the same old talk and little action.

    • Food, cheap energy, water and health are central to development.

      However, the country cannot continue with its external orientation, on the one hand.

      And on the other, create an internal dispensation which must to radically opposed.

      We trust that it is known that markets are never free, never fair, and that the lack of any of these four happened by accident.

      It’s not by chance that the country sees supermarkets as the place where food is to come from.

      This reality is intimately connected to where we borrow money from. Where and how we store foreign reserves.

      Certainly, the IMF never suggests that American food is not to be imported as a means of balancing payments.

      Indeed, their farmers are central to the operations of the WB and the IMF.

      We could make a similar case around energy.

      We call on the current leadership of the CU movement to engage a more sophisticated analysis.

  7. Copy that!
    Ideas are exchanged not necessarily copied .. others repeating thoughts not giving due credit is still a compliment that it was a good idea

  8. Have been hearing about cane to energy plant/ factory for about 4 decades.

    I hope if it finally successful there is profit sharing arrangement for the workers

    @ David or anyone else

    What happened to the sarGASsum biofuel project?

    • @John2

      What happened to all that elephant grass planted along the highway? What happened to the enterprise that was to be at Andrews Factory location?

  9. Another mystery for the Bushman is who the Hell is responsible for these mysterious agencies such as the FTC, FSC etc.

    Wunna realize that Owen Arthur cuss the regulatory system and said umm was bare junk.
    PM Mottley also recently cuss them, and said she was fed up with their nonsense.
    The Power Company has been cussing them for not giving in to whatever they requested.
    The Intervenors have been cussing them and saying that they doing bare junk, and real slowly…
    Even the public recently asked questions on social media about the link between the FTC chairman and Emera – resulting in her recusal from the Hearing

    Do they have a PR section?

    Perhaps they are doing an excellent job, and hence pissing EVERYONE off in the process, …but why not explain to the public?

    …and in all this, who is responsible for their performance and results…?
    …and that the damn country runs smoothly?

    What a cursed place!!

    • Why? What public? Has the company not had what they want already, as rent seeker and as guaranteed by government.

      What should they notice brassbowls like you for? Only people who would want to believe that any corporation really cares about publics anywhere would waste time with such a request.

    • “Only people who would want to believe that any corporation really cares about publics anywhere would waste time with such a request.”
      Semantics Pacha..!!
      We ALL should WANT TO BELIEVE… and SHOULD be requesting such notice from these demons.

      You clearly meant to say that “only people who ACTUALLY BELIEVE that any albino-centric corporation cares about publics..”

    • Wondering the process when the current franchise expires in 2028.
      Is this why the current parent is raiding the insurance fund?
      A new operator would have to be determined before 2028.
      Who pays who?

    • Comment taken from Facebook.

      Dr Roland Clarke
      Lt. Col. Browne asserts in his very first sentence that:
      “The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BLPC) is arguably the most critical asset owned by the people of Barbados” [1].
      This assertion does not comport with my understanding of the “ownership” of the Barbados Light and Power Company Limited (BLPC).
      My current understanding comports with what Emera Caribbean asserts on its website. That is, the BLPC is “wholly owned” by Emera Caribbean, which in turn is owed by Emera Canada [2].
      Question: Who is correct, Lt. Col Browne or Emera?
      [1] This statement posted above


      Roland R. Clarke, PhD SMIEEE CMVP CRE
      Energy Engineering and Economics

    • @NO
      You keep hitting the nail squarely on its head…
      …and we would be naive to think that the insurance scheme has been the only victim…

      What de Hell happened to all the retained earnings accumulated from NOT investing in new plant? from sending home staff? From the poor service given since they arrived?

      Bushie recalls that the Fear Trading People blamed this lack of investment in equipment on the big blackouts we suffered?

      There MUST be a big ‘donkeyed’ sign on every Bajan’s back saying “I am a Brass Bowl – Pee & Jobby Here”

      Oh Wait!!! …so that is why our www code is ‘.BB’…??
      Every damn body in the world know….

    • @Trevor Browne

      Do you have any thoughts regarding the below article in today’s press?

      Call for credit union caution

      FORMER PRESIDENT of the Barbados Cooperative & Credit Union League Ltd (BCCULL) Ashton Turney is cautioning against any rush to invest millions of credit union dollars in the effort to overhaul the sugar industry and develop renewable energy.
      While applauding Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society Limited (CoopEnergy) president, retired Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne’s creativity and enthusiasm, Turney was “adamant that decisions about investments by credit unions are driven by their members”.
      In an effort which involves CoopEnergy taking over the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), Browne said their plans involved investing $100 million “in the first three or so years”.
      In response, Turney, a former president of the Barbados Workers’ Union Cooperative Credit Union Ltd, said that in addition to Browne not being able to speak on the BCCULL’s behalf, “it is important to remind [him] that the League is made up of individual credit unions and decisions made must gain the support of the membership of each credit union.
      “It was striking that Colonel Browne could argue on the one hand that the project comes with substantial costs, but conclude that once projections are made it would be shown that the $100 million was really nothing,” Turney argued.
      Shareholder control
      “Investment of money from any source should be undertaken after relevant analysis and particularly costbenefit analysis. Clearly, Colonel Browne is enthusiastic about moving the energy sector forward and would like to design a model that widens shareholder control to include workers.
      “I, however, must reiterate that the money held in trust by the credit unions can only be invested in ventures approved by the members, and even then the credit union movement must do its due diligence before inviting its members to consider any proposal,” he added.
      While advising on how the process should proceed, he said the plans as outlined by Browne were “a welcomed effort to provide an option to move the agricultural and energy sectors forward”.
      “All Barbadians are anxious to see an improved effort at making agriculture a major leg on which the economic development of Barbados can stand. Similarly, Barbadians will support efforts to convert any by-product into useful energy creation.”
      Browne stated in the last SATURDAY SUN that the BAMC takeover should be completed by year-end and a significant return was expected on their investment. He said CoopEnergy did months of research into the energy business in conjunction with Belize, before making the move.
      “In the last four years what we’ve been doing is better understanding the energy business, and building alliances with potential investors and Government. So when the opportunity arose to invest in something like the BAMC, we did because we realised its future is energy-based ….
      “The plans that we have call for investment of that $100 million in the first three or so years. We are investing in an industry that will replace the one spending over $600 million a year on fossil fuels. So our initial investment is a pittance. But in the longer term, as we replace more and more fossil fuels, we expect the investment to grow significantly,” he said.
      Browne said CoopEnergy was created out of an assembly of cooperatives in Barbados invited by the Ministry of Energy three years ago to explore the role that could be played by the co-op movement, in Government’s plan to decarbonise the island’s energy framework and moving radically to sustainable energy.

      Source: Nation

  10. Well, was it not Pachamama cautioning about this?

    We also see Belize is cited as a point of reference.

    We can say categorically that the Belize sugar cane industry, cum energy sector, is vastly different, along a wide range of metrics, than what remains of a sugar industry in Barbados.

    At least the electrity company is state owned, now!

    We also have critical information, control of industrial processes, within the global sugar cane industry. For bagasse will most likely be the intended feedstock of choice.

    A few data points.

    Belize is a country of over 9000 miles square. A population of 400K, high rainfall, maybe 160 inches annually, deep soils, etc. And we may go on. Barbados is what, 166 square miles, a water scarce country.

    Our point is that even if the right breeds could be introduced we’re less than sure that there is the capacity to harvest sugar cane, in Barbados, for say 300 days a year to feed an industry.

    Of course, there are factors, even more relevant which cannot be discussed here.

    Finally, a deeper investigation into the interrelationships between the sugar industry and the energy sector in Belize would be critical if it is believed to be a benchmark of sorts.

    There’s a lot which could be said. Be assured that that which cannot be said is of even more importance that what has been.

    We trust that the leadership of the CU movement is not not as politicized as all trade unions have seemingly become by a sleek-talking Mottley of a woe unto man.

  11. Seems that the Coops are only considered after everything, everybody else, fails.

    Are destinations of last recall! The places to turn to now all is heading for a dead end.

    A risk premium should be implicit.

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