Posted as a comment to the Development by any means blog by Trevor Browne of the Cooperative Coalition, Intervenor – BLPC Rate Hearing 2021
Having participated in the now two-year-old BLPC Rate review process, the representatives of the Coalition of Cooperatives are not surprised at the recent island-wide blackout experienced by the BLPC.
There is no question about the complexity of maintaining an isolated island electric utility, twenty four hours a day, and every day of every year.
However BLPC has been characterized by;
• the clear lack of strategic planning towards the National Energy Policy
• the refusal to invest in new plant now for over a decade since this has been known to be
• massive cuts in maintenance systems and expenditure,
• and an alarming emphasis on extracting dividends that has been way out of proportion to past history for BLPC.
It seems intuitive that the price to be paid for such a strategy by BLPC will eventually be seen in increasing unreliability, outages and poor customer service. Indeed, it is our considered opinion that, were it not for the high quality of staff at BLPC and their personal commitment to serving Barbados, such outages would by now have been a regular feature of BLPC operations. However even such dedication has its limits.
Unless adequate resources are allocated for system maintenance and upgrades, more and more situations will arise to disrupt service to customers.
Information shared during the current Rate Hearing shows that between the last Rate increase in 2010 and the reporting period of 2021, BLPC generated net income of $635 million.
Of this income, $97 million was reinvested in the Company to upgrade operations improve reliability and upgrade customer service, while $537million was transferred to BLPC’s sole shareholder as dividends.
Prior to EMERA’s influence on such decisions, BLPC routinely allocated over 70% of its net income to improving the electricity network, meeting customer expectations and preparing for future needs.
It appears that BLPC has now been converted into a cash machine for EMERA. It must be then expected that the price to be paid will be increasing unreliability, poor service, and increasing costs.