PM Mottley is frustrated

If the omnipresent Prime Minister Mia Mottley is being frustrated by a moribund FTC to execute its job, what recourse is there for ‘lowly’ citizens.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Many Barbadians – we hope – have been following the protracted hearing to determine a rate application request by the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) being adjudicated by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC). The blogmaster has a healthy respect for the intervenors representing the interest of citizens who despite being under-resourced have been putting in the work. However, it must be stated the review process smacks of being ultra-bureaucratic at a time timely decision making is required to move the country forward. The government it appears has created a monster.

The BL&P’s legal team has challenged the FTC’s decision issue earlier in February 2023. It is of interest based on the argument the FTC acted ultra vires. If the FTC Commissioners are forced to vary its earlier decision, there is a simple task for all members to perform – resign!

… to safeguard the interests of consumers, to regulate utility services supplied by service
providers, to monitor and investigate the conduct of service providers and business enterprises,
to promote and maintain effective competition in the economy and for related matters.

2020 FTC Annual Report
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Fair Trading Commission Clarification unclear

In the Friday 13 January edition of Barbados Today (pg 7), the FTC has sought to clarify an ‘alleged suggestion made earlier’, that the new tariff rates will be ‘across the board’. This FTC clarification needs some clarification as outlined in the attachedTrevor Browne (BAPE)

Electricity Tariff Rates Cut by Fair Trading Commission

Submitted by the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers (BAPE)
Trevor Browne – BAPE

Press release from Barbados Association of Professional Engineers

The Barbados Fair Trading Commission (FTC) in late 2022, granted an ‘interim’ rate increase to the Barbados Light & Power Company (BLPC) based only on that Company’s assertion that they were facing a ‘cash crisis’.

On November 28, 2022, the BLPC issued a letter to the public indicating that they would no longer be entertaining photovoltaic (PV) connections to their Grid, unless appropriate ‘mitigating measures’ were addressed.

These measures apparently require the provision of commensurate battery storage by the applicants themselves, or the granting of licenses to BLPC to install their own battery storage – to be 100% paid for by electricity consumers along with handsome guaranteed profits to Emera.

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Barbados Workers Union FACE OFF With Barbados Light & Power Company

Submitted by Anthony Davis

The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) has been warned that it will not be allowed to send home workers before discussing the matter with the Social Partnership. Any attempt to do so will be met with strong resistance from the combined forces of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and Ministry of Labour, the union’s General Secretary Toni Moore cautioned today – Barbados Today

tonimooreI sincerely hope that this is not another empty threat by one of the trade unions in this country. Recently they are better known for their bark rather than their bite, as they have not represented their constituents to the best of their abilities because they were sleeping too soundly in their beds with this Government.

I take umbrage at the behaviour of the head of the BL&P when she states that it is either layoffs or a rate hike. Is she a member of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) that she can make such an audacious statement?

In other words, does she have any say whatsoever in whether that company would be granted a rate hike?

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Understanding Government’s Energy Plan

Sen. Darcy Boyce

Sen. Darcy Boyce

The BU household is not comprised of the sharpess  ‘blackled’ in the case therefore understanding government’s energy diversification strategy after six years in office has become somewhat of a mystery.  If it is a key policy measure to restructure the economy we are not ‘feeling’ it.

State entities are the largest consumers of fossil energy in Barbados,. Barbados Water Authority and Grantley Adams Airport come to mind. Why has the government not embarked on an aggressive implementation of solar, wind or combination alternative energy systems at these locations?

At the residential level we have a role to play to conserve and transition to alternative sources but it is always the most sensible approach to grab the quick wins. The apolitical among us understand that energy diversification to mitigate volatility associated with oil price is a sensible approach. All issues in Barbados are converted to being political and amidst the noise of the RE debate any semblance of a nation awakening to the benefit of this issue has been suppressed.

The launch recently of an initiative by a local company to import electric cars provoked a chuckle in the BU household. There is a government endorsed program to conserve energy and to rollout alternative energy initiatives BUT we are importing electric cars to feed from a grid which is fossil powered. BU welcomes the electric and hybrid vehicles BUT how does it merge with the goal of energy diversification?. We need to incent the individual who wants to buy an energy saving vehicle to retrofit the garage to be powered by non fossil power supply.

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Island Hopping With Emera

Barbados Light and Power headquarters on Bay Street

Barbados is the latest Caribbean island to feel the Emera Squeeze

by Miles Howe

On a small island north of Venezuela, 4,500 kilometres from Halifax, Barbados Light and Power (BLP) recently issued a news release. Energy use on the Caribbean island has hit a low not seen since 1974.

“Some people are now simply just turning off all the electricity in their homes, especially when they’re not home,” says Carson Cardogan, a Barbadian ratepayer. “They’re pulling out everything. Every plug. Including the fridge. People are living virtually in the dark, in order to not pay Barbados Light and Power the hefty electricity bills.”

While the average Canadian might applaud such a downward shift in power consumption, this is not a question of Barbadians “going green” by choice. It is the work of Nova Scotia’s Emera, BL&P’s new owner.

Emera, the Nova Scotia-based company with a penchant for electricity generation, moved fast onto the scene in Barbados, purchasing a 38 per cent share in the largely nationally-owned BL&P in May 2010, and another 41 per cent in January 2011. When shares in BLP were trading at $12 on the Barbados stock market, Emera, which has been making ambitious purchases and clocking record profits since 2010, offered BL&P shareholders $25 per share – an offer they could not refuse. A few dissenting voices, on call-in programs and social media panels, urged caution against selling off the national power company to a foreign interest, but the deal went through unencumbered.

Read full article at Halifax Media Co-op

I Have Had It With The Barbados Light & Power Company

Extracted from the Facebook Page of Rosemary Parkinson. This blog was forwarded to Miles Howe, a Canadian journalist at the Halifax Media Group doing some good work to keep EMERA ‘honest’.

New Managing Director, Mark King

Many of you might remember the tirade I did on BARBADOS *NOT REALLY ANYMORE* LIGHT & POWER a few months ago. And how far dat little diatribe went. From Facebook to Barbados Underground to Brass Tacks et al. Remember you sent your CEO to me? Remember I posted what I would still consider to be answers that only Dale Carnegie would have had the balls to write about in his now so very famous book “How to win friends and influence (really meaning fool) people”? Well…after all dat episode our billl went back down to high but hello I understand the cost of living an’ all de ress of it and it still did not make me happy but it was manageable. NOW THIS MONTH WE BACK UP TO WHERE I BELLOWED AND I GINE BELLOW EVEN LOUDER NOW ‘CAUSE NOW I KNOW YOU RIPPING OFF CERTAIN PEOPLE WITHOUT A DOUBT!!!!

This last month’s bill is so raas high I gine have myself a heart attack together with my landlady nexx door….we done both sick already with chess cold. And her mother done spend a week almost in horspital so she was saving electricals at home. But dis’ month’s bill 20th November to 21st. December gone from the usual $600/700 a month now back up to $1200!!!!

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Canadian EMERA Controls Key Strategic Asset Of Barbados

New Managing Director, Mark King of Barbados Light & Power Company

Many Barbadians are still fuming at the decision by the government of Barbados to sell part of its 21% holdings in Light & Power Holdings (L&PH) to Canadian company EMERA. Many Barbadians are still fuming at the ruling by the Fair Trading Commission of Barbados to approve Barbados Light and Power’s application for a 10% return on rate base. The deed is done but it does not stop some of us from remaining vigilant.

The decision to allow a strategic asset like the Barbados Light & Power Company to become almost 100% owned by EMERA remains a concern for BU. It is noteworthy a similar acquisition occurred in Bahamas in November 2011 but unlike Barbados citizens of Bahamas have decided to become proactive in light of a deterioration in the quality of service since the acquisition of Grand Bahamas Power Company. The regulatory framework in the Bahamas appears to be a little different to  Barbados’s which should not detract from our concerns.

BU hopes to join with others in the coming weeks to probe the integrity of decision making by EMERA. If we are to judge by the reports posted by Miles Howe of the Halifax Media Group there is an opportunity for Barbadian consumers to demand answers to a few questions.

Here is the opening paragraph from another article posted by Miles Howe:

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Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Worme, Barbadians Want To Examine The Analysis On Solar Energy

Stephen Worme, Chief Marketing Officer, BL&P

As part of a pilot programme, BL&P has introduced a Renewable Energy Rider “to permit small customer-owned wind and solar photovoltaic systems to connect to the grid” to generate electricity for their own use and sell surplus back to BL&P. Provision was made for up to 200 connections but the last public report I saw suggested that less than 10 consumers had signed up.
Andrew Brathwaite

Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Worme of the Barbados Light and Power Ltd (BL&P) is quoted in the press suggesting that “international oil prices are predicted to rise and it would be unrealistic to expect the Barbados Light & Power Company not to pass on the increase to electricity users or to expect Government to subsidize it for “any extended period of time”  BU’s best research contradicts Worme’s forecast however we  concede that there is a known volatility associated with oil prices.

A couple years ago when the price of oil skyrocketed to USD140.00 plus per barrel it sparked a robust national conversation about the mitigating steps which should be taken.Two years later we are still talking with no semblance of a Renewable Energy Program to be mobilized any time soon.

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A Love Letter To Barbados Light & Power

From the Facebook Page of Rosemary Parkinson

I was once a vibrant, beautiful woman without a wrinkle! But this is what your harassment of my life has turned me into. Perhaps a court case would be in order for turning me into a monster with your bills???

BARBADOS LIGHT & POWER – are you waiting for the whole of Barbados to just come down to your offices and scream and shout and behave bad like a set of lunatics all because of your incessant insistence on taking the mickey out of each and every Barbadian who uses a light bulb in this country? Has it dawned on you that two years ago the very same bill from you for the very same usage of your raas gold power at our residence was BDS$400 a month? One year later for the very same usage of that same raas gold power of yours suddenly became BDS$750 a month? Within this last year that very same usage of that very same gold power suddenly became platinum at BDS$1000?.. and now to add insult to injury… one month…yep! I said one month later your raas platinum power has become more expensive than uranium – the bill being BDS$1700 for same said on month supply?

Nothing has changed in terms of usage in this household for the last two years. Sorry! Mea Culpa. I lie. At great cost I turned in my old fridge for a new Energy Saver one! But nothing extra has been purchased to plug into sockets that feed into your miserable meters that are read when you feel like it. The price of oil plummets, the recession arrives, people are losing their jobs and you, dear, dear BARBADOS LIGHT & POWER find it amusing to hike everyone’s right to light to suit your investors’ dividends at the end of a year. For, God forbid, those should drop!

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Wearing The Title Of Educated Fools With Dignity

Barbadians were told to expect a 10% increase in their electricity bills from as early as next month. As expected the news has triggered consternation in a population made lazy by a subsidy to buffer fuel increases – since removed by the current government – and behaviour fuelled by a ravenous consumption lifestyle. There was a time when Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Worme made himself available to BU to answer questions about BL&P’s role in a national energy policy among other issues, until the BU intelligentsia exposed his utterances as public relations spiel.

It was about three years ago Barbadians were having the same conversation sparked when the price of a barrel of oil rose to $147.00 When will we learn? Barbados is a country which is totally reliant on fossil fuel to general energy. Successive governments in the last 20 years have refused to wean the Barbados economy from the model which is driving us down a path of economic disaster. BU finds it amusing that the former Prime Minister Owen Arthur was quoted in the media today speaking to the issue of the rising fuel charge and his astute solution is to reduce the excise tax. One would have thought when his government managed the economy in the boom years the strategic approach should have been to create a framework to mitigate Barbados’ reliance on fossil fuel. Perhaps this was too much to ask because it is the stuff of which LEADERSHIP is measured!

The folly of our predicament is now compounded by a current state where debt to GDP has climbed over 100% driven by government’s policy to use domestic debt as a strategy to protect the social and economic fabric of the society. The current government finds itself incurring domestic debt at an alarming rate to pay day to day bills including public sector salaries. The irony is most of government debt of late is not about capacity building. The conclusion is that with a volatile situation in the Middle East the price of a barrel of oil will not dip in the foreseeable future. The BU family has already highlighted the reality for the oil business which has seen the cost to drill oil increased significantly from where it was in the 70s, the moral of the story, oil production will remain high now and for evermore.

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