There is a strident debate being waged by a group of citizens led by Tricia Watson to have the Electric Light and Power (Amendment) Bill 2022 withdrawn by the government of Barbados. At the root of the challenge is the surreptitious approach government through uncouth Minister Kerri Symmonds to introduce a Bill to evade early public scrutiny AND the lack of a robust documented procedure for making the application process to generate electricity transparent.
We have finally reached a point in Barbados where the liberalisation of the electricity supply affords the opportunity for government to ensure ordinary Barbadians are well positioned to be enfranchised by the limitless financial potential of an emerging sector. The eminently qualified Tricia Watson (and company) has been dogged in critiquing the Bill which to their credit forced the original draft to be amended to current text.
The blogmaster is not qualified to enter the weeds of the debate BUT knows a thing or two about the urgent need for improved governance and the need to create opportunities to distribute wealth on an island where a few control a disproportionate amount of the economic pie. As long as humankind exist there will be demand for electricity. It is important non traditional players are given a fair chance to secure an equitable stake in a sector about to boom
In 2022 we should not be having this type of conversation as it relates to empowering non traditional owners of capital. Here is another one of those opportunities where a majority passive citizenry can constructively engage by entering the debate posting to Barbados Parliament website, calling the talk shows, sending articles to traditional and social media, bombarding everywhere Kerri Symmonds has a social media presence to name a few.
You are encouraged to follow Tricia Watson’s Facebook account for informed updates.
The following discussion with a Nate Hagen was interesting for the blogmaster and exposes a huge gap in the local space of new perspectives to solving problems and generating scenarios for consideration to use Hagen;s thought process. A shocking observation given the level of investment in education post independence.
It is obvious the social and political prattle we continue to hear – more of the same with minimal attempt to engage in needle changing interventions.
Here is the discussion the blogmaster thoroughly enjoyed compliments of BU family member Bentley.
As Ursula K. LeGuin the amazing author said “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”
The following is Dr. Ronnie Yearwood’s column published in the Business Authority, Nation newspaper – 4 December 2017
Dr Ronnie Yearwood
Where are the big ideas in the upcoming election on governance, economy, education, energy?
What are the three big policy changes from either of the political parties? In July a group of Barbadians, what politicians like to call ‘ordinary’ Bajans got together to try to think about some of things that Barbados could do to be better.
Not once do I recall one of the suggestions was for a debushing or beautifying programme, or for road paving. Do you know why? Because we ‘ordinary’ voting Bajans think that is the job of the Government.
Perhaps start by not calling us in a derogatory way, ‘ordinary’ Bajans as if somehow there is a distance between the government and the governed. Next, as a government you cannot offer us what we should have and what you should be doing.
For the more Biblically inclined among the readership – or even if not because the Bible does have excellent lessons – it reminds me of the story of the temptation of Jesus, where the devil takes Jesus to a mountain and showed Him the kingdoms of the world which he would give Him in return if Jesus bowed
down and worshiped him. Well we know the rest of the story. Jesus did not bow down.
How can you offer something that you do not own, that is not yours to offer and frankly is already in the possession of the person you offer it to, otherwise than by trying to trick them? Not in this day in age, should we be promised and should we listen to promises that the roads will be fixed or street lights be installed, or that residents in areas unfit to live will be moved to suitable and proper housing, schools will be clean and safe places to learn, garbage will be collected, police will be on the street, road sides will be cleaned, Government buildings maintained and not left to decay at which point we waste money to build new ones to put a plaque with someone’s name, regulations enforced -and I could continue with this list. How can we be promised what is ours, how can we be promised the most basic building blocks of our country when we already own them?
I get the impression and would gladly, though I think unlikely, be corrected that our politicians are simply playing in a small sandbox in a corner and worse yet, we allow this. Anyone who knocks on your door talking about road paving programmes or street lights should be told, ‘is that not your job as a Government’, ‘what is your big idea?’ They have not stopped playing small politics and need to start thinking big.
Can we have every house in Barbados running on solar energy in a few years? Could we also in a few years go to a zero emissions society with electric cars? Can we have minimum to zero bank charges for transfers and dealing with your own money, and generally make banking more open and fairer to consumers? It is utterly unacceptable that charges exist even between the same brand-name banks to move money from one part of the Caribbean to another. I know I will be told, yes it is the same brand but the banks in each country are different. As a consumer, is that really my concern? No! I just want it fixed.
For example, how can we transform education. For years we have heard that we need to abolish the 11 plus because it breeds and perpetuates inequalities. For as many ‘bright’ students that emerge, we know our school system fails many of our children; yet we still have the system. Added to that we create more sixth form schools doing more of the same. How about liberalising the education system and introducing choice where different schools can offer different types of education? Is CXC the only form of qualification that should be available from the majority of schools, or can we have for example the International Baccalaureate as an offering, or a grade point average system? Where is the next big thing in education?
We have to think big and create new things, some which we have not even imagined yet. But we create an environment for people to imagine new ways of service delivery, energy, education, transport. Sometimes new does not mean reinventing the wheel but new applications which can be transformative.
The point is that piecemeal will not do for Barbados. It will not get us the Barbados we already own. So do not, and I say this to every politician, do not come offering the small things, the things that any responsible and good government aiming to perfect the Good Society should already be doing and as a voter we should not be asking you to do. Go to the next level. How can we innovate for example in energy, governance, education and health? If as a politician you judge yourself as seriously lacking, then do not come.
We should not be wasting seats in Parliament, as a friend last week told me, on people who are past their sell by dates. His fear which I share is that sadly we will get more of the same and as voters we may fall for the trickery that Jesus showed us not to fall for, and bow down to accept what is already ours.
Cahill Energy (Barbados) unwittingly flung the cat among the pigeons at their Community Meeting this week in a most unexpected way. Apart from their woefully inadequate response to clearly well informed citizens, they exposed the weakness and confusion in the Government’s energy policy.
The following submission probes government’s energy policy
Barbados Light and Power headquarters on Bay Street
Our energy policy is becoming more and more perplexing. So much so that any reasonable person analyzing the decisions and statements of those whose stewardship we depend on for efficient, reliable, sustainable energy practices would conclude that presently we as a nation could not be any further adrift. Commenting on the same issue, and on the need for a coherent energy blueprint, a well-known businessman recently opined that “there does not seem to be a well –defined and quantified, coordinated and integrated energy policy being articulated by government.” While there may be some merit in this statement, many would argue that any incoherence in our energy policy resides mainly in two locations: Spring Garden and Green Hill.
A clear example of incoherent messaging is the Barbados Light and Power (BL&P) advertisement of Friday May 9th in Weekend Nation. In this ad, the company is inviting “expressions of interest” in the building of an 8MW solar plant on 40 acres of land at Trents, St Lucy with a projected completion date of March 2016. BL&P recently completed an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a 25 year blueprint which they purport maps “Barbados future power needs and identifies a future portfolio of power generating technologies.” The remarkable thing about this document, which is currently awaiting FTC’s approval, is how rapidly it changes emphasis and direction. It has now had three major revisions in as many months. In the original plan which was valid up to November 2013, utility-scale solar and waste- to- energy (WTE) were not seen as economically viable technologies in the least cost expansion plan. Apparently, they are now, displacing much of the wind generation and some of the low speed diesel capacity, technologies that were previously considered the lynchpin in driving energy costs down.
It is estimated that the cost of electricity has doubled in Barbados since 2008. We are curious about the process of sourcing Bunker C to fuel Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) generators. How are the generators which use Bunker C integrated into the distribution of electricity to the benefit of the consumer? How has the price of Bunker C trended since 2008 and have Barbadians consumers benefited?
There is nothing surprising about a monopoly, namely EMERA, seeking to protect its commercial monopoly interests. That essentially is what the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) consultation paper is about. At issue though is whether the desired regulatory approval that serves a monopoly’s interest should be allowed to undermine the interest in the liberalisation and economic safeguards of a sovereign state. There is little doubt in my mind that based on the research and very small team assembled by my consultancy CARITEL that we do have the intellectual resources in Barbados to take the emerging Renewable Energy (RE) sector forward.
The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) clearly has its challenges or it would have done two things. Rather than pass the buck. It would have addressed the RER holistically meaning Fuel Clause Adjustment (FCA), RER etc as one issue and secondly, it would have come up with its own researched positions rather than tender an EMERA document for public comment.
This is a national issue of some significance not a request for a rate adjustment. We have the usual confusing mix of excellent information, disinformation and unresearched prattle.
Noel Lynch in action at Haggatt Hall on BLP platform
Although Prime Minister Stuart has not yet made known the date of this country’s next general elections, the Barbados Labour Party and particularly its leader Master Tactician Owen Arthur found a way to announce, at least from their vantage point, the start of “The Silly Season”. What else is there to deduct from the charade that given its hype, turned out to be nothing more than a storm in a teapot?
At the very same Bussa Roundabout in January of 2009 persons gathered there were given a dose of the aphrodisiac labelled Dialogue Of Deception and Bajans were in bed with the Democratic Labour Party. Last Sunday they gathered for what in the truest sense of the the word was nothing more than “OWEN’S MEACULPA.” (miaculpa). Gone was the hostility that became his trademark of late, replaced by the all important need to present a united front.
Sunday night Owen Arthur’s zeal said forget Geritol, there is potency in opportunism. Did he not think we wanted to hear from his lips the status and future plans for the one he appointed as co-leader and broke the camel’s back in the first place? Such might have been as weak and lame as the explanation given for the cheque that found its way into his personal account, but it was warranted none the less. Much time was spent in his attempt to show government’s blatant disregard for law, as if this were a new phenomenon in Bajan politics.
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.
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!!!!
The national average for gasoline is $3.40 a gallon right now. But according to Dr. Kent Moors, the “oil constriction” he – and he alone – sees coming could slam Americans at any time. And we could have $5 gas by as early as March. Here’s his official warning. As you’ll see, this is also a massive profit opportunity, especially for those who “get in” before the rest of the world even knows what an “oil constriction” is.
December 5, 2011 Power Politics and the Price of Oil by Dr. Kent Moors
Dear Oil & Energy Investor,
Over the past three days, two events at different ends of the globe have reminded us that political developments can directly influence global oil prices.
First, on December 2, just as I was departing theUnited States, the Senate gave notice that it was prepared to tighten sanctions againstIranover its nuclear program.
And yesterday, the parliamentary elections here inMoscowdidn’t quite provide the results Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his party had expected.
The catalysts of each event were quite distinct, and each event was not directly the result of energy policy or related costs. However, both events will likely influence the international oil market in similar ways.
Both will likely restrict the flow of oil. And this constriction should be a sign to investors that crude prices will be going up.
Barbados is not ready for a homosexual or lesbian PM, maybe someday but not today.
Owen Arthur is the best national leader alive capable of navigating Barbados back to prosperity.
Extremely unwise economic and fiscal decision have been made by the current government which is impacting Bajan households in a significant way, an example of this are our high gas prices at the pump, while oil prices are down.
The personality type of our current PM is not what Barbados needs at this time .. we need a lion not a turtle.
The next PM elected in Barbados will determine the future of Barbados in a very significant way.
Elites in Barbados must be forced to share the wealth.
The import export industry in Barbados is draining the life from Bajan households at the cash register.
Priding ourselves on our high education standard is a waste of time if we have no jobs for our youth when they finish school.
Government is too large and too inefficient; it’s time to trim the fat.
We are as a nation horrible at marketing our national brand and must improve.
One hour of of sunlight hitting the earth can supply energy for one whole day for the entire earth. I was amazed that the government of Barbados as announced by Dr Denis Lowe, would be spending $400 million to set up a waste to energy plant. Who in their right mind could advise a government in a country where we receive sunshine 300 days a year to go the route of burning garbage?
Let me as a citizen of Barbados be bold enough to ask whose interest is the government of Barbados serving?
Who are the technical advisors advising the government of Barbados and what do they stand to gain?
Is it true that the government EPD is in the dark about this project.
What about possible environmental fallout?
At what point will the ash which will be generated from this burning of garbage and ploughed into our soil reach a saturation point?
Accused of promoting fear, what about a possible contamination of our water supply by this ash, did I read dioxin is a by-product?
Do we note that accidents like oil spills and nuclear reactor accident are not suppose to happen just as the Titanic was not suppose to sink?
BU’s position regarding Barbados’ heavy reliance on fossil fuel generation has been articulated several times. The fact that successive governments have demonstrated a high level of ignorance by not prioritizing an alternative energy policy belies our boast of being a highly educated nation. If it is one thing we have become good at in recent years is finding reasons not to get up from our tailbones and find solutions to problems. We have become intoxicated by the good life; however such is defined.
One issue which has been raised since this DLP government assumed office is the price mechanism used to determine energy prices. Barbadians have been informed by the government that the policy of the previous BLP government of subsidizing the energy price was unsustainable and that the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) had become technically insolvent as a result. We have had to take the word of our policymakers because empirical information has never been made public as far as BU is aware.
The wall of silence which has surrounded the issue of how government price energy is compounded by the not insignificant electricity bills which consumers have been receiving from the Barbados Light & Power (BLP) in recent months. The public outcry has forced the reclusive Sir Neville Nicholls, head of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to defend a recent decision by the FTC to give BLP a 10% return on its rate base. The revelation that BL&P generated 45 million dollars in profit has not helped to placate Barbadians labouring under the prevailing hard economic times.
The question which has piqued the curiosity of many Barbadians is why has the energy price in Barbados been rising when crude oil price on the world market has been decreasing?
Hardly a week goes by without cries about rising prices. One writer having discovered some cheaper prices in Dominica accused local businessmen of greed, price gouging etc. It never dawned on the writer that the overall cost of doing business including labour cost is cheaper than in Barbados. The price of tropical fruits and locally grown products are significantly lower in Dominica, St Lucia and elsewhere than in Barbados where 2 limes or a single plantain cost $1. And the imported milk was said to be expensive and sub-standard. All this in a country with a year-round temperature of 75 plus degrees, where the only snow seen is on the television, and where even putting two tomato or pea plants and a goat in the backyard reflects low status.
Prices of oil, gasoline, food and other commodities have been rising everywhere in the last two years and will continue to rise. One is now hard-pressed to find anything for a single dollar in the North American Dollar Stores. More people are using public transportation and leaving their vehicles at home. The weatherman along with other factors wiped out coffee and cocoa crops in the largest producers Columbia and Ivory Coast. Soon you will have to go back to drinking bush tea. Of course it hasn’t dawned on anyone that coffee and cocoa could be grown there.
Cotton is out of the question. Cotton, indigo etc (not sugar) were the first crops grown there after 1629. They were inferior in quality and more expensive to those grown in Georgia and gave way to sugar. That situation remains unchanged today. There is artificial man-made cotton. We need to grow food which, among other things, will significantly reduce the import and foreign exchange bill. The sugar industry which was started by Colonel Drax at Drax Hall and Locust Hall ‘facilitated’ the arrival of Jews.