Tag Archives: FTC

Barbados Renewable Energy Program–A Case of the Tail Wagging the Dog

Senator Darcy Boyce, Minister of Energy

Senator Darcy Boyce, Minister of Energy

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) recently ruled on the motion for review of the billing arrangement and metering option of the Renewable Energy Rider  (RER) – see FTC Order and Decision . The RER is a mechanism established by government to facilitate the sale of surplus electricity to the grid supplied by customers with Renewable Energy (RE)  systems.

The government of Barbados has committed to facilitate the RE sector as part of sustaining a new economy not overly dependent on traditional economic drivers. The growing energy bill of Barbados and dependence on fossil fuel is a concern. An important strategy therefore is to ensure the legislative and regulatory framework is expertly (sensibly) designed to encourage enthusiastic adoption of RE solutions. Key to a successful RE penetration is aggressive participation by RE providers and confidence by end consumers to embrace RE as a top of mind solution to satisfy energy needs.

For those who have been following the emergence of the local RE sector still at a nascent stage of development, several concerns have been raised by the early adopters.  The most recent FTC hearing attracted submissions from CARITEL, Sir Allan Fields, Dick Stoute, Williams Industries, Solar Watt Systems and John Haywards. Visibly absent from the process was a consumer organization.  Unfortunately the iterations embedded in the RER ‘decisioning’ process is bound up in technical language which the average Barbadian is inclined to leave to the experts to unravel. There is however a basic level of interest and participation all Barbadians should show as it pertains to the development of a national RE program.  We are after all described as an educated and literate group of people.

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FTC: Managing Energy Cost

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?

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Fair Trading Commission (FTC) Must Play Leadership Role Transitioning Barbados to RE

Hallam Hope - Managing Director of CARITEL

Hallam Hope – Managing Director of CARITEL

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.

Fair Trading Commission RENEWABLE ENERGY RIDER Consultation

Submitted by St George’s Dragon
The late Professor Oliver Headley would be disappointed with lack of progress in the alternative energy sector were he alive

The late Professor Oliver Headley would be disappointed with the lack of progress in the alternative energy sector were he alive

The Government wants 29% of all electricity consumption to be generated from renewable sources by 2029. That seems ambitious but it is necessary in order for Barbados to help reduce CO2 emissions and help prevent global warming and rises in sea-levels etc.

Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) has been running a pilot study on renewable energy generation for the last couple of years. Under the pilot scheme consumers could install a photo-voltaic panel or wind-power system and get paid for power fed back into the grid.

The Fair Trading Commission has a consultation paper out on the results from the pilot study and the arrangements for the future including what BL&P should pay us for the electricity we generate from renewable systems.

During the two year period of the pilot scheme only 25 customers joined up. That is a tiny percentage of the number of BL&P customers and the response has to call into question the attractiveness of the scheme. If the terms are not made more attractive the Government’s 29% goal would have to be called into question.

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LIME Experiencing Problems At The Border Gateway

LIME experiencing Gateway problems

BU understands that Cable & Wireless is currently experiencing serious Internet networking issues. According to a BU family member the problem is complicated to explain in layman terms but involves something called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). This is a protocol used by big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and carriers to exchange routing information between each other.

To translate: several Internet services currently cannot reach Barbados LIME customers. LIME has been experiencing the problem since 13.07.2012 and  it may not be resolved for a few more days. Without an active Fair Trading Commission and Consumer organization the Barbados public is left to ferret information based on the effort of a few good souls.

We also take this opportunity to highlight the recent offer by LIME to double the ADSL bandwidth of customers. Customers should be aware that at the end of the offer is a caveat. If you do not respond to LIME to say you refuse the service your ADSL billing will be increased! It is not free!

Residential
  • 1 goes to Up to 2mbps
  • 1.5 goes to Up to 4mbps (3 month trial, at the end of which, the customer must opt out or will be billed at the new 4mbps rate).
  • 2 goes to Up to 4mbps
Business 
  • 2 goes to Up to 4Mbps
  • 4 goes to Up to 8Mbps
  • 6 goes to Up to 12Mbps

LIME Defines Corporate Greed

Alex McDonald – LIME Official

In a Press release issued yesterday, LIME announced “all post-paid mobile customers completing data streaming, browsing, tethering and downloading of documents, games and any other transactions which go via the WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) and/or Internet Gateways on the LIME data network will be billed”.

Nation Newspaper – 4/5/2012

Barbados Underground agrees with the decision by LIME’s management to increase mobile rates effective July 1, 2012. Today many Barbadians have been demonstrating outrage via the various media channels at what they believe is the obtuse manner LIME has unleashed its new pricing plan.  BU would venture the opinion that LIME has made its decision full in the knowledge that Barbadians will ‘keep noise’ but continue to subscribe to their services. Truth be told BU can’t wait until the next increase.

LIME prides itself on being a good corporate citizen although BU recalls that it was one of the first companies in Barbados at the onset of the global recession to retrench staff. It should come as no surprise after the recent settlement of the collective bargaining agreement with the Barbados Workers Union that LIME would seek to find ways to boost its revenue position.  It now has three quarters to get the job done.

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Illegal Water Rates: Pay Back The Money

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

On March 3, 2012, the Saturday Sun published an article entitled, “BWA Sacred Cow”, which claimed that the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is no longer regulated under the Utilities Regulation Act (the Act) chapter 282 of the laws of Barbados. This in effect means that Fair Trading Commission (FTC) cannot set water rates or hear and determine any complaints about the quality of service provided by the BWA. Any such complaints against the BWA can only be made to the BWA. As the article stated,

“They [BWA] are judge, jury, everything. You have to accept what they say. So water in this case is creating difficulty because of the change that was made in 2009 when it was removed . . . it is creating a lot of problems for the consumers”.

The obvious question must now be: How did the regulation of the BWA get back to this undesirable situation? The answer is not the most honourable thing that the present Government has done.

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