Watson says FTC rushed it

A rushed decision which will result in electricity rate increases for Barbadians.

That is how intervenor Senator Tricia Watson has described the Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) ruling on Barbados Light & Power Company Limited’s (BL&P) application for pre-approval of investments and cost recovery through the clean energy transition rider.

The attorney urged consumers not to believe “the FTC has saved us from a rate increase”.

“Whatever was approved by the FTC this time around will still result in electricity rate increases for Barbadians. That is on top of the 2022 interim rate increase and possibly on top of another $10 million per year rate increase that Light & Power asked for in January this year and that the FTC is reviewing right now,” she asserted.

Watson said the clean energy transition rider (CETR) application decision was sent to her and co-intervenor, chartered accountant David Simpson, on Wednesday evening and they had not yet got the chance to fully read and analyse it.

However, she said they were “completely dissatisfied” with how the FTC conducted the matter, claiming the regulator “has continued to ignore and disrespect pro-consumer intervenors”.

“The FTC has made a rushed decision in that application without conducting a full review process. The FTC prevented the Watson/Simpson intervenor team from submitting our written arguments in the rate case that they conducted only in writing against our repeated protests, with no oral hearings and with no opportunity whatsoever for intervenors to challenge any of the Light & Power’s evidence, or to cross-examine any of the Light & Power’s witnesses,” she claimed.

Watson said Barbadians “must stay vigilant about these electricity matters, because at the rate that we are going, only a few privileged people will benefit from the energy sector transition in Barbados”.

“Most households will bear all of the cost burdens, which will be tremendous and will reap none of the benefits which will, frankly, make some elite players very wealthy at the expense of ordinary consumers,” she added.

Another intervenor, Ricky Went, said the FTC’s approval of 15 MW of BESS (battery energy storage systems) at this time “is reasonable in order to maintain the integrity of the grid”.

He pointed out, however, that instead of battery storage, Government “favours pumped storage as a long-term solution (50-year lifespan) and is currently exploring funding for technology which offers high-storage efficiency, stores large quantities of energy and is more cost-effective over the long term”.

While BL&P’s full revenue request was not granted, Went said “while a utility must be allowed to recover its investment, the regulator also has to be mindful of the impact on ratepayers. Our team maintains this position and feels the FTC should have been tougher on BL&P”.

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