The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) will not get the Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss to help it in its appeal to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) for an increase in the maximum amount of electricity the Barbados Light & Power Company (BLPC) accepts from renewable energy customers.
Amidst BREA’s calls for the FTC to move the seven-megawatt capacity under the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) upwards, Inniss said he would not meddle in the affairs of the regulatory agency.
Today, the BREA’s executive director Clyde Griffith disclosed that the association recently established a technical committee with about 15 people who will examine some of the major issues affecting the industry, and they had sent off a letter to the FTC requesting a review of the cap.
He said unless the limit was increased, people in the renewable energy sector would soon start to lose their jobs.
“We appreciate that this industry, which has so far employed 500 people across the board, needs to put pressure on the system to expand . . . Just consider what could happen if that cap is not moved. These companies will have to lay off the people who are involved in the industry. So it behooves us all to put up a fight to ensure that we get the megawatts increased,” Griffith said as he addressed the start of a consultative workshop for the launch of a solar photovoltaic consumer guide at the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) on Harbour Road.
“We feel the need to ensure that we raise the level of the limit so that we can . . . continue to support the Government’s efforts to raise the support for the renewable energy sector in the country.”
The RER was designed specifically to facilitate the sale of excess electricity to the grid by customers using solar photovoltaic or wind renewable energy systems to offset electricity consumption from the grid.
As he renewed his call for the maximum under the RER to be increased to benefit more Barbadians, Griffith called on the minister, who has responsibility for the FTC, to speak on the matter.
However, Inniss, who attended the launch, said he was confident the FTC was competent to make “the right decision” regarding the capacity limit and he would not get involved in that decision either way.
“As minister responsible for the FTC I have to ensure integrity and independence of the FTC and not meddle in their affairs on a daily basis. And therefore I have all faith . . . they will do what they have to do in the best interest of all those who come before them,” he said.
He added that the matter had to be fully examined among all stakeholders, while cautioning that the interest of the BLPC should also
“Let me also add a word of caution to those who may feel that the FTC needs to do something radical and dramatically increase the limit. We still have to be cautious about protecting the integrity of the utility . . . We would be acting in a very irresponsible manner as a Government and as a FTC if we do anything that can deliberately compromise the integrity of that utility,” he warned.
“But I wish to give the assurance that the state and the state agencies involved in regulation of this sector will not act in an irresponsible manner and conduct ourselves and make decisions that will compromise the integrity of electricity utility in Barbados. At the same time, we will see what we can do to ensure that consumers have access to alternatives and the government’s alternative energy policy is not compromised…” Inniss added, noting that while some decisions would not please everyone, he was certain they would be fair and transparent and in the best interest of the country.