The head of a local consumer rights body is not convinced that consumers are being fed enough information so they can generally make informed decisions.
In addition, the director general of the Barbados Consumer Research Organization, Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, has raised concern that residents were in the dark regarding issues relating to the renewable energy industry.
He has therefore called on players in the industry to do more to educate consumers and not just focus on making a profit.
“I am convinced that the consumers haven’t got a clue what is going on. I don’t see anybody educating the consumer. What I am seeing and hearing is people trying to rip off the consumers in order to gain some advantage. There is certainly a need for a more in-depth consumer education that is ongoing,” he said, with reference to the renewable energy industry.
Gibbs-Taitt said ten years after his organization was formed in 1998, its efforts to educate the public on different issues were thwarted, but he quickly added that the plans have always been on the cards to reintroduce an education programme.
He said it was a matter of finding “the mediums to carry the plans”.
“The voice of the consumer has to be heard, and this continual education is vital to the wellbeing of the whole country. It doesn’t matter which [industry] you look at, the consumer input is vital; without it there is no industry,” said Gibbs-Taitt.
“The importance of consumers can never be understated and there are simple reasons why: consumers are the most important people in society given the number of us there are . . . You can look at the biggest industries and businesses in any society, they are nothing without consumers. But for some reason the general public does not understand that. They think they are in their little world . . . They do not realize that each of us depends on the other for survival.”
In a separate interview, executive director of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA), Clyde Griffith, told Barbados TODAY that his association would be embarking on an education campaign regarding energy efficiency, in an effort to help residents fully understand various aspects of the industry.
He said a part of the plan was to encourage people to practice energy conservation and energy management in the household through the use of energy monitors and other methods.
“So we are going to be meeting with the Barbados Light & Power to discuss how we are going to orchestrate that campaign,” said Griffith.
“We are also meeting with Digicel to look at student campaign in the schools. The Ministry of Education has already given us permission to talk at the schools individually. We are also now connecting with a Canadian company, an NGO, that wants to work with us,” informed Griffith.
The two were speaking on the sidelines of a recent stakeholders meeting, at which BREA launched a Solar PV guide handbook, which forms a part of the organization’s education drive.