One local economist is calling for an immediate review of the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) programme, which allows producers of electricity from renewable energy source to sell power to the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P).
Former Prime Minister Professor Owen Arthur said if Barbados was serious about meeting its renewable energy goals and breathing life into the economy, then the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) should review and adjust the limits and rates under the programme.
In July 2016, the FTC set a temporary rate for the power being sold to the national grid under the RER programme at $0.416/kWh for solar photovoltaic and $0.315/kWh for wind until a permanent rate may be established”.
At the same time, the FTC said a decision was taken to increase the capacity limit to 500kW from 150 kW for individuals. Companies have a limit of 5 megawatts (MW).
Last year, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams gave notice that a permanent rate would be pursued.
However, with that yet to materialize, Arthur told the SALISES Policy Forum at the University of the West Indies (UWI) on Wednesday night that the country was running out of time to improve its growth prospect.
And he said he believed a lot of that growth would require a “major reform” of the renewable energy sector by “releasing it from the chains that have been imposed on it”.
The noted economist argued that the country could use photovoltaic and wind energy to generate most of its energy, but suggested that the current sum being paid for the energy and the limit of how much individuals and companies could produce under the programme were simply not cutting it.
“We have to move the restriction on the capacity and pricing and it can be done right away for alternative energy to become a growth area for Barbados,” said Arthur, while arguing that if this was done other sectors such as agriculture could benefit.
“I believe that it is absolutely necessary that there be an immediate revision to rulings of the Fair Trading Commission that really run directly counter to the need for us to be able to generate 500 megawatts of energy from alternative sources immediately, and to do so without impoverishing the alternative energy producers and enriching the light & power. Mr Abrahams, please act,” said Arthur.
The economist argued that the proposed changes would immediately enable the sector to “invigorate the Barbados economy”.