Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn is comparing the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) to the “mafia”.
Making his contribution to the Electric Light and Power (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Senate today, he thanked the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration for bringing the Act, which would govern the generation and transmission of electricity, to protect Barbadians from what he described as “this monster call BL&P”.
He went as far as to say that there was a need for a commission of inquiry to investigate the utility company.
“BL&P for all of its existence enjoyed a monopoly on producing power in this country, and they have been ripping us off for years. You imagine, they had a rate increase in 2010, the one before that was 26 years before, you imagine producing a product and the price of that product was able to sustain you and your lifestyle for 26 years?
“That product would have to be sold at such a high price, that over all the years of increases, and they were still being able to make a profit, they have been ripping this country off. They were ripping us off left, right and centre, and I am glad now that they are going to be in check,” Franklyn said.
The senator, who said that some Barbadians have gotten permission to generate their own electricity from the sun, said they did not fully benefit since they still depended on Light & Power for electricity at nights. He said this was why people still opted to stay on the grid.
“But Light & Power charges you 55 cents per unit, but they buy it from you for 41.6 cents. But you are not selling them the excess you know, the one that you don’t want, you have to sell them all, and then buy back. So you sell all at 41.6 cents and then buy back from them for 55 cents. They are ripping you off again. They can’t help it.
“They have been ripping off Bajans for so long they can’t help what they are doing. It is part of their DNA right now, they are more like a mafia. So what will happen is if you come off the grid completely, you will force the people who are still on the grid to pay more,” he said.
Giving an insight into his own personal experience with the utility company, Franklyn claimed that he travelled for two weeks in December 2018, “and for those two weeks with only my fridge on in the house, they charged me more electricity than I had anytime the rest of the year”.
“It seems to be a problem with utility companies you know, because Water Authority does it too, hit you for a lot of money, but we seem not to be able to get rid of them. I see people talking about how nice they are.
“But they are not nice, they are like any other company looking to generate a profit. But they have been taking advantage of a government and people who were too trusting. I challenge them to deny anything that I said. They probably will, but they can’t deny it with figures,” Franklyn said.
The opposition senator said if Government’s initiative was handled correctly, the country would not have to spend foreign exchange on purchasing oil from overseas markets.
According to him a significant part of the renewable energy sector should be reserved for Barbadians. He said he did not think there was a need for overseas investors since renewable energy was not rocket science. Franklyn suggested that the capital sitting on the banks be mobilised and invested in the island’s future, including the energy sector.
“You import these systems and give people duty-free concessions, let more people generate their own electricity. As a matter of fact, one of the conditions of building these new mansions and stuff they are building now should be a component where you have to produce some of your own electricity if not all. We have been getting away by buying power from Light & Power and we have been allowing lots of opportunities for generating power to go,” he said. [email protected]