It’s official – Government has brokered a deal with the Barbados Light & Power Company Ltd (BL&P) that would see its 110-year monopoly come to an end, opening up the market for more electric utility players.
This means Light & Power will be issued with new licences. It will remain the exclusive holder of licences for the “transmission and dispatch” of electricity. But other entities will be issued with licences to generate and store current.
When contacted, Light & Power opted not to comment on the development.
The utility company and Government have been locked in negotiations for several months trying to determine what the company’s new licences would look like, as Government moves to open up the market to new players and drive the build-out of the renewable energy industry.
Disclosing on Tuesday that the negotiations have come to an end, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Francine Blackman did not provide details but said it now meant that changes will be made to legislation governing the industry.
She said this was only one cog in the wheel of the island’s move towards achieving energy efficiency and complete reliance on renewable sources of energy.
“We have an implementation plan and we have done a number of projects in Barbados to support the transition,” Blackman told the Project Preparation Facility (PPF) public sector launching ceremony, which was hosted online by the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).
She said: “Initially it was to demonstrate to the private sector that renewable [energy] is a viable option and we now have buy-in from the private sector. Therefore, we now have to change the relevant legislation and regulation to support the demand now that is on the ground, to support the transition, because the grid was not so designed to have the interjection of renewables from all over the island.
“We also recently, through a process of rejigging the market structure, recently concluded our negotiation with the lone utility here to let them realize that based on the energy policy government is also interested in making sure that there is competition being introduced in the market for generation and storage services. So they are no longer responsible for the entire supply chain. These are some of the things we are doing.”
To support this, Blackman said the island has also developed “some fairly good relationships” with several international development financing partners, as she outlined some of the progress the island has been making in building out the renewable energy sector.
“We had loans and grant financing through the EU, IDB, Green Climate Fund, CDB and the GEF is another agency that we have had support from, and then other governments such as the Japanese and the South Korean,” she said.
While the island has been using solar photovoltaic systems, it was around 2008 that a serious decision was taken to tackle the issues relating to fossil fuel use including the high costs, close to $800 million annually at the time, said the permanent secretary, The annual import energy bill is now around $500 million. ([email protected])