Attorney-at-law and intervenor in the Barbados Light & Power Company’s (BLPC) rate hearing, Tricia Watson, today failed in her bid to get the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to postpone its Procedures and Issues Conference.
Watson, working in collaboration with economist David Simpson, said she had sent correspondence to the commission last night informing it that the timing of the conference was inappropriate because there were outstanding matters that would influence any agreed issues list, particularly affecting the intervenors.
“For example, it is uncertain as to what depreciation rates apply for the purposes of this application. That’s unclear. My interpretation is that it would be the 2009 depreciation rates, given that the FTC said in its decision that the rates approved in that decision are effective on the same date as any rates approved in the Barbados Light & Power’s current rate application,” the legal counsel told the conference.
“That is my interpretation that the Barbados Light & Power must utilise the 2009 rates. If that is not the FTC’s intention, then that needs to be clarified,” the intervenor added. “In addition to that, the FTC in its decision, did not approve all of the depreciation submissions of the Barbados Light & Power. So inevitably, the depreciation schedules have to be revised and refiled for approval and those would have an impact on the rate application which will also require revisions,” Watson argued.
“Therefore, it is premature in the view of myself and Mr Simpson for us to address the issues when we may be looking at an amended application. In addition, there are significant interrogatories, by my count 108 interrogatories and 37 document requests. And again, the intervenors have not received any answers to any of these interrogatories previously,” she contended.
Watson said while she was not pointing fingers at anyone, she wanted to make it known that her team did not have the information on which to complete the formulation of its cases. “Therefore, it is premature to ask intervenors to submit issues or to comment on the issues when we also have not seen any staff analysis, and I would expect that the depreciation decision will also impact that staff analysis. Our own analysis and our own interrogatories and as the FTC would know, the interrogatory process tends to be at a minimum, a two-phase process,” the utility specialist pointed out.
She explained that there were also two outstanding decisions that would impact on the application by the electric company.
“Intervenors and any other person that the FTC may be inclined to give permission to apply, can all seek a review as could the applicant. With all of those matters outstanding, I believe that it is premature to attempt to address issues in the hearing, and it is also premature to attempt to settle dates because we may have dates moving as the process in particular in regard to subsequent interrogatories, any interrogatories that may flow from an amendment or that may flow from a confidentiality decision,” Watson stressed.
“I am simply seeking for the commission to consider deferring this meeting. In my view, the timing of the procedural conference and the issues conference does not affect the ultimate date of the rate case,” the attorney suggested. However, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the commission Marsha Atherley-Ikechi told Watson that the FTC proposes to proceed with the conference while seeking to address one of her concerns regarding an amendment to the depreciation policy of the electric company especially as it relates to the generation plant.
“What is being proposed is that we go ahead with the hearing and [that] that be amended simultaneously,” Atherley-Ikechi stated. At the same time, acting chairman of the commission Dr Donley Carrington informed Watson that she however had the opportunity to put any issues on the table that she wanted to be considered at the upcoming rate hearing. (EJ)