Barbadians will have to wait longer to find out whether they will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay for electricity.
The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) said on Thursday that its plan to announce a decision this month on the Barbados Light and Power Company’s (BLPC) request for an increase in basic electricity rates, is no longer possible.
“We have extended that period because we would not be able to complete [deliberations] by the end of the month, and we anticipate next month,” FTC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Marsha Atherley-Ikechi told Barbados TODAY.
She declined to provide any more details on the possible extension period needed.
On September 16 last year, the FTC granted the BLPC an interim rate increase of between $1 and $3 for domestic service customers. That rate will continue to be paid by consumers until any new basic rates are announced.
The power company has proposed a basic rate increase of no more than $6 for those customers using less than 150 kWh of electricity in a month. These customers account for 35 per cent of the domestic service tariff group and are said to consist mostly of low-income earners. The typical bill increase that would result from the proposed rates is estimated to range from five to 20 per cent.
During the FTC public hearings on the power company’s rate application, lead attorney for the company Ramon Alleyne, KC argued that the island’s sole electricity provider had demonstrated a legitimate reason for the hike and proven the quality of its stewardship but intervenors contended that BLPC had failed to justify its rate increase request.
In late December, one of the intervenors served notice that he will take the fight as far as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to protect the interests of consumers.
Chairman of the Coalition of Concerned Cooperatives and president of the Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society Limited, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne said that his fight for a satisfactory outcome relates to two new motions he filed with the FTC after the conclusion of the 15-day public hearing in October last year but within the deadline given for written submissions.
The two motions, copies of which have been obtained by Barbados TODAY, call on the commission to have an oral hearing to set a clear dividend policy for the electric company in its pending ruling and to address the BLPC’s Self Insurance Fund (SIF) from which the trustees withdrew some $100 million which was transferred to income and dividends.
However, in a letter to Lt Col Browne dated December 21, 2022, the FTC General Legal Counsel and Commission Secretary Kevin K.D. Webster said that although he had made his submissions on time, the motions were defective in that they sought to reopen the hearing which was closed.