INTERVENOR SIDES WITH BLPC, SUPPORTS STAY
By Emmanuel Joseph
Another intervenor is supporting a request by the Barbados Light and Power Company (BLPC) for a stay of the Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) order to have it re-adjust the proposals it submitted for an increase in its basic rate.
The latest backing for the suspension of the FTC’s February 15, 2023 order came on Friday from Ricky Went, who suggests that while he agrees with the rejection by the commission on several aspects of the BLPC’s case for a rate hike, there are other portions which would benefit from a review first.
Went contended that if the company was retiring its steam plant, for example, it was not reasonable for it then to request that the maintenance costs be retained in the accounting system. He also suggested that with the dismantling of the buildings housing the steam plant, the BL&P should also deduct the improved value of the property for land tax purposes. “Those things are clearly not right,” he said. The intervenor did agree that there would be need for some adjustments to the company’s revenue which were “too low”.
The power company had said the FTC’s ruling last month for BLPC to revise downward the figure it used to calculate its requested 11.9 per cent rate hike could compromise its ability to provide a safe, adequate, efficient and reasonable service to customers.
It has therefore asked the FTC to review and vary its decision and to grant a stay until that review is completed. The regulator has confirmed to Barbados TODAY that it is considering the request for the stay, even as it prepares for a hearing on the review request, in which intervenors will have a say.
The company said while it adhered to the ruling to submit a compliance filing within three weeks of last month’s ruling, there are key aspects that are “deeply concerning”. “Our primary concerns are the retroactive actions and inequitable adjustments in the decision, which, we believe, send a negative message to investors and could undermine investor confidence. “The regulator, in its decision, has changed decisions made several years in the past. Altering rules years after decisions have been made, impacts not only the utility and the customers but also the long-term stability of the energy market and all investors in the sector,” declared the BLPC. On Friday, Went called for compromise among all parties in order to get the contentious elements of future rate hearings right. “Therefore, in a review, we would have to look at all these things. I am inclined to support the stay on the basis that I want to be fair to the Light and Power. I want to be fair to the ratepayers and I want to be fair to the country…to get it right,” the intervenor declared.
The Commission’s General Counsel and Secretary Kevin Webster has told Barbados TODAY that the FTC recently issued procedural directions to all of the parties. “As of right now, Light and Power as well as the intervenors, all know the process that we are going to be taking,” he said. He pointed out that the intervenors have until March 31 to make their submissions on the stay, while BLPC must hand in their response within two weeks of that date. Webster explained that while the FTC is making its determination on the stay, timelines will be set for submissions related to the motion for review, “so the matter progresses and there would be no undue delay”. Two weeks ago, another intervenor Stephen Worme of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association said he supports the stay and would take part in the process. President of the Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society Limited and fellow intervenor Retired Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne told Barbados TODAY he would be making submissions for the motion to review. Neither member of the team of attorney-at-law Tricia Watson nor accountant David Simpson could be reached for comment.