AUGUST DATES SET FOR FTC HEARING ON ELECTRICITY RATE REVIEW HEARING
Stories by Emmanuel Joseph
Consumers will have to wait even longer to find out how much more they will have to pay for electricity, and one intervenor has expressed concern the continued delay may not be in the best interest of Barbados.
The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) panel that is hearing an application from the Barbados Light Power Company (BLPC) for an 11.9 per cent increase in the base rate announced on Friday that the June 14-16 dates it had set for a review of its February 15 rate decision have been scrapped and the matter will instead be heard August 28-30.
After hearing submissions from the intervenors and the island’s sole power provider on the merits and demerits of the BLPC’s motion to adjourn the scheduled sitting, the panel set the new dates.
The utility company had asked the FTC to adjourn the hearing because of the unavailability of lead counsel Ramon Alleyne KC who is overseas dealing with matters related to his father’s death. The BLPC had proposed June 26 as the new date.
But after deliberating for nearly an hour in a virtual hearing, the FTC panel headed by Dr Donley Carrington handed down the decision.
The majority of the intervenors and the power company said they were available. However, vice president of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) Stephen Worme told the commissioners he could not take part during the new period for the hearings because he would be otherwise engaged from August 14 to September 4.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY after, he said the board of BREA would have to decide who they would assign to represent the association.
“The only concern I have is the extended delay that has been created in that… [it is] two-and-a-half months further where everybody else has indicated early during the process that this is so urgent that we should not even delay,” Worme said. “The concern I have is similar to theirs – that an extended delay like this may not be in the interest of Barbados.”
During the hearing, President of the Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society (BSECS) Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne expressed dismay that the proceedings had been going on for about two years without settlement.
“It would, therefore, Sir, be remiss of me not to raise our grave concern that this process, having commenced back in September 2021, nearly two years now, with a simple application for a rate review by the applicant, continues to be unresolved at this time,” he complained.
Lt Col Browne later told Barbados TODAY that he would be available for the August hearing.
Other intervenors objected to the adjournment, with Ricky Went, Douglas Skeete and David Simpson explaining that the June 26 date suggested by the company’s lead attorney would not fit into their schedules.
Attorney-at-law Tricia Watson, of the intervenor team of Watson and Simpson, insisted that the schedules of all the intervenors should be taken into consideration.
“Whatever you choose to do at the end of this particular hearing, we, this intervenor team, intend to speak to the people of Barbados because this is their proceeding,” she submitted. “We are demanding that the commission take all intervenors’ availability into account in setting dates for this matter. It cannot ride on what is convenient only for the applicant and the applicant’s counsel.”
The Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) had previously objected to the adjournment.
The upcoming public hearing, which will follow the one late last year, was triggered by an application from the BLPC for the FTC to review its February 15 ruling that the power company revise downward the figure it used to calculate the requested rate hike, saying the order could compromise its ability to provide a safe, adequate, efficient and reasonable service to its customers.