One of the major intervenor entities in the Barbados Light and Power Company electricity rate hearing is calling on the Mia Mottley administration to declare a state of emergency in the energy sector at this time.
Spokesman for the Cooperative Coalition, retired Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Browne made the appeal on Friday night in response to the laying of the Utilities Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2023 in the Senate earlier this week.
Browne, who is the president of the Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society Limited (Co-op Energy), is claiming that the pending legislation will remove the protection that consumers, citizens and intervenors enjoy under the existing Act.
“When conditions in a country deteriorate to the point where the normal laws which protect the welfare and interest of all citizens are to be suspended based on the judgement of an official, then the government is required to declare a State of Emergency – much as was the case during COVID-19,” the outspoken intervenor told Barbados TODAY.
Browne underscored that the Utilities Act is among the bedrock of law that governs the current electricity market in Barbados.
“In particular, this Act lays out very specific provisions for the consideration of consumer rights; for fair and transparent operations by the utility; by other stakeholders – such as independent power producers (IPPs); and even by the regulator, the FTC,” he suggested.
The sustainable energy advocate noted that it is under the existing provisions of the Utilities Act that intervenors such as the Cooperative Coalition, representing thousands of citizens, have been able to hold the BLPC and the FTC to account and, in the process, protect the overall public interest.
“This amendment seeks to remove that protection for consumers, citizens and intervenors. We note that the government also recently passed a similarly controversial amendment to the Electric Light & Power Act, which effectively restricts the role of intervenors in the sensitive issue of potential billion-dollarvalued licenses to utility franchises,” contended the Co-op Energy head.
The retired Lt Col indicated that any requirements for exemptions of any, or all of these important utility laws, by any single authority, is a clear declaration of a state of emergency in Barbados’ highly vaunted energy Browne recalled that the coalition has always contended that the current regulatory process is “completely” outdated and is “obviously” not fit for purpose.
However, he suggested that the solution needed is one in which all key stakeholders – especially the broad customer community – work together under a common umbrella to solve the many problems and to successfully implement the Barbados National Energy Policy.
Browne told Barbados TODAY that his coalition rejects the proposed amendment and calls for a multi-stakeholder, collaborative approach to addressing whatever perils have been identified by authorities as warranting the “effective imposition of a ‘COVID-19 styled’ State of Emergency on the already stalled energy transformation initiative.” (EJ)