BL&P wants to power down

Businesses and individuals in Barbados have gained about $153,000 in benefits by participating in special programmes introduced two years ago by the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited.

But more than two dozen Barbadians, who have earned nearly $19,000 of that amount by producing electricity using the sun and wind and selling the excess to the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited, could be faced with reduced benefits from the venture.

But before deciding if it will accept and implement this and other recommendations from BL&P for its Renewable Energy Rider programme, the Fair Trading Commission is giving Barbadians a chance to say how they feel about it.

The FTC has announced the start of a special RER public consolation period to run from today until December 14.

It follows the submission of a report from the island’s lone electricity company suggesting that changes be made to the programme, which started as a pilot in more than two years ago.

It was on March 19, 2010 that the FTC approved the RER, and two other programmes, the Interruptible Service Rider, and Time-of-Use tariff on a two year trial basis.

In the IRS BL&P “customers receive a monthly credit for agreeing to temporarily interrupt their electricity service under conditions of high system demand, system emergencies or periods of utility equipment problems”.

The TOU is available to large power customers, and is a tariff is designed to reflect differences in cost to serve during peak and off-peak periods, and to encourage customers to reduce usage during peak hours and potentially increase consumption during relatively low-priced off-peak hours.

And the RER “makes provision for customers who own solar photovoltaic or wind systems to interconnect and feed back to the grid any excess power produced by their renewable energy system”.

After BL&P submitted “a comprehensive report” on the these programmes in July this year, the FTC agreed to an extension of the ISR and TOU “to allow for further data acquisition and assessment”.

But the commission has now revealed that it thinks the electricity company’s proposal to adopt the RER permanently with amended terms and conditions “requires stakeholder discussion and comment”.

The regulator said the objective of the consultation “is to obtain feedback from the public on the proposed terms and conditions of the RER in order to inform the Commission’s decision regarding its permanent implementation”.

BL&P is recommending that the existing terms and conditions of the RER with credit of 1.8 times Fuel Clause Adjustment be extended until the end of this year, but that a number of changes should be made from January 31 next year.

This including that the RER be implemented on a permanent basis, the credit be reduced from 1.8 times FCA to 1.6 times FCA, and that the billing arrangements for the programme be revised “so that the customer pays the utility at the appropriate tariff for all energy consumed and the utility purchases the energy produced by the renewable system(s) at 1.6 times the FCA, up to a maximum of 1.5 times the amount of energy the customer uses within the period”.

The FTC said it wanted to make sure the RER was “fair and reasonable to all participating customers”. (SC)

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