Oil prices to blame
The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited is doing all it can to negate the problem in the future, including retiring old plant and introducing more environmentally friendly means of producing power, but BL&P Managing Director Mark King said consumers should not expect a quick fix because his company had “no silver bullet” to discharge.
He addressed the issue in a Let’s Talk session with the media this morning at BL&P’s headquarters, noting that the company’s 2012 fuel bill was $400 million.
“You may say that I am not seeing the forest for the trees but there is no silver bullet for dealing with this energy issue, there is no quick fix. A lot of people talk about … photovoltaic systems on the roof but that is not the quick fix answer for Barbados,” King said.
“I think if you sit down and look at it you will realise that is not the immediate answer, but it helps, it takes us along the way and we are on the record as indicating to the Barbadian public, and the situation still obtains, (that) there is no single solution to the energy situation in Barbados.
“The renewable energy or sustainable energy approach must be a multifaceted approach, it will consist of PV systems, it will consist of wind, it will consist of biomass, all those things will go together, ultimately establishing a sustainable and secure source of energy for Barbados, but no one system will be able to do it.”
The official also said while BL&P continued to face criticism for high electricity prices, the company’s decision to introduce new generation facilities about seven years ago had actually spared consumers from even more expensive bills.
“When we put the new plant in in 2005 we put significantly more efficient plant in place. If we had kept the plant that we replaced in 2005 or purchased more plant of that type the (electricity costs to consumers) would be a large number … and because the cost of oil has gone up you have seen increasing cost on your electricity bill by virtue of the Fuel Clause Adjustment,” he noted.
“But at the same we were saving commensurate significant sums of money for the country because of the efficiency gains that we would have introduced by introducing that plant into Barbados. It’s kind of difficult for a person to accept because when you look at the numbers you are saying that ‘in 2005 I was paying that, in 2013 I am paying this so therefore my electricity has gone up’.
“I am saying to you that if we hadn’t done what we did in 2005 you would be paying significantly more for your electricity now. It is the fuel cost … and its simple arithmetic. The low speed plants that we have put in place in 2005 have efficiency figures of the order of 40 per cent or so, the units that they would have replaced have significantly lower efficiencies, probably of the order of 25 or so per cent. So you can see that there are efficiency gains,” he explained.
King noted too that in auditing the FCA, the Fair Trading Commission had identified a number of improvements that could be made, including BL&P’s retirement of some plant at Spring Garden which had been in operation since the 1970s. (SC)