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BL&P facing RER challenge


Shawn Cumberbatch

BL&P facing RER challenge

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Barbados’ sole electricity company is facing major opposition as it tries to get the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to vary the arrangements enabling access to its Renewable Energy Rider (RER) programme.
Lined up against the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) are several “intervenors”, including Williams Industries Limited, the Barbados Renewable Energy Association and its new president, attorney at law Aidan Rogers, CARITEL, former Barbados Private Sector Association head Sir Allan Fields and former Barbados Chamber of Industry & Commerce president Dick Stoute.
One of the major areas of contention, recent investigations revealed, was BL&P’s preference for a “buy all/sell all” arrangement, where all generated from renewable energy sources by RER participants will be sold and purchased from the national grid as currently managed by the electricity company.
Information seen by BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY suggested the intervenors’ suggestion was for consumers to be given the right to chose which system they wanted, although the “sale of excess” option was the preferred one.
In the “sale of excess” billing arrangement, they argued, consumers would keep control of the energy they produced while also lowering their reliance on BL&P’s direct supply. There is also some opposition to a recommended reduction in the RER credit from 1.8 times to 1.6 times the fuel clause adjustment, and there was a suggestion that this would have negative implications for renewable energy investments already made.
All of these issues are being thrashed out within the context of a motion for variation the FTC is now hearing after BL&P filed it. This emanated from an August 9, 2013 Renewable Energy Rider decision issued by the FTC.
In that decision, the utility regulator noted that the RER, which was introduced with its approval on a two-year pilot basis starting in 2010, but which will become permanent under new arrangements it also has to sanction, “was designed specifically to facilitate the sale of excess electricity to the grid by customers using a solar photovoltaic or wind renewable energy system up to a maximum of 150 kilowatts to offset electricity consumption from the grid”.
In its written decision, issued by a panel led by chairman Sir Neville Nicholls, the FTC said it had “determined that the ‘sale of excess’ electricity to the grid billing arrangement shall be adopted” partly because since this method “offers the customer the intangible comfort of retaining direct use of what they produce if they have a bimodal inverter or batteries”.
The FTC also approved the RER credit of 1.6 times the FCA, a rate BL&P had proposed. The FTC’s rationale was that it was “satisfied that a rider of 1.6 times the FCA is representative of the avoided fuel cost when consideration is given to the type, quantity and cost of the fuel utilised to generate electricity,  the fuel generation share (the percentage of electricity generated that is attributable to a particular fuel type of RE source) and the cost at peak load”.
After BL&P filed a “Notice of Motion” on December 3 last year officially requesting the FTC to grant a stay of its decision, such a stay was granted effective January 24, 2014 “pending  [the FTC’s] determination on the motion for variation. The stay remains in place and the substantive motion is currently engaging the FTC’s attention.

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