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Change coming to electricity market

Article taken from the Nation News – March 16, 2021

BARBADOS LIGHT & POWER COMPANY LIMITED’S (BL& P’s) long-standing control of the electricity market is nearing an end.

Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds said Government was “now at the completion stage of a long negotiation with the Barbados Light & Power that changes the market structure for electricity generation in this country”.

“We will shortly be going to Cabinet with three licences for their approval: a transmission licence, a licence for dispatch of electricity – they will remain in the hands of the Light & Power exclusively, but competition in the sector for the first time will come about as a result of generation of electricity and storage,” he announced yesterday during the Estimates Debate.

“It therefore allows every Barbadian potentially to be an independent power producer and to store electricity and to sell it into the grid. The Light & Power will be in this market structure – what is called a single buyer or a monopsony – and they will buy and dispatch it across the grid.”

He told the House of Assembly: “We also are giving life to the ideal of renewable energy in all of its variations. Photovoltaics is obviously the one that has the head start at this point, wind energy is coming on stream, biomass is also coming on stream and what effectively we will now have to do is to ensure that there is stability in the grid. That is why the dispatch licence is so critical because we are dealing with variable types of energy production.”

Symmonds said the intention was that the democratisation of electricity generation and the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy economy would result in cheaper energy prices for Barbadians.

“The Light & Power will continue with its licence to transmit electricity and they will continue to dispatch electricity into the grid, but generation of electricity and storage of electricity will be areas where there will be competition. It will be independent power producers and everybody in the country is entitled to participate in this space,” he explained.

“We have to make sure that we proceed in such a way as to do a balance act, that we maintain a satisfactory opportunity for investors at all levels and equally that we maintain the well-being of the consumer. A major part of the discussion we have had is to protect the rights of the consumer in this exercise in moving to renewables.”

Brian Haynes, chief project analyst in the Research and Planning Unit in the Ministry of Energy, said if the right energy balance was achieved, including removing fluctuating oil prices, domestic energy prices could be reduced 40 per cent.

“But it means that we have to be very strong in our regulation, we have to be very strong in our market monitoring and to ensure that we get prices that are at a level that is worthwhile to all involved,” he said. (SC)


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