Stifling Electricity Costs

Mike King, Daily Nation

2013-0505-bb-dn-Shawn Tudor DLP

SHAWN TUDOR: It is difficult for us to seriously move the entire economy forward with the kind of energy costs, energy structure that we have.

BRIDGETOWN — Escalating electricity levels at the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) are costing millions, which is unsustainable.

And according to BADMC chairman Shawn Tudor, it just can’t be business as usual and the regulatory framework governing energy and electricity has got to be revisited.

“There comes a time in the history of a nation when ‘as usual’ will not do, when the status quo will no longer suffice and, I dare say, we are at that point.

“Electricity regulation and power generation is already at unsustainable cost levels. In terms of electricity, the corporation has now joined the millionaires’ roll,” Tudor said when delivering the feature address at the Democratic Labour Party’s lunchtime lecture in Belleville, St Michael, last Friday.

He said the BADMC uses electricity to pump water to 742 farmers across the country and what is being collected from farmers is not even covering the company’s electricity bill, adding that the cost of pumping water has doubled since 2004.

He made it clear that if the BADMC attempted to recover the electricity cost, the Government entity would have to almost double farmers’ rates.

“I am just talking of only the electricity costs. Can we really say to farmers, you have got to pay us double or we are not going to give you any more water? What impact would that have on agriculture across the country?

“So we can look at the link between electricity costs and agriculture in the country. What will we be faced with – do we either sacrifice the workers or sacrifice the farmers? We will do neither of those two things; we will find a way out of this.”

Tudor said that with the current regulatory framework and mode of  power generation, costs were bound to increase from time to time.

Noting that energy cost seven times more than in Trinidad and Tobago, Tudor, a financial marketing analyst, said that with the kind of energy structure in Barbados, it would be extremely difficult to move the economy forward unless Government addressed the issue of electricity.

“We need a regulated smart grid. It is fairly obvious where the ownership should be but it cannot be a private for-profit monopoly to determine how, where and when other participants will operate within the system.

“We have been unable to make progress because of the regulatory framework that we have. It is difficult for us to seriously move the entire economy forward with the kind of energy costs, energy structure that we have,” he said.

Tudor said he was certain this issue was replicated throughout the island, with escalating electricity cost taking its toll on the hotel and other industries.

In relation to the regulatory hurdle, he urged the powers that be to take action now that would allow innovation and investment to flow.