Regional Ministers of Energy, Regulators, Consumer Advocates and CEO’s of Electric Utilities meet at CARILEC/World Bank Regulatory Forum

Electricity has become a basic staple for consumers in our region. Without such a vital resource, most businesses such as tourism, manufacturing, construction and even agriculture would be prevented from producing goods and services. Our social sector would also be under tremendous threat as health, education and other social services would be threatened.

A reliable supply of electricity at affordable prices is vital to the economic well being of our Caribbean nation states. The electric utility industry is capital intensive with assets that have long lives. Lenders and investors are reassured when there is an independent and transparent regulatory environment. This is now more critical with the promotion of relatively new Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) and in many cases intermittent sources of renewable energy. The transition must be managed carefully to ensure that the fundamental operation of the utility system is not compromised from both a technical and economic standpoint.

CARILEC recognizes the benefits of changes in the power sector, in particular, changes in regulatory framework, introduction of Independent Power Producers, new technologies, introduction of regulatory entities and increased penetration of renewable energy technologies. The continued improvements of regulation structure, legislation and other aspects that govern the power sector will help to reshape the development plans of the sector towards a more robust and sustainable sector.

The energy landscape is very complex, and CARILEC believes it is necessary for the design of the regulation to properly incorporate specific characteristics and realities of the Caribbean region. A plausible regulatory regime must constitute five criteria to measure its effectiveness; legislative mandate, accountability, procedures, expertise and efficiency. All five criteria collectively constitute a set of benchmarks for assessing
regulatory regimes.

It is against this backdrop that Regional Ministers of Energy, Regulators, Consumer Advocates and CEO’s of Electric Utilities will meet in Barbados on Monday, September 16, 2013 to discuss issues relating to the regulatory regime in the region. The Regulatory Forum will take the form of presentations from regional and international experts as well as panel discussions on issues relating to the current and future regulatory environment. There will also be presentations on the progress of the Saint Lucia/Grenada-led Eastern Caribbean Energy Regulatory Authority (ECERA). At the end of this Forum, CARILEC hopes to ascertain from participants the relevant and pressing issues that should be placed on the agenda for two upcoming forums that would be scheduled for next year.

CARILEC has also organized a Renewable Energy Conference in Barbados on September 17 – 18, 2013, which seeks to explore deeper insights on alternative sources of power generation and grid integration. It is indeed heartening that several countries in the region have already commenced implementation of various sources such as geothermal, solar photovoltaic, wind energy and hydropower. The potential of the Caribbean in renewable energy is strong but we must be cognizant of the economic realities for each country. Our regulatory regime must also consider this reality and ensure that whatever conditions that are imposed must continue to foster economic
sustainability and enhance energy security and reliability.

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