On Sunday, April 23rd, 2023, as an intervening party to the Barbados Light and Power’s rate increase request, the Intervenor Team of Tricia Watson and David Simpson wrote to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) requesting that the FTC order Barbados Light and Power Company Limited (BLPC) to serve intervenors with the preliminary compliance filing that the BLPC was ordered to file with the FTC by March 7th 2023. The Intervenor also asked the FTC to place the compliance filing on the public record in compliance with the law.
On March 23rd 2023 the Barbados Light and Power published a notice on its Facebook page stating:
“Last month, we received a Decision from the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and were ordered to submit a compliance filing within 3 weeks. As is customary, we complied with the order …”
Ms. Watson said, “In its February 15th, 2023 Decision, the FTC rejected the majority of the information filed by the Barbados Light and Power in support of its requested rate increase. Specifically, the Company was ordered to amend and re-file 14 of the 16 schedules that make up the Memorandum on Rate Base, Memorandum on Income Statement and Memorandum on Revenue Requirement which contains the all important Schedule G-1 that sets out the requested RATE INCREASE. The only two schedules that were not required to be revised have no measurable impact on the rates.
The Commission also rejected the Barbados Light and Power’s 2020 test year revenue figures and ordered that they be recalculated and re-filed to reflect revenues representative of those expected going forward.
The rejected schedules that the FTC has ordered to be corrected and re-filed contain the company’s evidence that both the FTC and intervenors need, to assess whether the company should be granted rate increases. As intervenors, we are tasked with analysing that evidence and making arguments to the FTC on whether the BL&P deserves a rate increase based on all of the new evidence before the FTC.
Ms. Watson said: “We totally agree with the Commission’s findings that Barbados Light and Power did not meet acceptable standards of transparency in the rate case, neither in its oral evidence nor in its interrogatory responses. The FTC is also 100 percent correct that transparency is paramount in the rate case in order for the process to meet public law standards of natural justice and procedural correctness.
By these same principles the FTC itself is not being transparent if the FTC excludes the intervenors from receiving the applicant’s compliance filings, thereby preventing them from submitting their arguments in relation to all of that new information. If the FTC does not publish those filings and provide them to intervenors so that we can be heard on the new information then, that would be unlawful.”
Ms. Watson further explained, “The February 15th 2023 decision is not the final decision in this rate case. No rates were granted in that decision. The Barbados Light and Power was ordered to go back and change the bulk of its application. This is not a case of the FTC saying to the Light and Power go back and correct a few typos or correct a few calculation errors. In that type of a situation, the FTC would make the correction and issue decision on the rate. No useful purpose would be served in directing Barbados Light & Power to exhaustively revise the application if these were small adjustments being ordered.”
She put her comments into context, adding, “In the 2009/10 rate case the Barbados Light & Power Company requested a $28M revenue requirement increase. The FTC, after considering the evidence and arguments, granted a $25M increase, a reduction of the requested amount by 11%, and proceeded to set the new tariffs without any orders being issued to amend and re-file huge parts of the Application.”
Ms. Watson and Mr. David Simpson assert that the order to comprehensively revise and re-file the extensive list of schedules, including making major changes to the test year and rate base data, means that the FTC has in essence rejected the October 2021 Application for a rate increase. The proper course of action is for the FTC to render its decision and issue the requisite orders rejecting the application as filed. It would not be proper for the FTC to quietly look at that new information by themselves and make a decision on this rate increase. That would be against the law. Neither can the FTC get together privately with the Barbados Light and Power and make a decision. That would also be against the law. The FTC simply cannot do that and we will ensure that it doesn’t happen. The Barbadian public can be assured that the Watson Simpson intervenor team will continue to forcefully represent consumers’ interests in this rate case irrespective of the FTC’s response to our request to ensure that our regulator acts lawfully and transparently.”
- Tricia Watson and David Simpson are an Intervenor Team in the Application Pursuant to Section 16 of the Utilities Regulation Act Cap 282 of the Laws of Barbados for the Review of Electricity Rates filed by the Barbados Light and Power Limited with the Fair Trading Commission on October 4th 2021.
As “Intervenors”, they are concerned about anything that could possibly result in rate hearing or decision that is not just. Misinformation, misleading information or simply inaccurate data or inappropriate actions can place Barbadian residents and rate-payers at risk of an unjust result that would have a negative financial impact on the average resident or business. They will continue to monitor and call out any steps or missteps in the process that can result in an unjust outcome.