Tackling BELCO’s Monopoly in Bermuda

Last year, homeowners in Bermuda were able to lease solar panels for the first time. The offer from Alternative Energy Systems (AES) allows domestic users to get six solar panels installed with no upfront cost. However, there is currently no payment arrangement with Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO) despite promises such an agreement would be in place by now. Tim Madeiros, CEO of Alternative Energy Solutions (AES), says that having no payment arrangement is inhibiting the growth of the RE sector in Bermuda.

The Bermuda Government is in discussions with BELCO and the Regulatory Authority which will be “brought to bear to ascertain fair and equitable interconnect rates” for alternative energy producers, Finance Minister Bob Richards said in yesterday’s 2014/15 Budget statement.

The Minister said that while there is now the possibility of alternate sources of power like wind, solar and wave, they will have to access the BELCO distribution network, and the cost of that is “crucial to their economic success or failure.”

In response, BELCO noted that the cost of fuel and taxes amounts to 57.5% of their total cost of doing business, and said they recognize the impact the overall price of electricity and are committed to getting the price of electricity to be lower

They also noted that  they have had a proposal before Government since May 2013 that will allow for the interconnection of larger renewable energy generating systems, however no decision has been made by Government on the proposal to date.

Commenting on the 2014/15 budget, Minister Richards said, “The supply and cost of energy is the foundation of the entire cost structure of any modern society. It is even more crucial for an isolated island that lacks its own energy resources. One of the reasons that Bermuda’s recession has lasted five years is due to its loss of competitiveness. A significant part of our uncompetitiveness is high cost, a big component of which is the high cost of electricity.

The Minister continued, “Islands as small as Bermuda often do not have enough size to justify competitive markets, making electrical power a so-called ‘natural monopoly.’ While BELCO has had a generally good record for reliability, Bermudians have paid dearly for the lack of competition in electrical power.

Credit: Bernews and Global News Matters

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