URCA releases public electricity suppliers consultation document

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) released a consultation document yesterday outlining the details through which it will develop the framework and define the parameters to assess, monitor and evaluate the operational performance of the public electricity suppliers throughout The Bahamas.

URCA is seeking to have public suppliers of electricity, on a regular basis, produce reports on myriad parts of their operations in order “to inform consumers about the level of service they receive and identify the reasons for performance; identify baseline performance of individual index and provide incentives for improvement overtime; provide information and data for developing regulatory standards and targets where required and for ongoing assessment of compliance with such standard; compare electricity providers by gauging relative performance within the industry as well as with other utilities performing comparable operations in other industries; and to inform the decision-making process of URCA, licensees and the government”.

URCA’s Director of Utilities and Energy Shevonn Cambridge revealed at the beginning of the month that URCA was producing a framework to bolster its overseeing capabilities on the performance and monitoring of PES, especially the country’s largest, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL).

Cambridge said then that URCA is working to ensure New Providence does not have another summer like it did last year, when BPL was fraught with power outages as a result of numerous generation issues.

URCA said in its consultation document that the regular reporting of electricity producers will help to achieve the sector’s policy goals and objectives.

“The procedures and guidelines seek to establish the scope, format and the frequency in which specified licensees in the electricity sector are obligated to submit information requirements to URCA,” the document states.

“In issuing this consultation document URCA is outlining the new procedures and guidelines it proposes to implement for the collection and reporting of operational data by specified licensees in the electricity sector; giving reasons for its proposals; and inviting written comments from affected licensees and other interested persons on URCA’s proposals.”

URCA is proposing that the local PES submit information and data relating to their performance; submit audited financial statements and the accompanying annual report;  submit without “undue” delay information, documents and details required by URCA for the fulfillment of its regulatory obligations enshrined in law; submit without “undue” delay information, documents and details that may relate to any significant impact that might impede the electricity provider’s functions enshrined in law; submit a report within 24 hours of a major power outage; submit reports that may be reasonably required from time to time; and submit a five-year forecast of projected demand and generation requirements; and a capital investment plan and updated five-year capital investment plan.

URCA has put out for consultation the timeframe in which PES will be required to submit such reports and documents, whether annually or quarterly.

The consultation document mentions that the failure of PES to adhere to the reporting standards when agree upon and ratified, will be considered a breach of the Electricity Act and “may constitute an offense”.

“The licensee shall, in accordance with good industry practice, maintain and keep all appropriate books, records and accounts in respect of the activities to which this license relates, including but not limited to system average interruption duration (SAIDI), the system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI) and customer average interruption duration index (CAIDI) and such other internationally accepted utility industry performance indicators as URCA may direct,” the document states.

“Each specified licensee must submit information and data relating to its individual performance to URCA in the manner and form (including by the date and dates) as proposed by these procedures and guidelines.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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