In its recently released 2020 annual report, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) reveals it intends to strengthen its enforcement capacity and monitoring of the electricity sector (ES), with particular attention being paid to ensuring the provision of safe, reliable, least-cost power by public electricity suppliers across The Bahamas.
“The ES continues to operate without adequate regulatory oversight due to a need for URCA to more rapidly increase its capacity to proactively address anticipated issues, to more effectively gather and analyze relevant information from all stakeholders and to react quickly to failures detected within the sector,” the annual report notes.
“URCA will strengthen its monitoring and enforcement capacity within the ES team during 2020 by reallocating internal resources, targeted recruitment and the use of external consultancies to ensure that the utilities and energy department is fully equipped to meet the needs of the sector.”
The other areas of focus for the ES include the aggressive expansion of renewable energy integration into the generation mix in The Bahamas; and providing an effective consumer protection ecosystem to give consumers the confidence that their interests are being protected.
As for its mandate concerning the electronic communications sector (ECS), URCA said it intends to continue to monitor fair practices.
“The ECS has experienced a decade of URCA’s regulatory oversight and competition has been introduced into all parts of the market, with high effectiveness in some markets but less impact in others,” the report notes.
“URCA will during 2020 seek to collect the necessary information through surveys, review of information submitted periodically by licensees, and enhanced monitoring, to determine the current extent to which the ECS is delivering on the objectives of the Communications Act and to identify the areas where further regulatory intervention is needed to enhance URCA’s effectiveness.”
URCA noted that it intends to drastically enhance its public education and awareness program in an effort to help consumers and stakeholders understand how to best take advantage of its regulatory framework.
“URCA’s consumer education and complaints handling processes provide the critical interfaces between the public and URCA, which enable URCA to identify failures in its regulated sectors, address those failures and use those failures to identify areas where better regulatory intervention is needed,” the authority states in the report.
“URCA is confident that this will drive more interactions with URCA’s complaint handling processes as well as those of URCA’s licensees, enabling and incentivizing licensees and URCA to provide better services to the public. This will be underpinned by surveys which will help provide additional information regarding consumer needs.”