Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, has reported that talks to break the monopoly on this country’s supply of energy by the Barbados Light and Power Company, are progressing well.
He disclosed this during a press conference today at the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL), following a meeting with officials of the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC), BNOCL, and Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL).
Mr. Symmonds said the discussions with BL&P’s CEO to bring the negotiations to a close were amicable. “The good news for Barbadians is that once we come to that point of closure, we will be looking at making sure that we have democratised the supply of energy in this country. As a result, every Barbadian will be in a position to be an independent power producer, supplying energy under the grid or supplying energy independently, so that the country now ceases to have this $500 million plus of dependency every year, in terms of our foreign exchange commitments to the importation of petroleum related products.”
The Energy Minister said a democratised energy sector provides business opportunities for Barbadians not only in the generation of power, but in the storage of electricity. Mr. Symmonds said a number of licences would be granted to persons especially for the storage of electricity, which would then “be put into the grid”.
“We will be moving more in the direction of vehicles that would need to be powered by electricity … You would want to supplement the use of natural gas by electricity … You want to supplement pretty much everything that we are doing now. In addition to that, we want to make sure that industry, at all levels, is driven by renewable energy,” he emphasised.
Minister Symmonds believed that a modern economy, post COVID-19, must be multi-faceted, more diversified, more energy independent to fuel industry at different levels as the impetus to ramping up manufacturing.
The Energy Minister disclosed that he, along with Acting Permanent Secretary, Kay Sealy, held recent discussions with the Bankers Association, and thanked them for their firm commitment to supporting this emerging sector.
“I want to publicly applaud … FirstCaribbean International Bank, Republic Bank and also First Citizens for their demonstration of commitment towards partnering with the Government in order to make the financing of access to photovoltaic panels and the related types of materials available,” Mr. Symmonds added.
The Minister noted that when persons invested in photovoltaics and took months to have them connected to the grid would be “defeating the purpose on which we are embarking, undermining the effort which the country is relying on, in terms of a series of independent power producers to drive down the cost of electricity”, and would be “the most undesirable thing for economic development for the future”.
Mr. Symmonds promised to keep a watchful eye to ensure that persons get the benefit of the investment that they have made.