Delegates attending the 9th Annual Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators Conference held today at Accra Beach Resort, Rockley, Christ Church. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Wherever possible renewable energy products are needed to drive down fuel costs.

This assertion was made by Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, as he delivered the feature address at the opening Ceremony of the 9th Annual Conference of the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR). The Conference is being held at the Accra Beach Hotel under the theme: Regulation and Competition: The Impact and Value in the Caribbean.

According to Mr. Benn, meeting energy needs is one of the biggest challenges facing countries today. He lamented that energy costs continued to increase and represented a severe drain on governments’ financial resources. These costs, the Minister noted, were also significant in the production processes of most products and ultimately manifested themselves in higher consumer prices.

"Given these increasing costs, we have little choice but to seek greater investment in these renewable technologies. The main argument against the investment in renewables has always been their relatively high start-up costs. There is no doubt however, that renewable sources of energy are still in their infancy and will, hopefully become less expensive in the future.

Those pioneering firms and households who have sought to embrace these technologies need to be supported. We, therefore, need to devise incentive mechanisms to nurture and accelerate the investment in such technologies," the Commerce Minister added.

Additionally, Senator Benn pointed out that Government was committed to the development of renewable resources and to ensuring that the pace of implementation of renewables into the energy mix was fast tracked. "We have already approved the requisite Energy-Efficiency and Renewable Energy policies intended to ensure that Barbados’ electricity sector develops in a way that promotes the use of renewable energy," he explained.

Concerning another area of energy usage, Senator Benn observed that the efficient management and delivery of adequate clean water supplies, especially to the most vulnerable, was also high on the agenda for government.

"As a water-scarce country, the productive use of water in all sectors in Barbados is essential if we are to reduce wastage and alleviate scarcity. We are, therefore, committed to doing all that is necessary including, the upgrade of our water distribution network; more effective rainwater harvesting; pollution control and water conservation to reduce our vulnerability to shocks and to protect the sustainability of our stocks," he said.

?? Senator Benn told his audience that against the background of a competitive environment, the buying power of the consumer must be taken into consideration. "The more informed the consumer, the more capable he or she is of making intelligent choices which will place added pressure on the service providers to deliver quality services. The consumers’ power to choose, therefore, must be an important factor which is taken into account in your regulatory decisions as you endeavour to bring more competition into utility markets", he stressed.

The three-day Conference has drawn some 75 delegates from such countries as the Channel Islands, the United States, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Ghana and Barbados, among others.


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