On Friday in the House of Representatives, the main event was the Prime Minister announcing the new electricity rates.
And while the chest-beating is raw political instinct at work – the devil is in the details – and today the Chairman of the PUC, John Avery gave a detailed explanation of the seven main areas they reviewed to come up with the initial decision for 6% decrease in your electricity rate.
He said that the former Fortis ownership of BEL had a habit of spending too much on lawyers – and that had to be factored into the new rates as an imprudent expenditure:..
Adele Ramos-Trapp, Amandala
“The imprudent expenditures, can you elaborate on those?”
John Avery, PUC Chairman
“Like I said, one, the legal fees. Based on BEL figures that they gave us, legal fees total $7 million dollars over those two years. They called it “regulatory” expenses. But these weren’t expenses that were forced by the commission. BEL voluntarily decided to take these things on, on its own, in what we felt was an inappropriate strategy – basically to hold the country ransom and demand that the government supersede the PUC, and legislate rate increases and that sort of thing.”
“BEL reported operational expenditure below $20 million dollars right up until 2008 and then over the next two years it jumped to $25 million then to $29 million. That was like a 50% increase in over two years, in a two year period. Nothing that happened with respect to expenses, inflation, even the price of oil, could have forced that on BEL. This was because of the way they operated and, as I said, based on the details about $7 million dollars we determine were for legal fees – which we believe consumers shouldn’t be burdened with that.”
“Basically it’s either we burden consumers with that increased spending, or we burden the current management with whatever short falls they may face now because of that impudent spending.”
Today BEL issued a statement saying that they will be writing the PUC to request a meeting so that they can understand the quote, “underlying assumptions” that went into making the decision.
Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Locke is quoted as saying that “the final rates to customers must also ensure that we can sustain the Company’s operations to deliver the quality service.”
The statement closes by saying that BEL will continue to work with the PUC as the Initial Decision is revisited.
Revisited? We thought the PM had all but made it final in the House on Friday that the 6% rate cut was going through. But now, BEL is talking about revisiting that initial decision – which makes this, officially, what you might call a cute situation,
We’ll see how it plays out, going forward.