RA plans to trim budget and freeze fees
The Regulatory Authority has proposed trimming its budget by about $600,000, or 9 per cent, for its next fiscal year.
The regulator of the electricity and electronic communications sectors has also recommended a freeze on the fees that fund it, derived from companies and consumers in the two industries.
Members of the public are invited to submit their feedback on the RA's proposed work plan and budget for the 2021-22 year, which begins on April 1 next year.
In total, the RA has proposed a budget of $5.78 million for the period, of which $2.72 million will be allocated to electronic communications and $3.06 million to electricity. The total budget is down from $6.38 million for 2020-21.
The largest items in the RA's budget proposal are $3.26 million for employees, $1.18 million for consulting services, $396,000 for commissioners and $373,500 for office space.
In the document, the RA states: “Due to the significant financial impact of the global pandemic Covid-19, the projected year-on-year decline in revenues for the fiscal year 2021-22 is 9 per cent.
“As a result, the RA must substantially narrow the scope of its plan and solely implement on its ‘mission-critical' projects.
“Specifically, in the electronic communications sector, as the majority of the regulatory frameworks are now complete, the RA will monitor the sector and its providers to ensure they are compliant with the prescribed regulations, and if necessary, impose enforcement for non-compliance.
“In the electricity sector, the primary activities will be to evolve the critical next steps for the island's renewable energy development plan, otherwise known as the Integrated Resource Plan.”
The RA proposes that the Minister of Home Affairs should leave the fee related to holders of integrated communications operating licences unchanged at 1.75 per cent and the regulatory fee on electricity bills to remain at $0.00475 per kilowatt hour.
For 2021-22, the work plan for the RA includes, on the electricity side, to:
• Facilitate the initial request for proposal process for the procurement of solar photovoltaic to be commissioned in 2023
• Carry out a retail tariff review to establish a three-year tariff period, assessing all costs associated with the production and distribution of electricity
• Initiate the first steps in the development of a new IRP by requesting an IRP proposal from Belco
• Start the first phase of a pre-feasibility wind study, which will ultimately determine the level of offshore wind resource available, along with the business case and the environmental impacts to Bermuda.
For the electricity sector, the RA plans to:
• Ensure that “significant market power” remedies are effectively implemented, working with telecoms carriers to ensure a smooth transition
• Conduct an annual market analysis and publish market data from the sectoral providers, with analysis to be published in a report format
• To encourage competition, conduct the annual Icol licensing process should there be a need for additional participants in the sector
• Conduct its ongoing spectrum assignment licensing process, should there be any applications submitted
• Responses to the consultation document should be filed electronically by 11:59pm on October 28 through the RA's website, at https://www.ra.bm/public-consultations/