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RA: Belco may seek air monitor cost recovery retroactively

Nigel Burgess, right, head of regulation at the Regulatory Authority pictured with its chief executive Abayomi Carmichael (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Belco may purchase a US-certified air quality monitoring station and retroactively request approval and recovery of funds, the Regulatory Authority has made clear.

The Royal Gazette reported this week that Wayne Caines, the president of Belco and parent company Liberty, said in a March 23 meeting of the Environmental Authority that because the RA "generally takes a considerable time“ to approve requests, the utility is instead considering purchasing pole-mounted sensors that do not require RA approval.

However, American consultants warned Belco that the sensors being considered for use by the utility do not meet US Environmental Protection Agency standards for data quality.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in the meeting the purchase of these meters would be a stopgap measure while approvals are sought and would help to identify a location for an eventual certified station.

Nigel Burgess, head of regulation at the RA, said: “There are defined times when approvals for capital projects are given to Belco, specifically during the retail tariff review and midyear review annually. At that time, rates are set for the review period, typically one to two years, as well.

“Outside of these defined times, Belco has the ability to retroactively request approval and recovery of capital projects for projects it has started outside of or prior to the reviews.

“In short, Belco can undertake projects at any time and request approval retrospectively. Provided the project meets the criteria for approval, which Belco is aware of, it would likely be approved.”

The minutes of the March meeting ad stated: “Mr Caines confirmed that any additional [certified] monitoring stations would require prior approval of the RA for the expenditure. Getting budget and RA approval generally takes a considerable time.”

Mr Burgess would not confirm whether the RA had been approached by Belco for budget and approval of a certified station.

He added: “The RA is currently in a retail tariff review with Belco. The RA cannot comment on specific submissions by Belco.”

Asked for an approximate timeline for how soon a US-certified station could be approved, Mr Burgess told The Royal Gazette: “Specific approvals for projects are not given in isolation by the RA.

“The RA anticipates that the current retail tariff review, which would include all project approvals and the assigning of new retail tariff rates, to be completed by end of the year.”

Should the station meet the criteria for approval, the cost would fall to the customer, Mr Burgess said.

Belco has been approached for comment.

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Published June 29, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated June 29, 2023 at 8:20 am)

RA: Belco may seek air monitor cost recovery retroactively

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