RA rejects Belco rate increase proposal but bills still set to rise
The Regulatory Authority has urged people not to “panic” about escalating energy prices as the watchdog said it had slapped down a price increase sought by Belco.
RA chief executive Denton Williams called for people to ease down on power consumption to lessen the use of oil.
He said the RA had cut Belco’s demand for a 16 per cent increase in parts of its bills – the base rates request, which excludes fuel - by just over half.
Mr Williams said the RA had saved customers $28 million because of its intervention.
He told The Royal Gazette: “This year Belco submitted their rate case, we reviewed it and saw they were requesting a 16 per cent increase in costs.
“And we disagreed with their recommendation, and we allowed 7.5 per cent. And, of that 7.5 per cent, 4.5 per cent was a portion of the deferral from the previous year, during the height of the Covid lockdown.
“By denying it and allowing 7.5 per cent, which we thought was a reasonable balance, even though we thought it was high, it’s a reasonable balance between their needs and what the public can bear.”
Mr Williams said the RA was trying to help consumers as much as possible, but urged the public to take matters into their own hands.
He said: “We are working on their behalf to reduce costs as much as we can. People may need to try and conserve in the next three to six months just so that oil prices can settle down.
“There are some things that aren’t terrible painful that they can do.
“An example is water heaters, either put a timer on them, or you can manually do that … that will save a lot of energy.
“Make sure when you buy an appliance, you buy an efficient one.
“The RA has done a large amount of work in how to mitigate the cost. The next way is for customers to manage their use.
“I am confident that they would be able to offset the increase by conservation.
“I don’t think it’s laziness. We are used to having services available when we want them. We need to be a little bit more imaginative.
“Higher prices tend to stimulate action, and in this case the action might be to try to conserve a bit.”
Mr Williams said the war in Ukraine had already increased energy prices but the situation might not deteriorate further.
He said: “We have talked to other regulators. We get the sense that there is more production starting to come on line as a result of the higher prices. We do expect that the market is going to stabilise.
“I think the important takeaway is let’s not panic because then you will make rash decisions.
“Try and save some energy, maybe the air conditioning doesn’t need to be as cold. Don’t panic, but just try and be mindful and conserve energy. Lights out when you leave the room – little things like that.
“It’s not going to be an enduring problem but the world is still unstable at this point.
“We are thinking that the spike in the oil prices might be a short to medium-term issue, rather than a long-term issue.
“We have the challenge of the global oil prices, the crude oil prices, spiking pretty violently.”