Watchdog to get powers to ensure fair fuel prices
A watchdog is to be given authority to ensure that fuel prices are “fair and transparent” so that the consumer is better protected, according to proposed government legislation.
The Draft Consultation Fuels Bill aims to give the Regulatory Authority greater sway over that part of the energy economy.
The draft measures, which have been put out for public comment, give the RA regulatory power over the fuel sector.
The proposed Bill states that one of the key objectives is: “To ensure the provision to the public of fuel at reasonable prices which accord with international price levels, while ensuring that persons in the fuel sector obtain fair and reasonable returns.”
With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite, the Government moved to freeze gas prices this year.
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, said: “This draft legislation is vital to Bermuda's energy sector in these leaner economic times.
“As we look forward to a future of renewable energy, fuels — particularly fossil fuels — will have a role, and we aim to ensure that it is well regulated with clarity and fairness for all.
"As such, the proposed legislation will set clear rules and responsibilities for the public, Government and the fuels sector stakeholders, protecting the consumer and ensuring that fuel pricing is fair and transparent.
“It also provides that the Regulatory Authority is the central point of contact for any new participants wishing to enter the local market."
The draft Bill sets out the powers and functions of the RA and the minister in regards to the fuel sector.
It lays down the provisions for licences and their administration, and defines offences and provides actions for enforcement.
The minister said that regulations for the sector will be developed after the Bill is tabled in the House of Assembly, and then put out to further public consultation.
According to Mr Roban, the regulations will aim to set out the application process for fuel licences, the scope of licences and ensure licence holders provide, or publish, certain required information.
The regulations will define offences and set out penalties for them; provide safety measures, service standards and consumer protection aspects; as well as define critical infrastructure assets and provide rules governing those.
The draft Bill also states that another major aim is “to promote the development of competitive markets for fuel and fuel services; to promote investments in the fuel sector in a manner which promotes fair competition and economic activity and the sustainability of fuel supplies.”
The public can view the Draft Fuels Bill and offer feedback until 5pm on September 7.
The proposed legislation can be accessed at the Department of Energy’s resources section at the gov.bm website.