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Legislation tabled to give RA oversight of fuel sector

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The Rubis fuel tanks at St George's. The fuel sector is to be regulated by the Regulatory Authority under new legislation. (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Legislation giving the Regulatory Authority oversight for the fuel sector – including pricing – was today tabled in the House of Assembly.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the move marked a “watershed moment in the regulation of fuel in Bermuda”.

Mr Roban said: “Because of the strength and capacity the RA has built in regulating the vast sectors of electronic communications, electricity, and more recently, submarine communications cables, the time is right for adding the fuels sector to the RA’s portfolio.“

He said it was “critical” to consider the provisions of the Bill in conjunction with the Regulatory Authority Act 2011, which sets the “rules of engagement" between the regulator and any regulated industry under its purview.

“This Bill defines those things that are unique, specific and critical to the fuels sector,” he said.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (File photograph)

The Bill also brings under the remit of the RA “broader oversight, to tie in environmental, safety and health regulations under one main umbrella”.

Mr Roban said: “The addition of fuels to the RA also provides synergy in determining the cost to the consumer, both in considering the fuels surcharge and fuel at the gas station. The RA will, as for the submarine communication cables sector, be the ‘one-stop shop’ for all matters of licensure.”

The Fuels Bill 2022 only applies to those who sell fuel, including for cooking, heating and vehicles, as their primary business.

Purposes of the Fuels Bill 2022

. To ensure that Bermuda has an appropriate and adequate fuel supply to meet its needs.

. To ensure safe, efficient, economic and environmentally responsible operation of the fuel sector;

. To ensure the continuity of service, in ensuring the continued good management and maintenance of critical infrastructure, such as pipelines and storage tanks.

. To protect the interests of consumers by ensuring fuel pricing is fair and transparent.

. To promote competition where appropriate and feasible.

. To promote investment in the sector that is beneficial to the economy, the people and the environment of Bermuda.

Mr Roban made clear that the Bill does not transfer responsibilities for fire safety, planning or environmental health to the RA.

He added: “This Bill provides an additional layer of protection and a centralisation of service for any new participants in the sector.

“Competition may come in several forms including the possibility of the introduction of new fuels to Bermuda like biofuels or hydrogen as those technologies continue to develop.

“Lastly, but by no means least, are the provisions for offences and penalties, which are envisioned to be sufficiently strict so as to give additional teeth to existing safety and environmental legislation.”

Mr Roban said consumer interests would be protected through regulations, which would involve industry consultation, and through the RA’s powers to issue general determinations – a form of legislation.

“Just as with the other regulated industries under the auspices of the RA at present, pricing methodologies will be developed through the general determination process of the RA, which is required by law, in accordance with the Regulatory Authority Act of 2011, to be inclusive, consultative, iterative, and transparent,” Mr Roban said.

“The public, the paying customers, deserve no less, and this Bill seeks to ensure these good practices are carried through the fuels sector for the benefit of all.”

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Published October 03, 2022 at 7:25 am (Updated October 03, 2022 at 7:25 am)

Legislation tabled to give RA oversight of fuel sector

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