The Government of Saint Lucia has endorsed the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Energy Regulatory Authority (ECERA) project, which was officially launched last evening in Grenada.
The Independent Regional Energy Regulator is expected to level the playing field in the energy sector and increase confidence among consumers in the transparency and fairness of the tariff-setting mechanism.
Speaking at the official launch, Saint Lucia`s Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology Dr James Fletcher said the formation of ECERA is critical for the sustainable development of the sub-region.
Dr Fletcher said there are several compelling reasons for the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Energy Regulatory Authority.
“The first and perhaps the most obvious is the economy of scale that will arise from pooling specialised human resources for energy regulation and planning in one agency. The second has to do with the confidence that will be engendered in the investment community both domestic and International from the presence of an independent regulator.”
“Moreover, as our governments have all committed to the OECS Economic Union, ECERA allows us to adopt a regional approach to address the issues that confront the energy sector and facilitates a more integrated approach to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing generation from renewable sources of energy. The establishment of a regional regulatory mechanism will make possible the concept of grid inter connection among the member states of the OECS.”
Saint Lucia and Grenada are the only two founding members of the ECERA project, which is being implemented with loan financing from the World Bank, through its concessionary IDA credit mechanism.
At the launch every speaker echoed the need for the other OECS member territories to get onboard at the soonest in order to ensure success of the project and by extension benefit to the entire sub-region.
In his remarks Dr Fletcher urged the Regional Energy Committee (REC) to devote the next few months to designing a mechanism that will give the other four independent member states of the OECS the comfort and the space they require to join ECERA.
“We need to be able to construct an architecture that will accommodate the presence of Dominica’s Independent Regulatory Commission and Antigua’s Public Utility Authority, perhaps in much the same way that ECTEL exists at the regional level, while the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commissions (NTRCs) function at the national level in the telecommunications sector, we can have an ECERA that articulates with national energy regulatory bodies, with clearly defined responsibilities.”
“There will, naturally, be the need to streamline this process to prevent unnecessary layers of costly and time-consuming bureaucracy, but this can be achieved. If we do not pursue this with the urgency and attention it demands, we will end up with a regional regulator in name only. Two countries do not and cannot constitute a regional regulator. For ECERA to be regional and viable, we need a minimum of four contracting states.”
The ECERA project is being executed by the OECS Secretariat.
Saint Lucia has pledged to play its part to ensure the success of the endeavour.