As the 21st. Century speedily moves on, we, as a people, just like those in the rest of the world, must assess and evaluate challenges to our future. We must plan and implement our solutions with some proper speed in order to preempt any future unforeseen reality. Whether future events be positive, neutral or negative we must plan to our best ability for the the dynamics of life; especially living in this world with others. It is with this preamble in mind that I make a case for the need to seriously and comprehensively tackle the issue of energy-use in Barbados. Maybe even this argument can be applied with some modification to public utilities in general.
Barbados, in the global sphere, is a non-player in oil. Oil in the previous century ruled the day. In this day it rules in places it is still needed and in others where it is no longer a necessity has declined. The government of Barbados reviewed its energy policy and made way for the advancement of the already growing alternative energy sector but its regulation needs to be brought into line with the policy outlined.
If it is that Barbados wishes to be less dependent on the importation of oil, if not independent of it, then it must allow the use of alternatives to flourish. Not only is alternative energy a more environment-friendly solution, it is a more cost-effective one. The importation of oil is still needed when it comes to powering certain things such as transportation (until we change our appetite). However, when it comes to powering our homes, hospitals, businesses and other utility plants we can do better and we must.
Currently, Barbados’ sole power company enjoys a monopoly on the supply of that form of energy to the market which is primarily utilized by households and business; the circumstance of which is to the detriment of us all. If monopolies are to be tolerated, it should be as a result of the country not being able to do better. Before the liberalization of the telecommunication market in Barbados, there was one monopoly enjoying the rewards of such a status because we could not do better. When we could do better. When that monopoly afforded us space to get to a better standard of development, we eventually encouraged other players to compete. With competition came relatively more growth and dynamism in service to the market. Imagine the implementation of the government’s increase on Value Added Tax on data-usage for cellular phones with only the monopoly of one telecommunications company.
Currently, the people of Barbados are beholden to the whim and fancy of one artificial monopoly for power which is a necessity. It is an artificial monopoly because we can do better. Better yet, is the circumstance that unlike the telecommunications industry, the alternative market players are home-grown. From within we have provided solutions to our woes. The forcing of producers of alternative forms of power to supply the monopoly with their produce to repurchase it is akin to theft.
If it is that without the government-assisted monopoly power a company will die this means it is no longer needed. At all times we must look to ourselves to be our own saviours. Our present monopoly is not owned by us but we are protecting it in a circumstance where its own country’s laws would not. We must do better (not as a symbolic gesture of independence) simply because we need to do better in order to move to a higher stage of development.