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Parliament Approves Regulatory Body for Electricity Sectorge

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Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - The Government has amended the Electricity Supply Act to require greater accountability from the island's lone electricity company, LUCELEC.

The decision was taken in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, as parliamentarians supported amendments to the Electricity Supply Act.

Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony, who presented the amendments at Tuesday's sitting, noted that the mechanism in the current Act was weak and did not ensure sufficient authority and regulatory control.

He recalled that a Public Utilities Commission had existed up to the 1980s, but was abolished by the then UWP administration, “who claimed that it was ineffective in terms of ensuring an adequate and reliable supply of power to the country.”

He noted further that the then government had also claimed that the PUC “was focussed largely on approving increases in tariffs, but its procedures resulted in high costs to all concerned, and acrimony between the PUC and the company, at the expense of consumers.”

The Prime Minister explained that, given the inherited weaknesses in the regulatory functions allowed under the Electricity Supply Act, the latest amendments “would in effect result in the creation of a standing body for reviewing and monitoring LUCELEC's operations and setting standards and targets for its results.”

He said of the new amendment: “This could either be an interim measure pending the establishment of a regional regulatory body like the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) for the OECS, or it could serve as a model on how to monitor power utilities.”

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