McLean calls for utilities commission

Opposition MLA Arden McLean has called for a utilities commission in the Cayman Islands.

He said a commission to oversee the water, electricity and telecommunications industries would save consumers money.

Mr. McLean made his comments during the debate in the Legislative Assembly on the new Electricity Regulatory Authority Bill, which passed last Wednesday. The new Authority, he said, could cause electricity rates to rise.

‘I am concerned about who is going to pay (for the Authority). How will the consumer benefit from having an Authority?’ he asked.

Mr. McLean asked how the Electricity Regulatory Authority would recoup its funding, making it self-sufficient.

‘We only have one electricity provider to pay fees,’ he said. ‘Maybe we get two. But it’s not like the telecommunications industry. We can’t get 20 or 30 or 40 companies to pay fees to make it self-sufficient.

‘Somebody has to pay for it. The cost of electricity is not going to go down, which is the ultimate objective.’

Mr. McLean said the Authority would not be cost efficient.

‘There is nothing for the Electricity Authority staff to do except take complaints from the public and check a rate or two,’ he said. ‘That may be trivializing it a bit, but there are not enough things for an Electricity Authority to do to justify having a whole staff.’

Under Mr. McLean’s proposals, a utilities commission would have one CEO, with one department specialist for water, one for electricity and one or two for telecommunications.

He said consultants could be retained to perform certain functions for each specialty.

Merging staff and offices of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, the Information and Communications Technology Authority and the Water Authority would save money, benefiting consumers, Mr. McLean said.

‘It needs to be in the people’s interest,’ he said.

Mr. McLean said the three statutory authorities could be set up under the umbrella of one utilities commission.

‘This is my dream,’ he said.

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