Editorial for 14 February: Competition good for Cayman

It’s taken a long time, but Caribbean
Utilities Company could finally have some competition in the generation of
electricity in Grand Cayman.

With the Electricity Regulatory Authority’s
selection last week of DECCO Ltd. to provide 36 megawatts of power generation
capacity, an important step in establishing a competitive market has been

Now CUC must negotiate with DECCO on a
power purchase agreement where it would buy the electricity generated by DECCO
and its project partner Wärtsilä. Assuming a successful outcome of those
negotiations, CUC would have competition in the industry by next year. By 2017,
DECCO would be producing as much as 20 per cent of all of the electricity in
Grand Cayman, a significant amount.

Those who have been here long enough to
have witnessed liberalisation of the telecommunications industry here can
remember the sharp decline in prices seen after Cable & Wireless lost its
long-standing monopoly. That won’t happen with electricity for a number of
reasons, starting with the fact that electricity will still have to be provided
through CUC’s transmission and distribution network and billed by them.
However, competition in the generation of electricity can not only help keep
electricity prices in check, it can help make it even more reliable than the
high standards of CUC.

For the most part, CUC has served the
Cayman Islands well. Without CUC’s commitment to Grand Cayman way back in 1966,
the economic boom that has occurred since then simply would not have been
possible.  Still, it is time for CUC’s
monopoly to end. 

Some people are already complaining that
DECCO, a subsidiary of the Dart Group, was the winning bidder for the new
generating capacity because of that company’s growing share of properties and
businesses in Grand Cayman.

Although there may be merit in that
concern, there is no denying that everything the Dart Group has done here has
been done well. Just like it has in development and landscaping, the Dart
Group’s involvement in electricity generation will undoubtedly raise the bar on
that industry, forcing CUC to improve its processes to stay competitive.