Key board appointments announced, ERA chair speaks

Cabinet has named new boards of directors at three of the Cayman Islands most influential authorities, renewing the tenure of each chair and at least one sitting member.

Published in the Cayman Islands Gazette, the changes reflect appointments by the new People’s Progressive Movement government to the nine-member governing boards of both the Electricity Regulatory Authority and the Information and Communications Authority and the 11 members of the Water Authority panel.

The new roster at the ERA, set for three years, preserves the role of Chairperson Sherri Bodden-Cowan, and members Derrick Tibbetts and Dara Flowers-Burke.

Appointed on Monday to the balance of the seats were previous ERA member and District Administrator Kenny Ryan, and newcomers Anna Rose Washburn, Reginald Nixon and Alee Fa’moe.

The group is rounded out by traditional government appointees, ERA Managing Director Charles Farrington and Chief Officer Alan Jones or his designate at the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure under Kurt Tibbetts.

The new appointees will take over from Miguel Barcelo, Gene Dacosta , Gavin Dixon, Samuel Young and Michael Herland, part of the previous 10-member board.

At the Information and Communications Authority, serving for three years, Dale Crighton, managing partner of a number of real estate-based companies within the Crighton Group, remains at the helm, along with retained member John Thompson, long-time IT engineer.

New members comprise Ian Tibbetts, Gene Banks, Daniel Ebanks, Jean Gordon and Chris Gourzong, taking over from former members George Berry, Alexander Bodden, Lyndhurst Bodden, Joseph Jackman, Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden, Chris Narborough and Paul Tibbetts.

ICTA Managing Director Dave Archbold and a designate from Mr. Tibbetts Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure serve as non-voting members.

The Water Authority Board of Directors, appointed for two years, continues under Chairman Lemuel Hurlston and member Otto Watler, supported by new appointees James Gill, former board member; Christopher John Randall; former PPM MLA Alfonso Wright; Tannya Mortimer and Hansen Bingham Ebanks.

The fresh group tales over from Ingrid Simms, Miguel Smith, Corlan McLaughlin, Windell Scott, Perlina McGaw-Lumsden

Also serving are officials appointed by Mr. Tibbetts , the Financial Secretary and the Attorney General, and Water Authority Director Gelia Frederick-van Genderen.

The changes at the ERA are underlined by the appointment of Mr. Farrington as managing director. A founding member of the governing board, his accession to the top slot on the panel means Acting Managing Director Louis Boucher will resume his previous duties as deputy managing director.

“I served on the board until last year,” Mr. Farrington told the Caymanian Compass, “and was part of the negotiations for the new contract,” a reference to the earlier renewal of the Caribbean Utility Company’s licenses for generation and for transmission and distribution.

The April 2008 concord, for the first time, ended CUC’s monopoly on producing electric power, although reserving the utility’s right to approve any competitor. The contract also preserved the company’s exclusive transmission and distribution license, forcing any alternate power producer to negotiate interconnection terms with the incumbent.

“I have not contemplated changes, not until I get in there and see where we are, see what the relationship is with CUC,” Mr. Farrington said. “We want it to be smooth; we want it to be a good relationship, and we want to be an efficient regulator, but we don’t want to be best pals.

“It’s the nature of the regulator,” he observed, “and we will look at performance standards, look at a lot of things.”

One of his immediate interests, he said, was CUC’s 2011 global request for proposals to generate 13 MW of renewable energy. The invitation drew 53 responses, 20 of which were shortlisted and two subsequently selected, both relying on wind and solar technology. The utility has not named any of the bidders.

Beset by protracted negotiations, however, the first company left the talks, forcing CUC to move to the third-place finisher. The utility’s 2011 and 2012 annual reports promised a resolution during the first half of 2013, but the company has yet to announce a decision, declining even to discuss the issue.

The delay has thrown into doubt the projected late-2014 launch date for the renewable project.

“I have no idea what has happened,” Mr. Farrington said. ”It’s one of the things I wonder about, and I am very keen to find out why it’s dragging on. Maybe there is something CUC hasn’t said, but maybe the vacuum at the ERA has contributed as well,” a reference to the 2011 death of previous Chairman Philip Thomas, Mr. Boucher’s accession to acting managing director, his replacement by Joey Ebanks, suspended in March 2013 for a series of suspicious financial transactions, and Mr. Boucher’s subsequent re-appointment as acting managing director.

Mr. Farrington said that the critical issue for the board was continuity, “particularly for the chairman. We have developed a lot of expertise and knowledge and we want to keep that. Otherwise, it will be a steep learning curve for the members.”

1 COMMENT

  1. The architects, solar contractors and home owners of the Cayman Islands would really like to know what happen to the NET metering proposal that was going to cabinet for approval?

    Net metering provides businesses and home owners the right to consume, store and sell back their excess power produced by their own renewable energy source, be it solar or wind.

    CUC’s current Feed-In-Tarriff system does NOT allow renewable energy to be consumed or stored by the owner. So, when CUC goes down, the owner of the renewable energy is also down.

    Mr. Farrington, please move NET metering forward, so the country of the Cayman Islands does not have to depend on CUC. Net metering is the first step in stoping CUC monopoly in our country.

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