Consumers using an average of 1,000 kilowatts a month have been paying less on their electricity bills since March, OfReg’s executive director of energy and utilities, Gregg Anderson, has said.
Testifying before the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday afternoon, Anderson said consumers have been feeling the benefits of lower global fuel prices through their electricity bills, and he expects it to continue.
PAC members raised the issue of fuel prices, questioning what the regulator was doing to address it and why Cayman’s consumers were not reaping benefits at the pump nor through their electricity bills.
Anderson agreed there had been a delay in the lower prices being felt here, but that was owing to price differentiation in the fuel that was already on island versus the lower priced fuels.
However, Anderson said, OfReg conducted an assessment and found that since March there has been a reduction in the bills of residential consumers who consume an average of 1,000 kilowatts a month.
“[It] has dropped from $240 to $199 and that will continue to drop because of the fuel factor. No two residential bills or even commercial bills will be the same… we could be staying in the same apartment complex and our uses, habits, are different,” he said.
Anderson said this drop in prices is not only evident here in the Cayman Islands, but Bermuda and Bahamas have also reported reductions.
He added that a further analysis has been done to show how consumer patterns have changed during the shelter-in-place measures.
Amendment to OfReg law to commence ‘shortly’
Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose also appeared before the PAC on Wednesday afternoon, when he addressed some of the issues raised by OfReg chairman Linford Pierson – in particular, the delay in issuing a commencement order for amendments made last year to the Utility and Competition Office Law.
Rose said the commencement of those revisions hit a “small snag” because further amendments to the law were made earlier this year and there were some concerns that one round of the revisions may usurp the other.
“But I am sure it does not cause any harm and we can still commence it. It has to be done and for that I take responsibility in getting the Cabinet paper forward,” Rose said.
He said it will be commenced “shortly”.
PAC Chairman Ezzard Miller questioned the government’s decision to fund OfReg directly rather than using licensing fees.
Bodden Town MLA Chris Saunders and Prospect MLA Austin Harris questioned the effectiveness of the regulator to address issues like high fuel prices and poor internet service.
Saunders stressed that there were clear governance issues between how the board operates and its executive structure.
Rose said the regulator structure is being worked on and “we cannot brush over the governance issues”.
However, he said, progress is being made on dealing with internet connectivity for the islands.
Pierson, in his evidence earlier in the day, also touched on the issue, saying that progress has been made on “getting a brand new system in place” as it relates to the current set-up with the Maya 1 underwater internet cable.