How Can Caribbean Countries Make the Transition to Regulated Electricity Markets?
Island nations often face particularly high energy rates and other special challenges in providing reliable energy supply at least-cost, while mitigating pollution and global warming. The Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) invited Janine Migden-Ostrander to its 2014 Regulatory Forum to speak about helping Caribbean countries transition to regulated electricity markets. Co-author of case studies on developing the role of a power sector regulator and creating a consumer advocate office for Puerto Rico, Ms. Migden-Ostrander outlines key considerations for islands weighing the merits of taking this step.Legislation needs to express clear intent and be comprehensive in scope to address roles, responsibilities, rates, and the underlying causes for high rates. Appointments to the regulatory agency must be based on merit, rather than political affiliation, to ensure integrity and accountability. Once appointed, the regulator must be provided with the authority necessary to carry out public interests through procedures that set high standards for fair, transparent, and efficient processes. A strong regulatory body promotes sound, long-range, least-cost planning that promotes energy efficiency, customer-side resources, and consumer protection. Smaller islands may consider pooling resources for a regional authority, similar to the state regional transmission organizations in the U.S. that operate a utility transmission system over several states.