URCA: Service providers must adapt to remain sustainable

URCA: Service providers must adapt to remain sustainable
URCA Director of Utilities & Energy, Shevonn Cambridge (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The utilities regulator yesterday said it must find ways to adapt and innovate to ensure that service providers remain sustainable amid the COVID-19 crisis, noting that with decreased commercial demand some utilities are using the opportunity to address maintenance.

Shevonn Cambridge, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority’s (URCA) director of Utilities and Energy, noted that there has been a reduction in commercial and industrial consumption on a whole as a result of the COVID-19 curfews and the lock-downs.

He was addressing an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) webinar via Zoom on COVID-19 and the Caribbean Electricity Sector.

“As the regulator one of the things we are looking at is what is the revenue sensitivity due to the shift in the various tariff categories. We expect to see higher consumption in the residential consumer tariff category while we expect to see some decline in the commercial and industrial consumer category,” said Cambridge.

“For residential consumers there is also financial concerns with layoffs and cutbacks as a result of COVID1-19. When you start dealing with with the vulnerable consumer and their ability to pay that will also have an adverse impact on some of these revenue streams.

“We have to figure out what measures need to be take to protect the consumer as we start looking at the long term impact of the payment deferrals and what that will do to the utilities and their ability to carry out the projects they would have had.

Additionally, Cambridge noted that some utilities have taken the opportunity to address maintenance which they ordinarily would not have been able to do at this time.

“As commercial and industrial loads have dropped, it has increased opportunities for maintenance,” said Cambridge.

“We have heard from some of our service providers that they are ramping up activity in that area.”

Cambridge added: “As a regulator we have to figure out ways to adapt and innovate to ensure that our service providers remain sustainable in this environment.”