Public Consultation Alert – Regulatory Authority 2021-22 Workplan

There is a public consultation out at the moment for the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda’s workplan for 2021-22. The closing date for submitting a response is Wednesday, October 28th.

It provides an overview of what the RA did during their current workplan, and highlights some of their recommendations for fees going ahead.

There’s a lot in the document, however some key points that jumped out to me on a first read are:

  • The proposed budget for 2021-22 is $5,782,250.
  • The budget for their Electronic Communications section gets a 20% cut, to $2,710,925.
  • If I’m reading it right, their Electricity section gets a 13% increased budget to $2,482,000.
  • They appear to be recommending no increases in fees.
  • It notes their intention to ‘undertake significant Electricity and Electronic Communications sector related projects.’
  • It is noted that the RA has a total of 22 authorised positions, of which there are 2 vacancies. However, they note they are not actively recruiting for those positions at the moment.
  • It notes the impact of covid-19 both on the island’s economy but also on changed communication needs. In particular, it states that the RA will invest in some new communications initiatives as a result: (1) Digital Date Analytics to better understand the consumer online experience; and (2) A Consumer Focused Website – basically they will redevelop the RA website.
  • RFPs for solar procurement are in the works, with 2023 cited as date of commissioning.
  • Further retail tariff review to establish a 3-year tariff period to be conducted.
  • The first steps in the next IRP process to be started.
  • The first phase of a wind pre-feasibility study to be commenced.
  • Significant Market Power (SMP) Remedy Implementation to be set up by general determination.
  • Annual market analysis of the electronic communications sector to be conducted.
  • To encourage competition in the electronic communications sector, the RA will conduct its annual Integrated Communication Operating Licensing process.
  • The RA will also conduct its ongoing spectrum assignment licensing process.
  • It notes that the RA board is composed of 5 Commissioners. $396,000 is budgeted for Commissioners pay in 2021-22 (this equals $79,200 per Commissioner).
  • With 20 filled positions, $3,264,000 is budgeted for salaries (it is not clear if this is inclusive of the 2 vacant positions).
  • There is a budget for consulting services of $1,184,000 (split between Electric Communications at $435,000 and Electricity at $749,000).
  • Consulting services for Electric Communications has been reduced by 43% ($328,600) from 2020-21 as they have increased internal capacity.
  • Operating costs for Electric Communications has decreased by 60% ($239,575) from 2020-21 due to reductions in budgets for litigation and mediation.
  • The Commissioners salaries (honoraria) per their share from Electronic Communications is reduced by 27% ($72,000) from 2020-21 (but this is under discussion by the current Commissioners).
  • There is a 194% ($494,000) increase in consulting budget for Electricity for 2021-22 – the reason given is primarily due to projects required to implement the Comprehensive Retail Tariff and the solar procurement process.
  • There is a decrease of 63% ($203,175) for operating costs for Electricity, due to reduced need for litigation and mediation.
  • As with the Commissioners honoraria for Electric Communications, they also see a 27% ($72,000) decrease from their share from Electricity.
  • So, basically, in 2020-21 the Commissioners had a budget of $540,000, or $108,000 per Commissioner. As such, their monthly honoraria is proposed to decrease from $9,000 to $6,000. It should be stressed that the Commissioners are reported to be unhappy with this proposal. However, the Government has insisted that this is non-negotiable.

For more on their budget, if you don’t want to review the primary source, see this article from the RG.

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