Saturday, August 13, 2022

NURC Forges Ahead Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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Press Release:–  The Coronavirus pandemic has presented utility regulators throughout the world with peculiar obstacles challenging them to adapt regulatory tools to balance the interests of consumers and utility providers.

While safety remains at the forefront of the National Utilities Regulatory Commission’s (NURC) core values, operational and strategic priorities; the Commission continues to forge through limitations in the face of the global pandemic, ensuring that critical support
services remain uninterrupted during these unprecedented times.

The Commission understands that the decisions and efforts implemented today will undoubtedly impact its internal capacity, consumers, regulatory landscape and regulated
entities.

Recognising this, the NURC continues to work assiduously in the delivery of its legislative, operational and national commitments through the implementation and facilitation of a slew of activities aimed towards organisational resiliency, regulatory advancement and utility empowerment.

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In maintaining pliancy amid unforeseen circumstances and grappling with novel challenges of keeping operational and mandatory commitments afloat within unfamiliar territories,
the NURC continues to work diligently through secured assistance from multilateral and inter-governmental agencies to discharge the following initiatives.

Consultancy for Institutional Capacity Building

The NURC received grant funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL) for the provision of consultancy services for institutional capacity building.

The consultancy will be implemented over a twenty-two-week period with the aim of developing a Strategic Plan and Operational Procedures to strengthen institutional capacity of NURC to deliver its mandate.

During the lifespan of this project consultants will collaborate with NURC’s Board of Commissioners, Secretariat and key stakeholders to create a practical framework to guide the Commission’s operations as a utility regulator with a keen focus on the development of a strategic plan, review of the organization’s structure, establishment of a grievance redress mechanism and training of commissioners and staff in utility regulation, tariff/rate setting and gender profiling.

This initiative will enable the NURC to develop a robust regulatory regime furnished with tools relevant for identifying and implementing institutional and management processes which will allow the Commission to effectively deliver it legislative mandate.

The NURC understands that institutional strengthening necessitates optimum performance in the management and delivery of regulatory processes for navigating within an environment where utility providers are highly equipped with competent technical and professional experts.

Therefore, in building a sustainable regulatory regime, the regulator is obliged to be readily responsive to the emerging requirements of the sector.

Grid Code Development Consultancy:

The NURC secured technical assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to adapt the national electricity Grid Code to align with the Saint Lucia National Energy Transition Strategy and for creating the enabling legislative and regulatory frameworks needed to support Renewable Energy in Saint Lucia.

The Consultancy welcomed an engaging approach in which Consultants joined forces with commissioners and staff of the NURC alongside representatives of key stakeholder groups through a Technical Work Group.

Emerging development needs of the local energysector include viability, sustainability and modernization. Disruptive and transformative changes in renewable energy impacts legislation, policy and presents challenges for utility regulators.

In more recent times, power grids throughout the region are encountering a period of unprecedented change and the penetration of renewable energy continues to increase.

The presence of distributed renewables interconnected to national grid, introduces a growing need to upgrade and modernise existing transmission and distribution systems.

The development of a Grid Codethrough this Consultancy will enable the NURC to adopt regulations that define the technical requirements and behaviour of all participants in the power system.

Thus, establishing an essential instrument for a safe integration of renewable generation into the grid safeguarding optimal network operation, of a Grid Code specific to the country’s respective system.

Study for Establishing Renewable Energy Rates for Saint Lucia

The NURC as an economic regulator of electricity supply services has taken a strategic approach driven towards preparation of the enactment of the impending new energy legislation.

In this regard, the Commission has initiated a project to perform a Study for Establishing Renewable Energy Rates for Saint Lucia.

This study is being funded by CARICOM’s Technical Assistance Programme for Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean (TAPSEC).

TAPSEC is implemented by the Deutsche Geselleschaft für Internationale Zusammendarbeit (Giz)GmbH, with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) of the Dominican Republic as main implementing partners.

Historically, electricity rate structures have bundled all electric services into one volumetric rate; charging customers by kilowatt-hour for usage and allowing utility providers to recover cost and capital investments without significant rate increases.

Today, against the backdrop of decarbonization, increasing customer sophistication and the fast expansion of renewable energy, utility providers are forced to consider grid modernization and investments to meet sustainability goals  and manage capital expense.

With this rapid growth in distributed generation, electricity rates can impact fairness and
economic efficiency considerations for electricity tariffs.

The NURC must remain pre-emptive in acquiring pertinent training and regulatory expertise to respond to market changes by considering alternative rates structures that are designed to promote economic viability and sustainability of the electricity sector.

Well-informed policy and regulatory decision making has crucial role in defining the future pathways to address these emerging requirements of the sector.

The institutional capacity of the utility regulator needs to be strengthened to ensure an effective policy and regulatory response.

Headline photo caption: Internet stock image

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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