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OFREG on Stage

Local News 06 Jun, 2022 Follow News

OFREG on Stage

Chamber hosts OfReg in ‘Be Informed’ session

By Christopher Tobutt

The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce played host to the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) during one of its ‘Be Informed,’ sessions, at the Chamber offices at Governor’s Square.

OFREG is the independent multi-sector body responsible for regulatory oversight of, Energy, Fuel, Information and communication technology and Water. It was established by the Utility Regulation and Competition Act 2016, which effectively brought all the previous, separate utilities and information technology provider watchdogs under one umbrella, although structurally its different departments still reflect its varied functions. The three heads of the different departments, Gregg Anderson for Energy & Water, Duke Munroe for Fuels, and Sonji Myles for Information Technology each gave a presentation, outlining their section and its responsibilities along with Interim CEO, Peter Gough who gave a historical overview of how OfReg was formed.

OfReg’s activities are divided into ensuring technical standards, for example pertaining to safety, are adhered to on the one hand, and trying to ensure that the market is open to some kind of competition on the other, in order to protect the consumer.

Mr Anderson identified described several challenges facing OfReg, including what he termed, Regulatory Capture, is where a regulatory body’s judgement becomes too focused on the success of its licensees, ”that is a key thing we need to avoid happening because it means we are making decisions that we are not mandated to do – in the best interests of the public,” Mr. Anderson explained. “

OfReg issues licenses to businesses like power, water and internet which are key to Cayman’s ability to not only survive a national disaster such as a hurricane, but recover after one too. “One of the things all our licensees have to do with us is file business continuity and management plans,” one of the presenters explained.

When it was time to ask questions, the Chamber’s Chief Executive Officer, Wil Pineau, got the ball rolling by asking how likely it will be that Cayman will reach the National Energy Policy goal of 70% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2037. Mr. Anderson replied that while he believed things were broadly on target, it was impossible to predict what would happen over such a long period of time, not least because of uncertainties in the ongoing supply of component elements. “One has to take into consideration extraneous factors …anywhere from mining lithium items which is the major source of raw material for battery storage. But if we take it in smaller increments of two year periods, we could say that by 2025 we will have X amount in place, I think that’s feasible,” he said

In answer to another question concerned OfReg’s powers to enforce its regulations, it was explained that OfReg typically ensured enforcement by a progressive process, first informing that licensee that it was in breach, and then following up with a formal notice. There was a sliding scale of enforcement, right up to a 500,000-dollar fine and an additional penalty of 25,000 dollars for each day that they continued in breach.

There was also a question from a concerned property developer. “We build a lot of houses in South Sound, and one of our problems is very low water pressure, so low that appliances don’t work,” he said, “There is apparently no minimum water pressure, so that there is not enough water for fire hydrants and water sprinklers….is there a plan to change that?” He was told that although the issue hadn’t yet been addressed, OfReg would, “Make a note of that and see if we can pursue that for you.”

Photos

Photo 1 OfReg gave a lively presentation and question & answer session at the Chamber. Left to right, standing, Sonji Myles, Duke Monroe, and Gregg Anderson of OfReg. Seated, Wil Pineau Chamber CEO, Peter Gough OfReg’s Interim CEO, and Nelson Dilbert, Chamber Vice President and owner of Cayman Spirits Co.


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