Licensing in Dominica
The challenge IRC faced was providing a licensing framework for Regular Licenses (licenses other than interim licenses), especially generation licenses. Prior to the inauguration of IRC, there were already a number of existing and prospective independent power producers interested in investing in the generation of power in Dominica. It envisaged that a number of these companies will be approaching The IRC requesting licenses to enable them to commence operation.
To tackle this challenge, the Legal Support/Licensing Division will immediately have to review the terms in the Act and work on the drafting o a regulation on the application for licenses.
The draft regulation among other things provided for the manner and procedure for applying for a license.
Under the Electricity Act 10 of 2006, the IRC is empowered to license all industry participants involved in the following activities:
It proposed to seek an amendment to the Act to place minimum capacity levels on the Electricity Generation for Domestic Purposes (section 31 – 4) and Electricity Distribution and Supply.
At this time a Capacity in excess of 15KVA is suggested for Generation and 10KVA for Distribution and Supply The Act makes it an offense punishable by a term of imprisonment or imposition fine for any person to undertake these activities without a license.
Following the inauguration of IRC, the need to immediately put in place a licensing framework in line with the requirements of the Act is becoming immediately apparent.
Applicants will be expected to obtain application forms from the Commission’s office or website, complete the forms and attach all the required documents which will be needed to assess their legal, technical and business competence to undertake the licensed activity.
Applicants are also required to publish notices of their application for a license in two local newspapers, to enable stakeholders and the general public make their input in the form of objections or other comments. (The Commission has this responsibility according to the Act, but it is considered necessary to have the applicant carry out this function for themselves. The Commission could also publish its receipt of such applications.)
Any objection filed will be considered taking into cognizance the rules of natural justice and fair hearing. The decision to grant or refuse a license lies within the discretion of The IRC who is mandated to take into consideration such factors as the ability of the applicant to comply with industry codes (technical and financial), the sufficiency and veracity of the documents submitted as well as well as the general public interest.
Applicants whose applications are refused also have the opportunity to appeal the refusal or seek a review of the decision.
The IRC will be under an obligation to ensure that the period between the its acknowledgement of the acceptance of an application and the time it informs an applicant of its decision or proposed decision to grant or refuse a license is not more than 90 days. The timeline given is to ensure prompt consideration of all applications.
The Regulation will also makes provision for the procedures for the amendment, renewal, suspension and cancellation of licenses and in all these respects, The IRC will be careful to ensure that the licensee is given ample opportunity to present his case to the Commission or in public as the commission has an obligation to hold public hearings whenever the need arises to allow for transparency and fairness.
The proposed regulation will be widely published nationwide asking for inputs and contributions from industry participants, stakeholders and the general public before the final regulations could be adopted. Care will also taken to dispatch the draft regulation to major stakeholders including DOMLEC and intending IPPS and unions of electricity services contractors, as well as consumer groups, to ensure their participation in the entire process.
By the end of the time specified for responses, The IRC will have received a number of comments from stakeholders, most of which should prove quite useful, and probably will be adopted in the final regulation. The regulation will then be adopted and approved by the Commission, after which, with the regulation in place, The IRC will then be empowered to commence the licensing of industry participants using a framework that was designed to encourage easy entry into the market while ensuring that global best practices are also enforced.
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