ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) — The war of words between the Grenada government and the Grenada Electricity Services Ltd (Grenlec) took another turn Monday with the sole provider of electricity here indicating that it will not surrender its rights under the original share purchase agreement.
The company said it is prepared to legally challenge the issue.
The company, whose major shareholder is the Florida-based WRB Enterprises, said the Keith Mitchell Government is seeking to replace the successful existing framework “with a politically motivated, ideologically conceived and totally discretionary, new regulatory regime”.
Vice-president of engineering and regulation for WRB, Murray Skeete, who is also a Grenlec director, told a news conference that the company saw the first and second draft of the new legislation, but never saw the final draft that was taken to parliament last week.
He called for the legislation to be temporarily withdrawn from the parliament, noting that the original agreement makes it very clear what are the options of the company if there are to be changes.
“Enacting this clause in the agreement can have significant financial consequences to the State… we are not here to threaten or scare,” said Morris, noting that the concern is not only the legislation, but how it can affect the future operation of his company.
“If I have to defend that agreement, I will. The fact of the matter is, we have not been afforded the opportunity to sit down and talk with Government about the framework,” he said.
The Lower House of Parliament last week approved the measures that the Government said will lead to a comprehensive reform of the electricity sector, by opening the door for other investors to generate electricity using renewable energy resources.
Public Utilities Minister Gregory Bowen said the Electricity Supply Bill 2016 will repeal and replace the 1994 Electricity Supply Act.
“It opens the energy sector to domestic and foreign investment in new projects and facilities for the generation of electricity from renewable energy resources, while preserving the activities of current market participants,” said Bowen who explained that these areas will include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, wave and tidal sources.
He said the consumer will benefit from the establishment of a framework for Grenada to reduce its current reliance on fossil fuels.
“The bill is expected to result in lower electricity prices for consumers, greater efficiencies in the production and use of electricity, and greater public participation in the process of developing and regulating the sector,” he said.
The bill must now go before the Senate on Tuesday for approval and be published in the Government gazette before it takes effect.
But Grenlec insists that the legislation will fundamentally alter and restructure “every single aspect of how Grenada’s nationwide electricity sector will operate.
“These new bills unilaterally scrap the current legislative and regulatory framework that has successfully allowed Grenada to enjoy 20 plus years of world-class electricity service and growth provided on a universally available, highly efficient, continuously reliable and non-discriminatory basis,” said Grenlec General Manager Collin Cover.
He told reporters that Grenlec respects the view that government can pass legislation, but believes that there should be wide consultation on any legislation regarding sensitive issues that will affect the wider population.
“I am not saying that there was not consultation, but it needs more in-depth discussion with the major player in the field,” he said, while admitting that the Government did have consultation with the company up until last month.
Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph said that Government did afford Grenlec the opportunity to participate in the discussion and reiterated that it is not the Government’s intention to take over Grenlec, but to allow the sole provider to remain in the market.
“Our main and biggest concern was that no other provider can generate electricity in Grenada because of the monopoly, and the new legislation will change that,” he said.