Grand Bahama Power should not be foreign-owned, says CCC
The Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCC) continues to protest Emera Inc.’s buyout of shares in ICD Utilities (ICDU), which operates the Grand Bahama Power Company, stating an essential public utility should not be privately owned and operated by a foreign entity.
The CCC held a press conference Wednesday and outlined its reasons – which were many – for protesting the share purchase.
ICDU owns 50 percent of the Grand Bahama Power Company with an overall Bahamian equity interest of 19.63 percent, the CCC explained.
Emera is seeking to secure 100 percent ownership of Grand Bahama Power Company, a vital utility infrastructure on the island of Grand Bahama.
“The Coalition of Concerned Citizens strongly opposes Emera’s proposed buy-out of Bahamian shareholders,” the CCC said in its press statement.
Emera said in a press statement released last weekend that it has already “applied to list the DRs (depository receipts) on the BISX, and the issuance of the common shares of Emera underlying the DRs has been conditionally approved by the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)”.
“The Bahamas Investment Authority has approved the transaction; the Securities Commission of The Bahamas has issued a letter of non-objection to the transaction and the Central Bank of The Bahamas has approved the transaction in principle,” the press statement continued.
The CCC’s reasons for protesting are because “a power company within the jurisdiction of The Bahamas should maintain a significant percentage of Bahamian ownership; this creates concerns with energy security and our country’s sovereignty as it relates to the energy sector.
“Emera\GBPC’s business model, policies and mode of operation have decimated the economy of Grand Bahama.
“… Emera\GBPC applied to increase rates during a time when the global oil price was plummeting. The approval received led to increased electricity base rates and greater hardships on business and residential customers.
“High electricity rates have been a major barrier to potential investors for Grand Bahama.
“During the period of 2014–2016 there was a major reduction in global oil prices due to plummeting oil markets. Emera\GBPC failed to pass on significant savings to their customers in fuel surcharges.
“The present generation capacity of Emera\GBPC cannot effectively supply electricity at peak load demand.
“Emera\GBPC is a monopoly providing electricity to customers throughout Grand Bahama. Monopolies have a greater responsibility to deliver customer satisfaction. On the other hand, because there is no competition, Emera\GBPC has failed to meet this standard.
“Despite the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s overwhelming commitment to work with our government’s regulatory goals, Emera\GBPC began legal action in the Supreme Court to prevent the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) from regulating or seeking to exercise licensing and regulatory authority over it.”
The CCC is not the only entity railing against Emera’s plans to own 100 percent of the GBPC. Minister of the Environment and Housing Remauld Ferreira, while speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s power breakfast this week, was asked by an attendee to ask his government to stop the Emera deal.
The implementation of the transaction is still hinged on approval by the holders of the ICDU shares, who will be called to an annual and special meeting at the Pelican Bay Resort on Grand Bahama on November 8.
“The transaction will be subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast by shareholders other than EUHL in addition to approval by 75 percent of the total holders of ICDU shares, including EUHL,” the press statement said.
The CCC also urged Bahamian shareholders of ICDU to reconsider selling their shares to Emera.
“We know that there are financial challenges in The Bahamas, but we appeal to the minority shareholder to stand on principle, the principle of not selling out our country’s sovereignty in the energy sector by allow a vital infrastructure like the Grand Bahama Power Company to become 100 percent owned by a foreign company,” the CCC said.
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