It is now clear that the majority shares that are owned by the Florida-based WRB Enterprise in the Grenada Electricity Services Limited (GRENLEC) would remain in the hands of another private company as the cash-strapped Government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is unable to raise the required funds to repurchase the lone electricity company.
WRB, which purchased a 50 percent control of GRENLEC in 1994 when it was privatized, has decided to sell those shares.
The share purchase agreement gave WRB the exclusive right to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in Grenada for a period ending December 31, 2073.
Finance and Energy Minister Nazim Burke who addressed the media on the issue on Monday said that in January 2012 it became apparent that WRB entered into “active negotiations” with Emera Inc., a Canadian-based (Halifax, Nova Scotia) utility and energy services company which has majority shares in the Light and Power Holdings of Barbados to purchase its shares in GRENLEC.
Minister Burke told reporters that on September 28, government received notice about WRB’s intention to sell its twelve million shares, which is close to one hundred million dollars.
“After we looked at all our options, we explored different opportunities, it became clear that we could not really raise that money to purchase the shares at that time,” he said.
Minister Burke stated that government has no difficulty entering into a new relationship with a new strategic partner such as Emera but wanted its concerns
about the electricity sector to be addressed.
The Energy Minister said even though government could not come up with the money to repurchase GRENLEC, they saw it as a very historic opportunity to change the entire framework of electricity generation in the country.
Attorney General Rohan Phillip who also addressed the press conference said it is now clear that the exclusive license for the generation of electricity supply through fossil fuel will now be for 45 years and not 61 as obtained by WRB.
However, Phillip said once a new company comes on board in the future, it will not get such a license for longer than 30 years.
As of December 2011, WRB owned 50 percent shares in GRENLEC, the National Insurance Scheme (11.6 percent), the Government of Grenada (ten percent), Eastern Caribbean Holdings Inc (11.4 percent), while the general public held 17 percent.
In 2012, WRB secured the shares that were owned by the Eastern Caribbean Holdings Inc. bringing its shareholding to 61.4 of all the shares in GRENLEC.
Phillip said the government has made it clear that no single entity will be able to own more than 50 percent in the supply of electricity to the country.