Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell says that although US-based WRB Enterprise has turned down government’s offer to buy its shares in GRENLEC, this will not stop his administration from continuing to look for ways to protect the citizens.
WRB currently owns 61.5 percent of the island’s sole electricity generating company.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of GRENLEC, Robert Blanchard has announced that the offer made by the 15-month old Mitchell government was not accepted because it was not “attractive” enough.
Speaking to reporters at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Ministerial Complex, Prime Minister Mitchell expressed the view that he would not be undaunted by the remarks of Blanchard who was bent on protecting the interest of the company.
Dr. Mitchell said: “The CEO of WRB is speaking for WRB, I’m sure he understands that he cannot speak for the country called Grenada. WRB is a business, Grenada is a country and it has laws and it has rules and of course its people deserve the best and its people deserve an opportunity to survive in this global environment.”
According to Dr. Mitchell, it is clear to him that under WRB’s concept of electricity generation and supply, Grenada will not survive.
He said that while government accepts WRB’s rights to profits, it has a right to make sure citizens survive against rising electricity costs.
“What WRB has said is part of what the previous government who signed the arrangement in ’94 gave them, which I’ve always said is a foolish arrangement against the national interest of the country; so they made a statement based on what the law says, that they have to accept or reject an offer from government first but there are ways (for) government moving forward,” Dr. Mitchell explained.
As regards the next possible move by government, Prime Minister Mitchell said the administration is now speaking with other interested parties in an effort to get them to buy off WRB shares in GRENLEC.
“We are in the process through the Ministry of Public Utilities speaking to various parties of their ability to buy off the shares of Grenlec as being offered (by WRB) because now we know what Grenlec wants for (its) shares so they cannot say that we have been unfair if we have such a buyer who then turns around and said, look – based on our ability to raise the resources to buy off the shares of WRB, that we’ll then reduce the price of electricity by these specific actions…”, he said.
“…I want to tell you this I have nothing against WRB as a business, my problem is I have (to protect) the people of Grenada and therefore I will not accept any offer from any alternative private sector or whatever group to buy Grenlec and keep the price of electricity as it is,” he added.
According to PM Mitchell, it makes no sense to him to get someone to buy WRB shares and allow them to keep the cost of electricity at the same rate.
This, he said would give the impression that he has a problem with the persons associated with WRB.
Dr. Mitchell warned that not a day would pass without government focusing on how to bring down the price of electricity to the consuming public.
He referred to moves afoot to put in place a new Electricity Supply Act that is getting support from the international community in order to try and liberalise the generation of electricity.
He is confident that WRB will have to cooperate with the law because “that’s the law of the land when it is passed”.
Under the new system of liberalisation, the Prime Minister said, there will now be competition in the generation of electricity.
“…So that means if you put an equipment in your house to be able to get electricity from the sun, WRB can’t force you to sell it to the grid and they sell it back to you at enormous cost, you can now do so,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister stressed that once the new act comes on any company can now get involved in alternative forms of energy and sell to the national grid at reduced cost.
Dr. Mitchell is optimistic that this approach “will of course force the price of electricity downwards because (the) cost of electricity is calculated on the basis of the cost of energy that drives the system”.