Independence Day: Emera wants 100% of Barbados Light & Power

Should we sell Barbados Light & Power to the Canadians?

Good for Barbados, or selling the family silver?

by West Side Davie with Cliverton

Independence Day is a fitting time for Bajans to consider the difference between dreams and goals, and the difference between blind celebration and a grounded perspective on reality. For too long we have celebrated November 30th with much flag waving and remembrance of the heady days of the 1960’s – but little serious consideration given to where the good ship Barbados is sailing now and how the machinery is holding up.

We dance and sing about how we love the ship and what a good ship it is (and it is too!) – but I fear we’ve been putting off some needed maintenance and refitting because it’s easier and cheaper to slap on a coat of paint and say “It still looks good!”

Indeed, it could be said that Independence Day has become somewhat of a coat of paint administered annually to make us feel good about ourselves. Or, perhaps Independence Day is like a shot of rum for the masses so they won’t notice that we’ve just mortgaged another part of the ship to keep food on the table and fuel in the tanks.

Friends, if you borrow money to put food on the table and fuel in the tank, you’ll soon lose your ship as you sell it off piece by piece while the machinery deteriorates for lack of care.

And that is why I approach Emera’s offer to purchase 100% of Barbados Light & Power with some trepidation and perhaps some guilt too.

Emera is developing tidal power generation in Nova Scotia

On the bad side of this deal, once it’s gone we’ll never own it again. But that observation begs the question, do “we” really own it now?

And, does the Emera purchase mean that our nation will be at the mercy of foreign interests when it comes to power generation and pricing? I’m not so sure that isn’t already the case.

An article in the Globe and Mail speculates that if Emera takes full operational control of Light & Power there could be “cost savings stemming from Emera’s expertise.” That’s probably true, but it’s also true that Bajans won’t see any of that money unless they are Emera shareholders.

The Emera purchase is about shareholder value and future profits, not about doing something nice for Barbados.

The Hope

My hope is that Emera will bring operational efficiencies, knowledge and new technologies to Barbados that will increase the reliability of service for consumers. That’s all I can hope for. I’m not fool enough to think that power prices will go anywhere but up no matter who owns the system.

Can we ever be truly independent when it comes to power?

A few years ago I read an article that claimed in North America something like 40% of the generated power is lost in transmission over the power grid. The author argued for smaller “neighbourhood” power generation capabilities, saying that bigger isn’t always better and that distributed generation closer to users would produce major cost savings.

The article showed a cluster of “off the grid” homes that relied upon wind and sun for basic needs but cranked up a shared generator when demand dictated some additional help was needed. I’m not convinced that shared local generation model is really viable with today’s technology, and I know that if it was you can bet Barbados Light and Power wouldn’t be publicizing it.

As for Emera, I don’t think it really matters who owns the power generation and distribution system in Barbados. We will never be truly “independent” until we are self-sufficient in energy – and that, my friends, cannot happen with the current technology.

But that shouldn’t stop us from Living Smaller, using less energy, conserving and seeking alternative sources for our homes.

Our quest for power mirrors our country’s quest for independence.

When we talk about energy, the question is “How do you define, “energy self-sufficient”? If that is truly the goal, we’ll never make it.

But we can do better.

When we talk about Barbados being “Independent”, we have to ask ourselves what we mean by that. Certainly begging from China and the EU doesn’t make us “fully independent”.

On this Independence Day, I’m going to think about what the word “Independence” truly means, and what I want it to mean for Barbados.

I’ll let you know if I come to any conclusions.

(Give thanks to West Side Davie for the draft and Clive for the editing and additional words)


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Energy

22 responses to “Independence Day: Emera wants 100% of Barbados Light & Power

  1. rasta man

    Independence only means we have changed one master (massa)for another

  2. Snipes

    The price that is being offered for these shares will make it virtually impossible for the average person to turn it down. $25.70 as apposed to $12.00 at the last stock market close. Tell me whom will give up that ‘blue moon’ offer?

  3. AAA

    Attention: The Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler

    Your Budget presentation and wrap up session was keenly observed by many. When all hope seemed lost you then addressed the Pierhead Marina saga. This was under the guise of HMBS Pelican base at Spring Garden and the faults with that design and construction. You attempted to link the Pierhead Marina designers Halcrow to the minor construction problems with HMBS Pelican although you know that reports on the issue of liability have repeatedly indicated the problems rest squarely with the contractors and developers JADA CONSTRUCTION LIMITED and or abnormal sea conditions.

    It was a crude mistake made by an immature politician who already on this ice for having tried his level best to leapfrog Freundel Stuart MP for the post of prime minister, has taken on additional political liability which he himself cannot imagine and the likes of which will severely damage is political ambitions including the position of Minister of Finance. Mr. Sinckler has shown his hand the result being he will have a brand seared into his palm for all to see.

    This is a man that certain special interest factions sought to have elevated to Prime Minister, its a good thing his fellow MPs realized the problem that would create and back raised him when the vote was called on the morning of David Thompson’s death.

    Having defamed the reputation of a company whose annual revenue is nearly that of the total annual budget of Barbados, the Minister of Finance can look forward to lawsuit for defamation from the same company. The privilege of parliament will not protect him, remember Don Blackman and COW Williams? The Privy Council ruled against parliamentary privilege, sure Mr. Sinckler is aware of this.

    Halcrow delivers planning, design and management services for developing infrastructure and buildings worldwide. They contribute to the construction, operation and maintenance of the built environment, and the protection, enhancement and maintenance of the natural environment and operate in almost every country in the world. Halcrow has been working for the Government of Barbados for over 30 years.

    Halcrow are the designers for the HMBS Pelican. The Government of Barbados has paid all of Halcrows invoices and have not attempted to call in the cash bond held by the GOB nor have they attempted to bring a case against Halcrow for breach of a duty of care owed by Halcrow to the Government of Barbados.

    You see, the issue of the so-called problems with Halcrow at the HMBS Pelican are just that so-called problems, no proof whatsover yet the Minister of Finance would have us believe that the GOB Barbados would have to look for bajan 20M to fix the problems there. The Leader of the Opposition has the files which includes the estimates to fix the problems created at HMBS Pelican by JADA CONSTRUCTION LIMITED, they don’t exceed bajan bajan 1.0 M.

    Where the Minister of Finance is going with this is to the Pierhead Marina project, which co-incidentally is also designed by Halcrow. That project has been the subject of much debate primarily lead by the Leader of the Opposition and which centered out the DLP contention that bajan 48 M needs to be spent to redesign the Pierhead Marina notwithstanding that GOB Barbados had paid bajan 15 M for Halcrow to design that project. All of the Halcrow designs are conpleted, tested and all that remains is for the GOB thru the BTI to build the Marina.

    The allusion of having to redesign the Pierhead Marina has its origins in the fact that when the BTI tendered the project in 2007, the tender of VECO/SMI/Glyne Bannister was twice the price of the lowest tender. Remember Glyne Bannister and VECO are of the Dodds Prison fame, Darcy Boyce was the CEO of BTI at the time the Pierhead Marina was tendered and Darcy Boyce was also on the tender evaluation commitee of the DODDS Prison, remember the Nation newspaper article? Darcy Boyce and Glyne Bannister are close friends and partners in business.

    This nastiness at the Pierhead Marina, the attempt to waste 48 M has already cost Sen Darcy Boyce his position. In the last cabinet reshuffle before his death David Thompson removed BTI from his responsibility. Unfortunately the Minister of Finance appears to have taken up where Darcy Boyce left off and is almost certain that he will be demoted also.

    What neither Darcy Boyce or Christopher Sinckler know is that former Prime Minister David Thompson had a peer review done on the design at the Pierhead Marina, ask the former chairman, he has a copy.

  4. A. Freeman

    Light & Power Holdings Ltd. (LPHL) currently has approximately 17,147,691 outstanding common shares, held by:
    – Emera – approximately 6,592,351 (38%)
    – National Insurance Board – approximately 3,979,388 (23%)
    – Sagicor Group – approximately 1,322,238 (8%)
    – Other – approximately 5,253,714 (31%)

    At the current offer of $25.70, the shareholders would receive:
    – National Insurance Board – approximately BB$102,270,272
    – Sagicor Group – approximately BB$33,981,517
    – Other – approximately BB$135,020,450

    Emera paid about the same BB$25.70/share to acquire its initial 38% interest. As Emera is seeking control with this current offer, the other shareholders will likely seek a premium on the BB$25.70, assuming they are willing to sell. The LPHL Board will presumably take this into consideration when advising the shareholders.

    If the acquisition is successful, Barbadian investors will have available (I assume – investment seeking) cash in excess of BB$250 million. Does the Government have any promising enterprise in which it can make shares available to the public to attract some of this cash?


    I think before a deal is even considered Barbados must look at our neighbors in the Dominican Republic. They sold their light and power company to a foreign country. Now in the DR, nightly rolling blackouts is the norm in the DR! And there ain’t a thing the citizens of the DR can do about it! According to the new owners, it’s necessary for the rolling blackouts in order to save and make money. I know this first hand! I love to vacation in DR, and see it all the time! Of course it doesn’t hurt the resorts however, my local friends it does! I’m just saying!


    Now if Bim really wants to sell something how about going back to being ruled by England! The direction that Bim’s heading in with the likes of the DLP and BLP I pray for my former homeland on a daily basis! I would love to see Bim prosper like Bermuda, Turks&Caicos, British Vigin Islands, and Grand Cayman. I feel Barbados in recent years is falling into a “state of disarray”….THIS IS JUST MY OPINION

  7. A. Freeman

    Anastasia, what price do you envision:
    – Current value of the price of labour provided by our forefathers during the years of oppression, compounded for the time value of money to the present; plus
    – Full equal citizenship within the UK/its territories and EU for all, including descendants; plus
    – some form of binding agreement that foregoing may never be reversed?

  8. if you lived up here, the headquarters of Emera, you wouldn’t be keen on them taking over anything. We have the highest power rates in the country, large parts of the province end up without power every time it blows, snows or rains. Maintenace of their infrastructure is terrible, and the much vaunted tidal power turbine in the article lost a couple of blades the first week it was in the water, hasn’t worked since, and hasn’t been able to be recovered for inspection either, as something with enough lift can’t get to where the thing is.

  9. Snipes

    The real issue is that we seem not to know the value of what we have or are not fully aware of what it is to create and keep our wealth at home where it belongs. Sagicor is now predominantly Trinidadian owned, so too is BNB, ICBL is owned by Bermudans. As a result we have to repatriate $m in dividends to these shareholders at the expense of the foreign reserves. As i see it the only aspect of our financial institutions still in local hands is the Credit Union movement and a few privately owned insurance companies. Do other people have people have the tenacity for wealth more than we do? Is our educational system hampering our ability to think these things through as carefully as we ought to? Do we have the guts to compete and win against people of nationalities or are stilled being awed by them?

  10. Snipes

    Sorry for the typos; should read:
    “Do other people have people the tenacity for wealth more than we do? Is our educational system hampering our ability to think these things through as carefully as we ought to? Do we have the guts to compete and win against people of other nationalities or are we stilled awed by them?”

  11. A. Freeman

    Does anyone know whether Neal & Massy Holdings Ltd. will pursue the remaining shares of Barbados Shipping & Trading Company?

  12. St George's Dragon

    This objection to foreign shareholders / ownership is slight paranoia.
    If you are a Bajan shareholder, hang on to your shares if you want to. You will get dividends like everyone else.
    If you aren’t a shareholder, go and buy them at $12 on the stock exchange (if you can get them).
    Ultimately, is there that much difference between a Babados owned BL&P which everyone thought was charging them too much, and a foreign owned BL&P which will probably do the same?

  13. what will they think of next

    AAA post is a waste of time. Sinckler will do what Sinckler has to do.

  14. what will they think of next

    November 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Well said!

    There is not much land to sell now so we are going to sell the Power company.

    Some Bajans are really “smart”.

    Next thing we are going to sell will be Bridgetown!

  15. what will they think of next

    peter loveridge
    November 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    A word to the wise, but it will fall on deaf ears. They are too many greedy people in Barbados.

  16. 60

    Economic crisis loometh?
    Great pity it might fall on the DLP’s watch though..

  17. Gloomy Gloumeau.

    There are too many people on Barbados
    -not too many greedy people..

    An island of 166 square miles of sea sand and sun
    and precious little other natural resources
    —other than its glorious people (LOL)—
    cannot sustain 300K people for very long!

    All sorts of imbalances have been artificially worked-around for too long now
    but we are the kings of work-arounds, and very few real solutions.
    There’s a difference.

  18. what will they think of next

    As I predicted, they are too many GREEDY PEOPLE in Barbados. This company is now to buy all the shares in BL&P.

  19. A. Freeman

    Some other outstanding business matters:

    A meeting of the shareholders of Barbados Dairy Industries Limited was called for May 27, 2010, to consider the delisting of its shares from the Barbados Stock Exchange. My understanding is that the resolution was passed. (I believe that delisting would be disadvantageous for the holders of small amounts of shares, as the market for trading in those shares would cease.) However, the Company continues to be listed on the Barbados Stock Exchange. Shareholders need to know the status of the delisting and whether Banks Holdings Limited, as the major shareholder with more than 80% of the shares, will consider acquiring the remainder of the shares, as the delisting could not be approved without the agreement of Banks Holdings Limited. Mr. Richard Cozier of Banks Holdings Limited should speak to this.

    You may recall that soon after the legal issues relating to the acquisition of Barbados Shipping & Trading by Neal & Massy were resolved, the Securities Commission issued a statement to the effect that Neal & Massy had agreed to extend the offer to the remaining shareholders (now holding less than 3%) of Barbados Shipping & Trading. My understanding is that the offer has not yet been communicated to the remaining shareholders. The appropriate spokespersons need to speak to this so that the minority shareholders know the status.

    Uncertainties such as these result in low or no trading in the underlying security.

  20. A. Freeman

    In relation to Barbados Shipping & Trading Company Limited and Barbados Dairy Industries Limited:

  21. BFP

    Reblogged this on Barbados Free Press and commented:

    Four years after Emera Incorporated bought majority interest in Barbados Light and Power, we look back to our 2010 Independence Day article where we asked “Should we sell Barbados Light & Power to the Canadians?

    Good for Barbados, or selling the family silver?”
    All these years later… what do you think folks? Did we do the right thing selling BL&P to the Canadians?

  22. Anonymous

    Am I to believe that when foreign entities set their eyes on anything in Barbados with the “right” price attached to it that without any thought of us, our children and grandchildren will be “edging” back into slavery that has been disguised as “investments”?

    Am I to believe that when such foreign “Lords” approach our representatives that they (Lords) inject thought-forms into their (representatives) heads and they straightway flash a smile and reach for the pen to sign on the dotted line?

    How far away are we from becoming “foreigners” in our own country?
    The Curricula of our educational system – Nursery, Primary and Secondary, need to revamped with respect to the introduction of business studies and other disciplines such as Spirituality (not Religious Studies), Ecology, Existentialism and Parenthood. Such disciplines would assist in expanding the mental schema of our young people and allow them to apply their faculty of Reason is every given situation, including the buying and selling of business operations. I am willing to assist to this end!