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Sark could 'nationalise' electricity

Sark could 'nationalise' electricity

Thursday 11 November 2021

Sark could 'nationalise' electricity

Thursday 11 November 2021


Chief Pleas - Sark's government - will shortly debate legislation to allow the compulsory purchase of the island's beleaguered energy supplier, Sark Electricity Limited.

A compulsory purchase letter has been drafted by the Law Officers of the Crown and will be considered by Chief Pleas at their next meeting on 17 November.

Chief Pleas will consider 'nationalising' Sark Electricity following a series of price hikes to stem the company's losses and a damning independent report which revealed "serious safety concerns" about the island's ageing electricity network.

Sark's Policy & Finance Committee argues that, if the island cannot purchase Sark Electricity by consent, it would have no choice but to undertake a compulsory purchase of the company to protect islanders' supply of electricity. 

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Pictured: Next week Chief Pleas will consider a proposal which could lead to the compulsory purchase of Sark Electricity Ltd. 

The Committee said its original intention was to have the business valued and then to acquire it by negotiation but that it had been unable to have constructive discussions with the Managing Director of Sark Electricity, Alan Witney-Price.

“On 13 July 2021, the Policy & Finance Committee wrote to the Managing Director of Sark Electricity Limited (SEL) and Sark Electricity Holdings Limited (SEHL), Mr Witney-Price, seeking to make arrangements to commence mediation on the parameters for negotiations for an acquisition by consent of SEL/SEHL by Chief Pleas,” said Conseiller John Guille, Chairman of the Policy & Finance Committee.

“The Committee wrote again on 3 August, 1 September and 15 September. To date, Mr Witney-Price has not accepted the offers to enter into mediation and it has not been possible to progress this matter.”

The Committee said it had also written to Mr Witney-Price's lawyers but received no reply.

Sark electricity

Pictured: Sark Electricity Ltd. threatened to stop trading earlier this year.

The draft legislation on compulsory purchase has been published alongside the independent report on the island's electricity network. 

If Chief Pleas agree to the proposal to legislate for compulsory purchase, they will first need to establish the value of the business and find the money to buy it.

“This draft legislation relates specifically to the purchase of SEL/SEHL or its other relevant assets related to the supply of electricity in Sark,” said Mr Guille.

“It has no wider application to any other assets or for any other purposes. If a purchase is negotiated then the capital funding required will need to be raised through negotiations on lending and investment either with the States of Guernsey or through commercial borrowing, possibly by private equity investment.”

The island is being assured that robust contingency plans are in place to protect the island's supply of electricity, although no details have been published about these plans.

Express invited Mr Witney-Price to comment but received no reply.

 

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