Export Credit

Business as usual for Fortis in Belize?

Grainne Ryder
July 21, 2008

On facing legal and regulatory battles in Belize, Fortis CEO Stanley Marshall says its a “normal aspect” of doing business.


In the Globe and Mail‘s July 7 interview with Fortis CEO Stanley Marshall (“Planting the seeds of empire”), Mr. Marshall glossed over the dispute between Fortis and Belize’s electricity regulator as a “normal aspect” of doing business. But there is nothing normal about double billing electricity customers for a $35 million transmission line, and over-charging them for electricity, which is precisely why the Belizean regulator has just denied Fortis its proposed rate increase. Nor should Fortis shareholders accept as normal business practice the company’s string of legal battles over damming the Macal River for hydropower. Just last week, Belize’s Supreme Court ruled that Fortis failed to comply with an environmental agreement it signed as a condition of the government’s approval of the Chalillo dam. The court found that Fortis has neglected four key areas of the dam’s management and by so doing has put the lives and health of downstream communities at risk. Fortis was ordered to comply and pay court costs for the community group that filed the claim. Such legal and regulatory wranglings are not the mark of a responsible electricity investor. No wonder Fortis stock is languishing.

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