ERA still needs chair

The Electricity Regulatory Authority has not yet been reconstituted after the resignations of its former chairman, Opposition member Cline Glidden Jr., and other board members, Minister of Works Arden McLean said Thursday.

The Public Management and Finance Law would require the Chairman of ERA to sign the ownership agreement between itself and the Cabinet by 1 July, when the new financial year begins. Without a chairman to replace Mr. Glidden, that cannot happen.

However, Mr. McLean said that he expected a new chairman and replacements for other board members who resigned to be named in the near future. He pointed out that in the interim, his Ministry could pay out any necessary amounts.

Mr. Glidden just resigned last month – more than one year after the 2005 general elections – after he asked the question in Finance Committee of how the ERA was operating without a Chairman. He pointed out that he had been asked to cancel the only meeting he had called after the election, and had not been consulted thereafter about any ERA business.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Glidden said he was writing in response to the request for his resignation by Mr. McLean and Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts.

Mr. McLean, however, disagreed with that assessment.

‘I never asked for any of the board members’ resignation,’ he said ‘They decided to resign on their own.’

Mr. McLean explained that what he had said in Finance Committee was that in mature democracies, most political appointees resign after a change of government. That statement did not constitute a request for resignation, he said.

Regardless of how the resignation came about, in his letter Mr. Glidden expressed concern about having been chairman of the ERA without being consulted in the decision-making process.

‘I want to make it clear that any and all decisions that have been made in regards to the Electricity Regulatory Authority, including the proposed budget allocations before the Honourable Finance Committee, have been made under the direction of the Minister and the Ministry and not with the Authority of the Board as required by Law,’ he wrote in his letter.

During Finance Committee, Mr. McLean said the Government had been ‘hamstrung by the Law that the previous Government had put in place’ and he questioned why the Law had been drafted in that manner.

Shortly after the election and the cancellation of the ERA meeting called by Mr. Glidden, Mr. McLean had commented that Mr. Glidden would be removed from his position on the board. However, the Government subsequently discovered there was no provision in the law for the removal of an appointed ERA board member prior to the expiration of his or her term.

The seven-member board was appointed for two years with effect from 1 April 2005.

Mr. Glidden and fellow Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin therefore remained on the board until last month. Like Mr. Glidden, however, Mr. Anglin has recently resigned, Mr. McLean said.

In addition to Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin, the board includes the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Communications, Works and Infrastructure, the ERA managing director Phillip Thomas and three other appointees: Justin Bodden, Sheridan Brooks and Allan Roffey.

Mr. McLean said he thought two of the other appointees had not resigned.

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