Emera sale won’t affect Harding family lawsuit

BAR HARBOR — Emera Inc. of Nova Scotia announced Monday it has agreed to sell Emera Maine to ENMAX Corp. of Alberta for $959 million (U.S.), equivalent to $1.3 billion Canadian. The sale is anticipated to close late in 2019.

Emera is the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed last month by Dale and Raymond Harding of Bar Harbor in connection with a fire that occurred last April. They allege the fire was caused by a power surge.

Attorneys James O’Connell and Alicia Curtis of the Lewiston-based law firm Berman & Simmons filed the suit in Hancock County Superior Court Feb. 27, claiming “Emera’s conduct … evidenced a reckless or wanton disregard of the rights and safety of the plaintiffs and decedents and all other consumers of electricity in the Mount Desert Island area.”

Judy Long, a communications specialist for Emera Maine, said the sale of the company will not affect the pending lawsuit. She explained that Emera Maine, based in Bangor, is its own company regardless of who its “parent company” is. “The lawsuit is directed to our company,” Long said.

Long also said Emera Maine has not filed a response to the lawsuit claim yet. She did not have a specific date, but said the response would be filed “soon.”

O’Connell, who is representing the Harding family, also said he does not anticipate the sale of the company to affect the case. However, he said the company’s announced $959 million price tag could affect the amount of possible punitive damages.

It speaks to the high profitability of this company,” O’Connell said, “and will likely be used as evidence.” He explained that punitive damages are set by the jury. They are meant both as punishment, and deterrent of future similar conduct.

“The size of the company will be relevant information,” he said.

ENMAX Corp. is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta with approximately $5.6 billion CAD in assets. Through its subsidiaries, it supplies over 669,000 customers across Alberta with electricity, natural gas, renewable energy, and other services.

Emera Inc. has approximately $32 billion CAD in assets, and has investments throughout North America and in four Caribbean countries. Emera’s first investment outside Canada was Bangor Hydro in 2001. Together with Maine Public Service Company, purchased in 2010, they merged to form Emera Maine.

Emera Maine serves 159,000 customers in the northern part of the state.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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