ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR--(CCNMatthews - May 30, 2007) - BECOL, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc. (TSX:FTS), announced today that the Company has received all major approvals for construction of a US$52.5 million 18-megawatt ("MW") hydroelectric generating facility at Vaca on the Macal River in Belize. BECOL has signed a 50-year agreement with Belize Electricity Limited for the sale of the energy generated by the Vaca facility, commencing late in 2009.
"The Vaca facility represents the final phase of a three-phase development on the Macal River to maximize its hydroelectric potential," explains Stan Marshall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fortis Inc. "The existing upstream Chalillo and Mollejon hydroelectric facilities have benefited the customers of Belize Electricity and the country of Belize by helping to stabilize electricity rates and by increasing reliability of energy supply," he says.
The run-of-river Vaca facility will increase average annual energy production from the Macal River by approximately 80 gigawatt hours ("GWh") to 240 GWh. It has minimal environmental impact as most of the storage will be provided by the upstream Chalillo reservoir.
BECOL owns and operates the run-of-river 25-MW Mollejon hydroelectric facility and the 7-MW Chalillo storage and hydroelectric facility. The Chalillo facility began operating in 2005 and increased average annual energy production from the Macal River by approximately 80 GWh to 160 GWh.
"Over the past ten years, energy consumption in Belize has increased, on average, nine per cent annually. Since our initial investment in Belize in 1999, the country's peak energy demand has climbed almost 70 per cent from approximately 40 megawatts to 67 megawatts.
"The Vaca facility is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings when it comes online late in 2009, assuming normal hydrology," says Marshall.
"Our increased investment in Belize reflects our confidence in the country and its future growth potential. The Vaca facility, by enhancing reliability of energy supply and reducing dependence on more costly oil-fired generation and imported energy, will help Belize achieve its long-term sustainable development plans," concludes Marshall.
Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada, serves almost 2,000,000 gas and electric customers and has approximately $10 billion of assets. Its regulated holdings include a natural gas utility in British Columbia and electric utilities in 5 Canadian provinces and 3 Caribbean countries. Fortis owns non-regulated hydroelectric generation assets across Canada and in Belize and upper New York State. It also owns hotels and commercial real estate in Canada. The Common Shares; First Preference Shares, Series C; First Preference Shares, Series E; and First Preference Shares, Series F of Fortis are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols FTS, FTS.PR.C, FTS.PR.E and FTS.PR.F, respectively. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.
Fortis includes forward-looking statements in this material which reflect management's expectations regarding the Corporation's future growth, results of operations, performance, business prospects and opportunities. Wherever possible, words such as "anticipate", "believe", "expects", "intend" and similar expressions have been used to identify the forward-looking statements. These statements reflect management's current beliefs and are based on information currently available to the Corporation's management. Certain material factors or assumptions have been applied in drawing the conclusions contained in the forward-looking statements. These factors or assumptions are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties surrounding future expectations generally. Such risk factors or assumptions include, but are not limited to, regulation, the integration of Terasen Gas, energy prices, general economic conditions, weather, derivatives and hedging, capital resources, loss of service area, licences and permits, environment, insurance, labour relations, human resources and liquidity risk. Fortis cautions readers that a number of factors could cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from the results discussed or implied in the forward-looking statements. These factors should be considered carefully and undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements. For additional information with respect to certain of these risks or factors, reference should be made to the Corporation's continuous disclosure materials filed from time to time with Canadian securities regulatory authorities including those factors described under the heading "Business Risk Management" in the Management Discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 2006 and in the Management Discussion and Analysis for the three months ended March 31, 2007. The Corporation disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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