In recent months, many residents served by Hydro One have asked me for updates on the Hydro One vs. Hydro Ottawa situation. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to report until just recently. As you may have heard in the media, the two hydro companies were unable to come to terms on a plan that would see the 45,000 Hydro One customers within the City of Ottawa boundaries transferred to Hydro Ottawa. Allow me this opportunity to shed some light on and help explain the situation.
As many of you may be aware, this issue dates back to just before amalgamation. At that time, five local hydro companies merged into Hydro Ottawa. They were Gloucester Hydro, Goulbourn Hydro, Kanata Hydro, Nepean Hydro and Ottawa Hydro. The rest of the customers in the soon to be amalgamated City of Ottawa were served by Ontario Hydro, which is now known as Hydro One. Since that time, there have been consistent calls for Hydro One to divest itself of the Ottawa properties and bring all Ottawa residents under the Hydro Ottawa banner. Easier said than done, apparently.
Just before Christmas, the CEO of Hydro Ottawa, Bryce Conrad, contacted Council and let us know that this transfer was not going to happen. As had been the case in the past, the financial discrepancy in what Hydro One wanted vs. what Hydro Ottawa was willing to pay was simply too large to overcome. Essentially, if we paid the asking price, we would have to recoup the costs in some way and that would almost certainly be through a levy on the accounts that we would be acquiring. It wouldn’t be fair to existing Hydro Ottawa customers to have them pay more so that new customers could pay less.
The thing I found most fascinating about this is that if Hydro Ottawa did add a surcharge on the acquired accounts to recoup the costs of the acquisition, the difference in rates between customers could only last five years. As it turns out, the Ontario Energy Board wouldn’t allow Hydro Ottawa to have two different rates for their customers. The irony there is that is exactly the system we have now but through two different providers.
So, as it stands now, there is no deal. Hydro One customers will remain with Hydro One. I’m told the average Hydro One customer pays approximately 25% more per year than a Hydro Ottawa customer. If there is a way forward that could allow us to bridge the gap and make the transition possible, I’d like to explore it. My question back to Mr. Conrad recently was this: If we paid the Hydro One asking price and then charged the incoming Hydro One customers the same rate they were paying, how many years would it take for that 25% overcharge to cover the cost of the acquisition? I await a response.
With that said, I’d like to know your thoughts on the following question: Would it not be better to be overcharged for 15 or 20 years and have a light at the end of the tunnel than to be overcharged for eternity? If there was support for such an initiative, I’d like to challenge the Ontario Energy Board to approve such an arrangement rather than sit back and do nothing.
Public Access Defibrillator
Rideau-Goulbourn is a tight knit community and, as such, we have many organizations and service clubs that provide activities for residents of all ages. Our office has partnered with the Ottawa Paramedic Service to provide training for clubs and organizations who would like to install a public access defibrillator at their local meeting place. There is a cost to the program, so please contact my office if your organization is interested in installing and receiving training for a defibrillator system.
Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest
The Ottawa Public Library’s 21st annual Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest is underway. Writers between the ages of 9 and 17 must submit their work by February 15, 2016. In order to help prepare participants to enter the contest, the following workshops will be offered:
For ages 9-12
January 22: Poetry (JC Sulzenko) - Beaverbrook
January 22: Short story (Catherine Austen) - Carlingwood
January 29: Poésie et nouvelles (Sylvie Frigon) - North Gloucester
For ages 13-17
February 6: Poésie et nouvelles (Sylvie Frigon) - St-Laurent
February 13: Poetry and short story (Caroline Pignat) - Greenboro
Workshops are free to attend, but online registration is required. For complete details, please visit the OPL website at www.BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca/AwesomeAuthors, call 613-580-2940 or email InfoService@BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca.
Thank you for reading this week’s edition. Please return next week. Same Rideau-Goulbourn time, same Rideau-Goulbourn channel.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491.