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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Public Meeting: Status of Sale of Orillia Power Distribution Corporation

Orillia | by Ian MacLennan  

Mayor says he wants to ensure the information getting out to the community is accurate.

There will be a public meeting next month(May 17-Council Chambers 7-9 pm) to discuss the status of the sale of Orillia Power Distribution Corporation.

Earlier this month, the Ontario Energy Board rejected a deal that would have seen Hydro One gobble up the distribution arm of OPDC for $26 million.

The deal also includes plans for an advanced technological hub.

Mayor Steve Clarke says it was Hydro One that approached the city about the sell off.

Talks began in September 2015 and nearly a year later a deal was reached.

Clarke says one concern the OEB had in rejecting the deal was what happens in year 11 to local hydro bills.

The deal also includes a one per cent drop in distribution charges and frozen for five years, any increase in year six through ten must be kept to the rate of inflation.

The mayor notes that the distribution portion of a utility bill accounts for only about 20 per cent of the overall bill.

He says in those 10 years the people of Orillia would be paying less for electricity than the rest of the province.

If the deal ends up not going through, Clarke says Orillia Power is behind on a need to raise rates and has aging infrastructure,  so the mayor believes they will be going for an increase as soon as possible.

In other words, if it stays the status quo in the hands of the present ownership,  Clarke says Orillia rates are going to up and there will not be that 10 year protection.

Clarke says the OEB decision is going to be appealed because it is part of the process.

He estimates the city has spent about $1 million dollars on trying to land the Hydro One deal.

But Clarke points to the over $200 million in short term economic benefits to the economy in construction of buildings and related activities.

He say the advanced technological hub will create jobs now and for decades and decades to come.

The mayor says there is some misinformation out there about what the deal actually means for the City of Orillia

As for a suggestion by some, including Councillor Mason Aninsworth, that the deal be put to a referendum, Clarke says city council was elected to make decisions in the best interest of Orillia, and he wonders where the line would be drawn on going to the community to ask about such decisions.

Clarke says Orillia has the lowest average family income in Simcoe County, Muskoka and Dufferin and fifth lowest in Ontario,  and he is confident this deal can help turn things around.

More information:  https://www.orillia.ca/en/doing-business/CommunityInvestmentOpportunityHydroOne.aspx



 
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