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Friday, May 18, 2018

Public Forum About Proposed Deal With Hydro One

Orillia | by Ken Hashizume  

City of Orillia is appealing the Ontario Energy Board's rejection of the deal to sell off distribution arm of Orillia Power.

There was a lot of opinion at a public meeting whether the City of Orillia should continue to pursue the selling of Orillia Power Distribution to Hydro One.

The sale was part of an agreement that would see Hydro One build a technology hub, warehouse, and back-up operations centre in the Horne Business Park.

The Ontario Energy Board rejected the proposed deal citing concerns about the uncertainty of hydro rates after Year 10 once the negotiated freeze is lifted.

The City is appealing the OEB decision.

The 60 people in attendance at Thursday's special Council meeting were split, some believe it will be good for Orillia while others say it will only make things worse for Orillia Power customers.

One speaker in particular -- former City Councillor Frank Kehoe -- kept hammering the point that this should be up for a referendum.

Councillor Mason Ainsworth says one question he found interesting was whether the City will continue to appeal if the OEB rejects it again.

He says some wonder how much money will the City continue to spend and there was no firm answer given.

Ainsworth says he doesn't expect to hear a response of the appeal.

He says if it remains unresolved, the next Council would have to deal with it.

Mayor Steve Clarke says he heard some great points from the public on both sides of this issue.

He says it would be nice to have it resolved, and once the OEB hands down a decision, he hopes it will no longer be an election issue.

From the City of Orillia:


  • Economic Impact: Subject to regulatory approval, three new facilities on 36 acres of land:
    • A back-up Ontario Grid Control Centre/Integrated System Operation Centre (ISOC)
    • Provincial Warehouse
    • Regional Operations Centre
  • Orillia Power Distribution sold: $26.4 million cash purchase.
  • Horne Business Park land sale: Hydro One has purchased 16.41 acres of the land required for the ISOC portion of the development for approximately $3 million – validated as fair market value by a third-party valuator.
  • Orillia consumers protected: Distribution charges will be reduced by 1 per cent and frozen for five years. The distribution portion of a utility bill accounts for approximately 20 per cent of the overall bill (the remaining portion is set based on market costs at the provincial level) and rates will continue to be regulated by the OEB.
  • OPDC jobs protected: All OPDC employees are protected with comparable pay, benefits and pension, along with a one-year location guarantee.
  • Orillia Power Generation Corporation: City retains complete ownership, along with annual dividend which accounts for approximately 78 per cent of the overall Orillia Power Corporation dividend.
  • Orillia Legacy Fund: City to deposit all proceeds from the deal to the Fund, which will likely generate investment income in excess of the existing OPDC portion of the annual dividend.
  • Philanthropic investment: Hydro One will provide $250,000 to the City toward a co-branded community project and has corporate programs in place to continue philanthropic support in the Orillia community.

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