Column: April 16, 2015

My latest work on Hydro One/Hydro Ottawa

As many of you are aware Hydro One costs and the talk of a potential transfer of service to Hydro Ottawa has been an ongoing issue in the rural communities of Ottawa since amalgamation. In recent weeks, I have made some strides in working on this complicated issue. I have had conversations with Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, as well as a meeting with Bryce Conrad, CEO of Hydro Ottawa.

At the Finance & Economic Development Committee on April 7, I put forward an inquiry for a full report on Hydro One transfer discussions to date. Specifically, I asked if Council could be provided with an update on the status of the negotiations between Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One with respect to the transfer of more than 42,000 Ottawa rural residents currently with Hydro One to Hydro Ottawa.

My intent with this inquiry is to make sure that before any potential transfer of customers were to happen, that the residents affected would have an opportunity to review all of the options and have a say on how to proceed. I want to make sure that all the cards are on the table so that educated decisions can be made.

One of the main issues is that if Hydro One sells their rural customer assets to Hydro Ottawa, then those customers would be required pay for the capital infrastructure as part of the transfer. This is infrastructure that is already in place (cables, poles, transformers, etc). This would mean that rural Hydro One customers would have to buy the assets back from Hydro One. The problem being, we have already paid for the assets! Why should we have to pay for them again?

Another issue of note is that Hydro One rural customers are paying an average of $340 to $360 per year more than Hydro Ottawa customers. An inequity in place since amalgamation.

Stay tuned as I continue to work on this issue. Your feedback is important and resident engagement will be key moving forward.

As a side note, if you have concerns about hydro billing/customer service, please file a complaint with Ontario’s Ombudsman, Andre Marin. (ombudsman.on.ca). Mr. Marin, is an independent officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints from the public about Ontario government services.