Written by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Sun
City councillors are eager to move 50,000 electricity customers to Hydro Ottawa from Hydro One so residents can save money on their bills.
West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry said Hydro Ottawa customers pay as much as $300 less annually on their bills compared to Hydro One customers. “Which utility would you rather have?” El-Chantiry said.
Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais figures nearly all of his ward receives electricity from Hydro One, which delivers power to much of Ontario. The existing Hydro One boundaries cut through parts of Ottawa, so homes and future developments in those areas will be signed up with the province-wide service.
“We’ve been a city for a decade yet we have two classes of citizens when it comes to hydro rates,” Blais said.
Blais bemoaned the fact that Hydro One customers in Ottawa are paying for a power system for the rest of the province.
Council heard Wednesday that Hydro Ottawa, which is owned by the city, is still negotiating with Hydro One on transferring the customers.
Hydro One’s sole shareholder is the Ontario government.
Hydro Ottawa chairman Pierre Richard said the public utilities have gone through two sets of negotiations without an agreement on a “commercially acceptable” solution.
The city utility wants to acquire the customers by the end of the year, but Richard offered no guarantees.
HAMMER OUT DEAL
The provincial government continues to encourage both sides to hammer out a deal, Richard said.
El-Chantiry noted Hydro Ottawa pays big dividends to the city, so those customers are supporting their own municipality.
In April, the utility announced a $17.5-million dividend for 2010.
“We are one city, there is one utility,” El-Chantiry said.