Time ripe to acquire hydro customers

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Written by Jon Willing

A councillor wants the province to give Hydro Ottawa a fair shot at acquiring Hydro One customers who live in the city.

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais said the time is ripe for the city utility to acquire the nearly 50,0000 Hydro One customers after reading a Globe and Mail report about an impending merger of Hydro One Brampton with three other utilities.

Blais plans to bring a motion to council that asks the province to let Hydro Ottawa take part in a “transparent process” to acquire local Hydro One customers.

“The time is now,” Blais said.

The provincial Liberal government hasn’t ruled out a partial sale of Ontario’s hydro utility to raise cash.

Blais said Hydro Ottawa has always offered what it thinks is a fair price for the Hydro One customers living in the city.

“No more, no less. At fair market value,” Blais said.

“The goal is it won’t affect hydro rates for existing hydro customers.”

Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One have been at odds over the price of those Ottawa customers currently serviced by Hydro One. Their discussions are subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

Blais said there’s an advantage to Hydro Ottawa acquiring the customers, rather than the private sector.

“It keeps the utility in public hands,” he said.

City Hall receives a hefty annual dividend as Hydro Ottawa’s sole shareholder. The city collected a $19.3-million dividend in 2014, which was $3.3 million more than anticipated.