9:30 a.m., March 9)
floats solution to settle dispute over suburban Hydro
By Fred Sherwin
long standing dispute between the City of Ottawa and Hydro
One over suburban residents being serviced by the latter
may end up being resolved by an independent arbitrator
if a suggestion being floated by Ontario Energy Minister
Bob Chiarelli gains any traction.
brought up the idea during an interview with reporters
certainly would be my wish that they would agree to compulsory
arbitration on the price where there would be objective
third party saying here's what the appropriate price is,"
One currently has close to 50,000 customers within the
City of Ottawa, including all of the residents living
in the former city of Cumberland creating a situation
where residents on one side of the street are served by
Hydro One whale residents on the other side of the street
are served by Hydro Ottawa.
dispute between the two hydro utilities has been simmering
since amalgamation in 2001. It was exacerbated by a series
of blackouts effecting Hydro One customers in the former
city of Cumberland in 2008 and 2009.
then Hydro One has invested millions of dollars in local
infrastructure to ensure greater reliability.
the past the stumbling block to Hydro Ottawa's acquisition
of the Hydro One's customers has been the asking price.
Hydro One's recent investments has only inflated the price
tag. By bringing in an independent arbitrator to analyze
the issue and arrive at price point that is fair to both
sides, the dispute might finally get resolved.
bringing in an independent arbitrator might prove easier
said than done. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is already throwing
cold water on the suggestion which must first be approved
by Hydro Ottawa's board of directors.
Watson cannot support a solution that does not provide
up-front certainty to Ottawa rate payers on the amount
that Hydro Ottawa would have to pay for the Hydro One
assets. Binding arbitration would not provide that certainty
to City of Ottawa rate payers," Watson's office stated
through an e-mail statement released on Friday.
in the past the difference in the end rate between the
two utilities was fairly substantial, the gap has closed
considerably to the point where it is now less than 10
key sticking point in moving forward is no so much the
cost Hydro Ottawa will have to incur to acquire the Hydro
One customers, but who will pat for it. There has always
been two trains of thought on the matter. One option would
see the cost shared by every Hydro Ottawa customer. The
other option would see the former Hydro One customers
pay for it themselves.
that decision would not be left up to an arbitrator. It
would be up to the Hydro Ottawa's board of directors.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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