The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) is aware the province is urging every utility in the province to have a look at the future of their local utilities and potential amalgamations with other utilities. There is a three year time line or “window of opportunity” for utilities to make arrangements or the province could force amalgamations.
Recent articles in the media about Hydro One wooing the City, and a report from the Chamber’s Policy Committee prompted a discussion on the Oshawa PUC rates, dividends and the potential amalgamation with Hydro One at a recent Board meeting.
It was agreed Oshawa Power and Utilities Commission have a good business Board but has little room for future growth and that utilities need to be rationalized. However, it was felt by the Chamber Board of Directors, Hydro One may not be a good fit and if the City of Oshawa was to discuss options for amalgamation it should be with both Veridian and Hydro One.
The Chamber is concerned how an amalgamation would impact future dividends and or a buy out and there are many questions that need to be addressed such as;
• the viability of joining a Regional utility vs. remaining a single utility
• province will not force amalgamations but utilities need to reduce to 6 or 8
• any process needs to be fair, transparent and predictable
• City must be very careful who they join with from a service and capital costs point of view
• What would happen to annual dividend and income streams
• What is the value of the asset and what is the ongoing earnings of the utility
• What happens to the consumer power rates in Oshawa…(committee agreed it would rise)
• What is impact to residential and business rates
• Impact on jobs
Currently, Oshawa has some of the best residential rates and in a letter to the Mayor and copied to the OPUC the Chamber Board urged the City, prior to moving forward with discussions of amalgamation, to understand and appreciate the value of the economic asset it owns before it is sold and more importantly, the Chamber encouraged members of council to consider the impacts that an amalgamation would have on the rate payers of Oshawa.