UPDATE TO AN EARLIER STORY
Earlier this year, the Town of Collingwood learned that it had been overcharged by Collus PowerStream for electricity consumed at the Town’s water filtration plant.
Collus PowerStream advised that this overcharging had been ongoing for many years and has been linked to the installation of a second electricity meter installed in the late 1990’s.
To date Collingwood has received a refund from Collus PowerStream in the amount of $410,747.42.
The exact total the town was overcharged is still being determined.
The overbilling error issue was back on the council agenda on Monday April 30th as an in-camera item.
THAT this Council proceeds in camera in order to address a matter pertaining to:
the receiving of advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose; (a)
Items for discussion: a) water billing error
No public update has been provided.
The matter dates back to the 1990’s, prior to the intial sale of 50 percent of the Utility in 2012 to what was then Powerstream, now known as Alectra. In late 2017 the entire utility was purchased by Edmonton based Epcor, pending regulatory approval.
Here is the release issued by the Town of Collingwood on Wednesday February 21, 2018
Collus PowerStream advises Collingwood about electricity overcharging error
The Town of Collingwood recently learned that it has been overcharged by Collus PowerStream for electricity consumed at the Town’s water filtration plant. Collus PowerStream advised that this overcharging has been ongoing for many years.
The error arose when a second electricity meter, installed in the late 1990’s to monitor power consumption related to Collingwood’s water distribution system, was billed to the Town of Collingwood in error. Collus PowerStream advises that the overcharging issue has now been corrected.
To date Collingwood has received a refund from Collus PowerStream in the amount of $410,747.42. The Town continues to explore with Collus PowerStream, any additional customer refund amount associated with the overbilling.
Council will consider options to reimburse those specific water ratepayers affected by the overcharging error.
The Town will provide additional information regarding this matter in due course.
Town overcharged but not all Collingwood water ratepayers affected
Collingwood was overbilled for electricity used to supply some pumps at the Town’s water treatment plants. The excessive charges were incorporated into some water rates levied by the Town. Accordingly, some water rates were slightly higher as a result of the increased electricity costs to the Town.
CollusPowerStream has advised the Town that the overcharging issue has now been corrected.
Collus PowerStream has reimbursed the Town in part
The Town has received an initial refund in the amount of $410,747.72 from CollusPowerStream.
The Town is working with Collus PowerStream to recover the balance of excess charges paid by the Town and specific water ratepayers. Any overbilling amounts will be returned only to those water ratepayers affected by the excessive charges.
While CollusPowerStream has advised the Town that the overcharging issue has now been corrected, the question on the tip of many tongues today asks how the overbilling could have continued for such a long period of time, unnoticed by Collus staff, Town of Collingwood staff and council.
CollingwoodLiving.com has reached out to Town of Collingwood CAO Fareed Amin, Mayor Sandra Cooper and Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson.
We asked if the Town is concerned that the overcharging for electricity by Collus to the Town of Collingwood’s water filtration plant went undetected for so many years?
We asked if checks and balances were or are in place to catch such activity, either at Collus or at the Town of Collingwood?
And we asked if it is felt that this an isolated case or if Town is looking into other Collus charges dating back over the same time period.
Town of Collingwood CAO Fareed Amin says the Town continues to work with Collus PowerStream.
“We’re working with Collus PowerStream to determine what, if anything else, is due to the Town and hence the ratepayers, and how can we try to find a way to amicably solve this.”
Mayor Sandra Cooper says the Town views this matter as an isolated case.
“Collus PowerStream has advised the Town that this is an isolated case, and the overcharging issue has now been corrected. The Town is looking at additional charges.”
Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson says ratepayers deserve an answer.
“The starting point should be how was the overcharging discovered; was it during a routine inspection or was it outside the normal course of business. It certainly raises questions about the billing processes, the level of built in checks and balances to ensure accurate billing and, potentially, the need for third party oversight. The Town must be focused on ensuring this does not happen again and making sure those ratepayers who were overcharged receive a refund.”
We also asked the Deputy Mayor if he feels this matter is an isolated case or if Town is looking into other Collus charges dating back over the same time period.
“To answer your question, that is part of the ongoing discussions with Collus Powerstream but we certainly hope this is an isolated case.”
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