SEC Supports Proposed Utility Sale to EPCOR

The SEC is the counsel for the School Energy Coalition, and has written to the Ontario Energy Board to support the proposed sale of Collus PowerStream to EPCOR.

The School Energy Coalition (SEC), was established in 2004 and is an initiative jointly sponsored by the Council of Directors of Education (CODE), the Council of School Business Officials (COSBO), the Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) and the four School Boards’ Associations, administered by OESC.

The SEC is registered as the official intervenor at the Ontario Energy Board on behalf of all 72 District School Boards in Ontario. The intervention role aims to protect the financial interests of school boards when natural gas and electricity utilities apply for increases in distribution rates for their energy sources.

School Energy Coalition (SEC) Re: EB-2017-0373/374 – EPCOR Acquisition of COLLUS

In it’s submission to the Ontario Energy Board, The SEC stated that it believes that the entry of Edmonton Based EPCOR into the Ontario market, for gas and for electricity distribution, represents a positive step. The SEC stated EPCOR Utilities Inc (“EUI”) is a substantial Alberta-based electricity and gas utility with long experience in the distribution business.

“The merger of Union and Enbridge reduces competition in Ontario, which reduction could be ameliorated by EPCOR’s acquisitions. The dominance of Hydro One in the bidding for smaller electricity distributors may be muted with the entry of another player of similar size. Municipalities that may have believed – rightly or wrongly – that Hydro One was “the only game in town” if they wished to sell their LDC, now may perceive a more competitive consolidation landscape.”

The No Harm Test

In addition, the SEC addressed what is known in the industry as the No Harm Test, more specifically, service to customers resulting from the proposed sale.

“The Applicant has committed “to meet or exceed current reliability standards for the next five years” When asked whether that should be made a condition of approval, the Applicant said that it would be “a more onerous condition than that which any other LDC within Ontario operates.”

The SEC stated that it believes that, on both reliability and service quality metrics, COLLUS should maintain or improve upon its current performance, and the Board should make that a condition of approval.

“While the Applicant is absolutely correct that no other Ontario LDC has such a blunt obligation, EUI is new to the Ontario electricity distribution sector. SEC believes that, in making this a condition, the Board would be signalling the level of commitment and performance that it is going to expect from EUI in Ontario. Since the condition should not be difficult to meet in this case (EUI has a lot of experience), the condition would be one of affirming a principle more than anything else.”

“The expectation is that a decision will hopefully be rendered by the end of July”
Town of Collingwood CAO Fareed Amin

At the regular meeting of Collingwood Town Council on Monday June 11, 2018, CAO Fareed Amin stated that the application to the Ontario Energy Board is in the final argument phase. Mr. Amin said the expectation is that a decision will hopefully be rendered by the end of July.

So I think we are getting there, the application is in process , is aggressively moving forward and as far as I’m aware given my knowledge of the process, the OEB is proceeding to the final argument stage.

At a Special Council Meeting on October 23, 2017, Collingwood Town Council agreed to sell its 50% stake in Collus PowerStream, the local distribution company, owned by the Town of Collingwood and Alectra (formerly PowerStream).

On November 10, 2017, the Town of Collingwood received confirmation that Alectra Utilities had decided to sell its stake in Collus PowerStream to the municipality.

If approved by the Ontario Energy Board, EPCOR will become the sole owner, purchasing 100% of the utility from the Town.


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