As December 13th approaches and council makes a decision on the future of Guelph Hydro, constituent email, phone calls and social media inquiries have understandably increased. As a means of staying as open and transparent on this file as possible, I’m posting the following response to many of the commonly themed concerns I’ve heard focused primarily on “Why”?
Know that I value and appreciate all of the feedback I’ve been receiving and I encourage everyone to continue reading and asking your questions.
If you’ve been following council over the past few years you will have likely heard me speak about wants vs. needs in our City. These are two very simple words with vastly different meaning that we, as city councilors and mayor, are faced with balancing on a regular basis.
Well this is one of those moments where Guelph needs to make a decision. A decision on the long term future of Guelph Hydro in the face of a rapidly changing landscape for Local Distributing Company’s (LDC’s). The Provincial government is signaling it wants municipal LDC’s to consolidate. In the year 2000 there were 350 LDC’s in Ontario, and as I’m typing this today there are 57. Further, market disrupters and grid defection are now putting pressure on aspects of Guelph Hydro’s business (i.e. Residential and industrial energy consumers interacting with the grid differently; looking to unplug from the grid entirely; or simply relying on Guelph Hydro for backup power). This is why we need take a wholistic look at our LDC business model – as a proactive measure.
Reacting to emerging technologies or political legislation after the fact, will likely result in a less valuable asset and will reduce our negotiating leverage for future decisions. And that is the “why” answer for me. We must be ready, and in the best position for the oncoming evolution of LDC’s; because the landscape (whether we like it or not) is changing.
I’ll highlight that a year ago I was absolutely against the outright sale or privatization of Guelph Hydro (and still am); I was also very reluctant to entertain a merger; and one of my primary criteria to any merger would be that municipal ownership be maintained. Well I’ve now had the benefit of watching this file and seeing the process of engagement for the past year and understand fully that we need to make a decision.
Remember, you can read all about this and more at www.energizingtomorrow.ca.
I hope this helps clarify some of your questions and or concerns. I’m happy to discuss further if you’d like.