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Peterborough chapter warns against sale of city-owned electricity distribution utility

Peterborough meeting

Peterborough chapter activist Roy Brady at yesterday’s meeting. Still from CHEX-TV report.

The Council of Canadians Peterborough chapter is opposed to the sale of Peterborough Distribution Inc. (PDI) to provincial utility Hydro One.

On Feb. 19, the Peterborough Examiner reported, “PDI distributes electricity in Peterborough, Lakefield and Norwood. …Mayor Daryl Bennett and city CAO Allan Seabrooke said negotiations with Hydro One have already begun. …On Monday [Feb. 22], councillors will hear a presentation from utility representatives regarding the prospective sale. …Seabrooke said councillors will vote only on whether to start a public consultation; that would mean a public meeting within a few weeks.” Chapter activist Roy Brady was quoted in that article opposing the sale to Hydro One, which is slowly being privatized, and stating that public concerns were likely to be ignored in the promised ‘consultation’.

This morning, the Peterborough Examiner reports, “On Monday evening, council voted to start a public consultation that will allow citizens to weigh in on the potential sale. But first, councillors heard why it’s a good idea to sell PDI. John Stephenson, president and CEO of City of Peterborough Holdings Inc., said PDI … generates $1 million a year for the city. But he expects that $1-million figure to decline – and so will interest from a prospective buyer such as Hydro One. …[The next step now] is a public meeting – scheduled for March 3 at Market Hall – where citizens can hear another, similar presentation and then weigh in.”

The news article adds, “On Monday, the public gallery at council chambers was full of people who’d come to hear about the prospective sale. [Although the opportunity wasn’t provided to them to make comments to council], Roy Brady of the Council of Canadians said in an interview that he’s unhappy the province is promoting the idea of local utilities being swallowed up by larger ones as a means of cutting distribution costs. Meanwhile Queen’s Park sets the hydro rates, Brady points out – and sets those rates high. ‘They don’t save money, yet they expect the city to save’, he said.”

The Ontario government has already sold 15 per cent of the public utility and intends to sell a total of 60 per cent of it. The Council of Canadians opposes this because Hydro One raises $750 million in profit for the province each year and public ownership is essential to keeping electricity prices low and ensuring public oversight. More than 80 per cent of Ontarians and 195 municipalities also oppose the sale, along with the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, the National Union of Public and General Employees, the Ontario New Democratic Party and many others.

The Council of Canadians has been asking our supporters to write Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne through this action alert to demand that she rescind her plans to privatize Hydro One.

Further reading
Peterborough chapter opposes sale of PDI to Hydro One (Feb. 20, 2016)