At a special committee of the whole meeting held last night (December 7) at Showplace Performance Centre and open to the public, Peterborough city council voted to sell Peterborough Distribution Inc. (PDI) to Hydro One.
After almost two hours of discussion and debate, Mayor Daryl Bennett and Councillors Andrew Beamer, Henry Clarke, Dave Haacke, Dan McWilliams, and Lesley Parnell voted in favour selling the city’s electricity distribution company, and Councillors Gary Baldwin, Keith Riel, Dean Pappas, Diane Therrien, and Don Vassiliadis voted against it.
Although the meeting was open to the public, there were no delegations so members of the public were not allowed to speak directly to council. However, many people in the audience of around 85 openly heckled and shouted at councillors who supported the sale of PDI to Hydro One.
The decision to sell PDI will be ratified at a council meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 15th at the Market Hall. Members of the public will have an opportunity to address council at this meeting.
Back in October, City of Peterborough Holdings Inc. — the city’s private corporation that owns Peterborough Distribution Inc. (PDI) — recommended the city accept the offer from Hydro One. The city conducted an extensive community consultation process in the following weeks.
An Environics poll conducted in November following the public consultation found that 90% of Peterborough voters oppose the sale of PDI to Hydro One, with 83% believing the sale will lead to higher electricity rates.
The offer from Hydro One includes $105 million in cash for PDI, which will net around $55 million for the City of Peterborough after settling PDI’s debts, taxes, and costs related to the sale.
Hydro One has also promised to reduce electricity distribution rates by one percent for existing PDI customers, to freeze distribution rates for five years (with rate-of-inflation increases for the following five years), to protect jobs for PDI employees for one year, and to create a new Hydro One operations centre and fleet maintenance garage in Peterborough, adding 30 new jobs while keeping 70 existing Hydro One jobs based in Peterborough.
City of Peterborough Holdings Inc. estimates that the new Hydro One operations centre and fleet maintenance garage will generate over $100 million in economic benefits to Peterborough over the next five years.
City council’s controversial decision to sell PDI comes on the heels of news that the Canadian Union of Public Employees is suing Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, Finance Minister Charles Sousa, and former energy minister Bob Chiarelli over the sale of the province’s shares in Hydro One.
It also follows Premier Wynne’s admission in November that soaring electricity rates for Hydro One customers, especially distribution rates, were her “mistake”.