Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brant Taxpayers-doing something to reduce energy costs

Brant Power Amalgamation
Comments and recommendations from the Brant Taxpayer Coalition

It was recently reported that Brant County power is considering an amalgamation with Brantford power. Let us examine some of the historical facts associated with Brantford power. Eleven years ago the city of Brantford took over the Public Utilities Commission. All employees of the Public Utilities Commission became employees of the city of Brantford. Despite promises of massive savings, hydro rates, water rates, and municipal taxes went up. The city of Brantford sold services back to Brantford Hydro. This is a structure that is unique in Ontario. The original structure was put in place in order to allow the city to charge what some consider bloated administration costs to the hydro customers. There is a concern in the community that any merger with Branford could be caught in this same dilemma and even more concern that the costs for Brant power and the costs for city and county consumers would rise.

The best solution, if Brant County is merger minded, is to look for a partner who can provide reduced power costs for the county and its customers. The proposal from Horizon Utilities may provide this. As such, it probably should be explored in more detail. There are also other bordering utilities that could provide a similar solution.

If the costs can be reduced and if the agreement can provide reasonable safeguards for Brant County, the hydro costs would go down and the resulting attraction for economic development would be dramatic. It would be worth an independent feasibility study to determine the best course of action. Wise, judicious visible public negotiations could provide a boon for Brant County. We recommend that an outside, local consultant be commissioned to provide immediate short term strategic input so that Brant County can make an informed and correct decision on all available energy providers and least cost alternatives prior to the October decision deadline. The city of Brantford should commission a similar study.

We, the Brant Taxpayers Coalition, support any taxpayer friendly strategy that reduces costs to the end user, and that is consumer and business friendly. We feel that this strategy would promote and stimulate positive economic activity in our area.

Sieg Holle BS MBA
Communications Director
Brant –Taxpayers Coalition

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