City staff and top executives with the Peterborough Utilities group have resumed discussions with Hydro One to sell off Peterborough Distribution Inc., the electrical distribution arm of the company.
After two years of negotiations, things abruptly fell apart in early March when Hydro One stepped away from discussions and it appeared the deal to sell the publicly owned electrical distribution company was dead in the water.
PUG president and CEO John Stephenson addressed council on Monday night and updated the situation and said discussions were once again back on.
“I think both parties had a very productive and positive discussion,” said Stephenson. “And there was merit in the parties affirming that they wanted to continue to try and bridge those gaps and come to a satisfactory completion for both parties.”
Stephenson says the terms of the deal will remain the same and all previous requirements and terms of the sale will continue to stand. That includes the $105 million purchase price, along with Hydron One’s promise to freeze the distribution rates for customers for the first 10 years, while bringing upwards of 30 new jobs to the city.
Even if the two sides agreed on a sale, some on council questioned whether a deal to sell PDI to Hydro One would pass the final approval process with Ontario Energy Board, which pulled the plug on a similar deal between Orillia Power Corp. and Hydro One in April.
“You can go and meet with Hydro One all you want and massage it and do all you want but at the end of the day it’s coming to these people right here and they (the Ontario Energy Board) are the ones that are making the rules,” said Coun. Keith Riel.
Stephenson acknowledged the Orillia ruling and suggested that shouldn’t stop PDI and Hydro One from continuing its discussion and working towards an agreement.
“The OEB and its decision-making is going to have to find a way to deal with that no harm test and balance those priorities that are necessary for the industry to be better and to be lower cost for the ratepayer,” said Stephenson. “With getting less hung up on what’s going to happen (to the rates) in years 11 and 12.”
The city has already spent upwards of $2 million in negotiations with Hydro One but Stephenson says the lion’s share of the spending is complete and they are now just trying to fill the gaps in negotiations but couldn’t give a timeline as to when a deal might be reached.