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Hamilton city councillors ‘blindsided’ by Alectra Utilities decision to stop issuing water bills

Alectra Utilities says the complexity of billing customers throughout its territory of 17 communities, is a factor in its decision to stop providing water billing services to Hamilton and other municipalities. Don Mitchell / Global News

Hamilton councillors have strong words for Alectra Utilities, after learning that it will stop providing water billing services to the city when its contract expires in 2024.

“I’m very disappointed, and I feel blindsided by Alectra,” says Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson. “I thought we had a darn good working relationship.”

Jackson fears the utility’s decision will contribute to higher costs for the city and future tax increases.

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“When they made the pitch to merge with other utilities,” adds Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, “they gave us all the great advantages of doing that, and course we have gotten good dividends, but this drops a big anvil on our toe.”

According to a staff report presented to city council on Wednesday, Alectra Utilities, of which Hamilton is a shareholder, made the decision to stop providing water billing services at a board meeting in May.

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One reason cited within the report is the complexity of billing customers throughout its territory of 17 communities.

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Hamilton has already had early discussions with other municipalities affected by the decision, Markham, Vaughan and Guelph, about finding a group solution to the billing issue.

Councillors have voted to ask the chair of the Alectra Utilities board to appear at a future meeting of the general issues committee to discuss the decision.

Alectra Utilities formed in 2017 when Horizon Utilities merged with four others to create Ontario’s second largest electricity distribution company.

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