A plan to bring all Ottawa residents into the same energy grid has fallen through.
Hydro Ottawa has failed to reach an agreement with Hydro One, the provincial power provider, to acquire its remaining customers who live in the city of Ottawa.
"We're completely disappointed. We understand the sensitivity. We understand the issue," said Hydro Ottawa President and CEO Bryce Conrad. "We have worked tirelessly to sort of find a creative way to solve this problem, but at the end of the day I can't make it work."
The two utilities had been in talks since June to find a way to bring about 45,000 Ottawa customers served by Hydro One over to the Hydro Ottawa system. Many of those customers pay much higher rates to the province than to the city for power.
Conrad broke the news to Ottawa city council yesterday in a letter that didn't disclose costs or other terms of negotiation due to a non-disclosure agreement between Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One.
In an interview today, Conrad explained that the two sides "just couldn't arrive at a commercial agreement. The valuation Hydro One places on these customers legitimately is much higher than what we'd be willing to pay."
Many of those remaining Hydro One customers live in outlying areas of Ottawa, like Orleans and Greely.
The councillor for Osgoode Ward, George Darouze, said he's "really disappointed". His ward includes Greely, where residents who live south of Mitch Owens Drive pay Hydro One for their power.
"Sometimes it's just only about the principle," said Darouze. "We are city of Ottawa residents. We pay our taxes to the city of Ottawa. We get our garbage picked up by the city of Ottawa. Our bylaws is the city. And it's ironic that you get a bill at the end of the month from Hydro One."
Some customers pay up to 30% more
He estimates that Hydro One customers in his ward pay up to thirty per cent more than those serviced by Ottawa Hydro. He believes municipal officials should have properly addressed the problem when they first started planning amalgamation in 1999.
"I personally think they should have dealt with it at the same time," said Darouze. "Now we're trying to deal with it 16 years after, and I am honestly very disappointed."
Other customers who pay Hydro One were also disappointed by the news.
"I was hoping, but I didn't really think it would work out," said John Korteweg, who estimate a move to Hydro Ottawa could save him up to $2,000 a year. "We're forced to pay the price, whether we like to or not."
"It's pretty sad. We are city of Ottawa, so why are we not city of Ottawa hydro?" said Gary Denofrio. "It doesn't make any sense. I mean I pay $300 a month. That's totally ridiculous. And I have friends in Ottawa that pay $85 for the same house."