Collus report debunks Block conspiracies

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SAIDI and SAIFIEvery year, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) publishes the scorecard of local distribution companies (LDCs). Across the province, more than 70 LDCs are ranked and rated according to performance, customer service, efficiency, progress and other measurable data for residents to see how their utility is doing. It’s a thing called openness and transparency.

As the OEB notes:

The scorecard includes traditional metrics for assessing a distributor’s services, such as frequency of power outages, financial performance and costs per customer. In addition, performance results for 2014 and onward will include a number of new metrics that directly reflect the customer experience, such as how well the distributor resolves a customer’s concern on the first contact, the accuracy of customers’ bills, public safety and more.

Our own LDC, Collus PowerStream, is one of those LDCs listed. You can see its excellent scorecard here. And we do damn well. You wonder why local media aren’t trumpeting our success story. Our utility staff deserve to be publicly praised for what they have accomplished. Kudos, too, to the former board for their guidance (fired by The Block for being competent and successful).

The Block don’t want you to see the scorecard, won’t raise it at council. That would be open and transparent; words that are anathema to The Block.

As I’ve written in the past, they and the town’s administration have worked aggressively to destroy the relationship with our utility and our municipal partner, PowerStream. This has been done solely to fulfill private agendas and satisfy personal vendettas. It has never been about the greater good of the community. And it will cost you a lot: your taxes are going up to cover the added expenses, and your hydro rates will go up if our utility gets sold to Hydro One. All thanks to a small group of ideologues (whom the OEB is investigating).

Little one-and-two-person consulting firms you never heard of before they showed up here, and outside lawyers who may have significant conflicts of interest, were hired to discredit our electrical utility and everyone involved in the share sale last term. Some of our best staff have been driven out by the relentless witch hunt.

Incomplete or incorrect information has been presented to the public suggesting the utility has not performed properly or that the shared services agreement was somehow incomplete or ineffective, or that the share sale was somehow corrupt. That information wasn’t forthcoming or was missing. All rubbish.

Any counterpoint or data provided to contradict this has been suppressed by town staff. Despite two years of expensive (approx. $350,000 of your tax dollars wasted, with more to be spent) investigations to find some wrongdoing, nothing has been found to justify these wild conspiracy theories. That hasn’t dampened The Block’s passion for witch hunts and hurting people.

But they couldn’t stop the truth from being presented by the OEB. Now you can read it, too, and realize just how much you have been conned.

According to the scorecard,

In 2015, Collus PowerStream exceeded all performance targets with the exception of its SAIFI and SAIDI in System Reliability. In 2015, continuing on into 2016, Collus PowerStream saw a significant increase in the number of and duration of Scheduled Outages as a result of a major project initiated by Bell Canada who is installing Bell Fibe throughout Collus PowerStream’s service territory..,. The slight increase in the number of times in which a customer’s power was interrupted can be attributed to a dramatic increase of “Scheduled” interruptions to safely accommodate a major Bell Canada infrastructure renewal program in Collingwood.

SAIFI is the System Average Interruption Frequency Index, while SAIDI is the System Average Interruption Duration Index. They count downtime. As the scorecard indicates, the higher number of both in 2015 was due to Bell installing its Fibe system in town. But during those interruptions, as the scorecard notes, “…Collus PowerStream was able to upgrade a sizable portion of its distribution assets.” The utility took advantage of the event to do something good for you.

(Remember the last time a council did something good for you? Yep: last term.)

And, you cannot fail to note, our local operation was highly profitable and very efficiently run:

The corporation’s current ratio is indicative of a financially healthy organization. Collus PowerStream’s current ratio is expected to remain healthy into the foreseeable future… Collus PowerStream achieved a ROE of 10.86% in 2015, which is within the 8.98% +/-3% range allowed by the OEB (see above paragraph). This is indicative of a healthy financial organization. This trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The return on equity greatly improved in 2013 to 8.40% from 2.26% in 2011. This was the result of the changes mentioned above in the leverage ratio discussion and a strong net income for the 2013 year…
For 2015, Collus PowerStream was placed in Cohort 2, in terms of efficiency. Cohort 2 is considered above average and is defined as having actual costs less than 10-25% of predicted costs. Overall our ranking has improved and the goal is to maintain our position within this group for 2016.

The town gets 50% of the dividend paid to shareholder every year – we got $204,000 from 2015:

A dividend of $408,107 was paid…

We WON’T be getting that once the utility is sold. So you, the taxpayer, will have to shoulder the revenue loss. The dividend went up from $367,000 in 2014… but the legal and staff costs to defend the utility and staff from the relentless attacks has drained that for 2016. Don’t expect much if any dividend for this year. Just another thing the Block has done for Collingwood.

And safety?

In 2015 Collus PowerStream had ZERO fatalities and ZERO serious incidents within its service territory.

But despite the positive results, despite the profitability, the high level of customer satisfaction and the safety record, despite the loss of the dividend and rent paid annually to the town ($216,000 for the Collus offices you’ll have to cover through your taxes), The Block has worked hard to kill the relationship and sell our share of our utility. Thus giving up local control over service and rates (and destroying staff morale in the process).

PowerStream, our utility partner, also had a great scorecard. But so what? The Block doesn’t care that we are partnered with one of the most innovative, economically sound and growing LDCs in Ontario. The Block chose to accept bizarre and unsupported conspiracy theories over reasoned examination of the actual data. In two years, NONE of them have ever contacted Collus PowerStream staff to discuss the data, to discuss issues or reports or to ask for their side of the story.

Collingwood and Collus-PowerStream deserve better.

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