Hydro rates a bargain; Orillia price among province's cheapest

ORILLIA, ONTARIO - Sometimes, sitting at the bottom of the barrel isn't that bad.

Most would agree that's the case when it comes to hydro rates, which, for residential customers in Orillia, are among the lowest five per cent in Ontario, Larry Brooksbank, chair of the Orillia Power Corporation board, said recently.

"Overall, our view is... 2006 was a success," Brooksbank added during the power corporation's annual shareholder meeting at city council chambers.

The City of Orillia is the sole shareholder of the power company.

Brooksbank said one of the reasons power is cheaper in Orillia is because the power company has three of its own generation plants.

Orillia Power also reported a 99.98 per cent customer service reliability record in 2006.

At its generating stations, 99.28 per cent of available water flow turned into renewable energy, the board added.

Orillia Power's financial statements showed its net earnings climbed to $3.6 million in 2006, up from $1.7 million in 2005.

One reason for that was the reversal of a major customer's bad debt, Brooksbank said.

While John Mattinson, the power corporation's president, wouldn't name the debtor, he said not being able to collect "could have been significant."

"But, anyway, the company came through and we're very pleased," Mattinson added.

During Monday's meeting, the power company also announced an operational dividend of $1.5 million, as well as a special dividend of $1.5 million.

Mayor Ron Stevens praised the board for delivering $3 million in dividends, noting the money will help fund capital projects.

"We will certainly put them to good use on behalf of our residents," Stevens said.

Orillia Power has provided the city with $20.3 million in interest and dividends since its incorporation in 2000.


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