Frequently Asked Questions

Here are Frequently Asked Questions we've received from utility customers and community stakeholders relating to a potential merger:

A.  No, there are no plans for a merger of the counties or the cities.  The merger exploration is for the utilities, Brantford Power and Energy+, together with the holding companies and other affiliates. 

If the merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds, the City of Brantford would continue to be a shareholder of a larger local distribution company.  This joining together of utilities should have no impact to living and shopping local.   The merged utility would continue to have a local presence in the City of Brantford and the City of Cambridge, operate and be owned locally.

A.  The proposed joining together of Brantford Power and Energy+ is a merger, not a sale transaction. This means the City of Brantford would continue as a shareholder of a larger local distribution company.  

Today both Brantford Power and Energy+ generate a profit and contribute dividends to their respective municipalities that own them, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries.  The shareholders direct or re-invest the dividends back to the communities, as they choose.

If the merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds, the practice of issuing dividends to the shareholders will continue to be a priority for the new business. Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.

A. The proposed joining together of Brantford Power and Energy+ is a merger, not a sale transaction. This means the City of Brantford would continue as a shareholder of a larger local distribution company. 

Today both Brantford Power and Energy+ generate a profit and contribute dividends to their respective municipalities that own them.  

If the merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds, the practice of issuing dividends to the shareholders will continue to be a priority for the new business. The newly merged company would have three shareholders, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge, and the Township of North Dumfries. Each shareholder’s percentage of ownership would be based on several factors, including the number of customers each utility brings to the new combined utility. In this case, the City of Cambridge would hold the majority of shares. However, terms in the shareholder's agreement would be structured to ensure the City of Brantford and the Township of North Dumfries have significant minority rights to protect the interests of all shareholders.

Dividends issued would be allocated based on the shareholder’s percentage of ownership.

With respect to employees, the utilities are committed to treating all employees fairly, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. It is expected that most future employment efficiencies will be gained through retirements and attrition, for example, an employee choosing to leave and not replacing the position.  Current employees may be offered new job opportunities based on the larger merged utility having a greater capacity to provide new or different services or technologies to their customers.  

A.  One of the benefits of the proposed merger of Energy+ and Brantford Power is to find efficiencies that will result in operating cost reductions. Distribution rates are based on the cost to operate the utility business and the investments into infrastructure to ensure reliable safe service. An important goal of a merger is to contain costs for customers for the distribution portion of their bill. Details of the forecast cost savings as a result of the merger will be included in the application to the Ontario Energy Board which must approve this transaction.

A merger would not trigger a change in distribution rates. If a merger proceeds, households and businesses in the City of Brantford and in the City Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries and County of Brant  would continue to pay the same approved distribution rates as prior to a merger.

In fact, if the merger were to proceed, any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed, would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiencies.  This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  This means, rate increases for the ten years following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than if the two companies remained stand alone businesses.

A.  The City of Brantford, City of Cambridge and Township of North Dumfries are exploring the joining together of Brantford Power and Energy+ in the best interest of the customers as well as the municipal shareholders. Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.

One of the benefits of the proposed merger of Energy+ and Brantford Power is to find efficiencies that will result in operating cost reductions.  Distribution rates are based on the cost to operate the utility business and the investments into infrastructure to ensure reliable safe service.  An important goal of a merger is to contain costs for customers for the distribution portion of their bill. Details of the forecast cost savings as a result of the merger will be included in the application to the Ontario Energy Board which must approve this transaction.

There are many other reasons why a potential merger of Brantford Power and Energy+ makes sense:

  • Brantford Power and Energy+ have a long-standing, positive relationship and it is not uncommon for them to be involved in joint projects.
  • They collaborate on several initiatives including joint safety programs, the Community Energy Investment Strategy and sharing of equipment and personnel in times of emergency.
  • Together, Brantford Power and Energy+ co-own and maintain a transformer station on Powerline Road in Brantford.
  • Through a shared services agreement, some of Energy+'s Operations Team shares space in Brantford Power’s newly built Operations Centre in Brantford.
  • The utilities service territories adjoin and they both service customers in and around the City of Brantford.
  • They are both active members of the GridSmartCity Cooperative, whose joint initiatives and collective purchasing power help its members run smarter utilities.
  • Brantford Power and Energy+ are members of the Utilities Standards Forum, a non-profit, volunteer-based corporation comprised of 53 Ontario local distribution companies who collaborate, share best practices and trouble shoot common challenges.

A.  The three municipal shareholders, the City of Brantford, City of Cambridge, and Township of North Dumfries  have undertaken rigorous financial, legal and technical due diligence reviews.

The results of the independent reviews are confidential at this time, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding, consistent with common practice for this type of commercial transaction.

In June, community engagement was initiated including a website, EnergizingOurFuture.ca to inform residents about the proposed merger exploration and to seek feedback for review prior to making a decision on the merger.  Newspaper and online advertisements and notices, a utility bill insert, social media and media release were issued to ensure transparency.  On the City of Brantford website under Let’s Talk Brantford a forum and poll were launched to hear from residents and businesses.

After the consultation period, the three municipalities, at respective Council Meetings, will review recommendations and staff reports and determine whether to proceed with the merger or not. If approved by the Councils, the new Shareholder’s Agreement and Merger Participation Agreement will be made publicly available, through the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approval process and be posted on the utility websites.

There will also be an opportunity to delegate before City of Brantford Council prior to the Council making a final decision.

A.  The joining together of Brantford Power and Energy+ is being considered because there is an opportunity for greater efficiencies and additional capacity to evaluate new technologies and services for customers while continuing to be owned by and provide benefits to the municipal shareholders.

Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario.  They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery. 

A merger would not trigger a change in distribution rates. If a merger proceeds, households and businesses in the City of Brantford and in the City Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries and County of Brant  would continue to pay the same approved distribution rates as prior to a merger.

In fact, if the merger were to proceed, any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed, would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiencies.  This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  This means, rate increases for the ten years following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than if the two companies remained stand alone businesses.

A. A merger would not trigger a change in distribution rates. If a merger proceeds, households, and businesses in the City of Brantford and in the City Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries and County of Brant  would continue to pay the same approved distribution rates as prior to a merger.

In fact, if the merger were to proceed, any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed, would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiencies.  This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  This means, rate increases for the ten years following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than if the two companies remained stand alone businesses.

A. The proposed joining together of Brantford Power and Energy+ is a merger, not a sale transaction. This means the City of Brantford would continue as a shareholder of a larger local distribution company.  

Today both Brantford Power and Energy+ generate a profit and contribute dividends to their respective municipalities that own them, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries.

If the merger of Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds, the practice of issuing dividends to the municipal shareholders will be a priority for the new business.   Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery. The proposed merger would strongly position  the new company to continue that record of performance.

A.  The proposed merger is between two utilities;  Brantford Power serves 41,000 customers in the City of Brantford and Energy+  serves 68,000 customers in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries, County of Brant and some customers in the City of Brantford. 

The joining together of the two utilities is being considered because there is an opportunity for greater efficiencies and additional capacity to evaluate new technologies and services for customers while continuing to be locally owned by and provide benefits to the customers and municipal shareholders.  Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.  

Any distribution rate change for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

In the best interests of the customers, before any merger can proceed, it must be approved by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). When the OEB reviews merger applications its primary focus is to ensure that utility costs are likely to be reduced as a result of efficiency savings produced by the merger.  These cost savings are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of lower distribution rates when compared to the status quo (that is, if no merger had taken place and the utilities carried on business as stand-alone entities).

Below are Energy+’s and Brantford Power’s most recent corporate scorecards benchmarking their strengths:

Energy+ Corporate Scorecard

Brantford Power Corporate Scorecard

 

A.  If the merger proceeds, the utilities are committed to treating all employees fairly, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. It is expected that most future employment efficiencies will be gained through retirements and attrition, for example an employee choosing to leave and not replacing the position.  Current employees may be offered new job opportunities based on the larger merged utility having a greater capacity to provide new or different services or technologies to their customers.  

If the municipalities agree to proceed with the merger, the next step is an application to the Ontario Energy Board with the filing of a Merger,  Acquisitions, Amalgamation and Divestitures  (MAADs) application.  Evidence supporting the merger framework compiled from the due diligence reviews, including costs would be submitted to the OEB at that time and shared on each utility’s website.

A. The Monthly Service Charge is part of the delivery fee and is a fixed cost. Today an Energy+ residential customer pays a fixed monthly distribution fee of $28.87 and a Brantford Power customer pays $24.35, a difference of $4.52 per month.

Brantford Power Inc. has applied to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to establish new electricity distribution rates effective January 1, 2022, as part of its 2022 Cost of Service application.  If the rate application is approved as submitted, the fixed fee for a Brantford Power customer would increase by a net amount of $5.53 per month. 

Whether the utilities merge or not, Brantford’s Cost of Service rate application will proceed.

If the merger does proceed, the Brantford Power distribution rates will remain stable for a period of 10 years.  One of the benefits that the merger will provide customers is that any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed will be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and adjudicated by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  Consequently, rate increases for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable. 

A. Customer provided their name and phone number.  Customer was contacted and discussed  benefits of merger, rates/rate impact and typical challenges experienced  by other utilities that have joined together by merging their businesses. 

A.  Energy+ purchased office space in Cambridge in the Southworks building in 2017 at the inception of the development project.  The building is on track to be occupied in 2022.  Whether the merger between Energy+ and Brantford Power proceeds or not,  Energy+  office/administration staff are scheduled to move into this office space in 2022.  There are no changes to those plans, currently.

With respect to changes to the distribution rates, any rate change for the ten years after the merged company is formed would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

Before any merger can proceed, it must be approved by the Ontario Energy Board. When the Board reviews merger applications its primary focus is to ensure that utility costs are likely to be reduced as a result of efficiency savings produced by the merger.  These cost savings are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of lower distribution rates when compared to the status quo (that is, if no merger had taken place and the utilities carried on business as stand-alone entities).

The joining together of the two utilities is being considered because there is an opportunity for greater efficiencies and additional capacity to evaluate new technologies and services for customers while continuing to be locally owned by and provide benefits to the municipal shareholders.  Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.

A. You will not be impacted by the proposed merger.   The proposed merger is between Brantford Power and Energy+. Energy+ bills, collects and provides customer service for water and wastewater on behalf of the County of Brant. The County of Brant sets your water and wastewater fees annually. The merger of the two electric utilities will not impact the water wastewater services provided by Energy+ to customers in Brant County.

A. Brantford Power is owned by the City of Brantford.

The proposed merger of Brantford Power and Energy+ is a merger, not a sale transaction.  This means the City of Brantford would continue as a shareholder of a larger local distribution company.  Today, both Brantford Power and Energy+ generate a profit and contribute dividends to their respective municipalities that own them, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries.

If the merger of Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds the municipalities would continue to jointly benefit.  The goal of joining together is to create a more robust utility, positioned to continue to meet or exceed customer expectations, with respect to service reliability, stable and predictable rates and greater capacity to deliver new innovative technologies for customers and the communities.  In the longer term, a merger of like-minded utilities is an opportunity to achieve efficiencies and economies of scale to improve profitability.

The proposed merger is between Brantford Power who serve 41,000 customers in the City of Brantford and Energy+ who serve 68,000 customers in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries, County of Brant and some customers in the City of Brantford. 

There are many reasons why a potential merger of Brantford Power and Energy+ makes sense:

  • Brantford Power and Energy+ have a long-standing, positive relationship and it is not uncommon for them to be involved in joint projects. They collaborate on several initiatives including joint safety programs, the Community Energy Investment Strategy and sharing of equipment and personnel in times of emergency.
  • Together, Brantford Power and Energy+ co-own and maintain a transformer station on Powerline Road in Brantford.
  • Through a shared services agreement, some of Energy+'s Operations Team shares space in Brantford Power’s newly built Operations Centre in Brantford.
  • The utilities service territories adjoin and they both service customers in and around the City of Brantford.
  • The companies are active members of the GridSmartCity Cooperative, whose joint initiatives and collective purchasing power help its members run smarter utilities. 
  • Brantford Power and Energy+ are members of the Utilities Standards Forum, a non-profit, volunteer-based corporation comprised of 53 Ontario local distribution companies who collaborate, share best practices and trouble shoot common challenges.

If the merger proceeds, a commitment was made to treat employees fairly and maintain a local presence with two operations centres, one on Savannah Oaks Drive in Brantford and one on Bishop Street in Cambridge.  A Joint  Memorandum of Understanding was agreed to by all shareholders,  in order to help guide the decision-making process relating to a proposed merger with the objectives  summarized below:

  • Continued ownership by the municipalities following best corporate governance practices;
  • A new entity positioned to preserve a local focus and highly responsive to customer priorities;
  • Continued contributions to the economic development, social and environmental needs of the municipalities;
  • Maintaining operations centres in both Brantford and Cambridge;
  • Customer service and reliability levels that deliver stable, competitive distribution rates;
  • Approval is required from the Ontario Energy Board to confirm that the potential merger is in the public interest;
  • Increased efficiencies, innovation and sharing of capital investments;
  • Maximizing shareholder value now, and in the future;
  • Continued focus on employee and public safety with an inclusive and respectful workplace;
  • Increased opportunities for employees. Existing employees be treated fairly.

A. The joining together of Brantford Power and Energy+ is being considered because there is an opportunity for greater efficiencies and additional capacity to evaluate new technologies and services for customers while continuing to be owned by and provide benefits to the municipal shareholders.  Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.   

Today Brantford Power serves 41,000 customers in the City of Brantford and Energy+ serves 68,000 customers in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries, County of Brant and some parts of the City of Brantford.

The newly merged company would have three municipal shareholders, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries. 

A. The proposed merger is between two utilities;  Brantford Power serves 41,000 customers in the City of Brantford and Energy+  serves 68,000 customers in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries, County of Brant and some customers in the City of Brantford. 

The joining together of the two utilities is being considered because there is an opportunity for greater efficiencies and additional capacity to evaluate new technologies and services for customers while continuing to be locally owned by and provide benefits to the municipal shareholders.  Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.   

Any distribution rate change for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

Before any merger can proceed, it must be approved by the Ontario Energy Board. When the Board reviews merger applications its primary focus is to ensure that utility costs are likely to be reduced as a result of efficiency savings produced by the merger.  These cost savings are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of lower distribution rates when compared to the status quo (that is, if no merger had taken place and the utilities carried on business as stand-alone entities).

A. Brantford Power Inc. has applied to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to establish new electricity distribution rates effective January 1, 2022 as part of its 2022 Cost of Service application.  The OEB is an independent and impartial public agency. They make decisions that serve the public interest.

The mandate of the OEB is to promote a financially viable and efficient energy sector that provides customers with reliable energy services at a reasonable cost. Every item and charge on your bill is established by the provincial government or by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the provincial energy regulator.

The timing of Brantford Power’s Cost of Service application is in accordance with OEB regulations. Electricity distributors such as Brantford Power typically apply for a full review of their distribution rates every five years. Brantford Power’s last Cost of Service application was for 2017 rates.

The distribution rates are based on the amount of capital investments (including pole replacement projects, infrastructure to connect customers to the electricity system (transformers, meters, switches), trucks and systems) made by Brantford Power as well as the cost to operate and maintain the capital investments.

Under the Cost of Service process, utilities provide their detailed plans for the rate setting year (in this case 2022) to the Ontario Energy Board for review and scrutiny from the OEB and customer advocates called intervenors. The proposals outline the utility’s service delivery goals and include detailed information on capital and operational planning necessary to reach these goals. These programs are developed with specific input from the utility’s customers.

The utility’s budgets for its programs are the basis for the utility’s distribution rate proposals. The budgets are converted into distribution rates through OEB-defined calculations and cost allocation and rate design models. The OEB and intervenors review the merits of the projects and programs being requested and ultimately the OEB makes a determination what level of increase- if any- will be approved.  

Brantford Powers’ current rate application is foundational to recognize capital investments, maintain our infrastructure and ensure readiness for the future – regardless of whether Brantford Power and Energy+ merge or not. 

If the Cost of Service application is approved as filed, typical Brantford Power residential and small business customers would see the following increases to distribution rates effective January 1, 2022:

  • Residential customer (750 kWh of usage): $5.53 per month
  • Small business -less than 50kW (2,000 kWh of usage): $10.64 per month.

Regardless of the outcome of the rate application process, Brantford Power residential and small business customers’ average total bills are expected to remain below the Ontario average.

A. If the merger proceeds, the utilities are committed to treating all employees fairly, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. It is expected that most future employment efficiencies will be gained through retirements and attrition, for example an employee choosing to leave and not replacing the position. If the merger between Energy+ and Brantford Power proceeds, the utility would serve over 106,000 customers and would be ranked 7th in size in Ontario. The combined service territory would be significantly larger.


Current employees may be offered new job opportunities based on the larger merged utility having a greater capacity to provide new or different services or technologies to their customers.

Energy+ Inc. has experience joining together with another utility.  In November 2014, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro Inc. purchased Brant County Power Inc.  The utilities amalgamated and rebranded as Energy+ Inc.   No employee, management or otherwise, lost their job as a result of the two utilities joining together. 

The merged business has greater capacity to introduce customers to new technology and/or new services.  Since joining together, Energy+ transitioned customers to a single Customer Information and Billing System, introduced all customers to an online Outage Management System, and a 24/7 outage management toll-free line, implemented a 24/7 System Control Room for improved outage response times,  redesigned a single website for ease of access and use by customers and deploys crews across the expanded service territory to respond to outages.  Employee efficiencies were realized through retirements, attrition and redeployment to new roles based on the expansion of services offered to customers.  The same path is planned if the merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds.

A.  Yes.  Energy+ generates a net income and dividends are paid annually to the  shareholders, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries. The shareholders direct or re-invest the dividends back to the communities, as they choose.

If the merger between Energy+ and Brantford Power proceeds, the practice of issuing dividends to the shareholders will continue.  The newly merged company would have three shareholders, the City of Cambridge, the Township of North Dumfries and the City of Brantford.  Each shareholder’s percentage of ownership would be based on several factors, including the number of customers each utility brings to the new combined utility.  In this case, the City of Cambridge would hold the majority of shares. However, terms in the shareholder's agreement would be structured to ensure the Township of North Dumfries and the City of Brantford have significant minority rights to protect the interests of all shareholders. Dividends issued would be allocated based on the shareholder’s percentage of ownership  There would be no subsidizing, as the merging of the two utilities would result in a single more robust company with one financial statement. 

A.  The proposed merger of Brantford Power and Energy+ is a merger, not a sale transaction.  This means the City of Brantford would continue as a shareholder of a larger local distribution company.  Today both Brantford Power and Energy+ generate a profit and contribute dividends to their respective municipalities that own them, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries.

If the merger of Brantford Power and Energy+  proceeds the municipalities would continue to jointly benefit.  The goal of joining together is to create a more robust utility, positioned to continue to meet or exceed customer expectations, with respect to service reliability, stable and predictable rates and greater capacity to deliver new innovative technologies for customers and the communities.  In the longer term, a merger of like-minded utilities is an opportunity to achieve efficiencies and economies of scale to improve profitability.

With respect to Brantford Power’s new location on Savannah Oaks Drive, a commitment was made to maintain two operations centres,  one on Savannah Oaks Drive in Brantford and one on Bishop Street in Cambridge.   In fact, a  Joint  Memorandum of Understanding was agreed to by all shareholders,  in order to help guide the decision-making process relating to a proposed merger with the objectives  summarized below:

  • Continued ownership by the municipalities following best corporate governance practices;
  • A new entity positioned to preserve a local focus and highly responsive to customer priorities;
  • Continued contributions to the economic development, social and environmental needs of the municipalities;
  • Maintaining operations centres in both Brantford and Cambridge;
  • Customer service and reliability levels that deliver stable, competitive distribution rates;
  • Approval is required from the Ontario Energy Board to confirm that the potential merger is in the public interest;
  • Increased efficiencies, innovation and sharing of capital investments;
  • Maximizing shareholder value now, and in the future;
  • Continued focus on employee and public safety with an inclusive and respectful workplace;
  • Increased opportunities for employees. Existing employees be treated fairly.

A. The proposed merger being considered is between Brantford Power and Energy+.

A.  Yes, if you are enrolled and eligible for the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) you will continue to receive the credit, as long as the Province continues this program.  The  OESP is a province-wide program and would not be impacted by a merger of two electric utilities. 

With respect to your rates, a merger would not trigger a change in distribution rates. If a merger proceeds, households in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries, County of Brant and households in the City of Brantford would continue to pay the same approved distribution rates as  prior to a merger.   

In fact, if the merger were to proceed, any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed, would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and adjudicated by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  Consequently, rate increases for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than if the two companies remained standalone businesses.

A.  Energy+ and Brantford Power both generate a profit.  The joining together of the two distribution utilities is being considered in the best interest of the customers, as well as the municipal shareholders.  Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.   The proposed merger would ensure that the merged company preserves that record of performance.

Any distribution rate change for the ten years after the merged company is formed would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

Experience from other utility mergers demonstrates that there are several opportunities to benefit customers including:

  • Stable distribution rates for the first ten years after the merger;
  • Continued local presence and local ownership;
  • Greater capacity to deliver advancements in technology in response to increasing customer requests;
  • Enhanced opportunities for innovative solutions for customers and local businesses;
  • Increased opportunities for efficiencies;
  • Commitment to maintain a high level of customer service, and
  • Continued commitment to a safe and reliable supply of electricity.

A. Yes, the City of Brantford has considered other options. The chart below outlines how other options compare.

Comparison of Options (accessible .PDF)

City of Brantford options related to Merger of Brantford Power and Energy+

Larger image - Comparison of Options (.PDF)

 

A.  Energy+ and Brantford Power both strive to achieve the quickest possible response time for power outages.    Energy+ serves a much larger service territory which can impact the response time onsite.  Like all electric utilities, the actual time required to restore power safely may vary, based on how widespread the outage is, the number of customers that are impacted, the cause of the outage and/or weather conditions.

One of the benefits of the proposed merger  would be the increased availability of crews  for outage restoration in the Brant/Brantford area.  Today, the Brantford Power crews and the Energy+ crews based in Brantford are both located and dispatched from the operations centre at Savannah Oaks Drive in Brantford.  If the merger proceeds, there would be a joining together and larger complement of crews available for power restoration.  

It is important to note that before any merger can proceed, it must be approved by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). The OEB is an independent an impartial public agency that makes decisions to serve the public interest. The main test the OEB applies is a “no harm” test. The test considers that a transaction should have a neutral or positive impact on the OEB’s objectives. The first of the OEB’s objectives is to protect the interests of consumers, including with respect to prices and reliability (outage avoidance and outage response) of electricity service.

OEB Objectives for Electricity as defined in the OEB Act:

  1. 1. To inform consumers and protect their interests with respect to prices and the adequacy, reliability and quality of electricity service.
  2. To promote economic efficiency and cost effectiveness in the generation, transmission, distribution, sale and demand management of electricity and to facilitate the maintenance of a financially viable electricity industry.
  3. To promote electricity conservation and demand management in a manner consistent with the policies of the Government of Ontario, including having regard to the consumer’s economic circumstances.
  4. To facilitate innovation in the electricity sector.

 

In 2014, when Brant County Power joined with Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro Inc. (now Energy+ Inc.)  there was no change to the existing distribution rates for the customers.  The existing Ontario Energy Board approved rates continued for the customers for each of the service territories.   The annual distribution rate changes for both set of rates were incremental and tied to inflation, less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., adjustments lower than the pace of inflation), up to the 2019 Cost of Service application.

Experience from other utility mergers demonstrates that there are a number of opportunities to benefit customers including:

  • Stable distribution rates for the first ten years after the merger.
  • Continued local presence and local ownership.
  • Greater capacity to deliver advancements in technology in response to increasing customer requests.
  • Enhanced opportunities for innovative solutions for customers and local businesses.
  • Increased opportunities for efficiencies.
  • Commitment to maintain a high level of customer service.
  • Continued commitment to a safe and reliable supply of electricity.

A.  A household in the City of Cambridge does not pay the same distribution rates as a household in Brantford.  Each electric utility across the province has different operating expenses and capital investments required to operate their business, based on a number of factors.  The distribution rates that each distribution utility charges are based on the amount of capital investments (including pole replacement projects, infrastructure to connect customers to the electricity system (transformers, meters, switches), trucks and systems) made by the utility  as well as the administrative costs to operate and maintain the capital investments.

A merger would not trigger a change in distribution rates. If a merger proceeds, households in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries, County of Brant and households in the City of Brantford would continue to pay the same approved distribution rates as  prior to a merger.   

If the merger were to proceed any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed, would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and adjudicated by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  Consequently, rate increases for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than if the two companies remained standalone businesses.

A.  There are a few factors that contribute to the outages in the Brown Subdivision, but the issue is not the condition of the power lines.   The residences in this area are fed from the Preston Transformer Station (TS).  This is a long rural feeder running from the Preston TS at the intersection of Highway 24 and the 401 to just north of Ayr.  This feeder typically has a higher number of outages because of the long exposure to lightning, ice, wind, animals, vehicle accidents, etc. 

From the feeder, Brown Subdivision  is supplied from a single-phase line.  In order to help with system reliability in the area, in 2021 Energy+ replaced three poles and overhead infrastructure on this line.  Based on the results of pole testing and the asset condition assessments, pole replacements will continue as required.  Tree trimming  is also another important action that will continue to be undertaken in order to focus on improved reliability.

A merger would not impact Energy+’s commitment to continue to perform pole replacements and tree trimming along the feeder and/or the specific line that delivers power to your home.

A.  No.  Energy+ customers’ rates will not change as a result of the Ontario Energy Board’s decision on the Brantford Power 2022 Cost of Service Rate application.

The Brantford Power Cost of Service rate application is specific to and applies exclusively to distribution rates for Brantford Power customers.

Brantford Power has submitted a Cost of Service application to the Ontario Energy Board to increase their distribution rates.  If the Cost of Service application is approved by the Ontario Energy Board as filed, typical Brantford Power residential and small business customers would see the following increases to distribution rates effective January 1, 2022:

  • Residential customer (750 kWh of usage): $5.53 per month
  • Small business -less than 50kW (2,000 kWh of usage): $10.64 per month.

If the merger proceeds, a  key benefit is that customers would see stable and predictable distribution rates for  ten years after the merged company is formed. Distribution rates would be tied to inflation, less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and adjudicated by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.

If the merger does not proceed, Brantford Power and Energy+ would each be scheduled to file a comprehensive “Cost of Service” rate application every five years, and their customers would likely be subject to greater rate increases in those years. “Cost of Service” rate applications are comprehensive applications, subject to approval and review from the Ontario Energy Board and consumer advocates, which typically result in above-inflation rate adjustments. 

In summary, through the merger transaction, Brantford Power and Energy+ customers would avoid the impacts of these Cost of Service applications for the 10 years following the merger and consequently, rate impacts for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable.

A. To begin it is important to understand that the utility’s portion of your hydro bill, the distribution piece, is approximately 20%– 25% of the overall bill.  That means for every $1.00 the utility invoices you for electricity and delivery of the electricity, the portion of the bill the utility keeps to operate the business is only 20 cents to 25 cents.  

The remaining 75% -80% of a customer’s bill (the cost of electricity, transmission charges, HST, Global Adjustment, (conservation programs, green renewable energy, etc.) is collected by the utility, on behalf of other organizations.  These charges are beyond the control of the local utility.

So, the answer is yes, the portion of your bill controlled by your utility, the distribution portion is projected to increase.  However, one of the benefits that the merger would provide is that the amount of the  distribution rate change for the ten years after the merged company is  formed would be tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed  merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

With respect to the service, if the merger proceeds it will be a joining together as a single organization.   The goal of joining together is to create a more robust utility positioned to continue to meet or exceed customer expectations across the entire service territory, with respect to service reliability, stable and predictable rates and greater capacity to deliver new innovative technologies for customers and the communities served. 

A. In 2020, Brantford Power Inc. reported a net income of $1.73 million. Both Brantford Power and Energy+ operate as for-profit businesses that are regulated by the Ontario Energy Board, which provides for a regulated rate of return for the utility based on the cost to service its customers.   The merger exploration is a rigorous financial and due diligence process that is conducted independently by each of the municipal shareholders with their legal and financial advisors. This information is confidential currently.    It includes a detailed review of many factors for determining the framework for a merger, including but not limited to, the revenues, expenses, service territory, customer base, long-term distribution plan, assets, liabilities and a very detailed “asset condition assessment” prepared by each utility.  If the municipalities agree to proceed with the merger, the next step is an application to the Ontario Energy Board with the filing of a Merger,  Acquisitions, Amalgamation and Divestitures  (MAADs) application.  Evidence supporting the merger framework compiled from the due diligence reviews would be submitted to the OEB at that time and shared on each utility’s website.

With respect to the service life of assets and renewal,  both Energy+ and Brantford Power are required to file a distribution system plan, (generally every five years as part of a Cost of Service Rate Application) with the Ontario Energy Board.  The distribution system plan   outlines the investment requirements for the utility over a number of years.  The distribution system plans for both Energy+ (2019) and Brantford Power (2022) are filed on the Ontario Energy Board website oeb.ca as part of their Cost of Service applications. 

With respect to delivery of service to customers, both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other electricity distribution utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially for the benefit of their respective municipal shareholders, and in terms of service delivery for the benefit of customers.  The Ontario Energy Board developed performance metrics in the form of a “scorecard”. This Scorecard was developed to provide customers with information about four performance outcomes measuring: customer focus, operational effectiveness, public policy responsiveness and financial performance. Below are Energy+ and Brantford Power’s most recent corporate scorecards benchmarking their strengths:

Energy+ Corporate Scorecardhttps://www.energyplus.ca/en/about-us/resources/Scorecard---Energy-Plus-Inc.-2019-Final.pdf

Brantford Power Corporate Scorecard:   https://storage.googleapis.co, /website-284719.appspot.com/1/2020/10/2019-Scorecard-MDA-signoff.pdf

The goal of joining together is to create a more robust utility positioned to continue to meet or exceed customer expectations, with respect to service reliability, stable and predictable rates and greater capacity to deliver new innovative technologies for customers and the communities  we serve.  In the longer term, a merger of like-minded utilities is an opportunity for both utilities to achieve efficiencies and economies of scale to improve profitability.

 

A. Yes, the City of Brantford does currently provide some services to both Brantford Power and Brantford Hydro (affiliates of Brantford Energy Corporation) including Information Technology and Legal services.

If the proposed merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ does proceed, there will not be any immediate changes to existing shared service arrangements; therefore, the City of Brantford staff complement is not expected to change. As is typical, service level requirements may be modified in the future as dictated by technology advancements and varying market conditions. 

A.  The  value of each  business pre-merger would be determined as part of the financial analysis and due diligence process.  This information is confidential for competitive and legal reasons. If the merger proceeds, information supporting the merger framework will be included as part of a Merger, Acquisitions, Amalgamations, and Divestitures (MAADs)  application to the Ontario Energy Board, who applies a “no harm test” to ensure the interests of customers are protected. The application and the supporting documentation would then be shared on each utility’s website.

A. Based on the Memorandum of Understanding there is a commitment to treat employees fairly.  When Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro and Brant County Power (now Energy+) joined together,  no employee lost their job because of the coming together.   If the merger of Energy+ and Brantford Power proceeds, the business would look for employment efficiencies through retirements and attrition.  There may be roles that could be realigned to focus on new technologies or other value-added services for customers.    

With respect to the hydro bill, any distribution rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation).  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed  merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

A. A merger of Brantford Power ( approximately 41,000 customers) and Energy+ ( approximately 68,000 customers) would create a utility that ranks 7th in size across the 55 utilities in Ontario.  Based on the Memorandum of Understanding there is a commitment to treat employees fairly.  The intent is to find employment efficiencies through retirements and attrition.  However, with the joined company, there may be roles that could be realigned to focus on new technologies like battery storage, research into innovative intelligent equipment for quicker outage identification and restoration, additional opportunities for new customer communication around outages and other leading edge advancements of interest to a distribution utility for the benefit of their customers and communities.    The Save on Energy programs are now being delivered provincially through the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).  Based on the current programs, at this time there is not an increased opportunity for localized energy production with wind/solar or distributed rooftop solar.

A.  A merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ is currently being explored by the municipalities. A merger of the two utilities would mean predictable and stable distribution rates for the first ten years after the merger.

Any distribution rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed  merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

It is important to understand that the utility’s portion of your hydro bill, the distribution piece, is approximately 20%– 25% of the overall bill.  That means for every $1.00 the utility invoices you for electricity and delivery of the electricity, the portion of the bill the utility keeps to operate their business is only 20 cents to 25 cents.  

The remaining 75% -80% of a customer’s bills (the cost of electricity, transmission charges, HST, Global Adjustment, conservation programs, green renewable energy, etc.) are collected by the utility, on behalf of other organizations and passed on to them.  These charges are beyond the control of the local utility.

A.

The benefit that the merger will provide customers is that any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and adjudicated by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  Consequently, rate increases for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than compared to the status quo.

If the merger does not proceed, Brantford Power and Energy+ would each be scheduled to file a comprehensive “Cost of Service” rate application every five years, and their customers may be subject to greater rate instability in those years. “Cost of Service” rate applications are comprehensive applications, subject to approval and review from the Ontario Energy Board and consumer advocates, which often result in above-inflation rate adjustments. 

Through the merger transaction, Brantford Power and Energy+ customers would avoid the impacts of these Cost of Service applications for the 10 years following the merger. 

Brantford Power Inc. has applied to the Ontario Energy Board to establish new electricity distribution rates effective January 1, 2022, as part of its 2022 Cost of Service application.  The timing of Brantford Power’s Cost of Service application is in accordance with OEB regulations. Electricity distributors such as Brantford Power typically apply for a full review of their rates every five years. Brantford Power’s last Cost of Service application was for 2017 rates.

Brantford Powers’ current application is an independent endeavour that is critical for future planning, whether Brantford Power and Energy+ merge or not.  Regardless of the outcome of the rate application process, Brantford Power residential and small business customers’ average total bills are expected to remain below the Ontario average.

A. A merger between like-minded electric utilities can bring positive outcomes for customers, communities, shareholders and employees, including:  

  • Greater capacity to deliver advancements in technology in response to customer requests, and;
  • Enhanced opportunities for innovative solutions for customers and local businesses.

As a  merged entity, Brantford Power and Energy+ would continue to encourage the Save on Energy provincial framework now available and delivered provincially by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).  Similarly, incentives relating to the production and utilization of green energy are administered provincially by the IESO.

The Net Metering Program is available to utility customers who generate electricity primarily for their own use from a renewable energy source (wind, water, solar or agricultural biomass). If a customer produces more renewable energy than they can use, the utility will take the excess amount produced. The customer receives a credit or an adjustment on their monthly hydro bill for the energy exported, up to a maximum of the value of electricity consumed from the grid. 

Load displacement is another option that refers to a generation facility that’s connected on the customer side of a connection point where the output is used exclusively for the customer's own consumption. It allows customers to offset their consumption, and better manage their energy requirements, and cost, through generation. 

Load displacement has a number of potential advantages, including:

  • Lowered energy costs as customers can charge their battery during off-peak rates and use it during peak times to help reduce their energy costs
  • Enhanced energy resiliency during outages as it serves as an alternate source of power.

Helps mitigate impacts of rates as it offsets energy costs

A. Brantford Power Inc. has applied to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to establish new electricity distribution rates effective January 1, 2022, as part of its 2022 Cost of Service application.  The OEB is an independent and impartial public agency. They make decisions that serve the public interest.

 The mandate of the OEB is to promote a financially viable and efficient energy sector that provides customers with reliable energy services at a reasonable cost. Every item and charge on your bill is established by the provincial government or by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the provincial energy regulator.

The timing of Brantford Power’s Cost of Service application is in accordance with OEB regulations. Electricity distributors such as Brantford Power typically apply for a full review of their distribution rates every five years. Brantford Power’s last Cost of Service application was for 2016 (for 2017 rates).

The distribution rates are based on the amount of capital investments (including pole replacement projects, infrastructure to connect customers to the electricity system (transformers, meters, switches), trucks and systems) made by Brantford Power as well as the cost to operate and maintain the capital investments.

Under the Cost of Service process, utilities provide their detailed plans for the rate-setting year (in this case 2022) to the Ontario Energy Board for review and scrutiny from the OEB and customer advocates called intervenors. The proposals outline the utility’s service delivery goals and include detailed information on capital and operational planning necessary to reach these goals. These programs are developed with specific input from the utility’s customers.

The utility’s budgets for its programs are the basis for the utility’s distribution rate proposals. The budgets are converted into distribution rates through OEB-defined calculations and cost allocation and rate design models. The OEB and intervenors review the merits of the projects and programs being requested and ultimately the OEB makes a determination what level of increase- if any- will be approved.  

Brantford Powers’ current rate application is foundational to recognize capital investments, maintain our infrastructure and ensure readiness for the future – regardless of whether Brantford Power and Energy+ merge or not. 

If the Cost of Service application is approved as filed, typical Brantford Power residential and small business customers would see the following increases to distribution rates effective January 1, 2022:

  • Residential customer (750 kWh of usage): $5.53 per month
  • Small business -less than 50kW (2,000 kWh of usage): $10.64 per month.

Regardless of the outcome of the rate application process, Brantford Power residential and small business customers’ average total bills are expected to remain below the Ontario average.

The benefit that the merger will provide customers is that any rate changes for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and adjudicated by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  Consequently, rate increases for the decade following a merger are projected to be more stable and predictable.

If the merger does not proceed, Brantford Power and Energy+ would each be scheduled to file a comprehensive “Cost of Service” rate application every five years, and their customers would likely be subject to greater rate increases in those years. “Cost of Service” rate applications are comprehensive applications, subject to approval and review from the Ontario Energy Board and consumer advocates, which typically result in above-inflation rate adjustments. 

Through the merger transaction, Brantford Power and Energy+ customers would avoid the impacts of these Cost of Service applications for the 10 years following the merger. 

A. The Ontario electricity distribution sector has continued the steady move towards greater consolidation ever since the industry was restructured in 2000.  Prior to restructuring, Ontario had over 300 local electricity distribution commissions (these commissions were essentially an arm of its municipal government). Today Ontario has approximately 55 local distribution companies, including Brantford Power and Energy+.  Most industry observers anticipate that further consolidation will continue in Ontario over the coming years.

Electricity distribution utility mergers have occurred regardless of the size of the utilities. For example, at the time of restructuring in 2000, the municipalities of Cobourg and Colborne merged their utilities to create Lakefront Utilities (approximately 10,500 customers).  Around the same time five smaller municipalities, namely Bracebridge, Huntsville, Burk’s Falls, Sunridge and Magnetawan,  merged their distribution systems to create Lakeland Power Inc (approximately 13,500 customers).

In the 2017 merger of Entegrus Powerlines Inc. and St. Thomas Energy Inc. (combined, a utility serving approximately 58,000 customers), significant levels of efficiencies were identified in the operations stemming from the like-mindedness of the distributors, as well as the geographical proximity. These operational cost savings were projected to amount to between $1.2 million and $1.4 million annually, over 8% of total costs. Customers were expected to benefit directly from these savings with rates projected to be lower than they would be in the absence of a merger.

Veridian Corporation was the result of a distribution utility merger between Pickering, Ajax and Clarington. Subsequently, other smaller utilities were added into Veridian including Gravenhurst, Brock Township and Whitby.  As a specific example, the merger involving Veridian and Whitby occurred in 2019.  As a result of this merger, the new utility, Elexicon with some 167,000 customers, ranks 5th in size across Ontario.  ( By comparison if the merger between Brantford Power and Energy+ proceeds, it would have about 106,000 customers, ranking 7th in size across Ontario).  The primary objectives of that merger were to create a new organization that was better positioned to: serve today’s customers more effectively, seize the rapid technological change is bringing to the energy marketplace, and continue to provide steady ongoing dividends to its shareholder municipalities.  Please refer to the Elexicon Corporation 2019 Annual Report for details on accomplishments since the merger. 

Customers in the service areas of Thunder Bay Hydro and Kenora Hydro are expected to benefit from economies of scale and innovation achieved through the merger of the two entities in 2019 to form Synergy North. The merged entity serving approximately 56,500 customers expect to achieve savings in excess of $850,000 annually, over 4.5% of aggregate standalone costs. On a per-customer basis, the merged entity will have lower operational costs per customer than each of the standalone entities.

Closer to home, Energy+ Inc. has experience joining together with another utility.  In November 2014, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro Inc. purchased Brant County Power Inc.  The utilities amalgamated and rebranded as Energy+ Inc.   Approximately $1.2MM in annualized operating expense synergies were achieved because of the acquisition.  The lower operating expenditures on a combined basis resulted in distribution rates that were lower than what would have been experienced by customers had the transaction not taken place.

An important goal of a merger is to contain costs for customers for the distribution portion of their bill.  Another important consideration is the capacity to introduce customers to new technology and/or new services.  Since joining together, Energy+ transitioned customers to a single Customer Information and Billing System, introduced all customers to an online Outage Management System, and a 24/7 outage management toll-free line, implemented a 24/7 System Control Room for improved outage response times,  redesigned a single website for ease of access and use by customers and deploys the crews across the expanded service territory to respond to outages.  Employee efficiencies were realized through retirements and attrition.  No employee lost their job as a result of the two utilities joining together.  The distribution rates charged to customers are less than if the two utilities had remained separate stand-alone businesses.

It is important to note that before any merger can proceed, it must be approved by the Ontario Energy Board. When the Board reviews merger applications its primary focus is to ensure that utility costs are likely to be reduced as a result of efficiency savings produced by the merger.  These cost savings are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of lower distribution rates when compared to the status quo (that is, if no merger had taken place and the utilities carried on business as stand-alone entities).

The Ontario Energy Board merger applications are publicly available documents where the detailed cost savings and other information regarding the merger are described. Should the merger proceed, Brantford Power and Energy+ will post its application to their website after it is filed with the OEB so that the public will be able to easily access this information.

A. Ontario gets its electricity from a mix of energy sources. About half of Ontario’s electricity comes from nuclear power. The remainder comes from a mix of hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, solar and bioenergy.   Learn more from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) website: https://www.ieso.ca/en/Learn/Ontario-Supply-Mix/Ontario-Energy-Capacity

The table below summarizes the sources of the electricity supply in Ontario in 2020, as outlined by the IESO:

Ontario's system-wide Electricity Supply Mix in 2020

Based on the volume of electricity required for Energy+/Brantford Power customers, even through a merger, it would not be feasible to produce enough electricity locally to supply our communities.  However, by joining together as a single utility, there are economies of scale and greater capacity to invest in innovation and new technologies to benefit customers in the future.

A. Yes, as long as the Province continues this program, eligible residents across Ontario will receive the credit.  The Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) is a province-wide program and would not be impacted by a merger.

A. If the merger between Energy+ and Brantford Power proceeds, the utility would have over 106,000 customers and would be ranked 7th in size in Ontario.  While this merger does increase the scale by comparison to some other utilities it would not qualify as a “big merger”. In 2000, Ontario had some 300 local utilities. Fast forward to today, and that number is fewer than 55. The consolidation of local utilities over the last 21 years is ongoing and is expected to continue.  Municipal Councils are responsible to their taxpayers to carefully evaluate the merger framework, the legal and financial outcomes of the due diligence reviews, comprehensive staff reports and feedback from the public.  A successful merger must be based on the partners joining together, and each contributing to create a stronger organization that is better positioned to serve their utilities’ customers.

A. The percentage of ownership of the new merged utility would be based on several factors, including the number of customers each utility brings to the new combined utility.  In this case, the City of Cambridge would hold the majority of shares; however, terms in the shareholder's agreement would be structured to ensure the Township of North Dumfries and the City of Brantford have significant minority rights to protect the interests of all shareholders.

A. Our distribution utilities are considering joining together because it is in the best interest of their customers as well as our municipal shareholders. Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially and in terms of service delivery.   

A merger of the two utilities would mean predictable and stable distribution rates for the first ten years after the merger.

Any distribution rate change for the ten years after the merged company is formed are tied to inflation less other factors intended to promote efficiency (i.e., these adjustments are lower than the pace of inflation). This process is set and overseen by the Ontario Energy Board, as are all distribution rate changes in Ontario.  As a result, distribution rate increases for the decade following the proposed merger are projected to be more stable and predictable than under the status quo (e.g. if no merger were to take place).

It is important to understand that the utility’s portion of your hydro bill, the distribution piece is approximately 20%– 25% of the overall bill.  That means for every $1.00 the utility invoices you for electricity and delivery of the electricity, the portion of the bill they keep to operate their business is only 20 cents to 25 cents.   A merged utility can achieve further efficiencies and help to continue a high record of performance to ensure future distribution rates remain stable for that portion of the bill.

The remaining 75% -80% of customer’s bills (the cost of electricity, transmission charges, Global Adjustment (conservation programs, green renewable energy, etc.) are beyond the control of our local distribution company.

A. The three municipal shareholders have undertaken rigorous financial, legal and technical due diligence reviews.  The results of the independent reviews are confidential at this time, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding, consistent with common practice for this type of commercial transaction.

After the consultation period, the three municipalities, at respective Council Meetings, will review recommendations and staff reports and determine whether to proceed with the merger or not.  If approved by the Councils, the new Shareholder’s Agreement and Merger Participation Agreement will be made publicly available, through the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approval process.

If the merger proceeds, the utilities are committed to treating all employees fairly, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. It is expected that most future employment efficiencies will be gained through retirements and attrition. Current employees may be offered new job opportunities based on the larger merged utility having a greater capacity to provide new or different services or technologies to their customers.

Both utilities operate at a high level of service, as benchmarked with other electricity distribution utilities in Ontario. They deliver positive results, both financially for the benefit of our municipal shareholders, and in terms of service delivery for the benefit of our customers. The proposed merger will ensure that the merged company preserves that record of performance.

Reductions in operating costs will come from several opportunities in addition to retirements and attrition. For example, joining together will enable streamlining of software systems resulting in improved efficiencies and lower maintenance fees. Regulatory filings and financial reporting could be consolidated.

The community engagement does not include a focus group or in-person meetings.  You are welcome to participate in a poll and a forum set up on the City of Brantford’s letstalkbrantford.ca. website.  There will also be an opportunity to delegate before City of Brantford Council prior to the Council making a final decision.

A.  Yes. One of the benefits of the proposed merger of Energy+ and Brantford Power is to find efficiencies that will result in operating cost reductions.  Distribution rates are based on the cost to operate the utility business and the investments into infrastructure to ensure reliable safe service.  An important goal of a merger is to contain costs for customers for the distribution portion of their bill. Details of the forecast cost savings as a result of the merger will be included in the application to the Ontario Energy Board which must approve this transaction. 

A. Experience from other utility mergers demonstrates that there are a number of opportunities to benefit customers including:

  • Stable distribution rates for the first ten years after the merger
  • Continued local presence and local ownership
  • Greater capacity to deliver advancements in technology in response to increasing customer requests
  • Enhanced opportunities for innovative solutions for customers and local businesses
  • Increased opportunities for efficiences
  • Commitment to maintain a high level of customer service
  • Continued commitment to a safe and reliable supply of electricity.

A. Brantford Power and Energy+ are both local distribution companies, owned by their municipalities.  They have a shared goal to deliver electricity and value-added services to meet the needs of their communities.  Both companies are referred to as “poles and wires” companies because they own the infrastructure to deliver electricity across their service territories. Their distribution rates and how they operate many of their business practices are regulated by the Ontario Energy Board   

The two companies have a long-standing, positive working relationship, have adjoining service territories, co-own a transformer station on Powerline Road in Brantford, and have Operations Teams from both utilities work out of a shared Operations garage and warehouse space in Brantford, based on a shared services agreement.  Both companies are members of the GridSmartCity Cooperative, a consortium of 15 like-minded local distribution companies in Ontario, whose joint initiatives and collective purchasing power help members run smarter utilities. to realize scale efficiencies.  

A. The three municipalities, the City of Brantford, the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries, own the holding companies and affiliates. The final decision on whether to proceed with a merger or not, will be made by the respective municipalities.

A. The merger exploration is a rigorous financial and due diligence process that is conducted by municipal shareholders, together with their legal and financial advisors over several months. More details on the merger exploration process, milestones and timing is available on Next Steps and Timeline webpage.

 

A. The employees are valued and key to what makes each utility great. The Memorandum of Understanding is clear that all existing employees shall be treated fairly. The independent business review must also demonstrate a merger would create diversification of opportunities for the employees.

A. This is a lengthy process that takes several months. Once the business and financial due diligence has been completed, if the municipalities agree to approve  to proceed with a merger, the proposed transaction must be sanctioned by the Ontario Energy Board.  The merger could take place sometime in early 2022.

Want to ask another question or want to comment on the potential merger that is currently being explored, you can Ask A Question.

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If you have questions about a potential merger, we encourage you to ask them here. We’ll respond to your question within five (5) business days and will update Frequently Asked Questions.