Merger of local power distributors now official
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Merger of local power distributors now official

Co-CEO Rene Gatien, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong, board chair Rosa Lupo, Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak and co-CEO Jerry Van Ooteghem at last week’s merger event. [Bill Atwood]

In the works for several years, the merger of Waterloo North Hydro and Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro is now complete. 

Waterloo North Hydro, which was owned by the City of Waterloo (73.2 per cent) and the Townships of Woolwich (20.2 per cent) and Wellesley (6.6 per cent), began exploring options for merging with other  local distribution companies in 2017 following a report by KPMG that gave several suggestions, including Energy+ in Cambridge and Guelph Hydro. 

The merger with Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro was announced on October 1 of last year. Representatives from the two local distribution companies (LDCs) and the five impacted municipalities were on hand September 8 to celebrate the merger and announce the name of the newly formed Enova Power Corp. The company officially began operations on Monday. 

Rene Gatien, former president and CEO of Waterloo North Hydro, was named co-CEO, along with Jerry Van Ooteghem, former president and CEO of Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro. 

Enova Energy Corporation is owned by the City of Kitchener (53.4 per cent), the City of Waterloo (30.8 per cent) and the townships of Woolwich (8.5 per cent), Wilmot (4.5 per cent) and Wellesley (2.8 per cent).

The new company is now the seventh largest electricity distribution company in the province by customer count, servicing more than 157,000 residents and businesses across its coverage area.

“Today marks the beginning of new opportunities for our communities. Having one locally owned utility will help ensure that we move forward to a common vision and objectives when it comes to the future of electricity in our communities,” said Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz.

“We’re very excited to finally move forward as one company,” said Gatien, who highlighted the work that went into make the merger happen. 

“When we announced this months ago, we didn’t realize the amount of work to get across the finish line. But it’s been pretty amazing. It’s been a great contribution from everybody, both in our teams and in the teams at the municipalities,” he explained.

Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky highlighted the importance of keeping the distribution company local.

“Climate change must be tackled quickly, and electrification is a significant part of the solution. Now…we have greater capacity to ensure electricity distribution is modernized. And those decisions are in our hands, not that of a big corporation. And those profits are literally in our hands, not that of a big corporation,” he said.

“Those dividends go back into our communities, ease the burden of the regressive property tax regime in Ontario and do important things like putting books on the shelves of our libraries, building and maintaining trails, and keeping costs low for youth sports, seniors’ programs and so much more,” Jaworsky added.

In an interview following the event, Gatien said the merger allows the company to do more including in areas such as renewable energy, which would have been difficult as separate entities.

“We can do some of these things, but it’s somebody’s side job, it’s not their main job. By merging, we will be able to find some synergies and combine things where we are going to have some people that will be dedicated to innovation, and looking at the new technologies and meeting the needs of customers,” he said.

“Going forward, we have somebody who will be able to help customers to own and operate, or have us operate on their behalf, some of these distributed energy resources now will be things like solar arrays, battery storage, and it will also help us have people that can be dedicated to things like electrification of transport.”

For Shantz, the long-term benefits of the merger are why it was an important move

“It ensures a dividend stream for the next 10 years and reasonable rates for the next 10 years,” she told the Observer.

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