New Embrun Hydro substation groundbreaking
Coopérative Embrun Hydro Manager Benoit Lamarche, Director Luc Bruyere, President Jean Martel, Director Pierre Carriere, and Dennis “Tony” Shaw from K-Line, broke ground at the new Embrun Hydro substation on Tues., Aug. 15.           Photo courtesy Embrun Hydro

Candice Vetter
Villager Staff
EMBRUN – Coopérative Hydro Embrun Inc. is applying for a distribution rate increase to the Ontario Energy Board. If the application is approved, a typical residential customer of the Coopérative Hydro Embrun would see a total increase of $8.18 per month.

The increase is in part due to the construction of a needed new 44KV substation at the cost of $1.487-million. The report of the annual general meeting of the electricity co-operative stated that the current substation is 30 years old and is nearing its capacity. A new substation is required in order to serve the growing population of Embrun and to ensure continuity and reliability of the supply to its existing 2,300 customers. Another reason for the increase in fixed rates is the transitioning of residential rates from a fixed to variable split to 100 per cent fixed rates.

Coopérative Hydro Embrun is the sole Hydro Cooperative in Ontario, and as such, its organizational structure allows the utility to give annual patronage returns to its customers, therefore, reducing the overall bills. In 2016, the Cooperative returned $20,000 to its customers. Since its inception in 2001, the co-op has returned over $400,000 to its customers. Coopérative Hydro Embrun’s customer base has grown from 1,301 customers in 2001 to 2,155 in 2017. Customers are determined by geographical location and residents outside its area cannot opt-in.

Benoit Lamarche, General Manager of Coopérative Hydro Embrun, explained in an interview with The Villager that the resetting of rates, often referred as “rebasing,” occurs every five years. Coopérative Hydro Embrun’s current rates are based on costs that were determined in 2013 and 2014 and no longer reflect its actual costs. The proposed costs for the rate application are based on 2017 and 2018 budgets.

Included in the rate application are capital expenses for 2017 of $1,706,996.00 including a new substation for $1,487,000.00 and 2018 an amount of $150,205.00. Operating expenses for 2017 are projected to be $654,116.00 and $724,471.00 for 2018.

The process of applying for rates is a lengthy legal process. The application takes approximately nine months to prepare and includes four to five years of historical trend analysis. The Ontario Energy Board takes approximately the same amount of time to examine, analyze and argue the application. Lamarche expects the Ontario Energy Board to publish a decision in December of 2017.

“Based on last year’s distribution rates, a Hydro One customer using 1,000-kilowatt hours paid $57.02 in comparison to Coopérative Hydro Embrun’s $29.32,” said Lamarche.

Hydro One has also applied for a rate increase. In 2018 it would be $2.79 per month, in 2019 – $2.47 per month, in 2020 – $2.31 per month, in 2021 – $1.95 per month, and in 2022 – $2.23 per month. Hydro One has also recently acquired three independent electricity distributors, Norfolk, Haldimand County and Woodstock, and is raising their customers’ rates by between $1 and $5 per month at the beginnings of 2021 and 2022.

The Ontario Energy Board will be holding a community meeting on Tues., Sept. 19, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Embrun to present and discuss Coopérative Hydro Embrun’s rate application.