Hydro Ottawa CEO on acquiring Hydro One customers: P*ss or get off the pot

There's a possible new solution in the years-long stalemate between Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa.

On Friday, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said he wants to see both sides agree to binding arbitration. 

Currently, close to 50,000 customers within the city get their power from Hydro One. That pales in comparison to the 315,000 Hydro Ottawa customers.

Hydro Ottawa wants to bring those customers onto its grid, but has balked at the price put forward by the other utility company.

"It certainly would be my wish that they would agree to compulsory arbitration on the price where there would be objective third party saying here's what the appropriate price is," Chiarelli said.

Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad admitted there is a risk in leaving the decision up to an arbitrator who would come up with the price that both parties would have to adhere to. But he is willing to take his chances.

"I think we've reached the p*ss or get off the pot moment," he said.

"So for us, it's a question of equity. I mean, if you're on one side of the street (and served by Hydro Ottawa) and paying more than you are on the other side of the street and not getting quite as reliable power or service. "

But Conrad has to convince the members of the board of directors for Hydro Ottawa.

But one of those members is already against the idea.

"Mayor Watson cannot support a solution that does not provide up-front certainty to Ottawa rate payers on the amount that Hydro Ottawa would have to pay for the Hydro One assets. Binding arbitration would not provide that certainty to City of Ottawa rate payers," according to an emailed statement from his office to CFRA News.

Watson wants to see a third party independent evaluation of the assets, and base any agreement on those figures.

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