Town, PowerStream officially sign deal for Collus 0
Collingwood mayor Sandra Cooper and Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman shake hands during the official ceremony of the transfer of Collus Power to PowerStream, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012. The new company will be known as Collus PowerStream. Morgan Ian Adams/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin
COLLINGWOOD — The words 'bold' and 'innovative' were thrown around considerably, Thursday morning, as the Town of Collingwood and PowerStream put the official stamp on the deal transferring 50% ownership of Collus Power to the larger utility.
The deal is worth about $14 million — including $8 million in cash that town council will eventually be going to the public to find out where they should spend it.
Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman, who is on PowerStream's board, and who will be a board member on the new entity that's been christened Collus PowerStream, credited the municipality for the "vision to take this bold step."
"You've come up with a model that is truly innovative, and in every sense of the word, a true partnership," Lehman told an assembled group of Collingwood councillors, Collus employees and board members, and PowerStream representatives in a ceremony in Collingwood's council chambers. "We're in a time of great change in the power business in Ontario, and what that means is there is strength in numbers.
"This will give you the resources to deal with a complex and challenging environment, and the chance to look to the future with a great deal of optimism."
Thursday's official deal signing was the culmination of more than 18 months of work, when Collus' board — at the behest of council — started examining how it could be more effective and efficient. Last November, after a Request for Qualification process, four bidders came forward to take over a 50% share of the locally-owned utility.
PowerStream's bid was selected by Collingwood's council in January on the basis it represented the best option for the municipality as well as Collus' 50 employees.
"This is a wonderful day to celebrate," said Collingwood's mayor Sandra Cooper. "I believe we will reap huge benefits for the town, and the community served by the new entity."
Along with customers in Collingwood, Collus also owns electricity assets in Thornbury, Stayner, and Creemore.
"The closing of this agreement is the culmination of a great deal of hard work," said Cooper.
PowerStream itself is the merger of municipal electrical distribution companies, and is owned by the municipalities of Barrie, Markham and Vaughan. Lehman said in spite of the apparent benefits, the decision to merge the utilities more than three years ago was not an easy one.
"It's not the easiest decision… it's a complex matter in a complex industry," he said.
As it turned out, added Barrie's mayor, the merger was a boon to electricity customers, who saw a 20% drop in distribution rates as a result.
The contributions of former Collus board chair Dean Muncaster, who died in March, were also highlighted, as Muncaster was recognized for his work in the initial stages of developing the partnership.
"It will be a legacy that will make him proud," said PowerStream CEO Brian Bentz, noting Muncaster's integrity and character, as well as his business acumen. "This partnership will be a beacon to the industry… the (community) will look back on this in a year, or five years, and will say that this was the right decision."
Along with the announcement of a new logo and name, the new corporate entity as Collus PowerStream made its first contribution to the community — a $50,000 to the G&M Hospital Foundation's New Age of Care campaign.