Hydro One CEO meets with council in closed session

secret meeting

By Andrew Philips, Orillia Packet & Times (May 19) – The city should soon know what type of role, if any, Hydro One will play in its future.

Mayor Steve Clarke said a meeting Thursday between council and Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt proved useful in terms of any potential deal between the provincial utility and Orillia Power.

“We’re certainly getting closer to a deal one way or the other,” Clarke said after the closed-session meeting with Schmidt and city council.

Hydro One first approached the city about building an advanced technological hub in the Horne Business Park in 2015. The Crown corporation/public company would only build the hub and buy the required land if it was also the utility that distributed power to Orillians. Council announced it was in negotiations with Hydro One to sell the distribution arm of Orillia Power last September.

Clarke said the city should know within the next four to six weeks whether Hydro One will establish a local presence.

“They’ve identified (this) as part of their business (plan),” Clarke said, noting he believes Hydro One views the city as a key piece of infrastructure to the overall provincial energy equation.

“They see merit of locating to the City of Orillia, but it has to make sense to everybody.”

Schmidt wouldn’t reveal what those plans might be, pointing out since Hydro One now features a public company component, a deal would never be announced until it’s official.

That said, he noted the energy provider only wants to be involved with high-quality capital investments that serve not only its investors, but also the residents of Ontario.

“We don’t announce any opportunities,” he said. “Hydro One is interested in building out our distribution.”

Prior to Thursday afternoon’s meeting in council chambers, Schmidt toured the University Avenue business park and its environs while also holding a one-on-one session with Clarke.

“It was a chance for Mr. Schmidt to get more first-hand knowledge of Orillia,” Clarke said. “It was also a chance for council to ask any tough or outstanding questions they would have.”

Schmidt said all the right things following the meeting, pointing out how friendly he finds the people to his desire to return one day with his bicycle to check out the city’s trail system.

“I’m very impressed with the community spirit here,” Schmidt said, noting he’s also taken with the strong entrepreneurial business spirit that exists in town.

“This is a really forward-thinking community.”

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