Hydro Revenues: Megawatts and Megabucks

Mississippi Mills is very fortunate to have the series of waterfalls that lets us generate electricity for Ontario and profits for the Town. Megawatts mean a generous revenue stream for the Town, but who benefits from that money has become an election issue.

The old hydro plant at the top of the falls, built in 1925, generated 2.4 megawatts of electricity. Between 2003 and 2009, the Mississippi River Power Corporation (MRPC) paid Mississippi Mills a little over $1 million as revenue from this plant. A Town by-law directed all those funds to Almonte Ward to help lower water and sewer charges.

The new plant can generate 4.6 megawatts, according to the MRPC website. Over the next 20 years, the MRPC is expected to pay the Town $7.36 million. Under the current by-law, all those millions belong to Almonte Ward.

Note: No Town tax money or Almonte Ward funds financed the new hydro generation plant. The MRPC borrowed $19 million and will repay the loan and interest from selling power for an estimated $2.1 million yearly.

When the Town transferred its transmission lines to the Ottawa River Power Corp (ORPC), ORPC agreed to pay 7.5% interest on the value of the assets ($902,490) for 20 years. This amounts to $65,430 yearly until 2022, for an additional $780,000 in revenue. The ORPC also provides annual dividends. The amount ranged between $50-80,000 annually the previous six years. At that rate, ORPC payments will amount to over $2 million in 20 years. Again, all this goes to Almonte.

The combined MRPC and ORPC revenues will be $8-10 million in 20 years. It is unfair to give all that money to Almonte Ward alone.

My Position: It is time to share the hydro revenues between all three wards. To succeed, the new Council needs all rural Councillors onside. If you believe in sharing the megawatt megabucks, ask each candidate for Mayor and rural Councillor where he or she stands on sharing.