November 23rd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 50
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Fortis takes over Municipal Utilities
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock photo
LISA SYGUTEK
Pass Herald Reporter
Harvey Steblyk and Don Hughes representatives from Fortis met with council at a budget meeting on Thursday, Nov. 10.

On April 19, council passed a motion to proceed with the sale of the community owned electrical distribution system to FortisAlberta.

The motion ends the community engagement phase of the sale process and gives Fortis the signal to draft the terms and conditions of an agreement.

Mayor Blair Painter and council were unanimous in their decision.

“Our system is tired and it’s time we passed it on to someone who knows how to run it,” said Councillor Bill Kovach. “Especially with the shape it’s in. So I’m in favour of this resolution.”

“As a municipality, we don’t have the capacity to run an electrical system,” said Councillor Char Cartwright.

Council considered selling the municipally owned electrical distribution system after Fortis undertook a review of the municipal utility system, at council’s request.
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Fortis recommended system upgrades worth $1.5 to $2 million, which would bring the system up to industry standards and increase the power of the electrical distribution system from 4,160 volts to 25,000 volts.

Fortis has offered $3.9 million to purchase the municipality’s system. The offer price is based on a formula provided by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). With the purchase of the system Fortis will spend $2,000,000 in upgrades to the system. As part of the sale the municipality will receive an additional $200,000 a year in franchise fees and a commitment by Fortis to open a location in the Pass with a dedicated linesman on staff.

The municipality agreed to the price pending approval by the AUC. The handover date was set for Nov. 15.

The delegates met with council to inform them that the AUC has not yet granted approval pending further answers to the application from Fortis.

Hughes, a lawyer for Fortis, indicated that the questions AUC posed have been answered by Fortis, however, it will take some time for AUC to respond thus hampering the handoff of the utilities by the Municipality by the Nov. 15 deadline.
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Councillor Ward questioned, “Are you getting a sense of opposition from the AUC?” Steblyk indicated that although he can’t put words into the AUC’s mouth, he felt is was more an issue with paperwork then the sale itself.

As the sale date cannot be met, Fortis has offered to put the $3.7 million in a trust fund pending approval of the AUC. In the interim Fortis will continue to upgrade the system and for all intense purposes act as if the ownership has taken place. This is to ensure there is not disruption in services to the residents of the Crowsnest Pass.

Council made a third reading motion to accept the interim transfer of the Municipal Utilities to Fortis pending approval by the AUC. The motion was passed unanimously.
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November 23rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 50
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