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Ratepayers' questions on PUC

Monday, January 07, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

City Council and Sault Ste. Marie PUC Inc.’s Board of Directors will meet in a closed “education meeting” with legal expert George Rust-D’Eye January 17.

The meeting comes after a December 3, 2012 Council motion to defer and postpone a reopening of the City’s sole shareholder relationship with PUC Inc. until a later council meeting.

The call for the City to reopen its’ relationship with PUC Inc. stems from concerns raised by the Sault Ste. Marie Ratepayers Association (SSMRA) over PUC Inc. corporate donations, in particular a $100,000 donation made by PUC Inc. to Algoma University.

Meanwhile, at Monday’s City Council meeting, Helen Girard of the SSMRA appeared before Council and advised municipal leaders that the Ratepayers group will be requiring answers to questions put to Council regarding the City/PUC relationship “in a timely fashion” after the January 17 session.

Some of the SSMRA’s questions include:

Should or should not donations be permitted by PUC Inc. or its’ subsidiary corporations?

What is the defined mandate of PUC Inc. and its’ subsidiary corporations?

Who appoints the directors of PUC Inc. and its’ subsidiary corporations?

Why is PUC Inc.’s and subsidiary corporations director openings not included with all the openings for all other city boards?

What are the criteria for becoming a director?

Is it appropriate to have councillors appointed as directors of PUC Inc.?

If councillors are appointed as directors, what exactly is their role and to whom are they responsible?

Council agreed to respond to the SSMRA in “a timely fashion” after the January 17 meeting with PUC Inc. and a legal expert.

Councillor Frank Manzo, however, objected to the private nature of the session, stating it should be a public meeting.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
W. Yote 1/7/2013 11:56:55 PM Report

Manzo is right. This should be public. Sounds like CYA meeting.
Thim 1/8/2013 12:49:27 AM Report

A point of correction, these concrns were definately not raised by the ratepayers association.

I brought these concerns to light in Dec 2011 and again in Sept 2012 and am not a member of the ratepayers assoc.

Tom Brason
Wal 1/8/2013 1:14:01 AM Report

all meetings that deal with P.U.C. should be made public and all rate increases should be voted by the public.
rcamp211 1/8/2013 7:11:28 AM Report

what does "P" stand for in "PUC"?
leeant 1/8/2013 7:15:49 AM Report

Isn't it Public Utilities Commision?
MikeQ 1/8/2013 7:19:43 AM Report

They shouldn't be able to make donations for a pretty simple reason. Not everyone who pays for PUC services agrees with them, or has a say in the matter. In the world of products, different companies will donate money, and usually the consumer knows what that company donates to. In the situation where you HAVE to buy the product from one company because they have the contract to the city utilities, that doesn't really give you the ability to reason if this is a company you want to buy product from and support how they allocate their funds. For example, if you don't want to spend money at a company that donates lots of money to a democratic political party, then you can go somewhere not so politically active. If I don't want some of the money that I have to pay to PUC (which is outrageous in its own right) to be donated to an educational facility which spends most of its money giving biased scholarships to minorities, losing money to embezzling financial advisors, and charging outlandish fees for subpar education, than I should have the choice to buy my utilities from a competing company.

But I digress...
cheemo 1/8/2013 8:18:54 AM Report

they charge a fortune for puc services and then give the money away. lots of people struggle to pay bills shame puc
Anonymous 1 1/8/2013 8:24:26 AM Report

If the PUC wants to make donations how about starting with donating to a fund to replace ratepayers' electronics that have been fried by the constant electrical surges and outages. This past Saturday's outage cost me $440 to replace my television that was fried.
Thim 1/8/2013 8:26:16 AM Report

The City Solicitor wrote a report on the issue and I received a copy, check closely her comments...

"Additionally, the existing shareholder's Agreement lists a number of matters that require City Council's approval prior to the PUC acting. None of the Articles in the Shareholder's Agreement address a donation such as the one in question.

Accordingly, only the Ontario Business Corporations Act regulates the allegation at hand. The Act requires the disclosure of "material interests" by officers or directors, however, the Act does not define the term material interests. Case law assists in the definition and indicates that a material interest includes a personal
relationship with the person who is a party to a material contract. In this case,there would be difficulty proving a personal relationship and a material contract"

The Solicitor says the shareholders agreement doesn't spell out donations per se and she can't find the definition of material interest, legal dictionaries carry the definition of "material" and "interest". She had to go to case law to determine there's sometimes a personal relationship at both ends?? Then she says it would be hard to prove in this case, that's a stretch.
Conflict of interest laws set parameters that people must abide by, pure and simple...there's no onus to prove exactly how they may have gained because in some cases this can be well hidden and thus the reasons for the Act.

The Officers and Directors must Act in a loyal manner in the best interests of the corporation which has the same obligation to the shareholders...the taxpayers.
Tom Brason
Thim 1/8/2013 8:41:49 AM Report

While attending a council meeting on the subject I was astounded to hear Councilor Pat Mick make a statement that had they known there was to be such a ruckus over these donations they should have put a gag order on it. She said in hind sight they should not have made these donations public and answered only individual quiries on the subject.
Tom Brason
IB-fine 1/8/2013 10:16:16 AM Report

Since the city stopped being the main manager of the PUC our rates have more than doubled, things like "debt retirement charge" kills me. What other companies bill do you have to pay for their bad investments from before??

It wasn't until I got the copy of the rates in Nov. that I noticed our "Smart meters" they forced everyone to get, we are actually being charged $3.03 plus $18.38 if general service less than 50kw or $37.35 if over 50kw.

Why should we be charged all this extra fees for something they insisted be put in??

Did we have a choice? No
Can we make them take it out and go back to previous meter? No

Then all the Transmission and Distribution charges when we have a power dam right on St. Mary's river and several others up to Wawa, now all these solar farm panels plus the Prince Township windmills. Seems to me that our distribution and transmission costs should be next to nothing!

However when I asked one of the customer service reps about this, she told me, no all the power from around here is sold to the States and we are getting ours from southern Ontario....yeah that really makes sense....NOT! Serve us first and then sell the left over to the US!

Only time we noticed a difference was when the power went out to the eastern part of Canada and the USA that one summer and they had us back up in a very few hours by cutting this area off the grid and letting our power dams etc. provide our power directly. If they can do that in an emergency when someone in Ohio messed up, why not have us on our own power all the time?

It's not only their donations to groups that are questionable but their whole system of billing now.
KMF61MCF 1/8/2013 10:43:46 AM Report

The Solar Farm located on Black road is owned by a California Company. The Solar Panels in the Baseline Area are owned by a German Company. So we get NO benefit from them.
ameythst 1/8/2013 1:27:07 PM Report

I think you were misinformed by the Customer Service Rep. Producers of power put it into the Power Grid and get paid for it, PUC buys from the Power Grid and distributes it and charge their customers. This is under the watchful eye of the government (Ontario Energy Board and the IESO to name a few).
kevinKJ 1/8/2013 2:52:28 PM Report

I live on Third Line West....There are wind mills up Maki Rd, Solar panals on Black Rd, and Solar Panels on Base Line.

I've got power all around me and my P.U.C. keeps going up......

I'm told that the power is being sold off..... WHY...yes I'm yelling WHY ? I really don't understand. When I call P.U.C. and ask why my bill is so hi I'm told something is taking up your power... are you kidding me, I walk around in the Friggin dark to save power. Plus I don't pay for water...

Then I hear they ( P.U.C. ) is making donations

Oh ya didn't the P.U.C. a few months back cut our rates a dollar something?
I think there was some bone-head smiling in the picture.... Like it was a huge saving......

Put Frank Manzo in charge of Sault Ste. Marie.... He'll straighten these nuckle- heads out.....


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