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Hydro One gobbles up local high-voltage 'highway'

What does it mean? New owner says no job losses, but anticipates consolidation efficiencies 'down the road'
Danger High Voltage 3 MP

A spokesperson for Hydro One says there will be no job losses in the recently approved acquisition of Great Lakes Power, based in Sault Ste. Marie.

Tiziana Baccega Rosa, senior relations advisor for Hydro One, said the closing date of the sale is expected on Oct. 31 and no job losses are expected.

“Everyone is together on this. We need their expertise,” said Baccega Rosa.

With the acquisition of Great Lakes Power Transmission LP, Hydro One now operates about 98 per cent of the power transmission capability across Ontario.

Unlike most Hydro One acquisitions, said Baccega Rosa, the former Great Lakes Power will be operated for a time as a stand-alone, named Hydro One Sault Ste. Marie.

“After, we will see what happens,” said Baccega Rosa.

Hydro One Sault Ste. Marie will continue to be operated using the current staff and management of Great Lakes Power.

“The team remains under the current leadership. They have actually been an integral part of working toward this,” said Baccega Rosa.

Transmission differs from distribution, she explained.

“Transmission is like the highway. Electricity is moving at really high voltages. That’s the big towers you see across the province. That is taking electricity from where it is generated — that could be anywhere in the province—  to anywhere it needs to go, which is your home, local business or your hospital,” said Baccega Rosa.

Great Lakes Power’s assets include 15 transmission stations, with 560 kilometres of transmission lines connecting to Hydro One’s Wawa and Mississagi transmission stations.

Baccega Rosa said the acquisition will enable the company to find efficiencies in consolidation ‘down the road.’

Hydro One is unique, said Baccega Rosa, as the company operates both transmission and distribution, though with the Great Lakes Power acquisition the distribution in Sault Ste. Marie will continue to be operated separately by PUC.

An analysis by the Financial Post released today states that Hydro One’s low and medium density distribution customers pay the highest electricity rates per 1,000 watts in the province, followed by Algoma Power.

The analysis said the high cost to Hydro One customers is due to the cost of transmitting power to remote areas.

PUC customers in the Sault, the Financial Post said, pay among the lowest electricity rates in the province.

Baccega Rosa said Hydro One was offered a unique opportunity to purchase Great Lakes Power — the second largest electricity transmitter in Ontario — with a willing buyer and a willing seller. 

Regulatory approval for the acquisition was completed by the Ontario Energy Board on Oct. 13.