Peterborough city council discusses what to do with PDI sale money

Peterborough Distribution Inc. (PDI), which is responsible for the distribution of electricity from the city’s utility company, will be sold off to Hydro One for $105 million.

The deal is currently before the Ontario Energy Board, with the sale expected to go through sometime in 2020.

After all fees and debts are squared away, the City of Peterborough says it will receive between $50 million and $55 million from Hydro One.

But what to do with that money is now the question before city council.

At its meeting on Tuesday night, council heard two options: invest the money in municipally owned renewable energy or put it into a legacy fund. If council were to choose the second option, the city would only use the collected interest on the money to fund local projects while keeping the capital intact.

“We think both ideas have merit,” said city treasurer Richard Freymond. “The legacy fund is an investment vehicle that is long-term in nature and the proceeds of which can be used for generations.”

Coun. Dean Pappas, chair of the city’s financial portfolio, said the decision on what to do with the money is an important one.

“It is $55 million, and we need to be smart in how we invest this money,” Pappas said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for this council.”

Right now, PDI supplies electricity to 37,000 customers in Peterborough, Norwood and Lakefield.

The sale hasn’t sat well with many local residents and led to heated public meetings and protests in 2018.

The deal was approved during the last term of council. Although the sale originally fell through after both sides walked away from negotiations, it was later revived.

“The community is still sore,” Pappas said. “This is the citizens’ money. It’s our duty to consult them as well as to how it’s invested.”

Mayor Diane Therrien added: “It’s by no means the only thing we’re talking about. There will be community consultation going forward of what other ideas might be out there.”

City staff will make a final recommendation to council in March.

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