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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Special Meeting Will Discuss Lack of Return on Investment in District Energy, Plus LIVE BLOG!

City Hall will tackle the always contentious energy file in a special meeting tonight at 6 pm. Two reports are on the agenda: the Financial History of the GMHI Group of Companies and Current Issues, and the GMHI 2016 Restated Budget, and the former will reveal that the City may have to write down $8.7 million in investment into the District Energy assets in Hanlon Creek Business Park and downtown Guelph.
According the report, which started making the rounds over the weekend, the Hanlon Creek Business Park District Energy System will see $5.1 million in write downs, and the Downtown Guelph District Energy System will see $3.6 million. That doesn't mean that the City will be out of pocket for another $9 million, these projects have already been paid for. They were, however, supposed to generate revenue for the City commensurate to the invest made in them, and that has not been the case.
More bad news? Sure, the report will also show that since 2006, a total nearly of $10.6 million in tax losses have been accumulated by Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI), the corporation created to oversee all of Guelph's major assets including Guelph Hydro. Those losses may be made up in future years, but they have an expiry date 20 years after the completed fiscal year, meaning at that point the City takes the loss permanently. Meanwhile Envida, the subset of GMHI meant to diversify Guelph's sustainable energy supply, owes almost $12 million in loans and may need to sell assets like Southgate solar assets and the Eastview Landfill Biogas to cover them. Forgiving the loans, which came from GMHI, may be another possibility.
If this seems like a massive info dump of bad news all at once, that's understandable. New oversight of GMHI was initiated this year with Mayor Cam Guthrie, Councillor Karl Wettstein and Councillor Cathy Downer forming a three person board; CAO Ann Pappert was assigned the role of Interim CEO of GMHI to provide the necessary authority and oversight to implement the directions of Council. The effort is to promote more transparency and efficiency in the GHMI and the organizations and assets it's overseeing.
The second report coming to the meeting will be a restated budget for the GMHI for 2016 owing to its restructuring. That report remains on the consent agenda, and has not been pulled for discussion.
Follow the live blog from tonight's meeting below:

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