When we last left the council discussion about what to do with Guelph Hydro, the Strategies and Options Committee (SOC) was given permission to pursue the potential of merging with similar sized utilities in our area. This special council-as-shareholders meeting of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. will present the results of that work so far and the potential next phases going forward.
Coming out of tonight's meeting, the SOC is asking council to direct them to conduct further discussions, and prepare preliminary business cases to assess any potential mergers; that SOC continue with its public engagement; and, that they come back to council with the results of those further discussions and due diligence, along with recommendations for next steps. Does that mean there's a potential partner out there? Not yet, the work of the SOC since February has been about getting their ducks in a row to start that search.
So after June 13, if council chooses to proceed, then the SOC will pursue further public engagement, hold a town hall for Guelph Hydro employees, and encourage questions and feedback from stakeholders. By the fall, the the City may be ready to receive or make offers for merger, in which case meetings with Hydro employees will take place, information nights in Rockwood and Guelph will be organized, and a broader public engagement strategy will be initiated. If everything goes according to plan, all that could start sometime during the winter.
But for this night, the SOC is merely looking for council's permission to move forward with their plan to put out Guelph Hydro's "open for merger" sign. We'll see what council feels like doing...