FFPC rates lowest in Ontario

Duane Hicks

FORT FRANCES—A bill comparison of all the electrical utilities in Ontario show the Fort Frances Power Corp. (FFPC) has the lowest prices around—even before the benefit of the 1905 historic power agreement with the local paper mill is applied.
According to the most recent bill comparison posted by the Ontario Energy Board on its website (www.oeb.gov.on.ca), the estimated bill for FFPC customers in November, 2008 was $101.17.
This is slightly less than the next lowest utility (Hydro Hawkesbury Inc. with an estimated bill of $101.27), lower than the provincial average ($115), and far less than the estimated bills for anywhere else in the region, including Atikokan Hydro ($148.69), Hydro One-Rainy River ($127.92), Hydro One-Dryden ($127.01), Thunder Bay Hydro Electricity Dist. Inc. ($109.42), or Kenora Hydro Electric Corp. Ltd. ($106.80).
This difference is even greater once the rebate resulting from the historic power agreement is applied, which lowers the $101.17 amount to only about $85.
The estimated bill is based on a residential customer using 1,000 kWh of electricity per month and who is on the Regulated Price Plan, which FFPC residential customers are.
“We’re about 25 percent less than the provincial average,” FFPC CEO Joerg Ruppenstein noted Wednesday, adding information such as this is what FFPC customers should keep in mind when independent electricity retailers come knocking at their doors.
“It would be highly recommended that people educate themselves,” Ruppenstein stressed. “If there’s one fact to remember, it’s that we have the lowest rates in the entire province.
“It’s hard to do better than that.”
Ruppenstein said the FFPC has long known it’s had one of the best hydro rates, but the OEB now has made the figure readily available to the public.
“It’s kind of nice the OEB published this [the bill comparison], and will continue to publish it,” he remarked.
“We’ll be interested to see, kind of like the Olympics, where we stand next time around,” he chuckled.
Ruppenstein explained there’s three reasons for the Fort Frances Power Corp.’s low rates.
“The number-one reason is we’re not-for-profit. Most other utilities are in the utility business to make money,” he noted.
“We’re not—we’re not-for-profit and we don’t return profit to our shareholder, which is the town.
“In addition to that, our infrastructure, everything we own, has been kept in excellent shape,” he continued. “We don’t require any huge expenditures to overhaul systems.
“Everything’s been well looked after so there’s no need to increase rates to gather money for those kind of big expenses.
“Our objective is to maintain a reliable system, and at the end of the day, if there’s money left over, it goes back to the ratepayer,” Ruppenstein said.
“We follow a rate minimization model . . . because we don’t get a rate of return, that’s reflected in the rates.”
And thirdly, Ruppenstein said the utility is small and very efficient, with service confined to within town limits.
“We’re a little gem of utility,” he enthused. “We’ve got small square footage—we’re not drawn out, with kilometres and kilometres of line to maintain.
“We’re very compact and in very good health.”
Ruppenstein encouraged customers to visit www.oeb.gov.on.ca for themselves and check out the bill comparisons and related information.
Just click on the “For consumers” link, then the “Understanding Your Bill Rates and Prices” link, and then “Electricity Bill Comparison.”
New bill comparisons are expected to be posted periodically.