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OPSBA continues to be very involved in energy interventions at the Ontario Energy Board on behalf of Member Boards. These interventions have been highly successful. Since the first intervention initiative in 2002 we have gone on to collaborate with our other education partners and, through the Ontario Education Services Cooperation, have formed the School Energy Coalition. The cost of intervention is partially funded by all school boards in the province (11%). The remaining 89% of costs is derived from the utilities as a result of OEB orders. We are supported in our initiatives by Shibley Righton LLP. Our collaboration involves the other three Board Associations, the Council of Directors of Education (CODE), the Council of Senior Business Officials (COSBO) and the Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO).
Our continued involvement in energy intervention will seek to:
- protect the interests of School Districts with respect to energy costs
- work with other interveners where we have common interests
- address specific issues such as energy conservation, making information and programs accessible to Boards as needed
- provide Provincial data for discussions with the Ministry of Education for appropriate funding increases and for OEB case analysis.
The initiatives of OPSBA/OESC have achieved remarkable results in reducing energy costs. In the first four years, interventions on natural gas rates saved boards at least $33.1 million. Ongoing annual savings are now at $9.8 million. This year, five year deals with each of the two main natural gas companies, Enbridge and Union Gas, locked in additional benefits for 2008-2012 of at least $9.7 million. More importantly, rates in those years will be set by formula, and, in general, increases will be well below inflation each year.
In the electricity sector, more than 80 electricity distributors and transmitters in the province are starting to seek large rate increases. Building on savings over the first four years of $7.2 million for boards, the work of the School Energy Coalition in 2007 included substantial successes totalling at least a further $8.8 million. Active involvement in proceedings for the 2008-2012 period is targetted at getting long-term rate formulae in place that keep increases below inflation, just as is the current case with natural gas.
The School Energy Coalition plans further involvement in significant energy proceedings that will take place in the next two years, including the first regulatory proceedings for Ontario Power Generation, in which school board cost increases of up to $15 million a year are at stake.
OESC is vigilant in seeking further opportunities for effective intervention in energy conservation initiatives. OESC will continue to explore the cost structures and proposed pricing in preparation for effective representation of the interests of Member Boards in the electricity rate proceedings.
The attached School Energy Coalition (SEC) reports provide detail, updates and some highlights on advances/wins for school boards.