News Archive


 

Small CHEC LDCs Achieve Above Average Performance in OEB Scorecard

 The group of small LDCs maximize their performance through operational and administrative efficiencies

Brockville, ON December 14, 2015 – Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts is pleased to announce the results of the Ontario Energy Board Electricity Distributor Scorecard. Based on an internal analysis, CHEC utilities achieved performance results above the provincial average.

Mandated by the Ontario Energy Board, the Scorecard measures a utility’s performance in areas such as Service Quality, Customer Satisfaction, Safety, System Reliability, Asset Management, Cost Control, Conservation and Demand Management, Connection of Renewable Generation, and Financial Ratios.

On a consistent basis, and in a continuation of previous scorecards, the CHEC group of utilities achieved results that reflect their commitment to operating as efficiently and cost effectively as possible in their communities.

“I wasn’t surprised by the results,” said Ken Robertson, Regulatory/Finance Analyst for CHEC. “The CHEC LDCs have developed efficiencies and synergies to help keep their costs low.” He highlighted the Cost per Customer measure where CHEC LDCs, despite often having less than 30,000 customers, showed exceptional efficiencies and provided a testament to the value of their combined resources.

Recent initiatives that contributed to their success include the formation of a collaborative billing organization, the group roll-out of a mandated customer survey, an RFP issued to collection agency services, RFPs issued for conservation and demand management (CDM) services along with general CDM support, and a combined RFP during the smart meter roll-out that allowed the CHEC LDCs to save thousands on hardware costs. Member utilities can choose which initiatives they want to participate in based on their needs and timeframe.

“The CHEC group has obviously been effective,” said Robertson. “We have five years of data [in the scorecard] and we are seeing the results of having set efficiency and cost effectiveness as a priority.

The CHEC group plans to continue its improvements to all elements of utility operations.

“We’ve done a lot to help our utilities be more efficient,” said Robertson. “And we’re always on the lookout for new ways to improve. The strength of our organization is in our diversity and we benefit by bringing each utility’s strengths and experiences into the larger organization.”

ABOUT CHEC
CHEC is a collaborative association for 15 small Local Distribution Companies in Ontario. By sharing experience, knowledge and resources CHEC helps its members provide safe, efficient, and cost effective electricity distribution to their customers.


CHEC Utilities Benefit from the Support for the Rate Application Process

 LDCs bring the Rate Application Process In-house with the support of the CHEC Association

Brockville, ON November 16, 2015 – A typical cost of service application has to be completed every five years to determine the rate that each Ontario utility can charge their customers for delivering electricity. With applications often exceeding 1000 pages, it is a significant undertaking and one that requires plenty of time and resources for successful completion.
With such a draw on utility resources, and some utilities having less than 20 employees, the Cost of Service application provided a great opportunity to help members reduce costs and streamline their process.

“Having the support of CHEC has been critical in completing this application ourselves,” said Joanne Tackaberry, the Director of Finance at Wasaga Distribution. Wasaga Distribution was the first utility to use the CHEC Models and Templates that were developed through the CHEC working groups. “Almost every CHEC LDC was involved in this development in some way, because it is such an important part of our business.”

Until recently, the smaller LDCs of CHEC relied on outside consultants to help them complete their applications, a service that added a significant cost to the process. Through the development of the CHEC rate application process, Wasaga was able to complete the application in-house and achieved substantial savings.
The CHEC models gave utilities a starting point for the process and a place of reference during the development of a rate application. The data storage model provided a single location for the data that would feed the entire application and could be populated ahead of time. The Load forecast model as well as sample word exhibits saved the Finance staff from having to re-invent the wheel.

“We have a rates consultant on staff to provide help to CHEC utilities going through the process and have developed models and templates to make it easier for utilities to complete the application in-house. The data storage model we’ve created also allows them to gather evidence and keep the process going during the years in-between applications,” said Ken Robertson, CHEC Finance/Regulatory Analyst.

Part of the strength of the CHEC model is that through their working group, the model is continually undergoing revisions. “We take all the experiences of our LDCs and try to improve the process based on that feedback,” said Robertson.

The process also allows individual LDCs to use as much or as little of the process as they need. “We developed the model to be as flexible as possible so that it provides value for all our LDCs,” said Robertson. “It has brought new efficiencies and reduced costs and that directly affects the rates of our utility’s customers.”
For Wasaga Distribution, the use of the models and the availability of the support gave them enough confidence to complete the application using their own staff and resulted in the process taking approximately one-third less time than previously.

“It’s about sharing knowledge and resources and having a format to share that knowledge. The working groups and templates gave a structure to the resource,” said Tackaberry, adding that without the support of the CHEC Association her transition into the electrical utility industry six years ago would have been much more difficult. “The reason the CHEC members are thriving is because we’ve been able to access these resources for so long. I’m a huge proponent of what CHEC does and what it stands for.”

ABOUT CHEC
CHEC is a collaborative association for 15 small Local Distribution Companies in Ontario. By sharing experience, knowledge and resources CHEC helps its members provide safe, efficient, and cost effective electricity distribution to their customers.


CHEC Develops Training Assessment Tool for Non-Mandated Re-Training Schedules

 Training Assessment Tool provides best practices guidelines for utilities looking to better manage their re-training schedules

Brockville, ON, October 13, 2015 – Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts (CHEC) recently released their Training Assessment Tool to establish a best practices guideline for training that does not have a legislated re-certification period.

A five member working group made up of Human Resources, Health & Safety, and Operations Managers used the Workplace Risk Assessment Tool, that is normally used to recognize, assess, control and evaluate hazards in the workplace, and adapted it to provide guidelines on re-training periods for non-mandated skills.

“Each of our fifteen member utilities had varying re-training schedules,” said Taylor McHugh, Health and Safety Specialist for CHEC. “We needed to develop a tool so that Operations Managers knew when they needed to re-train and that was flexible enough to accommodate their individual needs.”

Using the Workplace Risk Assessment Tool as a model, the working group developed a Training Assessment Tool using the following factors:

      Frequency of Training Use;
      Incident History;
      Severity of Consequences;
              And Legal Consequences.

Based on a formula of the above factors, each skill was given a Risk Ranking that provided a recommendation of how frequently re-training needed to be performed and gave a defined, educated guideline for skills that the Ontario Health & Safety Act required for workers to be ‘trained and competent.’ The ranges were annually, 2 to 3 years or 3 to 5 years with certain areas to be determined by the individual utilities.
“The most important element of this tool is that it helps to keep our workers safe by making sure they have the correct training within an established best practices timeframe,” said CHEC COO Gord Eamer.

Flexibility was a requirement during the development of the Training Tool since 15 utilities would be accessing it, all with different situations and requirements. For example, utilities that are currently doing little to no work in Solar and Voltaic may choose to re-train closer to the five years of a 3 to 5 year re-training period. Others, that have a large number of customers active in solar generation, can re-train closer to every three years.

“We now have an informed process as to why we established these timelines,” said McHugh. “Our utilities can use the Assessment Tool knowing that we’ve developed this as a best practice based on an established model.”

The Training Assessment Tool provides a standard template for re-training across all its utilities, provides information to back up training budget requests, and helps the CHEC organization plan its training sessions.

“Bringing all this information into a useful format makes the job easier for everyone,” said McHugh.

ABOUT CHEC
CHEC is a collaborative association for 15 small Local Distribution Companies in Ontario. By sharing experience, knowledge and resources CHEC helps its members provide safe, efficient, and cost effective electricity distribution to their customers.


Employment Opportunity

March 2015
Employment Opportunity – Ottawa River Power – Director of Operations opportunity for qualified candidates.  Please see the attached Position Description.
Ad for Director of Operations


New Member

March 3, 2015
As  of March 3, 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro is now a member of CHEC.  CHEC welcomes Niagara-on-the-Lake to the group.


New Member

August 2014
As of August 2014, Renfrew Hydro Inc. is now a member of CHEC.  CHEC welcomes Renfrew Hydro to the group.


Utility Merger

July 2014
The merger of Lakeland Power and Parry Sound Power has been completed under Lakeland Holding Ltd.

Shareholders of Lakeland Holding Ltd. (Lakeland) and Parry Sound Hydro Corporation (Parry Sound) have unanimously approved merging their electricity distribution, generation and energy operations under Lakeland Holding Ltd.  “We are very pleased to become a partner with Lakeland as our values and goals are aligned”, stated Roger Alexander, Chair of Parry Sound Hydro Corporation.  This sentiment is also shared by Lakeland’s Chair Tom Peppiatt who advised “this merger emphasizes our ongoing focus on our customers while allowing continued growth of Lakeland to increase shareholder value, profitability and dividends to our shareholders.”  Chris Litschko, CEO of Lakeland stated “I anticipate that our customers and shareholders will benefit from synergy savings and cost avoidance over the next few years, as most of all external services can now be brought in‐house and duplication of many functions can be rationalized.”

Lakeland Power Distribution Ltd. now has a customer base of approximately 13,100 customers.  Bracebridge Generation will now have a green waterpower generation capacity of 11.2 megawatts with the addition of the Cascade Generation plant in Parry Sound.  Lakeland Energy/Networks will also be able to provide fibre optic communications and IT products and services in services in Parry Sound.

“This truly is a win‐win merger for Lakeland, Parry Sound and their customers.


New Member

April 2014
As of April 2014, Ottawa River Power is now a member of CHEC.  CHEC welcomes Ottawa River to the group.


CHEC Strategic Alliance

August 2013
Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts Association Inc. (CHEC) announced that it joined Tandem Energy Services (TESI) in a strategic alliance to provide CHEC members with the “pinnacle of regulatory oversight and rate application resources”. Manuela Ris-Schofield from TESI has extensive experience in preparing regulatory submissions and Cost of Service applications on behalf of various Ontario power companies. She has acquired in-depth experience in the regulatory world of rate design and has a clear understanding of both the pre and post-filing process of Cost of Service applications.

CHEC Press Release Strategic Alliance With TESI

CHEC AGM

November 2012
At Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts Annual General Meeting, held on November 2, 2012, the membership elected its 2013 – 2015 Board of Directors.

2012 AGM Report


CHEC Website

February 2012
On February 27, 2012, Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts announced the launch of its new website.

Website Report

CHEC AGM

November 2011
At Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts Annual General Meeting, held on November 15, 2011, the membership elected its 2012 – 2014 Board of Directors.

2011 AGM Report