This week provided good and bad news for Edmonton taxpayers.
The good news? The transfer of the Goldbar waste treatment plant to EPCOR is a done deal. You may not realize it, but EPCOR is one heck of an Edmonton success story. It’s a well-run company with a tremendous reputation, provincially, nationally and internationally. That’s one of the reasons it’s able to hire and retain the talent it needs to continue to be a success.
EPCOR makes money, and as a result, it consistently provides the city with revenue from its operations. But lest you think the only way EPCOR can be profitable is by reaching ever deeper into your pocket, keep in mind that much of its revenue comes from outside the city where it competes on a level playing field with private sector companies. When it comes to holding the line on cost increases, EPCOR consistently outperforms the city.
So how did the sleepy little utility once known as Edmonton Power become such a player in the generation of electricity and the provision of drinking water and waste water services?
The answer is simple; it was given the freedom to act at arm’s length from the city. Though you and I are still owners of EPCOR, it can make the right business decisions free from the misguided machinations of the city council and administration.
So, why is the increased ability of EPCOR to continue to do what it does well and to continue to contribute to the city coffers so important? Well, that’s where the bad news comes in. City council is going to need more money to make up for the bad decisions it seems intent on making. Case in point, the Indy. Edmontonians are on the hook for $5.3 million. That’s a lot of sidewalks, my friends. We can all be thankful that city council isn’t involved in the day-today-business decisions of EPCOR. Heaven only knows what we would be paying for water and power if it were.
Now comes the fun part. The message spin emanating from city council is meant to make you feel all warm and toasty about that loss. According to Indy supporters, the event generated economic spinoffs in excess of $80 million and worldwide exposure for Edmonton.
Apparently, that makes it worthwhile for the city to cover the $5.3 million.
I’d like to see them prove that with more than words.