Bruce Telecom to move forward with natural gas plan study

Section: 
News

By Barb McKay

 

Bruce Telecom’s role with the natural gas project would likely be an administrative one, according to company executives.

 

CEO Bart Cameron told Kincardine council at its Dec. 19 meeting that there is more information gathering that needs to be done but Bruce Telecom remains interested in finding out how it could be involved as a local distribution company for natural gas.

 

“We’ve been very pleased to be part of the natural gas steering team,” he said. “It’s still not clear where the best place would be to fit in but we believe it’s a good opportunity.”

 

Cameron said Bruce Telecom still needs to determine what the opportunities and risks would be to use a local distributor should the natural gas project go forward. The project, which would encompass Kincardine, Huron-Kinloss Township, Arran-Elderslie Township and the Bruce Energy Centre, could cost anywhere between $40 million and $100 million. Cameron estimates that it would cost $250,000 to complete a business plan with more concrete financial information.

 

Councillor Randy Roppel said it did seem right that the municipally-owned Bruce Telecom is fronting the cost to evaluate the project when there are two other municipalities involved.

 

“Why are we using all the money from BMTS to support a project that benefits beyond our borders but doesn’t benefit everyone in our municipality?” he asked.

 

Mayor Larry Kraemer said that current energy costs are high in Kincardine and bringing in natural gas could lower utility costs. As well, he noted, it could generate additional revenue for Bruce Telecom which would further benefit the municipality.

 

Councillor Ron Coristine said natural gas is needed to attract new businesses and keep the ones already here.

 

“We are one of the few jurisdictions left in Ontario without natural gas,” he said.

 

Cameron said the $250,000 would be treated as a capital cost in Bruce Telecom’s 2013 budget and would be built in to the overall cost of the project as it moves on.

 

“We look at this as investing in an asset to generate a return,” he said.

 

Cameron said if Bruce Telecom did become a local distributor it would take on administrative functions, including billing and signing new customers up. Councillor Jacqueline Faubert pointed out that more and more companies, including utility companies and telecoms, are taking on multiple roles.  

 

Kincardine council agreed to approve the use of $250,000 to continue evaluating the natural gas project.

*In related news, Bruce Telecom unveiled its budget for 2013.

 

The budget forecast includes $522,000 surplus, after amortization. Earnings before amortization are expected to be roughly $3.5 million. The capital budget is set at $3.4 million.

 

Cameron told Kincardine council that its upgraded infrastructure, including digital television is now available to 10,000 homes. He said that as new subdivisions continue to be built Bruce Telecom will be able to further increase its service area.