Turn On The Light At Enwin
Well now you know. Enwin is the problem but who knows what it is since it seems to have been shrouded in secrecy.
We learned this week that the big pay increase for Council was due to:
- The structure of Enwin Powerlines had to be reorganized
- Councillors were asked to step onto the boards to provide "more public oversight to get things fixed," Councillors were there for seven hours a day. We had significant problems at Enwin."
- It took a lot of meetings and a lot of time....there won't be as many meetings to attend, now that the problems at the utilities have been resolved
- the extra money was the direct result of councillors joining the boards of Enwin and other troubled municipal bodies to stop the bleeding... we had, quite honestly, a corporation out of control
- Francis said the council pay boost was "a one-off" triggered by the Enwin crisis
- measures over the past year-and-a-half have met the requirements of the Ontario Energy Board and saved the city millions of dollars
- Having that calibre of individuals around the boardroom table has saved this city millions
Holy mackerel! What the heck went on at Enwin that no one in Windsor seems to know about except those that have attended secret in camera meetings of Council. This is pathetic! This is a scandal! It is not just Enwin that seems to be out of control.
Here is what I have learned about Enwin over the past few years taken from the pages of the Star:
- Enwin Powerlines paid $5.2 million too much for a new computerized billing system that it bought for the deregulated electricity market, an accounting audit shows.
- Auditors also said Enwin mismanaged the computer project with poor planning and a lack of oversight over private contractors hired to design and program the system. Managers bungled the project by not making sure the system was delivered as ordered and on time, documents said.
- Last summer, Enwin asked regulators for $18 million, but withdrew the filing when new management took over the utility and discovered the application was inaccurate
- Employees who managed the computer project are no longer working for Enwin
- Enwin wrote off $6 million last year
- Enwin officials could not say exactly where the money came from to pay for the project
- Enwin still faces a difficult challenge in proving even the pared down claim is reasonable
- Enwin was one of five utilities selected to appear before the Ontario Energy Board to explain its request for compensation
- Customer confusion and complaints have got to the point where Enwin has had to improve its voice message service to cut down on the waiting time. People have been waiting a half hour or more to get a representative.
- Deregulation---Enwin Utilities has incurred millions of dollars worth of needless debt, will have to eliminate jobs and put off necessary work and may see its creditworthiness reduced because of failed electricity deregulation, its vice-president of finance said Tuesday. "It's not been thought through properly. It's been a wasted effort," Roy Fritz said, adding that other utilities are probably facing similar situations. "We have to pay additional costs to unwind what we've done. We're back to a regulated market now. The biggest loser is the city of Windsor, being our owner. Our profits are not what they used to be. All of these costs -- we've had to borrow money," Fritz said.
- Fritz said the utility which used to have revenues of between $8 million and $10 million a year has actually dipped slightly into the red in the last two years, mostly due to costs of getting ready for deregulation.
- The city-owned utility sought to recoup $101 per customer it says it spent getting ready for the deregulated electricity market in the late 1990s but its OEB deal brings Enwin's recovery amount down to $87.49 per customer
- In May 2001....shift of the $1.3-million burden of maintaining fire hydrants from the city's books to those of Enwin
- Roy Fritz, chief executive officer and president of Windsor Canada Utilities and acting general manager of Windsor Utilities Commission has resigned, effective immediately. In a brief news release from the utility company, no reasons were given for the abrupt resignation and Fritz was available for comment. Sylvia de Vries, corporate communications manager for Enwin, said she "didn't have any further details or reasons for the resignation but that a search is on for a replacement."
- Despite rumours of a rift between the former CEO and the utility company's board, Fritz said in the days immediately after his resignation announcement that "it was for personal and professional career reasons."
- Windsor was given a credit of about $75 million in promissory notes for the assets of its former utilities company, when the electrical industry was deregulated two years ago. Under the plan, Enwin will borrow $50 million and hand over $47.3 million to the city. The city will continue to be paid six per cent interest on the remaining $21.5 million in promissory notes.
- Restructuring of the Enwin Group of Companies will provide ratepayers with accountability at all levels, a new emphasis on customer service and more reliable and dependable delivery of electrical service, a spokeswoman for the companies said Thursday.
- Windsor taxpayers may not realize it, but they are stakeholders in the broadband telecommunications business. Enwin Utilities Ltd., which already delivers electricity and water to the community, provides a fibre-optics "backbone" network for a vast array of voice, data and video services for public and private institutions.
I would have thought that the Mayor and the members of Council who sit on the Enwin Board owe citizens an immediate explanation of what is going on and how much it has cost us. The fact that they are not sharing with us the magnificent work that they have done to solve things really makes me shiver.