Ontario’s energy minister met with representatives from Entegrus Powerlines Inc. and St. Thomas Energy Inc. to learn more about the proposed voluntary merger of the utilities.

Minister Glenn Thibeault visited the Chatham-Kent Entegrus office on Monday morning.

Thibeault, along with the Ontario government, are supportive of utilities finding efficiencies to assist in keeping energy costs affordable for customers.

“Our government continues to look for ways to help lower electricity costs for Ontario families and businesses and to support improved local utilities,” says Thibeault.

“I am pleased that both municipalities involved recognize these potential benefits for their ratepayers.”

Thibeault says this proposed partnership, like all utility mergers, will require the approval of the independent and impartial Ontario Energy Board, which has the mandate to ensure that customers are protected.

He says utility mergers can help realize operational savings and efficiencies by finding and sharing resources, all of which contribute to keeping customer rates lower than they otherwise would be.

Entegrus’ merger experience involves the acquisition of Middlesex Power Distribution Corporation, Newbury Power and Dutton Hydro.

With the addition of St. Thomas Energy, the merged utility would become the 11th largest utility in Ontario, serving approximately 58,000 customers in southwestern Ontario.

Jim Hogan, President and CEO of Entegrus, is looking forward to receiving Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approval, and if approved, expects the merger to be completed in January 2018.

“It is an exciting privilege to host Ontario’s Energy Minister today at Entegrus,” said Hogan. “Together, Entegrus and St. Thomas Energy would run an organization that our shareholders can be proud to invest in, our employees can be proud to work at, and our customers can be proud to know that we’re providing the best possible service at a price that is both fair and reasonable.”

St. Thomas Energy’s Chief Operating Officer, Rob Kent, says that this partnership would benefit the employees and customers of St. Thomas Energy.

“LDCs aim to deliver an affordable, dependable power supply, but in addition to this, we aspire to provide excellent customer service, helping in the best way we know how,” said Kent. “We look forward to exciting opportunities ahead with our new team.”