In April 2012, the Ontario government launched a comprehensive review of the province's electricity sector with the goal of exploring options to improve efficiencies. The Ontario Distribution Sector Review Panel (the Panel), led by Murray Elston, David McFadden and Floyd Laughren, was assembled to accept submissions from various stakeholders, including municipalities, local distribution companies (LDCs), the Electricity Distributors Association and other energy experts, in order to examine a range of issues including the potential for LDC consolidation. To be clear, the Panel’s mandate is to “provide advice and make recommendations to the Minister of Energy regarding issues related to Ontario’s electricity distribution sector and distribution models, including opportunities for consolidating distributors.”

Although the submissions to the Panel have been provided on a confidential basis, a few stakeholders have published their submissions on their respective websites, including but not limited to, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Society of Energy Professionals, the Electricity Distributors Association, the Consumer Council of Canada, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Energy Association. As can be expected, the views on the matter range from complete support for the consolidation of LDCs to a full opposition of a mandated consolidation plan. One particular group, the Society of Energy Professionals (the Society), even proposes a unique idea to consolidate the industry. The Society suggests creating one entity, which they call the “Ontario Electricity Delivery Company” (the OEDC), that would combine the transmission and distribution assets of Hydro One with those of all the other LDCs in the province, regardless of their current ownership, into one entity. In return for transferring assets to the OEDC, current Hydro One and LDC owners would receive equity in the consolidated company in proportion to their contribution.

The Panel has been given 12 months to review all of the submissions and report back to the Minister with any recommendations. As of right now, a list of submitters is not publicly available and there is no mention of whether the final report will include a submission list. The entire energy industry is following the matter quite closely and will be very interested to read the final report.