More than a century’s tradition of public power ownership in Bancroft is headed for an end.
Bancroft Light and Power – the hydro-electric generating company owned by the town – is in receivership, with a court hearing scheduled next week to determine the next step in the process.
It’s the end of an ambitious, $2-million plan to upgrade Bancroft Light and Power’s generating equipment.

And Mayor Bernice Jenkins is resigned to losing the company founded by the town more than 100 years ago.
“I can tell you the people of the town of Bancroft are horribly saddened by the situation,” Jenkins said in an interview Monday. “And I can tell you the mayor is horribly saddened.”
The company’s demise began nearly a decade ago, Jenkins said, with a decision to replace the century-old generators in the hydro station that produces electricity by harnessing the waters of the York River. The change would more than double the station’s capacity to 600 kilowatts.
The town secured $2 million in financing from Infrastructure Ontario, Jenkins said, and financed another $150,000 on its own.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” she said.
But the project was more complex than the town first thought, and took longer than anticipated. Then, Jenkins said, they encountered a series of changing renewable energy programs, each with its own prices and rules.
By the time the Green Energy Act came into being, with its feed-in tariff system, Bancroft Light and Power found it didn’t qualify for the terms of the program.
The new investment had been made on the assumption the company would get 11 cents a kilowatt hour for its power, she said.
Instead, the plant had to make do with market prices of only a fraction of that amount.
“There is never one reason why something fails,” Jenkins said.
“There were a variety of reasons. The long and the short of it was we were in the wrong spot, on a continual basis, with the timing of the various programs.”
Jenkins says she hopes the station, which is now idle, can emerge from receivership as a going concern with a new owner.
“That is very important to us from an historical and cultural piece,” she said.
“It’s been part of who we are. We were green long before somebody coined the Green Energy Act.”

Copyright 2012 Toronto Star Newspapers Limited


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