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North Bay Hydro says $1.12 million write-off is accounting anomaly

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North Bay Hydro’s President and Chief Operating Officer is calming fears and concerns that the utility lost $1.12 million in 2016.   Matt Payne says the figure represents an accumulation of past due accounts dating back to 2008 and is an accounting reporting anomaly.  “It’s unfortunate that it came out in the stats that way and gets people alarmed,” Payne said.   “But there really isn’t a $1.12 million loss to our business.”

Payne says the actual write-off for 2016 was $73,000, which is almost three times higher than the 2015 write-off.   However here again Payne says there should be no cause for alarm.   Most if not all hydro utilities, including North Bay Hydro, set aside expected losses every year in their budgets knowing there will be accounts it won’t be able to collect.  For North Bay Hydro that threshold for past due accounts is $200,000.   Payne says when the public considers that the local utility bills more than $70-million annual, the $73,000 write-off is very small.   “It’s less than half a per cent of our total billing,” he said.   “The industry standard of what utilities don’t collect is two per cent or under.”   Payne says it means the 2016 write-off is well within what Hydro did not expect to collect.

He says the past due accounts were kept on the books over the years with the hope that they could be collected because sometimes Hydro does collect on old accounts.  Payne says with the accounting anomaly explained, it should set people’s minds at ease that North Bay Hydro is not one of the utilities in Ontario with the highest write-offs.  He also says considering the 2016 loss is $73,000 and not $1.12 million, it means the annual dividend to the city continues as it has in the past.

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