Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sooke and Epcor

The Sooke sewer system is currently operated by Epcor (Edmonton Power Corporation), which they have been doing for some five plus years now and operating some extensions.   Sooke is now looking at a 21 year deal with Epcor to operate the system.

There are some residents that are unhappy with the contract going to Epcor and they have been out collecting the signatures needed in the Alternate Approval Process to force it to referendum.   It sounds like they will succeed.  They are focusing a lot on the idea that the system should be run in house, I think that is a red herring and unrealistic for Sooke to do.

I personally have a problem with the lack of an open and competitive process.   There is no way to know if someone else could have done it better and for less money if they are not allowed to bid on the project.   Sooke commissioned a consultant to find out if the deal is a good one, and low and behold, it is!   What the study does not address is the potential for someone to offer to do it for less.    There is a large enough margin that someone might have come forward.

I heard the Mayor on the radio today say that they can not go to a competitive process because Epcor has provided them with information on costs and that would mean the process would not be fair.   This has to be the most bizarre reason I have heard not to go to a competitive process.  Sooke has no requirement to do anything to benefit Epcor, frankly they should be trying to squeeze every penny they can from the company.  

The information on the costs of operating the system are not proprietary and should be available to anyone who wishes to bid on the project.  Epcor has not given away anything that should not be available to everyone.

IF Epcor has the best bid for a 21 year contract to operate the system, great, but how can anyone know this if no was allowed to bid?

This is all part of the larger problem of a lot large contracts handled by local government not going through any sort of competitive process.   Local governments are not willing to allow enough competition and are not willing to be hard nosed enough to make business sweat to make any money off of them.
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