NDP allege Liberals’ hydro hike to fund private profit, CEO pay

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QUEEN’S PARK—Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha agrees with NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns who says Premier Kathleen Wynne and her governments ongoing privatization of Hydro One has left Ontario hydro users facing another huge rate increase, at the same time as Hydro One executives and investors take home massive pay and profits.

“The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) released a preliminary decision on Hydro One’s transmission rate increase. The OEB gave Hydro One nearly everything it asked for, and we remain on track for a huge jump in transmission rates next year,” explained Mr. Tabuns during question period October 4. “Last year, the CEO of the privatized Hydro One collected six times the salary of the previous CEO. Does the Premier think ratepayers should feel grateful that the OEB trimmed back this sort of executive greed by a mere 3.5 percent?”

The OEB said that rate increases were being driven in part by executive compensation. “Despite these concerns, the regulatory body still approved 96.5 percent of Hydro One’s compensation costs,” said Mr. Tabuns.

“The Premier promised that a privatized Hydro One would mean lower rates, not higher. Her hand-picked privatization guru said that ‘private sector discipline’ would drive down costs and rates  for consumers,” said Mr. Tabuns. “Instead, private sector discipline means a CEO salary that is six times what the previous CEO earned.”

“It’s definitely something that is unfortunately the norm for the Liberal government,” said Mr. Mantha. “To hike hydro rates, with continuing privatization. Ontario ratepayers will also significant rate  hikes over the next two or three years, after the next election.”

“The first step is to stop privatization, and return this entity to the public. This is something well over 80 percent of municipalities and 85 percent of Ontario residents agree with,” said Mr. Mantha. “Privatizing Hydro One was a wrongheaded decision.”

“Of course privatization is successful, because the profit margin is the biggest goal of these companies,” said Mr. Mantha. “What it means is ratepayers will face hikes in costs. We need to see hydro and energy under the public system so we can reduce energy costs for Ontario ratepayers.”

Mr. Tabuns called on the government to address the outrageous costs being added to Ontario’s hydro system by ongoing privatization and for-profit operations, asking: “will the premier finally admit that her private sector discipline means only more private profits for her private sector friends?”

Ontario’s energy regulator has ordered Hydro One to cut $30 million over two years from its administrative budget, saying ratepayers shouldn’t foot the bill for higher pay for senior staff.

In a recent ruling, the OEB rejected a Hydro One request to increase its administrative costs and spend more on capital projects.

Hydro One says it will review and respond to the OEB’s orders and rates will be set later this fall by the regulator.