Today, the Keep Hydro Public Coalition and the National Farmers Union-Ontario called on the Ontario Energy Board to fulfill its mandate and legislative responsibility by reviewing the provincial government’s plan to sell Hydro One.
In a letter, submitted to Board Chair, Ms. Rosemarie Leclair, the groups urge the Board to exercise its power to hold a public hearing, to review the proposed sell-off. In support of that request the letter points to the Board’s statutory objectives to protect the interest of consumers and promote economic efficiency; its inherent mandate to act in the public interest; and its role as an independent regulator of electricity rates.
The letter also asks the Board to enforce the requirement in Ontario Energy Board Act for the government to obtain the Board’s prior approval of certain transfers of ownership in the Hydro One group of companies.
“For months voices across the province have been asking for meaningful dialogue and consultation on the planned sell-off of 60 percent of Hydro One,” said Katrina Miller, spokesperson for Keep Hydro Public. “It’s time for the Board to show that it is truly the independent regulator of our electricity system and to do what the government was unwilling to do – listen to the public and consider their concerns.”
The Board must respond to the high level of concern among Ontario residents and stakeholders, the letter contends, noting recent polling that shows over 8 in 10 Ontario residents are opposed to the sell-off, as well as the more than 185 municipalities that have passed formal resolutions calling on the government to stop the sale.
“Family farmers are large users of electricity and can’t afford further rate increases that could come from privatizing Hydro One,” said Karen Eatwell, President of the National Farmers Union-Ontario. “ We are calling on the Ontario Energy Board hold a public review to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
The letter references the Board’s recent review of the Energy East pipeline, which included broad public hearings, as good example of the kind of process which should be in place to address the Hydro One sell-off scheme.
“This is the largest sell-off of an electricity utility in the history of Canada and the details have been cloaked in secrecy,” stated Miller. “The Ontario Energy Board has responsibility to protect consumers by reviewing this plan to ensure it won’t effect the cost or efficiency of the system.”
The Ontario Government is pushing forward with the sale of the first 15 percent of shares this week, but the timeline for future sale of the other 45 percent is currently undetermined.
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