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Council supports motion to stop Hydro One privatization

UPDATE: Tuesday night, council supported the motion that calls on the province to stop the sale of Hydro One.

May 11 – Mayor Robert Quaiff will seek support of a motion to stop the privatization of Hydro One when council meets Tuesday night at Shire Hall.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a plan to sell 60 per cent of Hydro One on the stock market in several increments – the first 15 per cent within the year. Her Liberal party believes it can raise $9 billion – $5 billion to pay down electricity sector debt and $4 billion to be used to build new transit lines.

Recent polls indicate the plan will be a tough sell to the public. Public sector unions have launched campaigns claiming the sell-off will result in higher rates. Both the Conservative and NDP parties have also spoken out against the plan.

Hydro One controls almost all of the province’s transmission lines and distributes to 1.4 million households.

The motion to be presented by Mayor Quaiff reads:

The motion reads:
WHEREAS the public electricity system in Ontario is a critical asset to the economy; and
WHEREAS the public electricity system generates significant revenue for municipal and provincial governments and gives Ontario a competitive advantage; and
WHEREAS Hydro One is a profitable and well-run provincial utility; and
WHEREAS local control and decision making is important to meet the needs of our communities and residents; and
WHEREAS local electricity distribution companies provide a source of stable and predictable revenue to our communities; and
WHEREAS some Ontario municipalities have examined possible sales or mergers of their local distribution companies, and have decided not to sell to Hydro One or the private sector; and
WHEREAS the privatization, partial or whole, of electricity has led to higher rates and less control;

NOW THEREFORE be it resolved that The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward call on the provincial government to:
Stop the sale of any part of Hydro One, and maintain Hydro One as a wholly public asset for the benefit of all Ontarians;
Strengthen Hydro One by investing in the next generation of workers and upgrading aging infrastructure;
Respect the autonomy and local decision-making powers of local distribution companies by not forcing these companies into mergers or sales; and

BE IT FURTHER resolved that The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward circulate this resolution to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Electricity Distributors Association, and work for its adoption.

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  1. Sam says:

    Wolf, point taken. I should have said that they are responsible for the lines and transformers. My point was to illustrate the distinction between Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation/IESO. Each has a distinct role which should not be confused when making arguments regarding the merit of the proposed sale.

    As for ownership of publicly owned items, that is a bit grey. Take the County pickup trucks. Technically, we all own them, but try borrowing one to go grocery shopping and you will find that they are “owned” by the roads department, etc.

  2. Wolf Braun says:

    SAM: “They own and maintain the power lines and distribution transformers. ”

    I thoughy we the people own the entire mess ??

  3. Gary says:

    Our Council’s motion says Hydro One provides Ontarion’s a competitive advantage! Advantage to bill the Ontario residents for power they never used? They should be charged for fraud and for the cover up.

  4. Emily says:

    Anyone read the auditors report today on Hydro Ones ripoff billing practices? And our Council wants to send a motion supporting such a crooked bunch of bandits! What next out of this council of ours?

  5. Johanna says:

    Sorry Chuck, I wrote too fast and I guess the word NOT was left off.
    Should be …. so this Liberal government does NOT walk all over us.

  6. Chuck says:

    Johanna, you want to move on so the Liberal government does walk over us?

  7. Johanna says:

    sorry it should be – Lets move ON

  8. Johanna says:

    Susan and Paul
    Yes Mike Harris made a mess with amalgamation, but the past is something we cannot change so stop bringing it up. Lets move move and try to change the future so this Liberal government does walk all over us.

  9. Susan says:

    You are right Paul. The Conservatives started it with deregulation. They then proceeded to amalgamate municipal governments and Hospitals. It has all worked out well hasn’t it! The one thing Mike Harris did that was self serving was to put legalized booze on his favourite pastime, “Golf”

  10. Paul says:

    Lets remember this fiasco was set in motion by The Conservatives Government run by Mike Harris the Liberals have been left holding the almost empty bag. Mind you they haven’t handled that bag very well. However once the cows are sold you have no say in the price of milk

  11. Chris Keen says:

    The privatisation of Hydro One is sure to be a disaster for Ontario citizens. Vital utilities should always remain public and thus answerable to the citizens of the province. As such, I applaud what I suspect is an organised, province-wide initiative to let the government know what municipalities feel about the divestiture of Hydro One.

    Unfortunately there is evidence to indicate that Hydro One is not a well-run company providing a “competitive advantage” to Ontario business.

    The Auditor General of Ontario analysed the smart meter program and discovered that the program was implemented before a cost-benefit analysis had been done. This is something any well run business would do before under taking such an important step. Once the analysis was finally done the projected net benefit of the program of $600 million was overstated by at least $512 million. Not only that, the program was estimated to cost $2 billion but its cost is closer to $4 billion and its implementation has not led to electricity conservation goals being met.

    Would a well-run company ask for an exemption from the Ontario Energy Board that requires 98% accuracy for its billing? Hydro One did – for a duration of five years!

    On May 1, off-peak electricity rates were increased providing even less incentive to conserve. Off-peak rates have doubled since 2009.

    So far in 2015, we have lost over $400 million dollars exporting excess power much of it to New York and Pennsylvania who are using cheap power in an attempt to lure Ontario businesses south of the border. This is certainly a competitive advantage, Mr. Mayor, one we’re paying for, but not one that applies to Ontario.

    While it is unfair to blame Hydro One for the outrageous cost of power in this province, as a result of the Liberal’s so-called Green Energy “Plan”, I would suggest that it is fair to remove the phrases “well-run” and “competitive advantage” from the motion before it’s sent off to Toronto.

  12. Sam says:

    I think that it is important to remember in these discussions that one outcome of the Harris deregulation of Ontario Hydro is the separation of Ontario Hydro into several distinct entities. The portion that Wynne is proposing to sell is Hydro One. They are the company responsible for the distribution of electricity through most of the province. They own and maintain the power lines and distribution transformers.

    The debt retirement charge is a result of the costs related to nuclear generation. These generators are owned by Ontario Power Generation (now merged with the Independent Electricity System Operator, IESO).

    The continuing debt retirement charge on our bills cannot be used as in indication of whether Hydro One is operating efficiently as it is not related to their operations.

    Having gotten that out of the way, my thoughts on the subject are: If Hydro One, a publicly owned utility, is generating a profit then why sell it? There are obviously some short-term gains, but that is just more short-term thinking. If Hydro One is not making a profit then how can you sell it?

    The only way that the sale of the utility really makes sense to me is if we are looking a couple of decades into the future. With the recent announcement of Tesla Energy developing grid-size storage batteries, the long-term future of large utility and distribution companies is questionable. Should we sell it now while it is still worth something?

    We already have a bunch of solar farms here in PEC. Add some batteries and a few wind turbines and we could divorce ourselves from the provincial grid. Is PEC ready to go off-grid? I am.

    Now let’s all go play in the splash pad…

  13. Gary says:

    What a crock! The motion says that Hydro One provides Ontario a competitive advantage! What advantage is that? I believe Ontario is the second highest cost for power in Canada. Industry is bailing out of the province as fast as it can because of power costs. The whole file has been mishandled from the Harris deregulation to McGuinty’s Green Energy Act. “Competitive Advantage”. Don’t eat that Harold!LOL

  14. Wolf Braun says:

    It looks to me like this Mayor has higher ambitions than just being Mayor of Prince Edward County. 🙂

    On what basis (proof) does the Mayor make his motion?

    For instance where’s the proof that Ontario Hydro is a well run organization. Why are the people of Ontario still paying off a massive debt each monthly billing? Why are we not shown an amortizaton schedule that let’s us know when this debt will be paid in full?

    When we take out a mortgage to buy a house, the bank, or lender, gives us a schedule of monthly payments that shows us when we can burn our mortgage. Can the Mayor tell us more details about the Hydro debt retirement schedule? If not then he can hardly make the claim that they (Hydro) are a well run organization.

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