Categorized | Canadian Politics

Hydro One’s $6.7B acquisition may gouge ratepayers, critics say

Posted on 26 July 2017 by admin

 “Hydro One is gouging ratepayers while using our money to buy up foreign companies. In the end, Ontario families will be left paying even more for hydro,” says Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.

Hydro One’s $6.7 billion acquisition of an American utility could end up zapping Ontario ratepayers, predicts Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.

“The purchase of Avista by Hydro One is the direct result of (Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s fire sale,” Brown said Thursday.

“Hydro One is gouging ratepayers while using our money to buy up foreign companies. In the end, Ontario families will be left paying even more for hydro,” the Tory leader said.

Brown noted Hydro One is applying to the independent Ontario Energy Board to increase electricity rates by about $141 per household annually.

“Why should Ontario families be left with even higher bills when Hydro One has almost $7 billion to throw at foreign companies? This is not fair to Ontario ratepayers. Hydro One’s application for a massive, unaffordable rate increase should be immediately rejected.”

His comments came the morning after Hydro One announced the purchase of Spokane, Washington-based Avista, which operates in Washington state, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska.

NDP MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto Danforth) said the deal “should raise red flags for every Ontarian who is struggling to pay their unaffordable hydro bills.”

“This move to create a huge multi-national utility means less control over our province’s electricity system and more financial risk for Ontarians,” said Tabuns.

 “It also raises real concerns about job security for Ontarians. It’s clear that the new Hydro One’s first responsibility is to its international shareholders, not to the people of Ontario,” he said.

“By ignoring the wishes of Ontarians and selling off Hydro One, Kathleen Wynne put the interests of investors around the globe ahead of the interests of our province and all of us who live here and pay a hydro bill.”

Both the New Democrats and the Conservatives opposed the Liberals’ sell-off of a majority stake in the provincial transmitter.

Wynne is using the $9 billion in proceeds from the 51 per cent that has been sold to fund transportation infrastructure and pay off Hydro One’s debt.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said the Avista purchase would have no effect on consumers, who are already seeing a 25 per cent rate reduction this summer after years of skyrocketing hydro prices.

“We welcome the fact that this proposed acquisition will not impact the rates that Ontario customers pay. Neither will it have any impact on local jobs,” said Thibeault.

“As the single largest shareholder in Hydro One, the Ontario government would benefit from the company’s receipt of additional regulated returns expected to begin in 2019,” he noted.

DBRS, a credit-rating agency, praised the agreement.

“The acquisition provides HOL (Hydro One Limited) with both diversification and scale while expanding its regulated utility rate base to cover electricity transmission and distribution as well as natural gas local-distribution businesses,” the firm said in a statement.

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