By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 4, 2015
Hydro One customers getting zapped: auditor
Ontario electricity consumers are being zapped by unnecessarily high green energy costs that could be worth billions of dollars and lousy service from Hydro One, which is currently being privatized, says auditor general Bonnie Lysyk.
In 14 value-for-money audits for her 773-page annual report delivered Wednesday at Queen’s Park, Lysyk took aim at the electricity sector on the eve of Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s announcement on next steps for the province’s aging nuclear reactors.
She also highlighted problems with everything from Ontario’s 47 children’s aid societies — including questionable executive expenses — community care access centres, and school buses to the bungled SAMS social assistance computer system and the lack of a plan for dealing with contaminated waste.
“Hydro One’s customers have a power system for which reliability appears to be worsening while costs are increasing,” said Lysyk, echoing Ed Clark, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s privatization czar, who has argued Hydro One can and should be much more professionally run.
“Customers are experiencing more frequent power outages, mostly because assets aren’t being fully maintained, aging equipment isn’t being consistently replaced and trees near power lines aren’t being trimmed often enough to prevent outages,” she said, lamenting that this will be her final audit of the company since it will no longer fall under her purview once it is private.
At the same time, Ontario’s controversial push to promote wind and solar energy is proving more costly than it needs to be, and energy conservation is proving unnecessarily expensive because the province has a surplus of electricity.
Lysyk estimated consumers could end up paying $9.2 billion more for renewable energy over 20-year contracts issued under the Green Energy Act with guaranteed prices set at double the U.S. market price for wind and at 3.5 times the going rate for solar last year. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)