January 30, 2004
On Dec. 23, 2003, the new Ontario Liberal government appointed James Hankinson to the board of Ontario Power Generation. Mr. Hankison was the CEO of the provincial Crown corporation NB Power from 1996-2002.
Under Mr. Hankinson’s leadership, NB Power’s finances rarely climbed out of the red, not withstanding NB Power’s adoption of inaccurate and incomplete accounting methods to report costs of nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning in 1999 (see www.energyprobe.org/energyprobe/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=4135). During Mr. Hankinson’s administration, NB Power’s accumulated net income was a loss of $506-million. In public comments associated with his confirmation hearings before the NB Legislative Assembly’s Crown Corporations Committee in 1996, Mr. Hankinson had described the utility’s finances to be in “pretty good shape.”
During Mr. Hankinson’s term as CEO, the Canadian nuclear safety regulator repeatedly raised concerns about the management of NB Power’s troubled nuclear utility, Point Lepreau. The federal nuclear safety regulator, the Atomic Energy Control Board, in its Staff annual assessment of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station for the Year 1997 made the following comment about NB Power’s management: “In early 1997, in response to AECB concerns about deteriorating operational safety, NB Power introduced a performance improvement program. It found that the root causes of the station’s declining safety performance were a corporate failure to understand the lifetime management of the station, and a failure to develop a strategic plan and allocate resources.”
Mr. Hankinson’s business record includes initiating a $750-million refurbishment of the oil-fired Coleson Cove power plant to burn a new fuel – Orimulsion, a unique tar-based fuel only produced in Venezuela. When Venezuela indicated recently it wanted to stop selling tar fuel, NB Power discovered it had no signed contract covering its deal with Venezuela to supply Orimulsion to Coleson Cove.
In 1997, NB Power brought a defamation suit against Tom Adams of Energy Probe for authoring business analysis associated with testimony before the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Crown Corporations. NB Power withdrew its defamation action after Mr. Adams filed a Statement of Defense. Mr. Hankinson also sued the Fredericton Daily Gleaner newspaper in response to an editorial cartoon caricaturing Mr. Hankinson’s performance as NB Power’s CEO.