Breaking up Ontario's Hydro's Monopoly

Barbara A. Macrae
Canadian Materials for Young People
January 1, 1983

Energy Probe is a well-respected public interest and research group that in 1975 gained national exposure with its disclosures about radiation contamination in Port Hope, Ontario. It has now taken on the monolithic bureaucracy of Ontario Hydro. This book is a pithy addition to the on-going campaign to bring this Frankenstein of the Ontario government’s creation under control. Solomon, as a founding member of the Energy Probe Research Foundation and the author of two other books dealing with energy issues, Energy Shock: After the Oil Runs Out,* (Doubleday, 1980) and The Conserver Solution, (Doubleday, 1978), makes a convincing case for his proposal that Hydro’s monopoly status in the area of generation, as opposed to the transmission, of Ontario’s electricity be abolished. More a tract than an in-depth analysis of the historical background of Hydro, no attempt is made to conceal the author’s bias. For this reason, how Hydro reached its present position of power and its rationale for current policies are not explained.

Nevertheless, the book’s claims are well-documented in an extensive bibliography that provides a wealth of additional references for further investigation. The text is presented in an easily readable type and style, an admirable achievement considering the technical nature of the subject. The graphs and charts are especially clear and concise. Some of the material might prove too difficult for general use in the high school but would be a valuable resource for student essays or special projects.

The book is divided into two parts. The first gives the reasons why changes in Hydro’s present status are needed, describing its massive centralization of power, the inflationary effects of its practices, and its single-minded commitment to the nuclear generation of electricity. The second part presents some concrete solutions to these problems based on models tried in other provinces and some states. A section considering the possible effects of these recommendations is included.

Solomon has written a thought-provoking and informative book that adds not only to the debate over energy resources but also to the discussion concerning the problems resulting from the centralization of power in huge bureaucracies.

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