(December 14, 2014) Anyone aware of the fallout from the Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk’s report on “smart meters” knows Ontario’s Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, challenged her report suggesting the energy sector was hard to understand because it is so “complex”!
Chiarelli did this at a press conference and standing behind him was the highest paid municipal utility sector employee in all of Canada. I refer to Anthony Haines, of Toronto Hydro (T-H), who generated personal income of almost $1 million for employment as CEO for the year ended December 31, 2013.
Exactly why Haines is standing behind Minister Chiarelli is not clear but one must assume it’s meant as a show of support for whatever comes from the mouth of the Energy Minister. Haines is a big supporter of “smart meters” and development of a “smart grid”. Tom Adams noted in November 2012 that Haines “delivered a keynote address to the Ontario Energy Network. In his speech, Haines explained how Tony1. Hydro’s Smart Meters are producing “three million phone books of data per day” and this data is central to Smart Grid technologies that are delivering faster restoration times after outages.”
So Tony, whose annual bonus is partially dependent on Toronto Hydro’s capital expenditures, is a big advocate of spending money on just about any capital assets that can be amortized. T-H frequently tries to gain approval from the Ontario Energy Board for “infrastructure” spending no matter if its to replace something before the end of it’s useful life. Oversight from the owners of Toronto Hydro comes from the City of Toronto who are represented on the Board of Directors via the appointment of three councillors on behalf of the shareholders. The latter are Toronto’s municipal taxpayers. The appointees, in the past, have proven to be pretty “wimpy” when it comes to oversight!
Tony’s love of “smart meters,” and all the data they provide, proved useless during last winter’s polar vortex that affected 300,000 Toronto households who suffered from a loss of electricity service for up to four days. The tweet emanating from Toronto Hydro as they slowly restored power was an indication that Tony’s misguided endorsement of smart meters was not driven by their digital functions in an emergency that Toronto and a large portion of Ontario suffered through. Toronto Hydro issued a tweet that served to prove what our Auditor General highlighted in her report! The tweet from T-H was: “If you have power, please leave your front porch light on. The lights will help crews identify who has power & who doesn’t more quickly.” As one will denote from the above quote, “smart meters” costing Ontario $1.9 billion provided no assistance during the “emergency” caused by the polar vortex.
Tony, by supporting Chiarelli, appears to be trying to ensure T-H’s rate application (before the OEB) carries the sway of the Minister of Energy. The application seeks a rate increase moving the delivery rate for the average T-H customer (800 kWh per month) UP by $18.34 monthly by 2019. The increase of $220.00 annually (plus HST of $28.60) raises the delivery rate from 5.1 cents/kWh (including HST) to 8.10 cents/kWh by 2019. That represents an increase of 59% over five years. Couple that with the promised 42% increase in our “electricity” costs and average Toronto Hydro customers will be faced with average monthly bills well over $200.00 per month.
For some inane reasoning, this writer is inclined to have faith that the AG delivered the truth about the Liberal’s mismanagement of the electricity sector and the failure of smart meters to deliver value. Tony’s endorsement doesn’t validate Bob Chiarelli’s rant!
- Tom Adams and the writer frequently refer to Haines by our nickname “Tony,” both in print and in conversations.
Parker Gallant is a retired bank executive and a former director of Energy Probe Research Foundation. As with all independent bloggers on this site, Parker’s views do not necessarily reflect those of Energy Probe.
Parker: I recall the Ford’s being chummy chummy with Haines. Goodness knows why. I hope you are trying to get this issue onto Tory’s radar. Who are the three councilors and what are they doing to protect these poor Toronto liberals?
Toronto is the only reason these Liberal crooks get elected (43 of their 56 seats from the GTA). Have no fear Hogtown, your Liberal Liege Lords recognize this and they will protect you (in order to keep you fools voting for them) by diverting money from the rest of us to pump back into TO, thus ensuring that the rest of us will continue to suffer.
Mr. Gallant is alleging that Toronto Hydro’s CEO is chumming up with the Minister of Energy in order to get some sort of backing for TH’s current rate application at the OEB. I think that’s a bit misleading. The Minister of Energy (and the entire Ministry) often has little to do with rate applications. We (Energy Probe) just intervened in the Hydro One application– which if there is any utility that the Ministry of Energy should probably be working with, that’s it — and the Ministry of Energy was nowhere to be found.
The OEB has problems, certainly, but accusing it of a Liberal (the party) bias when it comes to rate applications seems off base to me. The OEB’s biggest problem in recent years has been that the government has either shackled it or completely ignored it.
Secondly, Parker says that oversight of TH comes from municipal councillors, so the blame for high rates (under this reasoning) or bad management should lie more with the city, not the province.
And finally, the title says GTA Liberals when Toronto Hydro only serves residents of Toronto and not the GTA. Blaming GTA politicians for TH’s poor management is, again, a bit misleading.
My inference is clear-the Energy Minister does hold “sway” over the OEB. They are not as independent as they once were. The Energy Minister is in control of the OEB via the amendments made to the Act and issues directives and letters to the Board on a fairly regular basis. Many of these amend the powers of the Board or direct them to amend or adjust issues that affect the cost of delivering energy to the consumer. CDM is one area that will affect all consumers as are his directives relating to transmission issues.
The article does not infer any OEB Liberal bias and I have trouble discerning how you may have deduced that from any of the words in the article.
It just seemed to me that you were alleging that the OEB would be biased towards going along with the Minister in approving rate hikes for his buddies. If you’re not implying that, then I stand corrected. Yes, the OEB’s independence has come under question (particularly from the directives you mention), but when it comes to setting rates, it still does a fairly good job at remaining objective. That said, it does have to take into consideration some (admittedly terribly) policies set by the MoE.