Ottawa Community News: Fix Hydro One, don’t sell it: protesters
Posted December 3, 2015
Group claim Ontario Liberal plan equals long-term pain for short-term gain
Posted December 3, 2015
A grassroots group of activists converged outside the Carling Avenue constituency office of Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli on Nov. 27, hoping to compel the province to reverse the partial sell-off of Hydro One.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Liberals announced they would divest 60 per cent of the publicly-owned hydro distribution company, which had been the subject of a scathing auditor general’s report the previous year.
The money raised from the sale would be put towards investment in infrastructure, the government said, while the province would retain a majority stake in the utility.
Earlier this month, the first initial public offering of about 15 per cent of the company wrapped up, despite warnings from the province’s Financial Accountability Office that the sale would lead to an acute revenue loss in the coming years.
The protesters, who held signs bearing the website name www.hydronotforsale.com, want the province to fix Hydro One’s ills rather than take part in a sell-off that could harm the public in unforeseen ways.
“We’re a citizen coalition against the privatization of Hydro One,” said Rhonda Ferguson, spokesperson for the group.
“Obviously, if you take accountability away from the public, it goes into the hands of shareholders … It increases our rates and decreases our services to increase profits.”
Ferguson said increases would further impact lower-income residents already affected by rising hydro rates, especially in rural areas.
A poll conducted in early September by Environics Research showed at 83 per cent of Ontarians polled opposed the plan to sell off 60 per cent of Hydro One.
Another early September poll – this one conducted by the Ontario Energy Association – found that 78 percent of Ontarians expect to pay more for electricity as a result of the sale.
“I think the biggest thing to remember is that (with) the sale of Hydro One, there’s supposed to be $4 billion that’s supposed to be going towards infrastructure – that’s not an increase from last year’s budget, so it’s kind of a payday loan,” said Ferguson
“We stand to lose $500 million (in revenue) each year thereafter. There are eight independent watchdogs in the province who are all saying ‘Don’t sell it,’ … The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP are saying ‘Don’t sell it,’ almost 200 municipalities are saying ‘Don’t sell it,’ and the only ones who aren’t saying it are the Liberal government.”
Ferguson said that at the end of the day, the group just wants representatives at Queen’s Park to hear residents – especially Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“She promised to be the people’s premier – well, your people are shouting loud and clear and the message is fix it but don’t sell it.”
Article by Steph Willems for Ottawa Community News