Gov't defends tax gift to investors, higher bills for Hydro customers

Wynne allowing private Hydro One to line the pockets of its investors at the expense of families

Oct. 16, 2017

During question period Monday, Ontario NDP Energy critic and Toronto—Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns demanded that the $2.6 billion tax benefit given to Hydro One by the government must result in lower electricity costs for Ontario families and businesses, not higher profits for private investors. That’s following an announcement by Hydro One that it will challenge an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) decision in an effort to ensure all that money goes to private investors instead of bill-paying Ontarians.

“Nearly two years ago, the premier gave Hydro One a $2.6-billion tax gift, wiping away the departure tax that became due at the time of sell-off,” said Tabuns. “The rules set by the Ontario Energy Board say that tax benefits like this must go to ratepayers. But instead, Hydro One demanded that its private investors keep the benefit, and not ratepayers.”

Earlier this month, the Ontario Energy Board awarded investors 71 percent of the $2.6 billion tax gift. ‎Last week, Hydro One announced that it would take the OEB to court to seek the full 100 percent, leaving nothing for ratepayers.

“Astonishingly, the privatized Hydro One was not satisfied with 71 percent of that $2.6-billion tax gift from the provincial government,” said Tabuns. “Imagine, Hydro One is actually taking the OEB to court to demand that it gets 100 percent of that tax gift. Clearly, the privatized Hydro One will not accept regulation by the OEB and will do whatever it can to claim profits for its private investors at ratepayer expense.”

“Will the government stop the privatized Hydro One from extracting another $2.6 billion from ratepayers?” asked Tabuns.

In his response, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault admitted, “appeals of OEB decisions are not uncommon,” further indicating the unwillingness of private companies to accept government regulation.