Ontario Ombudsman André Marin’s report underlines the risk of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plan to exempt Hydro One and its subsidiaries from scrutiny by legislative watchdogs.
Hydro One treated customers "abominably" after a new computer system resulted in huge billing errors for about 100,000 homes, Ontario's ombudsman reported Monday.
Hydro One issued faulty bills to more than 100,000 customers, lied to the government and regulators in a bid to cover up the problem, then spent $88.3-million in public funds to repair the damage.
The investigation into the utility’s billing failures was the largest in the Ombudsman’s office history featuring more than 10,700 complaints.
A special Ontario ombudsman’s investigation into Hydro One uncovered stunning billing errors, “outrageously” bad customer service and an organization that misled even the electricity regulator on the extent of its problems.
Hydro One’s indifference to tens of thousands of customer complaints about a disastrous new billing system is proof it can’t be trusted to clean up its own messes, says Ontario Ombudsman André Marin.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plan to privatize Hydro One would remove independent oversight of the massive electricity utility’s finances, expenses and service quality, the province’s eight independent government watchdogs warn.
The provincial Liberals are planning to sell 60 per cent of Hydro One, the provincial electricity-transmission utility, to raise as much as a couple of billion dollars for their infrastructure fund. Along the way, it appears, they intended to remove the oversight it gets from people like the provincial auditor general.
Hydro One’s messed-up billing practices have been under the microscope for 13 months. That’s how long Ontario’s feisty ombudsman, André Marin, has been formally investigating how the provincial agency has been bungling its relationship with its 1.3 million customers.
Ombudsman André Marin has accused Hydro One of “extortion” for sending out letters this winter threatening to cut off electricity to customers in arrears — even though it’s against company policy.