Not that Toronto Hydro consumers don’t deserve some semblance of honesty from their Council. It’s just such an “old boys club” inside chambers when Toronto Hydro’s name comes up that nobody should expect one single Councillor to even approach this subject less they get slapped with outrage from the leadership and the obvious “whistleblower” censorship.
The following issues SHOULD BE discussed openly for all to hear but don’t hold your breath!
On January 10, Toronto’s City Council will be holding a special meeting to discuss the ice storm and power outage with specific attention to the performance of Toronto Hydro and City emergency services and preparedness plans. The first order of business for Council ought to be commissioning an independent expert review of Toronto Hydro’s incompetent response to the December ice storm focused on the utility’s inability to provide reliable return to service guidance to the people of Toronto.
When the lights go out, the key question consumers have is when service will be restored.
As documented in Part 100 of this series, Toronto Hydro’s CEO Anthony Haines came up with a new, completely unreliable story on the remaining restoration time EVERY DAY OF THE BLACKOUT.
The inquiry must address why the utility was unable to provide reliable recovery time forecasts and what must be done to deliver reliable guidance on when consumers will have power restored the next time Toronto hits a patch of inclement weather.
To undertake a proper review, City Council must overcome its own conflict of interest in the Toronto Hydro gravy train, which last year paid $48 million in dividends to the City.
Particularly over the last two years, Toronto City Council has failed to protect the interests of consumers, instead protecting the status quo at the utility despite a mountain of evidence of the CEO’s perjury over his credentials, the utility’s wasteful spending, and its regulatory strategy of using outages as assets.
Toronto Hydro customers pay premium rates but receive delivery service that is mediocre at best. In 2012, Toronto’s household electricity consumers paid 21% more for delivery service than the next most inefficient urban power distributor in Ontario (Hydro Ottawa). In recent years, Toronto Hydro has spent in excess of $100 million on smart meters, smart grid, and associated capital projects on the promise, in part, of better storm recovery service, including reliable return to service estimates.
From the information I have obtained directly from correspondents within Toronto Hydro, I believe that effectively planned and organized storm response, including better use of technologies already installed, would have reconnected everyone much faster. In addition, information was available that could have been used to deliver much more reliable recovery time estimates.
Instead, CEO Anthony Haines delivered chaotic daily musings during the outage on when consumers would be reconnected. I can find nobody inside Toronto Hydro who believed any of his promises to consumers.
At the July 2013 meeting of City Council, a decision was taken ordering Toronto Hydro to report on whistle blower protection. The agenda item was put over to Council’s October meeting. Toronto Hydro’s management skillfully stick-handled around the issue, including this report, and today the CEO has still has ultimate authority over how whistleblowers will be treated.