Ontario’s Electricity Regulation Crisis Report – Part 21: Unappealing Appeal by Tony’s Hydro (Formerly Toronto Hydro)

The Toronto Star reported this evening that Tony’s Hydro (formerly Toronto Hydro) is planning an appeal to the Ontario Energy Board, asking the Board to reverse its decision issued January 5, 2012. That decision turned down the utility’s application for special dispensation from the regulatory rules that apply to the rest of Ontario’s electricity distributors. The utility’s application called for a steep rate increase.
The OEB’s rules allow parties to ask the OEB to review its own decisions. However, those same rules require that the party must pass a preliminary hurdle. The complainant must first satisfy the OEB that there is a serious error of fact or law, or that new facts have arisen that could not have been presented at the time of the first hearing. The party must pass this preliminary test of its case before the OEB will consider a complete review of the decision.

Given the thoroughness of the Board’s initial review and decision, the utility faces a monumental challenge to even pass the preliminary hurdle, let alone a complete review.

Grandstanding by management at Tony’s Hydro puts the regulator in an awkward spot. If the OEB refuses to hold the full review, the utility might be accused it of bias. If the Board accepts the appeal, it may be criticized by consumers for caving to the utility’s pressure tactics.

The OEB Act allows the utility to appeal the original decision to the Divisional Court. Since the original decision is clearly within the OEB’s jurisdiction, and manifestly within its area of expertise, an appeal to the Divisional Court would almost certainly fail.

It is time for the shareholder’s representatives at City Hall to tell the utility to stop bullying consumers, comply with the regulator’s original decision, and focus on improving the utility’s poor performance. Extraordinary capital requirements, such as for electrical infrastructure for the Pan Am games, ought to be funded through the targeted applications the Board’s rules allow, rather than by appealing the Board’s recent decision.

Sadly, there is no sign yet from City Hall that our elected representatives recognize grave problems the utility has created for itself and the management changes that must be made to bring stability and discipline to the utility starting with a replacement for CEO Anthony Haines.

In other news, the utility’s management has called an emergency meeting of all managers to be held at North York Civic Centre tomorrow morning at 8 am.

Post Script: November 16, 2012

During the OEB proceeding EB-2012-0064 Toronto Hydro withdrew this appeal.

One Comment

  1. Sounds to me like this emergency meeting is to cut their number of staff back, for one last shot at showing the OEB how “severe” their financial crisis is before their preliminary hearing…

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