Serious criticisms of Hydro One missing from Ombudsman report
Fifteen months after it was launched, the report from Andre Marin, Ontario’s Ombudsman, is finally out.
Exactly why it took 15 months to complete is worrisome: there have been literally dozens and dozens of articles on this issue, an Auditor General’s report, numerous letters to the editor, TV and radio exposure, etc., that detailed Hydro One’s billing and smart meter problems since the Ombudsman’s announcement of an investigation.
Hydro One was the fifth most complained about provincial entity for the 2011 and 2012 year, according to the Ombudsman’s own annual reports. Many of the articles and letters go back well before the launch of his investigation. Most of those earlier complaints were connected to billing issues as a result of “smart meters” installed by Hydro One, but Mr. Marin clearly states in the 119-page report “we received many complaints about subjects that were not the focus of this investigation – chiefly, electricity pricing and smart meters.” Were those complaints included in his estimation of the 10,000 plus he claimed they investigated?
Why were “smart meter” related issues simply ignored? Was it a lack of technical abilities within the Ombudsman’s office, or a case of being overwhelmed by the billing problems? Why wouldn’t the Ombudsman at least note in one of his 66 recommendations that someone with the technical skills should investigate the “smart meter” problems?
Surprisingly the report also says nothing about how the Ontario Energy Board has ignored Hydro One’s problems with the smart meters, nothing about the Energy Ministry’s role or their lack of oversight, and basically nothing critical of Hydro One’s senior management and its apparent failings. Was Mr. Marin concerned any critique about those subjects might lead to his contract not being renewed? If that was the case he doesn’t deserve to be our watchdog.
I have reviewed the findings in the report and his 66 recommendations and found many to be repetitive and overlapping. I also found the report skirted many of the issues that needed examination as the root cause of the billing problems. In my humble opinion, the Ombudsman’s prejudice against the private sector also shines brightly in the report as does his self-proclamation of his personal skill sets.
May 30, 2015
Read more Parker Gallant on the Ombudsman report here: Ombudsman’s report-the good, the bad and the ugly