/Our electricity mess

Our electricity mess

By Jim Poling 

Published Aug. 16, 2018 

The Hydro One leadership mess remains just that – a mess.
power supplier to 1.3-plus million Ontarians, most rural and suburban,
still doesn’t have a board of directors or a chief executive officer
(CEO). The 14-person board resigned en masse when the new Ontario
government forced CEO Myron Schmidt to retire in July.
The expectation was to have a new board and a new CEO sometime this month but it doesn’t appear that will happen soon.
One has been a mess for some time thanks to the bone-headed policies of
a succession of Ontario governments, both Liberal and Conservative. 
Ford, the new Conservative government premier, made the latest
contribution to the mess after railing about the company’s rich
executive compensation. He kept a promise to get rid of Schmidt, forcing
him to retire with a $400,000 lump sum payment and without losing about
$9 million in equity compensation.
had been earning $6.2 million a year as the Hydro One chief, which Ford
found outrageous. Schmidt’s salary increased $1.7 million last year. 
to the outrage was the Hydro One board, which decided its members
should receive a $25,000-a-year raise. Their pay soared to $185,000 from
$160,000, for part-time work.
presumably will demand salaries for a new CEO and new directors be less.
Critics say that paying less will result in getting second-rate people
who will drive Hydro One down to a second-rate utility.
beg to differ. You don’t need a $6 million CEO, or board members paid
$185,000, to run Hydro One effectively. There are experienced and
skilled people who can do the job just as well for less.
pay-big-to-get-the-best attitude spun out of the new global plutocracy
that began rising three decades or so ago. The super rich began to take
control of politics, business, sport and entertainment, creating stars
and paying them obscene compensation for their fame and financial
During the 1990s we saw
CEOs and other senior executives retire or otherwise leave their
positions and be replaced by people paid two and three times the
salaries received by their predecessors.
earnings increased 937 per cent between 1978 and 2016, the Economic
Policy Institute, a non-profit American think tank, has reported. During
the same time the compensation of American workers increased 11.2 per
It was the growth of the plutocracy and its elitist attitudes that landed Myron Schmidt in Canada as Hydro One CEO back in 2015.
was no corporate genius who appeared as a dream come true. He was born
and raised in Kansas, a football player with an average education
(business degree from Kansas State).
held various positions with General Foods then joined ConAgra Inc. and
ran its Canadian operations. In 2000 he joined Saskatchewan Wheat Pool
helping to transform it into Viterra Inc., Canada’s largest grain
handler and a major agri-business.
News reports say he did a good job growing that business and doing good for investors.
Hydro One, before being pushed out, he said the latest quarterly
earnings were up 33 per cent and the utility had added 400 jobs while
delivering $114 million in savings, all of which he called “remarkable
statistics for a company that’s in transition.”
That’s all nice but I’d like to know what the $6.2-million CEO and Hydro One did for me, a mere customer. 
utility’s internet outage alert system, which should be a huge benefit
to folks who are away from their cottages or homes for extended periods,
does not work the way it should work. Its brushing and tree removal
program along power lines is a disaster, which has led to unreliable
electricity delivery.
Hydro One says its
line brushing cycle used to take nine years to complete but has been
reduced to three years. Really? The Hydro One line behind my lake place
has been brushed once in the last 32 years.
One can do much better, but it doesn’t need a multi-million dollar CEO
and overpaid board to do the job. It needs to do better for its
customers, not just its executives and shareholders.
Hydro One ranks are comprised of dedicated, hard-working folks not
being paid millions. Their leaders should be much the same.