Ford says nixed deal not his fault
Cancelled Hydro One takeover will result in tens of millions in fees passed on to the taxpayer
Premier Doug Ford insists he’s not to blame for U.S. regulators zapping Hydro One’s $6.7 billion takeover of Avista Corp., which will cost Ontario taxpayers tens of millions in cancellation fees.
In his first public statement since Washington state rejected the Ontario utility’s proposed takeover of Avista citing political meddling by Ford’s government, the premier was unrepentant.
“Upon assuming office we acted decisively to keep our promise to Ontario voters,” Ford said Thursday, referring to his decision to get rid of Mayo Schmidt, the Hydro One CEO he derided as the “$ 6- million man” for his hefty salary.
“I will never apologize for keeping my promises to the voters. We are reducing hydro rates and, after years of neglect, finally putting the ratepayer first,” the premier said.
Energy Minister Greg Rickford, meanwhile, appeared to be holding out hope that the deal could somehow be salvaged. “That was one of three regulatory bodies’ decisions and that is not an expected outcome. Hydro One and Avista are reviewing that decision and considering their options,” Rickford told the legislature. Outside the house, the minister rejected the suggestion that political interference scuttled the bid.
“I’m not sure that’s what the decision said,” he said.
Ford emphasized that the setback “doesn’t change our focus on bringing down hydro rates and protecting the people of Ontario.”
“This is a deal that was put together by the former board and former CEO of Hydro One — a deal that did nothing to lower hydro rates for Ontario residents,” the premier said, adding ratepayers should not “take a back seat to foreign regulators.”
“Our government ran on a clear promise to clean up the mess at Hydro One. This included a firm commitment to renew the Hydro One senior leadership that had lost the confidence of Ontario ratepayers. The people of Ontario elected us to follow through on this promise,” he said.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said the $6.7-billion deal was not in the public interest because it was “evident” decisions impacting Hydro One were influenced by “political considerations” in Ontario.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford insists he was not the cause of the rejected Avista takeover deal following his firing of Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt.
Zack Noureddine, left, in an undated Facebook photo, and a screengrab from security video showing William Cummins, Matthew Moreira and Patrick Smith.