Ontario Power Generation faces beating in auditor's report
Darlington nuclear plant (QMI Agency files)
Ontario Power Generation is expected to be the focus of a highly critical provincial auditor’s report this week.
OPG spokesman Jacquie Hoornweg confirmed the organization was audited, but did not provide any details on the findings.
The audit goes back 10 years, well before OPG launched a business transformation initiative to restructure the company to lower costs, she said.
“We have been undergoing a lot of change in the last few years — and our commitment is to change — but we absolutely would be the first to say we are not perfect and we still have more to do and further to go,” Hoornweg said. “It takes time … there are (historical) things that people fought for and so we have to respect collective agreements and we have to work with the unions to recognize that the world is changing.”
The public electricity generator is one of several planned value-for-money audits to be released in the first annual report by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk on Tuesday.
Other audits were planned — but not yet confirmed — for autism programs, Ministry of Energy, Land Ambulance, ServiceOntario, Ontario Parks, and HealthForceOntario.
Rumours have been circulating for some time around Queen’s Park that OPG will get zapped by the auditor.
OPG is a publicly-owned generator of electricity that runs the Darlington and Pickering nuclear plants and 65 hydroelectric power stations.
But its share of the generation pie has been shrinking with lower electricity demand and the increase of private-run operations, including numerous gas-fired plants and the Bruce nuclear plant.
According to the Sunshine list, OPG president and CEO Tom Mitchell was the highest paid civil servant at $1.7 million last year and nearly 8,000 OPG workers pulled in more than $100,000.
Whether it’s done in front of public eyes, such as with OPG, or behind doors with private operators, the business of electricity generation has to become more efficient because it all ends up on people’s hydro bills, she said.
“The structure that was in place was already not making sense in light of the decreasing revenue and is going to make even less sense as we move forward,” she said, adding OPG is cutting the number of staff by 2,330 through attrition for $1 billion in savings.
Hoornweg said expense policies — a frequent target of auditors — have been updated as part of the business transformation initiative to adhere to new provincial government standards.
Prior to the revision, OPG staff was entitled to bill alcohol for entertainment-related expenses such as a dinner with stakeholders but that is no longer the case, she said.
“There have been some expense changes,” Hoornweg said. “If I think back to a few years ago … people could expense at a much higher level for things like if they were in a different community working, if they were off site for work.”
OPG adopted the Ontario Public Service Expense Allowance and no longer allows the purchase of coffee and other items for meetings.
Some rules are different for unionized employees, she said.