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'Only option' for Hydro One CEO is to quit: PC energy critic

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Hydro One CEO Carmine Marcello. (Toronto Sun files)

Hydro One CEO Carmine Marcello. (Toronto Sun files)

TORONTO - 

Hydro One CEO Carmine Marcello should resign or be fired, Tory Energy Critic Lisa MacLeod says.

MacLeod said the billing screw ups at the publicly owned utility are forcing some Ontarians to choose between eating and heating.

“The only option left for him, the only rational choice left, is for him to leave the company so that they can have somebody that can fix this problem that has the capabilities of doing that,” MacLeod said Monday. “If he does not do that this week, I will follow up next week with the Minister of Energy and demand he be fired.”

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin initiated an investigation into Hydro One’s billing and customer service last week in response to hundreds of public complaints of delayed, excessive or inaccurate billings.

Trying to resolve the problems through Hydro One customer service was like “wrestling with a slippery pig,” Marin said.

Taffyd Roderick, a spokesperson for Hydro One, said Marcello spoke with MacLeod and other MPPs Monday.

“He reiterated his commitment to resolving billing issues and improving customer service at Hydro One. He confirmed that Hydro One will co-operate fully and transparently with the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation,” Roderick said.

Beckie Codd-Downey, a spokesperson for Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, said that while Hydro One needs to do more to improve customer service, the utility has responded by providing more training to staff as well as hiring more people.

“MPP MacLeod is playing political games,” Codd-Downey said of MacLeod’s call for the resignation of Marcello. “The Ministry will work closely with Hydro One and the Ombudsman to resolve these challenges.”

In Newmarket Monday, Premier Kathleen Wynne blamed the problems at Hydro One on a transition to a new billing system.

“We’ll work with the Ombudsman. We want the billing system to work as much as he does and so Hydro One is going be very co-operative in working with him,” she said.

MacLeod said the billing fiasco has been evident since 2010, yet Hydro One and the government did very little to help customers until the Ombudsman announced his very public investigation.

Marcello has been at Hydro One for years, and in the top job for a year, and has been unable to sort out the issues so far, she said.

MacLeod has been on a 21-riding energy tour and found the most pressing issue for Ontarians, after a general complaint about the overall cost of electricity, is the Hydro One billing process.

One family outside Ottawa who had not received a hydro bill in almost a year were forced to cancel Christmas festivities after receiving a huge bill just before the holidays, she said.

A St. Thomas businesswoman who was sent a delayed bill from Hydro One so large that she had to pay it in two instalments was told she would be cut off electricity promptly, MacLeod said.

“This is their error, yet their arrogance in trying to recover the payment is so astounding that it’s actually crippling small business people,” she said.

 

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