Review of Hydro One pay to look at raises for board of directors: Wynne

Compensation includes $70,000 raise for board chair, $25,000 for other board members
||Last Updated: 05/16/2018
Compensation, executive compensation
Ontario Liberal leader and Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks during a campaign rally in Ottawa on May 9. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

WATERLOO, Ont. (CP) — Ontario Liberal's premier says it's unacceptable that Hydro One's board decided to give themselves pay increases and that's why her government pushed for a review of the utility's compensation package.

In late April, Kathleen Wynne's government called on the company, which was partially privatized in 2015, to review its compensation scheme, and said it would abstain from a vote on the matter at an annual meeting being held today.

The Liberals and Hydro One had said the review would focus on executive compensation — which includes at least $10.7 million in severance for the CEO, who earned a $6.2-million salary last year.

Today at an election campaign stop, Wynne says that review also includes board compensation, such as a $70,000 raise for the chair of the board and $25,000 raises for other board members.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford says those amounts are ridiculous for a part-time job that involves attending several meetings.

New Democrat Peter Tabuns says the NDP plan to buy back shares of Hydro One to return it to public control is the only way to stop millionaires from looking after themselves.

Hydro One chief executive Mayo Schmidt said Tuesday that he recognizes the electricity company has become a ``lightning rod'' for criticism.

``Politics around hydro as a commodity has been very high but really, unfortunately, the focus has come on Hydro One a good bit,'' Schmidt told analysts on a conference call ahead of the shareholders meeting.

``We're quite frankly looking forward to getting through the election. We don't have a view or a bias in that election... but we're not losing our focus as an organization in the meantime.''

As a private-sector, publicly traded corporation, Hydro One's compensation policies are determined by its board of directors.

Shareholder votes on compensation policies are considered to be non-binding on the board, although directors often take them into account for subsequent decisions.

Earlier, Hydro One announced it first-quarter profit rose to $222 million, which was up 33 per cent from the same time last year. Hydro One's profit amounted to 37 cents per share, up from 28 cents per share in the first quarter of 2017.

Revenue was $1.58 billion, or $875 million after excluding purchased power. That compared with 2017 first-quarter revenue of $1.66 billion, or $769 million net of purchased power.

Hydro One says its quarterly dividend will rise by one cent to 23 cents per share, payable June 29. It has paid a dividend of 22 cents per share since last June.

Ontario's election takes place June 7.

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Project manager05/17/2018 8:01:56 AMIn 1998, Ontario Hydro's pension fund was estimated at $1,000,000,000. One trillion Canadian dollars. Could not be used for operation and maintenance costs. Could not be used for debt retirement. Only way to get it was to retire with as huge a salary as possible. Ergo everyone got huge wage increases. Retirement bucks maximum is 70% of your best three years. CEO salary went from $80,000 in the mid 1990s to a peak of $12 million in the early 2000s. However, ratepayers are funding salaries until retirement. Moral? Ethical? You figure it out - especially if you pay a hydro bill.