At the risk of interrupting the lovefest between Hydro One Executive vice-president Ferio Pugliese and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault over reconnecting some 1,400 of its residential customers after they were disconnected for failure to pay their bills, can I ask the elephant in the room question: why on earth were they cut off in the cold of winter to begin with?
It was downright nauseating to hear Pugliese crow about Hydro One’s “program” being about “doing the right thing for customers experiencing hardship.” He added in typical Hydro One doublespeak that they were currently reviewing all “customer-facing policies and practices.”
My last report as Ontario’s Ombudsman, titled “In the Dark” in May 2015, detailed how Hydro One cunningly threatened customers with bogus disconnection extortion in winter if they didn’t pay up. But it was all a bluff — they were never going to follow through with it. I wrote then: “I am pleased that Hydro One has finally moved to take action to stop collection efforts through intimidation and deceit, and that it has finally come clean about its winter disconnection moratorium. However, its protracted and reticent response to this issue suggests that it still clings to the vestiges of a private sector mentality and lacks a public service vision.”
Now it seems that idle threats to cut the Hydro One cord are no more. They have gone one step further and cut off about 1,400 people from electricity in the middle of winter.