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Buying Hydro, twice - Who owns Toronto Hydro?

Toronto Star - October 23, 2001

The obvious answer would seem to be the people who paid to create the utility. That would be local ratepayers who financed Toronto Hydro from its inception.

But as part of its plan to restructure Ontario's electricity market, Queen's Park decided that the utility belonged to the city, even though the city hadn't ever put up a cent.

The city, in turn, decided that it should make a profit on its new investment. And one of the easiest ways to do that was to take ownership of the utility in the form of an interest-bearing loan. That meant that Toronto Hydro would have to pay interest to the city — a cost it never faced before.

So where will it get the money to pay this interest? From ratepayers who will now face higher electricity rates. Having paid for the utility once, ratepayers will now have to pay for it all over again.

Under the Mike Harris free-market plan for electricity, Queen's Park gets the assets of Ontario Hydro. Ratepayers get stuck with Ontario Hydro's massive debt.

Toronto and other municipalities get the assets of the local electrical utilities, which appear on their books as loans that were never actually made. Ratepayers get stuck with the interest costs on these fictitious loans.

But all the fancy bookkeeping in the world can't conceal the fact that these higher rates are just tax increases by a different name — tax increases that have Harris' name written all over them.

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