February 15, 2019 12:01 pm

Energy Minister and Hydro One battle over CEO compensation

Ontario's Energy Minister Greg Rickford speaks as Labour Minister Laurie Scott looks on during a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Ontario's energy minister says the government will take "any and all action necessary" if Hydro One doesn't drastically cut its proposed CEO compensation, but the semi-private utility appears not to be budging.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
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Energy Minister Greg Rickford is asking Hydro One to reduce a proposal to pay its next CEO up to $2,775,000 per year. In a letter to board chair Tom Woods, Rickford also expressed concerns about compensation for other executives and board members.

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“For several months now we have worked with the board of Hydro One to develop an executive and board compensation package that is reasonable and in the interests of shareholders. Despite this work, Hydro One’s board has delivered a framework that we do not believe adequately addresses the interests and concerns of Ontario’s ratepayers,” the letter from Rickford reads.

READ MORE: Ontario government promises ‘action’ if Hydro One doesn’t cut proposed CEO pay

Rickford does not want CEO compensation to exceed $1.5M and has requested Hydro One reply to his letter by “Thursday at 5 p.m.” with a new compensation framework.

The battle comes after Premier Doug Ford announced last July the retirement of former CEO Mayo Schmidt, who he dubbed “The Six Million Dollar Man”. Under the agreement struck last summer the entire board of Hydro One also resigned.

WATCH: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced August 15, 2018 that his government has appointed 10 new Hydro One board members to replace its previous 14-member board.

In a letter to shareholders released Thursday, Woods wrote, “We have been listening carefully to our largest shareholder, the Province of Ontario, as well as other large shareholders, and have made a considerable effort to balance concerns around cost management with the need to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified leadership.”

READ MORE: Ottawa tornadoes cost Hydro One, Hydro Ottawa $15.7M, utilities estimate

Hydro One’s proposal would see Executive Vice President compensation between $875,000 and $1.856M. Board members would receive $140,000 per year with the chair making $169,500.

Rickford said in his letter he was disappointed in the company and threatened if Hydro One doesn’t fall in line “our government is prepared to take any and all action necessary.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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