April 22, 1993
Thank you, Mayor June Rowland, for hosting this panel discussion, and for giving me the opportunity to discuss public and private power systems – a subject that has long been near and dear to Energy Probe. As many of you know, Energy Probe has been promoting a diversified – public and private – energy system for more than a decade now, and we’re delighted to see that so much of the world is moving in that direction. We’re especially delighted that the new Chairman of Ontario Hydro, Maurice Strong, is abandoning the old ideology that our electricity system must be entirely public, and entirely monopolistic.
Mr. Strong is suggesting that parts of the Ontario energy system should be privatized, that we need a competitive, market-oriented system, and we applaud him for that. In some respects, Mr. Strong may want more privatization than Energy Probe believes is necessary at this time. For example, he has suggested privatizing the Ontario Hydro grid – something that Energy Probe believes would be putting the cart before the horse.
I’d like to explain what parts of the electricity business can function well under public ownership, and what parts belong in private hands. If we ignore this logic, as we have in the past, we do so at our peril, because the economy will suffer, the consumer will suffer, and the environment will suffer.
The electricity business involves two very different functions, which require very different mind sets and so very different types of businesses. One business – managing the provincial transmission lines – is a monopoly operation, much environment, and that which nurtures it.