By Shawn Jeffords
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO—Premier Doug Ford says he has made good on a key campaign promise, announcing the immediate retirement of the CEO of Hydro One and the resignation of the utility's entire board of directors.
Ford, who promised that if he was elected he would fire Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, dubbing him the “Six-Million-Dollar Man" during the spring election campaign, hailed it as a "great day” for the province.
Under an agreement between the new Tory government and the partially privatized power utility, Schmidt will retire and its board of directors will resign and be replaced.
“I said over and over and over again on the campaign trail the CEO of Hydro One and the board will be gone,” Ford told a hastily called press conference yesterday afternoon.
“I'm happy to say today the CEO and the board of Hydro One, they're gone. They're done. They're done. We're going to turn a new corner.”
Schmidt, who earned a $6.2-million salary last year, became a lightning rod for resentment during the election over rising electricity rates in the province.
He would have been entitled to at least $10.7 million in severance if he were to be removed from his job by the board of directors, according to the company's annual shareholders report released on March 29.
According to a statement from Hydro One, Schmidt will not be entitled to severance, and will instead receive a $400,000 lump sum payment in lieu of all post-retirement benefits.
As part of the deal, Hydro One also said it has agreed to consult with the province on “future matters of executive compensation.”
NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns said Schmidt's departure raises a number of questions and demanded the government release the specifics details of the deal reached with the now former CEO.
“Doug Ford needs to tell people what kind of backroom deal he worked out with Mayo Schmidt to get him to walk away, and if he's going to replace the board with his own high-priced insiders,” Tabuns said in a statement.
Hydro One said yesterday a new board of directors will be selected by Aug. 15 and will initially consist of 10 members.
Under the agreement, the province will nominate four replacement directors and the remaining six nominees will be identified through a committee.