Power at What Cost?: Why Ontario Hydro Is Out of Control


191 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-919849-03-2




Edited by What Needs to Be Done about It
Reviewed by Paul G. Thomas

Paul G. Thomas is a political science professor at the University of
Manitoba and the co-author of Canadian Public Administration:
Problematical Perspectives.


This book is based on a report the author prepared for the organization called Energy Probe. The main thesis of the book is that Ontario Hydro is out of control, that it constitutes a government within a government, and that it is not subject to appropriate political direction and democratic control. As a monopoly provider of power, the Hydro has the authority to set rates autonomously and thereby to impose costs upon the consumer who has no recourse. Moreover, it is alleged that, in its drive for expansion, the Hydro has ignored the environmental costs of power development. The public is said to mistrust the Hydro. It is seen as a secretive and unaccountable organization. No change in government or change of personnel in charge of the Hydro would make it more accountable and responsive to public wishes. The only way to get the Hydro genie back in the bottle, according to the author, is to limit the corporation to the transmission of power generated by others, separate its nuclear energy function in a subsidiary corporation, and sell off other of its assets. The Ontario Energy Board should be given the power to regulate, rather than just review, proposed Hydro rates. Reining in the corporation should be done by means of stricter political controls through the cabinet and the legislature.

It will be difficult for any layman to assess the charges levelled in this study. At times, it seems to lapse into hyperbole, as part of its purpose of arousing public concern. No doubt Ontario Hydro, if it ever chose to respond publicly, would counter much of the analysis presented. In short, the book succeeds in being provocative.


Solomon, Lawrence, “Power at What Cost?: Why Ontario Hydro Is Out of Control,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36628.