Hydro One is making continual efforts to work its way out of the public doghouse, and that process was on full display at the St-Albert Cheese Co-operative last week.
Company officials were on hand to tour the sprawling facility Thurs., Oct. 5, and at one point in the afternoon were joined by provincial energy minister Glenn Thibeault.
It was a good news visit for the factory, which is up and running again after a devastating fire levelled the facility in February 2013. Just a year later, however, it was business as usual, a process that was no doubt helped by a $1-million investment by the Ontario government.
Nonetheless, the purveyor of squeaky curd employs hundreds in the area, and nearly every one of those people were thrust into unemployment at the time of the fire.
Getting the site up and going again was never in question, but operating at a plant of such a size requires a great amount of electricity.
Yet, despite its success, the St-Albert co-operative had little traction with Hydro One when it was still a Crown corporation.
Representatives routinely lobbied for an increase to the number of amps servicing the site.
It was all to no avail, however, as Hydro One repeatedly turned them down. Now, as a partially privatized company, it seems officials are more aware of the bad taste in the public’s mouth.
Pitching Hydro One as a better run company today after the 60 per cent sale is Thibeault’s job, and his act was on full display in St-Albert. Jokes were aplenty as the minister toured with co-operative officials, and it was all downright jovial between politicians from each of the neighbouring municipalities and Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack.
Thibeault insists Hydro One is a “new” company today, with a new board of directors and top managers, many of them paid quite handsomely.
What’s troubling though is that stories from a Liberal cabinet member are one thing, but it’s nearly impossible to put numbers on the true improvements of Hydro One’s customer service efforts.
There’s no more oversight by the province’s auditor general. It was the former leader of that office, Andre Marin, who issued a scathing report not all that long ago that listed some 10,000 complaints.
Despite efforts to save face, distaste with Hydro One continues.
Though care for customers may be better, it’s clear there is still work to do.