In an interesting note on his blog, Tom Adams argues that the politicization of the Ontario Energy Board by the McGuinty government has sacrificed the interests of consumers to political expediency:

The Green Energy Act moved the Ontario Energy Board further away from its once-clear mandate as a dedicated independent arbiter reconciling the interests of gas and electricity providers with the interests of consumers. The gold standard used to be rates that were just and reasonable. Instead, the Green Energy Act has pushed the OEB further towards being yet another puppet agency pushing prevailing government policy.

This legislative change, together with the government’s appointments practices in recent years, have weakened the Board. Other than the Chair and the one part-time member, only one member of the OEB is currently appointed to a term that extends beyond seven months from now. The lack of tenure security gives the government undue influence over the Board, something we don’t allow with our courts. 

Adams also questions whether the debt-strapped McGuinty government is changing the rules to pump up the value of Hydro One before privatizing it: 

About the time the deficit-addled McGuinty government started suggesting that it might privatize Hydro One, the Ontario Energy Board released a decision on the cost of capital, dramatically boosting your future electricity and gas rates and the profitability of utilities…

Could this decision have been influenced by the McGuinty’s government’s proposed privatization of Hydro One or a desire to bailout municipalities, who own most of Ontario’s electricity distribution utilities, without adding to the provincial deficit?

He discouragingly concludes: 

Facing the combined effects of renewing aging infrastructure and imprudent policy adventures, Ontario electricity consumers face a bleak outlook. If we are to strike a more reasonable balance for consumers, Ontario must rebuild the legal foundation of our energy utilities, re-establishing regulatory independence from government fiat. Utility regulators need the protection of long and firm terms of appointment. We can green our energy system without trashing consumers, but to achieve that balance, utility regulation must focus on rates and service quality while environmental regulators focus on issues like emission controls and habitat protection. The Green Energy Act is stuffing your power bill with hidden charges. The Act will blow over eventually, but it will leave a legacy of damage long after it is struck down. 

With the Green Energy Act in effect, Ontario is unlikely to be able to escape its have-not status any time soon.