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Hydro One sale will have negative budget impact, says accountability office

Stephen LeClair says he can't tell how the government came up with its valuations for Hydro One because the Liberals won't tell him their methodology



TORONTO—Ontario’s new financial accountability officer warns the sale of Hydro One will have a negative impact on the province’s budget balance.

Stephen LeClair’s first report to the legislature finds the province would see an improvement in its budget in the first year after an initial sale of 15 per cent of shares in the utility.

But he says the budgetary impact could be positive or negative in subsequent years as more shares are sold, and will ultimately be negative once the Liberals sell the 60 per cent of Hydro One they plan to put on market.

LeClair estimates the total value of Hydro One at between $11-billion and $14.3 billion, and says based on that a 60 per cent sale would generate $6.8 billion to $8.9 billion, “a wider and somewhat lower range” than the government’s estimates.

But the financial accountability officer says he can’t tell how the government came up with its valuations for Hydro One because the Liberals won’t tell him their methodology.

Without knowing how they made their calculations, LeClair says “it is not possible” for him to offer a definitive opinion on whether the partial sale will help the government eliminate a $10.3 billion deficit by 2017-18 as promised or not.

Hydro One turns over about $750 million a year to the province, which will be reduced as private owners take their share of the profits.

But Premier Kathleen Wynne says she needs to sell 60 per cent of the utility to raise money for public transit and infrastructure projects.

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