In a move that could be seen as a submission to pressure from the new Ontario Premier Doug Ford for change at the top of Ontario’s largest electricity transmission and distribution provider, the entire board of Hydro One Ltd. is resigning and chief executive officer Mayo Schmidt has announced his retirement.
The electrical utility has agreed to “the orderly replacement of the board of directors” after discussions with the new government.
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.
During his election campaign, Ford repeatedly vowed that if he became premier, he would “fire” Hydro One’s board and Schmidt, whom he dubbed the “$6 million man” in a dig at his $6.2 million salary.
Also, during the election, Hydro One had stressed that ratepayers did not pay the majority of Schmidt’s salary.
That its customers pay only two cents on their monthly bill for the CEO’s compensation, adding that nearly 80 percent of the total executive compensation package is paid for by shareholders.
The company owns much of Ontario’s electricity transmission system and was partially-privatized by former Premier Kathleen Wynne. Today, the Ontario government owns 47 percent of Hydro One.
A statement from Hydro One, states that Schmidt will not be entitled to severance, and will instead receive a $400,000 lump sum payment in lieu of all post-retirement benefits.
But “The Globe and Mail” revealed that Schmidt is eligible to receive a $9 million compensation package because he is retiring, rather than resigning.
Despite Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s assertion that Schmidt won’t get severance, he will receive a cash payment for his stock, bonuses and other compensation.
Hydro One’s 14 directors will also be paid about $4.9 million for their stock holdings which they had to keep while acting as directors.