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Hydro One’s Business

You need to read the article attached and respond to these questions:

1. What are Hydro One’s business strategic objectives?
2. Why are they spending on the Bruce-Milton/Toronto line and the Smart Meters?
3. Putting yourself in the shoes of CEO Laura Formusa, what risks does Hydro One
4. Consider the elements of Hydro One’s ERM process. What are its strengths and
weaknesses? What recommendations would you make to overcome the weaknesses
about the ERM process?
5. Should private-sector companies embrace ERM in a way similar to Hydro One’s

Post-Doctoral Fellow Anette Mikes prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 2008, 2012 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1 -800-545- 7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to This publication may not be digitized, photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.



Enterprise Risk Management at Hydro One (A)

The Toronto skyline glittered in the early gloom of winter as chief executive Laura Formusa returned to her glass-walled office. She knew that the winter season presented Hydro One with its most severe challenges. It had to deliver electricity safely and reliably to 92 municipal utilities, 113 large industrial customers and 1.3 million households in the Province of Ontario while snow, freezing rains and severe winds gusting up to 100 km/hr continually threatened its aging transmission and distribution system. Just last weekend Hydro One’s award-winning restoration crews had worked around the clock to restore power to 90,000 customers affected by a winter storm.

Formusa glanced at her watch. She had ten minutes to review a headline news update, sent by chief risk officer John Fraser, in advance of the 30 minute semi-annual review with him of Hydro One’s risk profile. Formusa, a 30-year veteran of Hydro One and the company’s former general counsel, had been appointed chief executive officer only a few days ago, on 8 December 2006. The company’s strategy (posing objectives such as 90% customer satisfaction across the board) had not changed substantially in the last five years. However, she felt that the risks threatening the achievement of the strategic plan had been shifting, to the extent that she had to ask herself – was the strategy tenable?

Company History, Operations and Strategy

Founded in 1906, Hydro One’s predecessor, Ontario Hydro generated electric power at Niagara

Falls for distribution to municipal utilities.1 Over time the company had built five coal-fired, 68 hydro-electric and five nuclear power stations, and increased its power generation and transmission capacity to 30,000 megawatts, making Ontario an exporter of electricity to other provinces and the United States. However, by the end of the century it became clear that Ontario’s aging electricity system needed a major transformation.

In 1998, the Ontario government deregulated the province’s electric power industry. It restructured Ontario Hydro into two separate organizations: a power generation utility and a combined transmission/delivery “poles-and-wires” business to be called Hydro One. Headquartered in Toronto, Hydro One consisted of three businesses—transmission, distribution, and telecommunications, with the first two accounting for 99% of revenue.

1 Aabo, T., Fraser, J., Simkins, B. (2005), ‘The Rise and Evolution of the Chief Risk Officer: Enterprise Risk Management at Hydro One’ Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Volume 17, Number 3, pp. 62-74.

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This document is authorized for use only by Hamma toure in Spring 2022 FINA 467 taught by YILIN CHEN, Minnesota State University from Feb 2022 to May 2022.



109-001 Enterprise Risk Management at Hydro One (A)


Sir Graham Day, a renowned Canadian-born businessman who played an instrumental role in privatizing Britain’s utility sector under Margaret Thatcher’s government, chaired the Hydro One board. The board had a mandate to prepare Hydro One to become a public company through an IPO that would raise an estimated C$5.5 billion for upgrading Ontario’s transmission infrastructure and for paying down the C$4.5 billion debt due to the government. The board appointed the senior management team, headed by chief executive Eleanor Clitheroe, a high-profile Canadian businesswoman. In preparation for the IPO, Hydro One’s management team embraced new business practices and a cultural change featuring a new consumer-focused service ethos, cost cutting,2 enterprise risk management, performance management, and strategic planning. In April 2002, Hydro One prepared an IPO prospectus and began a series of investor presentations. The transformation of Hydro One, however, had raised media and political controversy. Publicity about the private-sector- level salaries of the management team led to a fall-out between the government and the board. The board resigned and ultimately, the replacement board ousted the chief executive.3 A trade union went to court and obtained a ruling that created a legal barrier to the privatization. The government did not appeal, and Hydro One canceled the IPO two weeks before the planned date.

Once the public controversy died down, the new board appointed Australian energy executive Tom Parkinson as CEO. Under his leadership, Hydro One continued to follow Clitheroe’s value creation strategy including the implementation of enterprise risk management, a risk-based investment planning system, and a balanced scorecard that featured a strong emphasis on customer service.

Hydro One’s rates had to be approved periodically by the Ontario Energy Board, established under legislation. In 2002, unusually hot weather conditions in spring and summer increased energy cost pressures on customers. The Ontario Energy Board mandated lower distribution rates for Hydro One, effectively capping the distribution revenues at about C$4 billion for the next five years. (See summary financial statements in Exhibit 1.) To allow continuing investment in the maintenance and upgrade of its transmission system in this constrained environment, Hydro One launched an efficiency and cost-cutting initiative that led to the departure of 140 staff and a hiring freeze. Rating agencies Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Dominion recognized the improvements in Hydro One’s financial profile, and upgraded the company’s long term debt to A, A2 and A (high), respectively. But in 2005, 800 professional employees went on an 18-week strike to protest a proposed decrease of benefits to new employees in their union, arising from the cost cutting measures.

The government of Ontario favored conservation initiatives, and was rigorously phasing out coal- fired power stations throughout the province. The ruling party’s re-election campaign in the forthcoming election year featured energy savings and environmental conservation. Should the party be re-elected, and pursue initiatives to reduce electricity consumption in Ontario, Hydro One would be expected to lead these initiatives despite their adverse impact on the company’s revenues and earnings. Formusa wondered whether Hydro One could deliver on the government’s conservation goals without compromising its commercial viability. Hydro One had to manage a complex web of conflicting interests—the multiple agendas of government ministers, regulators, consumers, environmental groups, and capital market debt holders who had recently subscribed to the company’s C$1billion bond issue (not guaranteed by the Province).