POLITICS
04/11/2012 11:22 EDT | Updated 06/11/2012 05:12 EDT

More details on plan for changes to Ontario's energy sector by summer

TORONTO - Ontario could get an idea about what a planned review of its energy sector will look like in the coming months as the province works to find ways to dial back costs.

The minority Liberals have promised a review of the sector in their budget, but have been vague on details.

While actual changes are still a ways off, the energy ministry said Wednesday the scope and framework of the overhaul could be made public as early as this summer.

"We've been talking about how to make sure that agencies like Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation are able to find ways of cutting out costs that aren't directly related to the bottom line, operating even more efficiently," said Energy Minister Chris Bentley.

"That work is well underway. There are other discussions about the other agencies that are under active consideration."

As a result of the OPG/Hydro One review, OPG reduced nuclear staff by about 500 over 2010 and 2011, which resulted in annual savings of about $70 million, and laid out a plan to reduce its information technology costs by about $90 million over five years.

Hydro One also achieved $41 million in savings in 2011 through strategic sourcing of materials and reducing the number of employees.

The more thorough review of the entire sector at "a macro level" is separate from those cost savings.

It's also something Premier Dalton McGuinty said he believed would not only please the New Democrats — who asked for a review of the sector as one of various conditions to support the budget bill — but also the Tories.

"We're all of one mind — I think the PCs and the NDP would agree with us in this regard that there are efficiencies to be found in the sector, and we look forward to finding them," McGuinty said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she looked forward to seeing a blueprint of the government's plan, but was also concerned about what exactly they had in store for the sector.

"I fear that the government's plan is more privatization and more private power companies getting a good deal while the rest of us are paying through the nose," she said.

"We've said pretty clearly that we don't like the direction the energy sector has gone for a long time."