War of words brews over Hydro One's proposed take-over of US utility

The leader of the Progressive-Conservatives is out with more tough talk about Ontario's hydro utility. This time, Doug Ford takes aim at the expected cost of buying out more than a dozen executives at an American energy company.

Avista Corporation operates hydro dams in Washington State and it was last summer that Hydro One announced plans to purchase the firm. The proposed merger would be Hydro One's first international expansion and is in the process of getting approvals from US regulators. Its a move that came after the Ontario government sold some of its shares in Hydro One to own less than 50 per cent of the company.

Ford claims that US Securities documents show about $50 million dollars worth of severance packages would have to be paid out, if the $6.7 billion dollar agreement is allowed to go through. The former Toronto city councillor says the idea of public money being used to fund these 'golden parachutes' makes his 'blood boil' but he stops short of calling for the merger to be scrapped.

Ontario's Energy Minister argues Ford is either telling lies, or 'deliberately misleading people.' In a written statement, Glenn Thibeault says the head of the Ontario PC's 'doesn't seem to know what he's talking about.'

"Hydro One customers have not paid one penny to US hydro executives at Avista," says Thibeault.

"Nor will they in the future."

Thibeault says any severance paid to Avista executives will not come from Hydro One and he insists that the proposed buy-out will have no impact on hydro rates.