Manitoba Hydro’s CEO and president has broken her silence on the fate of one of its subsidiaries following weeks of media scrutiny.
In a video posted to YouTube Wednesday afternoon, Jay Grewal said the Crown corporation is still weighing its options on the future of Manitoba Hydro International.
“While we did conduct an extensive review of MHI’s operations using an independent third party, no decisions have been made,” Grewal said in the video statement.
“We are still assessing that review to assess risk of potentially higher costs for Manitoba Hydro customers.”
Questions surrounding the future of the subsidiary, which is the commercial branch of Manitoba Hydro, first surfaced earlier this month.
WATCH | CEO Jay Grewal’s video statement on Manitoba Hydro International:
Leaked internal documents revealed the company had been told to stop pursuing new work as Manitoba Hydro International was “being assessed for its strategic fit” within its parent company, according to internal emails obtained by CBC.
Hydro Telecom, a division of Hydro International, was also told to suspend all activity related to new broadband services during the request for proposal process for new rural broadband expansion.
The YouTube video is the first public statement by Grewal that addressed questions about the Hydro subsidiaries.
A press release was also issued by the Crown, repeating Grewal’s video statement.
She noted Hydro International has seen its revenues decline by 22 per cent since 2017. However, the company continues to turn a profit each year, according to annual reports.
The latest figures show it made a $6.7 million profit in 2019-20 — an increase of $1 million from the previous fiscal year.
Manitoba Hydro International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Manitoba Hydro and has multiple commercial divisions that do everything from consulting on international energy projects to providing local data services through Manitoba Hydro Telecom.
It employees about 130 people.
Grewal warned of increased safety and security risks related to some of its operations, which include international work.
“These growing financial and fit concerns require us to consider how MHI fits into Manitoba Hydro’s mission going forward,” she said.
“While other Canadian utilities have chosen to divest themselves of their international divisions, we have not reached any conclusions and have not provided a recommendation to our board of directors.”
Grewal said Hydro will notify its customers and employees as soon as a decision is made.
“I want to assure them that if any decision is made regarding the future of the subsidiary, they will be notified as soon as possible,” she said.
She also warned against equating the review of Hydro International with privatizing the entire Crown corporation.
“To be clear, Manitoba Hydro will not be privatized,” said Grewal.
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