The authority of the Ombudsman comes from the Ontario government’s Electricity Act from Section 48.3 as amended by Bill 91 and the mandate issued by Hydro One’s Board of Directors approved in October 2015.
HYDRO ONE LIMITED | MANDATE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
The role of the Ombudsman is to facilitate resolution of complaints by customers of Hydro One Limited and its subsidiaries (together, “Hydro One”) that remain unresolved after having been processed through Hydro One’s complaints handling process. References to the “Ombudsman” in this mandate include members of staff in the Ombudsman’s office where circumstances require.
2. Duties and Responsibilities
The Ombudsman will:
- Act as an independent and impartial investigator;
- Make recommendations to facilitate the resolution of both individual and systemic issues with a view to achieving a resolution that is fair to both the customer and Hydro One;
- Help customers define issues, evaluate options and use the additional formal complaint resolution resources of Hydro One and the Ontario Energy Board;
- Mediate a resolution to, or make recommendations for the settlement of, complaints;
- Maintain the confidentiality of all confidential information provided to the Ombudsman, subject to applicable law (including the judgment or other decision of a court, regulator or tribunal) and stock exchange rules;
- Inform and provide written reasons to the customer or group of customers submitting the complaint with respect to any determination not to review and investigate, or to continue to review and investigate, the complaint, and periodically report on the status of the review or investigation;
- Work with the Ontario Energy Board to maintain integrated procedures for liaising with Hydro One customers and inquiring into matters raised by customers with the Ombudsman; and
- Act at all times in accordance with applicable law and this mandate.
The Ombudsman must not provide legal advice to customers or to Hydro One, nor may the Ombudsman accept notice on behalf of Hydro One.
The Ombudsman will determine whether a review or investigation is warranted in connection with any complaint.
The Ombudsman may initiate an investigation into systemic matters when the Ombudsman determines it is warranted, regardless of whether or not there is a specific complaint.
The Ombudsman will not generally review or investigate a complaint, or continue to review or investigate a complaint, if (a) the customer has not yet submitted the complaint in accordance with Hydro One’s complaints handling process, (b) Hydro One has not substantially completed its investigation or determined not to further investigate the complaint, (c) the Ombudsman is satisfied that the complaint is unreasonable, frivolous or vexatious, (d) the complaint is the subject of litigation, is being handled by a lawyer on behalf of Hydro One or the customer, or has already been decided by a court, administrative tribunal or arbitrator, or (e) a material portion of the records relating to the complaint no longer exist (generally seven years after the matter in question).
Prior to the Ombudsman commencing a review or investigation of a complaint, the customer must provide a signed consent form, including an acknowledgement of the Ombudsman’s procedures and a confidentiality agreement.
All representatives of Hydro One will provide the Ombudsman with free and unrestricted access to all Hydro One books, records, files, correspondence, transcripts and other data, documents and information, financial or otherwise (collectively, “data”), and all Hydro One personnel, subject to applicable law and attorney-client privilege. Access includes the right of the Ombudsman to make and retain copies of any such data. The customer will similarly provide the Ombudsman with access to all of the customer’s data and (if applicable) personnel relating to the complaint. The Ombudsman is not required to give reasons for requesting access to data or personnel.
The Ombudsman may consult experts or consultants as required at Hydro One’s expense.
Matters relating to the Ombudsman’s reviews and investigations must be kept confidential.
The results of a formal systemic investigation will be reported to the board of directors of Hydro One Limited (the “Board”) through the Nominating, Corporate Governance, Public Policy & Regulatory Committee (the “Committee”) upon completion of the investigation with individual customer information appropriately redacted.
The Ombudsman’s contact details, a copy of this mandate and a summary of the Ombudsman’s procedures will be posted on Hydro One’s website.
4. Appointment and Reporting
The Ombudsman will be appointed by the Board and will report to the Board through the Committee verbally and in writing on not less than a quarterly basis, including with respect to current and anticipated systemic issues and ongoing investigations.