Hydro CEO out after rift with minister

A shakeup is underway at the top of Manitoba Hydro following a disagreement between the CEO and the Kinew government on meeting future electricity demand.

Hydro announced Tuesday, that President & CEO Jay Grewal is leaving the Crown corporation after five years in that role. A news release states key decisions need to be made on how to best meet Manitoba’s energy needs and that the new Manitoba Hydro board wants a “fresh perspective” on those decisions.

Manitoba Hydro Board Chair Ben Graham said this is the result of three-plus months of analysis since the new board was appointed by the new government.

“You always assess the leadership team that you inherit,” said Graham. “We just felt as a board it was the right time to make a change.”

The move comes roughly two weeks after Grewal told the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce the province may need new ways to generate energy by the end of the decade. She said Hydro would reach out to independent producers to build wind energy and other sources. Manitoba currently has two privately held wind farms.

But that caused a rift with the minister responsible for Hydro, Adrien Sala, who said they want to keep the development of new energy sources public.

On Tuesday, Sala was asked about the timing of Grewal’s departure.

“This is a board decision,” said Sala. “We thank Ms. Grewal for her service to the province.”

Sala said the board has a mandate to keep rates low, create partnerships with Indigenous communities, grow a green energy economy, and keep Manitoba Hydro public.

“As a government, we’ve been clear, we want to keep Manitoba Hydro public.”

Hal Turner, Hydro’s current vice president of Asset Planning and Delivery, is acting as interim CEO until a permanent one is chosen through an internal and external search. The Crown corporation is hiring consulting firm MNP to assist with the process. 

Progressive Conservative Shadow Minister for Manitoba Hydro Grant Jackson said it is clear the Manitoba NDP are interfering with Manitoba Hydro operations.

“It’s clear that the truth will be a casualty of this new NDP government. Wab Kinew thinks he knows more about running the province’s largest Crown corporation than the talented, experienced former CEO, who was also the first woman to hold the position,” Jackson said in a prepared statement.

“I’m repeating our call for the NDP to stop interfering with Manitoba Hydro immediately. Manitobans, and Manitoba Hydro, cannot afford more debt because of the NDP’s rigid ideology.”

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