Hydro One chairman Tom Woods to depart at end of July

Tom Woods, the board chair at Hydro One Limited, is stepping down on July 31, according to the company.

The former Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce executive became the chair in August 2018, and oversaw the appointment of current president and chief executive officer Mark Poweska.

“I’m leaving with a sense of accomplishment knowing that the CEO and the Board are now ready for the next steps in defining how they will serve the interests of customers in this great province going forward,” Woods said in a press release.

“Hydro One plays a critical role in the province and has demonstrated a commitment to reducing costs, improving service and delivering strong financial results for shareholders. I can say with great confidence that Hydro One has strong foundations, dedicated employees and a bright future.”

At CIBC, Woods served as chief financial officer, chief risk officer and vice chairman. He is a director on the boards of Bank of America Corporation and AIMCo and is the chair of the board at Providence St. Joseph’s St. Michael’s Health Care.

“We will focus on ensuring a smooth transition at the board level as Tom departs, while continuing our support for Mark, his leadership team and our 8,600 employees in their unwavering focus on delivering exceptional service, safe and reliable power and cost reductions,” said Blair Cowper-Smith, chair of Hydro One’s governance committee.

Canada’s largest electricity transmission and distribution company has seen a number of executive changes over the past year after its largest shareholder Ontario Government, under PC leader Doug Ford, vowed to make management changes at the company top during his successful campaign to oust then-Premier Kathleen Wynne.

As the PCs swept into power, Hydro One’s CEO Mayo Schmidt — dubbed by Ford as the “$6-million man” — retired and the board of directors was replaced after the company struck a deal with the province. In August, Hydro One’s ad hoc nominating committee and the province installed ten directors to the board, including Woods who agreed to act as interim chair of the board until the new directors can convene and complete a process to select a permanent chair.

The province’s intervention cost the company $103 million in break-up fees to U.S.-based Avista Corp. which had agreed to merge in a $6.7 billion bid for the Ontario company. But the deal was called off after U.S. regulators said the planned merger would not sufficiently safeguard Avista customers from the whims of the Ontario government.

Hydro One provides electricity to almost 1.4 million customers and posted $1.76 billion in earnings in the first quarter of 2019.

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