Hydro One CEO Eleanor Clitheroe fired

The board of directors of Hydro One fired the power transmission company's embattled president and CEO Eleanor Clitheroe on Friday.

Tom Parkinson, Hydro One's head of network services since the fall of 2001, will take over as president and chief operating officer.

Among the reasons the utility's board cited for dismissing Clitheroe was she used credit cards contrary to company policy. They said she also obtained club memberships at the company's expense. Many of those memberships had no business-related purpose, the board said.P> Clitheroe is also said to have used Hydro One service providers to do renovations to her home. The board said Hydro One paid for these personal renovations and was not repaid until last month.

The board said Clitheroe's actions left them with no alternative but to dismiss her.

"This is an issue of corporate governance and inappropriate behaviour at the most senior level of the company," Hydro One board chair Glen Wright said in a release.

"Every day thousands of Hydro One employees work hard, follow the rules and provide the province with power," Wright said.

Clitheroe became a lightning rod for controversy when the details of her salary and a lucrative severance package were made public.

She made over $2.2 million in 2001, which included $174,000 for a car and $172,000 in vacation pay. Clitheroe also stood to get $6 million in cash if she left Hydro One for any reason, and she stood to receive an annual pension of up to $1 million.

Those details set up a showdown between the Ontario government and the former board of Hydro One in the midst of the province's attempts to privatize the utility.

The provincial government brought in legislation to clamp down on the utility's executive salaries, prompting the Hydro One board to resign to protest what they saw as government interference. The provincial government subsequently appointed a new board of directors.

The proposed $5.5 billion initial public offering of Hydro One which was to have been the biggest in Canadian corporate history is off while the provincial considers other options to privatize part of the utility. The province now wants to keep majority ownership of the company.

Before he joined Hydro One, Parkinson was the president and CEO of NorthPower, one of Australia's government-owned electrical distribution and retail businesses, where he oversaw the merger of seven separate electrical utilities. An accountant and business strategist, Parkinson has over 20 years experience in the electrical utility business.