By John Miner and Randy Richmond, London Free Press
With soaring power prices sweeping the province, Ontario opposition leader Tim Hudak says a Tory government would pursue a dramatically different energy strategy.
“We would invest in nuclear power and hydro-electricity, clean and green fuels that aren’t going to chase seniors from their homes or turn the lights out on businesses across our province,” the Progressive Conservative leader said in London Wednesday.
Hudak said Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government has signed pie-in-the sky energy schemes, such as one with Korea-based industrial giant Samsung to build wind and solar farms across Ontario. The $7-billion deal with Samsung was signed in January.
The McGuinty government has faced mounting criticism for its energy policies, including a decision to reduce the amount it pays some small solar electricity producers.
Meanwhile, more than 500 people have signed online and paper petitions protesting the 17% spike in household utility bills in London — due largely to the rising cost of power charged to all Ontario utilities combined with the new HST applied to bills since July 1 — and demanding an audit of London Hydro.
“Londoners are fed up,” said organizer Chris Edgar.
The petitions will be sent to both Hudak and McGuinty, she said.
“The more we conserve, the more their revenues go down, the more they will raise the rates. Where does it end?” Edgar said at a protest at the corner of Wellington and King streets Wednesday.
About five people urged passersby to sign the petition, also available online at http://www.petitiononline.com/AntiHike/petition.html.
“If you just sit back and take it, it is just going to keep growing and growing and growing,” Edgar said of the increases.
Londoners, she said, recognize their local utility isn’t responsible for the bulk of the recent hike.
But local utility officials and city council should demand more accountability and reasonable hikes from Ontario Power Generation which produces and sells electricity in Ontario and from the Ontario Energy Board, which regulates prices, she said.
Local politicians could start by putting pressure on the province to cut the exorbitant salaries of utility executives, Edgar said.
The province’s annual list of public servants paid $100,000 or more extends beyond 200 pages for Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One, she noted.
“It’s ridiculous. Don’t raise our rates 17% and still pay out salaries like that,” Edgar said. “Council should be stepping up and saying the same thing.”