Energy costs called Grits’ Achilles heel

[Tom] Adams said the government forgot about the impact on consumers while subsidizing expensive renewable energy in the hope of creating some 50,000 jobs.

By Gary Rennie, The Windsor Star  

Eleven months from the next election, the Ontario Liberal government is self-destructing on divisive and costly energy policies, critics say.

Ontario’s Liberal government will borrow the $1 billion it needs to fund a 10 per cent hydro rate cut, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Wednesday. The rate cut, along with the details about its impact on the province’s books, will be laid out in Duncan’s fall economic update this afternoon.

Opposition leaders wonder if it’s enough to make any real difference to electrical rates still likely to climb.

Ontario Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak says a 10 per cent decrease won’t make consumers forget about a near doubling of their electrical bills during Premier Dalton McGuinty’s seven years in office.

“It’s a desperate move by a government less than a year away from an election,” Hudak said in a telephone interview Wednesday. And more rate increases are coming anyway, he believes.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath claims a partial victory after months of urging the government to at least take out the eight per cent provincial share of the 13 per cent HST on electrical bills.

“It (HST) should never have been put on hydro in the first place,” she said Wednesday while in Windsor for several community functions. Not yet sure how Duncan’s rebate program will work or for how long, Horwath prefers the certainty of the HST being lowered.

Windsor councillors Ron Jones and Al Halberstadt, who met with Horwath, also preferred an HST reduction as a better option for consumers. City council unanimously passed Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac’s motion Monday seeking HST elimination on water, electricity and natural gas bills.

University of Windsor professor emeritus Lloyd Brown-John sees some parallels in the Ontario Liberals’ energy policy quagmire and the downfall of the previous Ontario PC government of Windsor native Ernie Eves.

Facing similar criticism about rising electrical rates during years of deregulation of the Ontario Hydro monopoly, Eves put a freeze in place.

But Eves went to the polls not long after the power blackout of August 2003 raised new questions about the Tory government’s energy policies, Brown-John said.

Next summer, as air conditioners are cranked up and hydro bills are opened, voters “will get an in-your-face reminder of the cost of living in Ontario,” Brown-John said.

He doesn’t think October’s election will be good timing for Liberal politicians going door-to-door and facing questions about why smart meters haven’t helped the average family save much, if anything, on their electrical bills.

“The trap (for the Liberals) is set now,” predicts former longtime Energy Probe CEO Tom Adams, now a consultant.

Adams said the government forgot about the impact on consumers while subsidizing expensive renewable energy in the hope of creating some 50,000 jobs.

Rising electrical rates over the next three to five years can’t be avoided because of contracts now in place, regardless of which government is in power, Adams said.

Shifting some of the cost of power generation and transmission from consumer rates to the provincial budget with a consumer rebate doesn’t make those costs disappear, says Adams. “It’s a classic shell game. They are bribing the voters with their own money.”

Brown-John sees hope for the Liberals only if voters conclude the energy policies of the other parties are worse.

Hudak supports keeping nuclear power as the source of about 50 per cent of the province’s energy needs, while scaling back renewable power and returning planning authority over the latter to municipalities.

Horwath says the NDP opposes nuclear power upgrades, wants a more affordable renewable energy plan, along with greater emphasis on conservation measures and incentives that directly benefit consumers.

9 thoughts on “Energy costs called Grits’ Achilles heel

  1. Ontario Liberal Strategic Plan

    1. Tax
    2. Spin
    3. Spend
    4. Tax
    5. Spin
    6. Rebate
    7. Go to 1.

  2. Ok…

    So far, no political party is saying they are going to repeal the GEA…

    Doesn’t appear to matter which fox is in charge of the hen house, we chickens still get baked!

    B.W.

  3. years ago the NDP got a foot hold in Ontario because they listened to the people,now they sit on the fence and only bend from day to day to suit the party.Too bad-they have the chance to become a viable Party again,if,they remember their original roots and follow it.But they won”t.

  4. John L.

    The Liberals are busy in their “Grand Plan” to redistribute wealth and centralize all government in the state. Do you like the results? The NDP program (or should I say pogrom) to reorganize society and re-distribute wealth and centralize all power in the state might be lot more extensive. Until recently their constitution was quite explicit in this regard.

    Perhaps you should be far more clear in exactly what policies you are advocating change. If you are not clear then you will simply start flame wars with people advocating for one party or another based on general principals.

    In any case, at the moment most of us believe that all the parties are advocating almost total state control of energy policy and an iron-fisted Green Policy. I for one do not believe that the PC’s under Hudak can be exempted.

    If you have some solutions share them. A solution seems to be beyond party politics — and most down-trodden citizens.

    Signed…
    Just another frustrated energy purchaser

  5. Let’s start with the NDP. Andrea Horwath voted in favour of the Green Energy Act and since then has been the most vocally outraged MPP in Parliament.

    Thou protests much too loudly methinks.

    Now the PC’s. Simple. Harris and the boys started this flush of taxpayers money down the toilet way back then and McGuinty is just finishing us off. IF Hudak wants to “play” the “saviour” card then he must go against Party policies and turn his back on his “financial supporters” and GUT the GEA!

    The ball is in your court Tim.

    Now the Green Party.

    What’s there to say? When asked who their God is then the word “Gaia” is called up!

    Enough said!

    FLAME AWAY!

  6. The only thing that we have to look forward to is the debt wall and gridlock…Bad government is redundant…Anarchy is looking better all the time

  7. I’m with Randy!

    I’ll even bring the party favors!

    B.B.W

  8. McGuinty is all for throwing around more Wind Turbines and Gas plants, industrializing the rural areas of our province and creating more problems for the energy system. Lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$$
    NDP doesn’t have a plan and still supports Wind Turbines. Just ????????????????
    PC have a sort of plan with the nuclear but nothing definite.
    Just give us a bloody energy plan folks, and stop steering the boat in the wrong direction!!!!!!!!!

  9. “Steering the boat in the wrong direction”?

    The Liberals snagged a rock when their ship of fools left port in 2003 and managed to break off the rudder.

    Having a lead-headed leader with no plan and no clue, they forgot to load the emergency oars.

    Only the increasing current kept the ship from running aground but they are quickly approaching
    white water!

    The liberals only have ONE direction -DOWN!

    Too bad it isn’t Niagara.

    Oh wait! Yes it is! (Big Becky) and it’s definitely BUSTED!

    B.B.W.

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