By: Keith Leslie Winnipeg Free Press
TORONTO – The Liberal government’s green energy policies will be a focal point of Opposition attacks in the run-up to the Oct. 6 Ontario election, with the Progressive Conservatives warning voters can’t afford “Premier Dalton McGuinty’s expensive energy experiments.”
Every kid who runs a lemonade stand knows you can’t buy lemons for 80 cents and then sell lemonade for a nickel, and that’s what the Liberals are doing with heavily subsidized solar energy projects, Opposition Leader Tim Hudak said Wednesday.
“It’s not sustainable, but that’s exactly what Dalton McGuinty is doing with our hydro policy,” Hudak told reporters.
“Other jurisdictions are walking away from (subsidizing renewable energy projects) because it was driving up the cost of doing business and hurting consumers by taking more money out of pockets.”
Hudak cited a study showing Spain and Italy abandoned green energy subsidies because they killed jobs quicker than the subsidies were creating them by driving up electricity prices.
The study found Spain spent an average of one million Euros for every new green energy job but killed an estimated 2.2 jobs for every one created.
“Ontario could lose an additional 345,000 jobs just to meet Dalton McGuinty’s job creation promises associated with expensive energy experiments,” said Hudak.
The Liberals said the study Hudak quotes was widely discredited, and they believe the Green Energy Act will create 50,000 new jobs.
“Tim Hudak seems to make up numbers, and whenever we take a look at where he gets them from it’s usually not a credible source,” said Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
“He’s putting forward a pretty distorted view of what’s really happening out there.”
Energy should be treated as economic policy and not as a social program, which is what the Liberals are doing, said Hudak.
He again blasted the Liberal government for signing a $7-billion green energy deal with Korean giant Samsung.
Details have not been made public, but the government admitted Samsung would be paid an “economic development adder” on top of the feed-in tariff premium paid for green energy.
“We will not continue down Dalton McGuinty’s path of massive subsidies, far too often to well-connected businesses, insiders or foreign-based corporations like Samsung,” said Hudak.
“We are asking seniors and families to pay billions of dollars in subsidies to one of the biggest corporations in the world. It makes no sense whatsoever.”
While Samsung will get millions in dollars in subsidies over the course of the agreement, the company will invest heavily in Ontario to build new manufacturing plants to produce wind turbines and other components for renewable energy projects, said Duguid.
Samsung will become the “anchor tenant” to develop a new clean energy economy in Ontario, he added.
“This is about Samsung investing $7 billion in our economy and creating thousands of clean energy jobs in manufacturing and in the projects themselves,” said Duguid.
“The paranoia of the leader of the Opposition to attracting investment from offshore is ridiculous.”
Hudak said with electricity bills set to increase by 46 per cent over the next five years, Ontario needs an energy policy that puts the needs of consumers first.
“I’ve asked Dalton McGuinty to make that (Samsung) deal public or at the very least let the provincial auditor go through that deal and demonstrate the value for the families who have to pay the bills,” he said.
“The reason he hasn’t done that: I think he’s sold us down the river.”