By Bruce Corcoran, Chatham Daily News
Our province’s electricity grid is such a mess that at least one provincial politician is blaming, well, his government’s own Crown corporation, Hydro One. The same politician, whose party cut hydro rates last November by 10 per cent, says his government isn’t increasing hydro bills fast enough to pay for updating the hydro grid.
All this has many who were bold enough to leap towards solar energy generation very worried. The finger-pointing politician is none other than our own MPP, Pat Hoy.
“Why didn’t Hydro One know how much room was on the grid when the applications were approved last summer?” he asked when interviewed by The Chatham Daily News this week. Uhh, we aren’t the government, Pat, you are.
Hydro One has failed to approve all the solar panel applications the province received. Included in the group of concerned potential suppliers is a co-op of more than 700 farmers in Chatham-Kent and other southwestern Ontario communities who are part of a $70-million solar energy program based in Chatham, Agris Co-Operative Ltd.
Of 20,000 applications received by the province from farmers in Ontario, only 3,700 are plugged in to feed power into the grid. Another 2,500 are approved. That leaves 13,800 in limbo -nearly seven out of every 10 applicants.
Of the 700-plus farmers signed on with Agris, about half have seen their plans approved to date.
What happened? Was there just horrible communication between Hydro One and the government?
“Hydro bills are increasing to cover upgrades to 80 per cent of the grid, but not quickly enough to get everyone connected as we pay high subsidies for solar,” Hoy said.
Any fault lies in the government’s lap. Granted, the McGuinty government inherited an antiquated electricity grid from its predecessor, who had only just begun to clean up the mess that was the bloated money-squanderer known as Ontario Hydro. But to move forward on green energy initiatives without having the grid overseers in lockstep sets the stage for failure.
If Hydro One couldn’t deliver on microFit promises from the McGuinty government or failed to remotely anticipate the groundswell of interest in microFit, the program should have been streamlined to accommodate the pace at which it could successfully proceed. If a Hydro One official made false promises, or a cabinet minister made false assumptions, heads should roll.
Then again, the blame game is well underway.