Stung by constant attacks that he blew it on the $7-billion secret “sweetheart” deal he signed with South Korea’s Samsung Group to generate 2,500 megawatts in green power, Premier Dalton McGuinty has given it another shot.
With Wednesday’s new deal the premier has finally released details of the pact, powered down the $437-million sweetner offered to their foreign partner, is creating jobs faster and will give Samsung more time to bring the wind and solar power online.
And an election disaster is saved, right? Not so fast, premier.
While McGuinty says the new deal shines brightly for taxpayers, chopping $327 million in potential payments to Samsung, while still generating 16,000 jobs and generating a $7-billion investment in the province in a bid to make Ontario a green jobs hub, it’s not a crystal clear win.
In fact, there’s still a serious stench attached to the contract.
This is still a sole-sourced deal with a foreign company. That’s a $7-billion mind-boggler.
This is still a deal that sees Ontario taxpayers paying a huge premium for every megawatt of green power, not including the potential $110-million bonus — or economic adder, as the Liberals like to generously call it. The official spin is the top-up will only cost consumers 36¢ a year on their electricity bills.
This is still a deal that also gives preferential access to the province’s electricity grid to a South Korean company instead of local producers like farmers who are trying to add another cash crop and save their family businesses but find themselves at the back of the line, delayed and adding more red ink instead.
This is still a deal that sees Ontario taxpayers subsidizing the “green” jobs with the inflated price we’re paying for this wind and solar power — 13.5¢ per kw/hr for wind, and 44.3¢ for solar, instead of 5-7¢ for conventional energy we’re paying now — although any new power capacity will cost more.
Despite McGuinty’s assurances, and the four new manufacturing plants, there’s no evidence the 1,800 jobs in Tillsonburg, Windsor and the GTA are anything more than short-term.
If Ontario is able to become an exporter of green energy infrastructure, this will look like a much better deal.
The energy file promises to be a flashpoint as the Ontario election campaign heats up.
Our nuclear plants, responsible for almost half of the province’s power on any given day, are aging, the Liberals have now promised to close coal plants by 2014.
Meanwhile, wind and solar power output is negligible so far, and won’t solve this province’s thirst for energy at any point in the future.
Since the Samsung deal was signed, the Tories have vowed to kill the contract and start over.
The NDP want Ontario out of nuclear and are promising $1 billion in cash to retrofit Ontarians houses to conserve energy.
And the province’s energy future is still completely up in the air.
This file should electrify the election.