by Chris Fell, Simcoe.com
If a Progressive Conservative government is elected provincially in October it will introduce a moratorium on further wind energy development and will restore local municipal decision-making power on such projects. PC MPP and energy critic Toby Barrett was in Owen Sound last Tuesday afternoon (August 16) to discuss PC energy plans if they form a government. Barrett was at local candidate Bill Walker’s office to discuss wind energy, turbines and the Green Energy Act.
A number of local residents and municipal councillors attended the meeting to speak to Barrett and ask questions about PC policies on the matter.
Barrett said a Tory government would immediately scrap the Samsung deal that the current McGuinty government signed and introduce a moratorium on new wind energy projects until all scientific and health issues have been explored. He also said a PC government would do away with the parts of the Green Energy Act that take away municipal planning authority on alternative energy proposals. Barrett said a PC government would honour existing contracts for alternative energy projects.
“We will restore decision power to municipalities. They have been neutered,” Barrett said at the meeting.
Barrett also said the Tories would do away with the FIT (Feed In Tariff) program that sees the provincial government paying alternative energy companies a massive premium for any energy they generate.
“You will not see the expensive FIT program in the future. It’s too much. Nobody else does it in North America,” said Barrett. “We support renewables like solar and wind, but they have to be in the right place with the permission of the community,” he said.
Barrett said the concerns of every day people and small business owners are behind the policies of the PC party.
“A lot of what is driving our policy is the personal electricity bill of the residents and the small business people,” said Barrett, who said the Tories are also promising to get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy within the government, to get rid of the HST on all energy bills (hydro, gas, oil, etc) and eliminate the debt retirement charge that appears on all hydro bills.
“That debt was paid off last year, but Mr. McGuinty passed a regulation to leave that debt retirement charge on your bill until 2018,” he said.
Barrett also said a Tory government would make smart metres voluntary. In recent years all homes in Ontario have been outfitted with a smart metre that measures their power usage 24 hours per day. Power consumers pay different prices for power during different times of the day. Power is most expensive from Monday to Friday during the day (called the peak period). Off peak hours are nights, weekends and holidays.
Barrett said changes to the Green Energy Act could come almost immediately after Tim Hudak is elected Premier. He said the new government could put an end to new contract “the next day.”
“Tim Hudak is going to take action right away,” he said, noting that the moratorium would also be implemented immediately.
“The whole intent of the moratorium is to slow things down instead of ramming them through, let’s take some time,” explained candidate Bill Walker. “We are currently paying the U.S. to take our surplus power. We don’t need this big surplus of energy. The moratorium will give municipalities back the abilities that have traditionally had. We don’t need to keep ramming these down people’s throats,” said Walker.