by John Snobelen, Toronto Sun
The Liberal campaign is a strange brew of hope and fear. The fear part will begin in earnest in the last two weeks of the campaign. Right now Dalton McGuinty is selling hope in the form of the ill-fated Green Energy Act and a $7-billion no-tender contract with Samsung.
A couple of years ago the McGuinty government went green crazy. As part of its Green Energy Act the province agreed to purchase energy from windmills and solar farms at a huge premium to the market price for energy.
The trouble is those windmills and solar panels don’t produce energy when we need it. As a result, the province is compelled to pay as much as 13 times the going rate for power we don’t need and then export the surplus power at discount rates.
Crazy, right? What’s even crazier is you and I get to pay for all of that exported, high premium power in our hydro bills.
It’s like paying a $1.30 a liter for gas and then selling it to your neighbour for five cents. If that sounds like a bad business wait for the punch line; having subsidized your neighbour’s gas price you now hope to compete with him in business.
That’s the Green Energy Act scheme in a nutshell.
McGuinty is, in his words, “trying to lay the foundation for new economic growth in Ontario” by exporting cheap power to the U.S. Wonder how that will work?
In full spin mode, McGuinty is now pointing to the 15,000 jobs the Samsung deal is supposed to create. He isn’t talking about the jobs that have been lost because of high-energy costs to Ontario businesses.
Hydro bills increasing
Or the chilling economic effects of having Ontario families spend more every month on their hydro bills.
Or the WTO challenge to the legality of the Green Energy Act.
Or the bankrupt solar panel plants in the U.S.
Or the dismal economic record of green energy in Europe.
Or the real elephant in the green energy room — China.
China is spending huge sums of state money supporting the manufacture and export of about half of the worlds solar panels and wind turbines.
Of course, for domestic power consumption China relies largely on cheap and dirty coal power.
On top of all that China controls most of the world’s supply of the rare earth materials that are required for wind turbine production.
So lets add this up; Ontario is charging huge premiums for domestic energy and exporting cheap power while China burns cheap coal and bangs out subsidized wind turbines and solar panels. Wonder who will be more competitive?
A few years ago, when McGuinty signed the deal with Samsung, he believed he had found the magic solution to growing Ontario.
Give a few billion to a foreign corporation, charge homeowners more for hydro and sit back and wait till the jobs show up. It’s the government equivalent to hitting the big red easy button.
Now that dream is turning into a nightmare.
The WTO legal challenge puts the entire Samsung contract at risk.
Stiff global competition makes a profitable domestic green energy industry questionable at best. How long does Ontario want to subsidize Samsung?
Of course the real nightmare comes once a month when homeowners get the bad news in their hydro bills.
McGuinty can make cheerful jobs announcements standing beside the happy folks from Samsung every day but he can’t erase the shock of drastically higher energy costs to families everywhere in Ontario.
So much for hope. Next week McGuinty will move on to fear.
— Snobelen is a former Conservative MPP and cabinet minister