One-on-one with Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid

Pontypool resident Anne Johnston gives Brad Duguid an earful.

By RANDY RICHMOND, The London Free Press

Brace yourself, Ontario.

Hikes to monthly electricity bills have just begun, Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid warns.
As anger rises in London and across the province over the double whammy of higher power prices and the HST, Duguid — the McGuinty government’s point man on electricity — answered questions about the Liberals’ decisions in an exclusive Free Press interview.

Questions and answers:

Q  In London, power bills are 17% higher than they were in May. Two reasons, the hydro rate increase and the HST. There’s a lot of anger over it and people want to know how you’re justifying this?

The cost of electricity is going up and it will be for some time to come because we’ve had to make necessary investments to ensure we have a stable supply of energy across the province. Seven years ago, we didn’t have enough supply to meet the demand. We were at great risk of blackouts. As a result, we’ve had to make some extensive investments in generation.
At the same time, we’ve also moved away from dirty sources of power, such as coal, to cleaner sources of energy. There are costs to that.

Q  There seems to be anger about green power. It seems people would rather choose lower rates for, as you call it, dirty power than clean power and higher rates.

I think the reality is, if we would have kept to the same course as the previous government we would today be at great risk of not having enough power to run our economy or run our homes. That is why we have had to make some very extensive investments in generation.

Q  Where are the extensive investments?

We are in the process of retrofitting our nuclear fleet, and we are in the process of building new gas plants. Many of them are up and running now and that’s what’s starting to come on the bills. We are in the process of actioning the Green Energy Act which is bringing in new sources of energy.

Q  Can you understand people’s anger, especially with this (power rate hike) coming back-to-back with the HST?

We certainly do and we are doing everything we can as a government to mitigate the increases . . . through ensuring our agencies are performing responsibly, that their requests for increases through the Ontario Energy Board are for all the right reasons.

Q Was there talk that perhaps the increase shouldn’t take place within the same two months as the HST? Or was it something that was overlooked?

In the past, previous governments . . . haven’t had the courage to be honest with Ontarians about the true cost of energy. They have, at times, frozen energy rates at the expense of creating new generation and investing in our energy infrastructure. The cost of that is, we’ve had to play catch-up for seven years.

Q But what about the double whammy of the HST coming on hydro bills?

The HST is offset by tax cuts that have been extensive. The most significant tax cuts in the history of the province have taken place this year to both businesses and people.

Q People are already conserving energy. They’ve been hearing the message for years and, yet, the bills keep going up. Now, they’re beginning to wonder, will they be able to conserve enough to maintain the current prices they pay for electricity?

Our efforts to encourage conservation have resulted in about 1,700 megawatts being saved. We still believe we have a long way to go (toward) changing our culture, (toward) creating a culture of conservation in our province.

Q But it doesn’t seem possible we can mitigate all the increases through conservation.

I think one of the things we are really keen on doing is being straight up and honest with Ontarians. Our conservation efforts will, in all likelihood, not offset those costs entirely but they give families the opportunity to mitigate some of those costs.

Q What sorts of things are you hoping to have in place, and when, to help low-income residents?

We are working on a low-income strategy right now. The Ontario Energy Board is doing some work to provide us with some recommendations. But on top of that in the recent budget we came forward with a property and energy tax credit to provide substantial savings for low-income Ontarians when it comes to energy.

Q When will the low-income strategy be in place?

I don’t have an exact timetable, but my expectation is we should have that sometime in the coming year.

Q If it happens after this winter, there are going to be a lot of people — seniors on fixed income and social assistance — who rely on electrical heat. It’s going to be a tough winter for some of these people.

The energy tax credit is something that will benefit those vulnerable seniors and those in low-income categories. However, we recognize there are other things we need to do to assist the vulnerable, not only in recovering from their energy costs but in how energy policies are administered.

Q Are you hearing concerns (about the rate hikes) all across Ontario?

I think we are very sensitive to, and understand, the challenges to families of increasing energy rates. That challenge would be that much greater to families if they didn’t have energy at all available. We’ve had to make these investments. They’re tough decisions, but over the long haul they will be decisions our generation will be proud to have been able to make.

10 thoughts on “One-on-one with Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid

  1. Rate hikes are just one problem…………the continuous power surges and mini blackouts lately are costing homeowners hundreds of extra dollars in replacement of modems, phone systems, digital equipment amongst other devices that have been so common lately that I know of at least a dozen families in our small town of 250 people who have had major expenses within the last two months.

    I believe the combination of Stupid “Smart Meters” and the unstable entry of “Green Power” in the aging grid is causing massive problems.

    I wrote Hydro One my fifth letter this week stating the problems and expect NO ANSWERS!

    Duguid’s interview is like listening to a child who was caught with a “girlie magazine” under his mattress!

    And this guy has access to OUR money?………..talk about the “idiots running the asylum!”

  2. Can you spot all the misstatements and obfuscation?

    I won’t detail them as there are too many, but think about this stuff and start looking…

    Let’s see we have currently online at least 28,272 MW — without wind. Add their stated capacity and we have 29,357MW. This taken from the Hourly Generator output on the RH side of the page.

    Our Projected draw for today is about at the 18,000 to 19,000W level. Power draw has been decreasing for over years. I have referenced their table many times — but can’t find it today. Anyway a graph is in Watts with the Wind (Viability Section).

    Suggesting that we need “reliable” wind power is such a distortion of the truth that a I can think of no response other than to ask if he has looked at the production figures for “Reliable” wind. He is living in a fantasy world is my conclusion.

    Butt this is my favorite:

    “I think one of the things we are really keen on doing is being straight up and honest with Ontarians.”

    It requires no response at all.

  3. Can you believe this guy??!!
    “I think we are very sensitive to, and understand, the challenges to families of increasing energy rates. That challenge would be that much greater to families if they didn’t have energy at all available.”
    Such as….when the turbines and solar projects start running the grid? That’ll be challenging!! Lights on, lights off.

    And then this: “previous governments . . . haven’t had the courage to be honest with Ontarians about the true cost of energy”.
    OK…that statement really was too funny. I mean sometimes you just have to laugh at stupidity and arrogance or this issue will drive you insane.
    I’m so glad Duguid is being so honest with us in telling us we are going to be sunk in a hole. Really nice guy, and I really dig his ‘intesinal fortitude’ to screw us over this badly. Yuck.

  4. Brad Duguid, don’t try and use what happened seven years ago as an excuse, it was a series of multiple infrastructure problems, state side that caused the Blackout, it was not a demand problem and you know that to be the truth.

    Our problem is with our grid, it’s old and out dated so put the blame where blame is due, stop flinging the dung and start telling Ontario the truth.

  5. Mr. Alias:

    Having read some of the reports on the “Great Blackout”….

    There was load problem in the states which should have been easily handled by the SCADA programs and operator intervention. There was a series of software and oversight failures which compounded the problem.

    To even suggest there was a lack of Power Generating Capacity in Ontario suggests a complete lack of understanding. However, I am not aware of any technical ability in M. Minister. Can anyone suggest otherwise?

  6. Lies. Brad chooses to deliver the spin. He is just pathetic. Perhaps, deep in himself, there is some moral fibre – I do not know. I do know that this “government” is psychopathic and deeply paranoid, and the people are to be duped, silenced through removal of democratic process, or destroyed by demoralization and compromised health. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Whether or not one feels compassion for the psychopath, it is important to know who/what we a dealing with – then proceed, as we are, to disarm them through truth, integrity and personal power en masse.

  7. No help for the citizens of Ontario from the sycophant press like the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail….

    Is it hard for them to breathe with their heads up their collective butts ?

  8. Electricity or shelter? Shelter or food? There is a commercial that covers the problems some people are having. It seems electricity availability was already a problem for some people prior to the raise in rates. How is making expensive electricity available going to help them?

  9. Did ANYONE wexpect any honest answers? Ifyou did, I have a 2.Mw wind turbine to sell you for 3 bucks.

    You guys have no idea who is financing these projects and how much it will cost. If I say $120 in the next 20 years. Would you guess it’s…..

    ….thousands?

    …millions?

    ….billions?

  10. And another investigation!

    Canada Post issued a stamp with a picture
    of (insert PM or Premier of your choice, I am not stepping into that minefield) on it.

    The stamp was not sticking to envelopes.

    This enraged the Politician who demanded a full investigation.

    After a month of testing and spending $4.1 million, a special commission presented the following findings:

    1. The stamp is in perfect order.

    2. There is nothing wrong with the adhesive.

    3. People were spitting on the wrong side of the stamp.

    Any thoughts on who the Premier could be?

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