by Jonathan Jenkins, Toronto Sun
TORONTO – There’s a lot to dislike in all the major parties’ energy platforms, analyst Tom Adams says. “It’s shocking the kind of monoculture of political thinking that has been established here,” Adams said, noting all three campaigns are offering electricity ratepayers relief by dinging provincial taxpayers. “They’ve all got these schemes that ramp up the cost (of electricity) while hiding it under the rug. It’s just shocking. “I’m stunned by how irresponsible that is.”
The criticism applies equally to the Liberals’ Clean Energy Benefit that shaves 10% off electricity bills for five years at a cost of $1.1 billion a year, as well as Tory and NDP promises to remove 8% of the HST from home energy and electricity charges, which would cost a similar amount. The PCs are also committing to remove the Debt Retirement Charge from bills, something Adams called irresponsible.
Adams, who has in the past worked with the Progressive Conservatives on energy policy, ripped Leader Tim Hudak’s “Changebook” proposals as “a shell game” devised with little thought or care.
“Speaking as a conservative, I do not trust Mr. Hudak’s plan,” Adams wrote in an Aug. 6 posting to his website, tomadamsenergy.com. “Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party needs a real energy plan.”
Adams said he approves of Hudak’s plan to scrap the Liberals’ feed-in-tariff (FIT) subsidies for renewable energy — a guaranteed pricing structure designed to stabilize prices — but finds little else in the PC plan to recommend.
“Where I’m most critical of what Hudak is proposing is when he sounds like the Liberals,” Adams said.
The Liberals don’t fare any better.
“The FIT program is anti-competitive, absurdly inefficient, corrosive of community harmony in regions subject to unwelcome wind development, and outrageously contemptuous of consumers,” Adams wrote. “(It) has made Ontario an international magnet for carpet baggers seeking to jump on the gravy train while McGuinty is still pouring the ratepayer’s champagne.”
Energy Minister Brad Duguid said the subsidies are necessary.
“Without putting attractive FITs in place, Ontario would not have been able to achieve what we’ve been able to achieve,” Duguid said. “We’ve become the leading jurisdiction in the world, attracting $20 billion of investment into our economy and creating 20,000 jobs.”
PC energy critic John Yakabuski said Adams wasn’t completely down on the PC plan.
“In fairness he’s far more critical about what Dalton McGuinty’s been doing, and he’s particularly supportive of our plan to end the FIT contract and to cancel the deal with Samsung, those things that are adding up to huge increases on the energy bills of families and small businesses,” said Yakabuski, adding the HST cut remains a key plank for the Tories. “We’re confident that we’ve done the homework and people have been telling us over and over again they are looking for some sort of relief.”