QUEEN’S PARK – Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli was on the attack following the release of the Auditor General’s 2011 Annual Report. “The report absolutely confirms what the PCs have said about the McGuinty energy policy. Energy projects were fast-tracked to fit government policy, and the cost to the economy is about $300,000 per green energy job, and the loss of jobs”.
Auditor General Jim McCarter said in his report, “The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 was expected to support more than 50,000 jobs. However, about 30,000, of these jobs are likely to be short-term construction jobs. Studies in other jurisdictions have also shown that for each job created through renewable energy generation, two to four jobs are often lost in other sectors as a result of higher electricity prices”.
Fedeli also states that the real problems are that the McGuinty government in fast-tracking these projects has not considered if the electrical power generated can be connected to the power grid.
Additionally the MPP states that the AG found that in many cases Ontario doesn’t need the green energy capacity, and that it is not reliable enough to count on.
Fedeli was up in the Ontario Legislature before the Auditor General tabled his report seeking answers on energy sales to other provinces.
Here is the exchange from Hansard:
Mr. Victor Fedeli: Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy. Minister, we have a power problem in Ontario in that we’re selling our surplus power to Quebec and the United States for much less than it costs to produce, actually to the tune of $420 million. At the same time we have a surplus of energy, we’re forcing intermittent wind and solar power onto the grid at subsidy-inflated prices. This is driving up energy costs for Ontario families and businesses, who are already hurting.
Minister, will you please tell Ontario families why you’re driving up the cost of their energy bills to produce renewable energy we simply don’t need?
Hon. Christopher Bentley: You know, when we started in 2003, the energy system was a mess. There wasn’t enough generation, transmission was old and it was based on dirty coal. We made a decision: We’re going to get out of coal, clean up the air, improve the health of Ontarians and make sure we have reliable power. That’s been a long-term—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We had gotten so close. Let’s just stay like this for the last minute, please.
Hon. Christopher Bentley: That’s a long-term effort that requires decisions made three, five, 10 years in order to get the power you need on a specific day. We’re making great progress in cleaning up the air. We are rebuilding our transmission and generation systems, and we are actually making money every year so far on the in-and-out exports because they do contribute to the bottom line of the ratepayers of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Victor Fedeli: First the government piles up the costs from the cancelled Oakville plant, then the costs from the now cancelled Mississauga power plant, and now we have $420 million lost in surplus power sales to Quebec and the United States. Added up, we could very well have another billion-dollar boondoggle here.
We’re paying above-market prices for renewable energy that the grid doesn’t need and then selling it elsewhere when it’s not needed at below cost. This is sheer madness.
Minister, will you admit the green energy program has failed and pull back from the FIT subsidies which have led to job-killing energy prices?
Hon. Christopher Bentley: A little context: The two years previous to when we started in 2003, they paid almost a billion dollars to import power, and we’re making money from the exports. It’s a long-term approach.
But you know, cleaning up the air in the province of Ontario is important. It costs money for dirty air. It can cost $4 billion every year for dirty air from coal production, which they did. We save not only the money for hospitals, but we improve the lives of Ontarians, we protect the lives of Ontarians. We lessen the human suffering from dirty air.
The choice is clear: They’re for coal, we’re for clean. We chose clean on behalf of the people of Ontario and we stand by that decision.