NORTH BAY – “If Ontario is ever to see economic recovery, we can’t let this continue,” charges Vic Fedeli, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Nipissing. Fedeli says it’s time Ontario started paying attention to a growing global trend in green energy. “While Dalton McGuinty continues to drag us down his ideological green garden path – siphoning more and more money out of your wallet with each monthly hydro bill in the process — the rest of the world is doing a complete rethink on green energy,” Fedeli commented.
“This week, it was reported Spain is halting subsidies for renewable energy projects to help curb its budget deficit. (BusinessWeek, Jan 30, 2012) There, state-backed energy system borrowings reached $31 billion US at the end of 2011. That country’s Industry Minister said “what is today an energy problem could become a financial problem.”
“Well, it already IS a financial problem in Ontario!” Fedeli exclaimed, pointing to the recent report from the province’s Auditor General which stated Ontario lost $1.8 billion over the past six years exporting power to Quebec and the United States. “We force intermittent wind power onto the grid creating a surplus at time we don’t need it, and have to sell that power at a loss. In the first 10 months of 2011 alone, we lost $420 million doing this,” said Fedeli, who noted the trend away from these subsidies is spreading around the world.
“Various recent media reports show Germany is moving to make quicker cuts to subsidized rates for solar power and phase out support for the industry by 2017,” continued the MPP. “Their Economic Minister said spiraling costs linked to solar subsidies are a threat to the economy. It doesn’t stop there. Italy is also planning new cuts to renewable energy production incentives. The Dutch have deemed offshore wind turbines too expensive. And Great Britain is going before its Supreme Court to challenge a ruling that its plan to axe solar subsidies was illegal. Losing the court battle could cost British taxpayers the equivalent of nearly $270 million”.
“So what are we doing in Ontario? We’re continuing to pay up to 80 cents a kilowatt hour for solar contracts through the Feed-In-Tariff program for power that can be sold for five cents – or less,” Fedeli argued. “The FIT program is currently undergoing a review, but we have to ask whether simply reducing the overbloated subsidies is enough. I contend it isn’t and believe the program should be scrapped, period.”
Fedeli stressed the PC caucus believes green energy is an important part of Ontario’s energy supply mix now and in the future. However, it must be affordable and it isn’t right now. “The cost of power in Ontario went up 9.8 per cent last year alone!” said Fedeli. “Under the current system, it’s forecast to go higher. That means even more industries leaving Ontario, and neighbouring provinces and states competing even harder against us.”
The Auditor General reported that for every green job Ontario has created, another two to four jobs have been lost in other industries.