KENORA – LEADER’S LEDGER – Our government was elected on a promise to reduce the costs of electricity for the people of Ontario. Prior to the last election, Ontarians faced skyrocketing hydro rates—even as the province generated more power than was needed, at staggering costs. The previous government expanded renewable energy at an unsustainable rate, resulting in unaffordable contracts providing unused surplus power.
According to the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electricity bills in 2017. In 2017, 26 per cent of electricity generated from wind and solar was curtailed or wasted. This is electricity that Ontarians paid for but didn’t need or use.
One of our first actions was to wind down over 750 renewable energy contracts to avoid up to $790 million in long term electricity system costs for ratepayers. We did this by taking a hard look at the renewable energy projects still under development and identified for cancellation, contracts that would have put Ontario ratepayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.
We took a responsible approach by selecting those that hadn’t met key development milestones while legislating protections that ensure ratepayers aren’t stuck with the bill. We have been clear since day one that we will wind down these unnecessary renewable energy contracts as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent. We will continue to take the necessary steps toward keeping that promise.
Further, the Green Energy Repeal Act gives Ontario the authority to withhold approvals for renewable energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated. This puts the brakes on additional projects that will increase costs on electricity bills that the people of Ontario simply cannot afford.
As a part of this process, we also heard loudly from communities who want to be able to decide which renewable projects best suit them. The Green Energy Repeal Act also amended the Planning Act to restore municipal siting authority over new renewable energy projects, ensuring that new renewable energy projects would never be forced into unwilling communities again.
Environmental protection isn’t the enemy of economic growth or sensible policy—but ideologically driven decision-making that benefits political insiders at the cost of taxpayers is. Our government will continue to push back against out of touch legislation. The days of expensive contracting and unpopular projects forced on local municipalities are over in Ontario.
Greg Rickford MPP