The Power Plant Fiasco

November 4, 2013

By Jim McDonell

 

Last month, the Ontario Auditor General confirmed what we have believed all along, that the cost to cancel the Oakville power plant was $815 million, substantially more than the $40 million that the Premier, Cabinet Ministers and Liberal staffers were claiming under oath.  When added to the Mississauga cancellation, this pushed the total cost of a decision to hold onto four Liberal seats to almost $1.1 billion.  This report was just one of the many disturbing events in the two year saga that included committee hearings into the cost and details of the cancellation that were riddled with conflicting testimony between ministers, their staff and the Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the illegal destruction of government emails and records that led to Privacy Commissioner’s report of last May, the contempt motions, and the resignation of the Premier and the Minister of Energy.

 

With an OPP investigation into the illegal deletion of emails and government records by Liberal members and staff still under underway, the total story will take some time to play out.  The Auditor General’s report also highlighted some additional disturbing issues.  First, the Liberal government could have let the Oakville plant cancellation occur at little cost to the Ontario electricity consumer.  The contract allowed for both parties to walk away from the agreement if the plant could not be constructed by a predetermined date.  As the report indicated, current legal actions by the local government were such that construction within the specified timeframe was very unlikely.  The Liberal commitment to make the contractor whole negated the escape clauses in the contact.  The mad rush to bury the issue and settle it at any cost is impossible to explain, unless one takes the Liberal party’s political interests and the upcoming 2011 election into account.   Second, the mismanagement of the energy file is so great that the delay in the delivery of the plant’s power will temporarily reduce the need to subsidize our surplus energy exports to our neighbors by $218 million.

 

In the November 2011 Auditor General report, Mr. McCarter identified some of the horrendous costs of the Liberal Green Energy Act and its effect on Ontario’s energy rates.  He stated that no comprehensive evaluation was done on the impact of the act’s billion-dollar commitment to renewable energy on such things as future electricity prices, net job creation or losses across the province, and greenhouse gas emissions.  This act will cost the power users in Ontario more than a billion dollars a year for the next 20 years and has contributed to making our electricity rates the highest in North America.

 

As a result of this expensive energy experiment, we see more and more companies closing their doors and taking their jobs to our neighboring provinces and states because they can’t afford to do business in Ontario anymore.  In September, the Minister of Energy announced that they will be paying our wind turbines not to produce power because of the unmanageable surpluses, but they are still approving new sites to be built.  It’s time for the Wynne Liberal government to admit that their flagship energy policies were a mistake and cancel the Green Energy Act for the betterment of the province.  This wasted $1 billion could have done so much good, like funding over 21,000 seniors in a long term bed for a year.  When is enough enough?