MPP Column on Hydro

Over the last couple of years I have shared numerous stories in the Legislature about the impact of high hydro costs. I talked about frustration and anger people are feeling and the hard choices they have had to make. For a long time the government ignored these concerns and responded to the opposition’s questions by telling us there wasn’t a problem. The Minister of Finance went so far as to say that hydro bills were going down.

Now the government has finally acknowledged the impact of their hydro policies and the hardship that people are facing as a result. While I’m pleased they have listened to the fact that people need relief, I am concerned about the approach that they are taking. Unfortunately Premier Wynne and her government have done nothing to address the problems that created the increased costs.

We know that some of the hydro cost increases were due to contracts for renewable energy that the government awarded at rates as high as 80 cents a Kilowatt hour and the fact that we have signed contracts for power we don’t need which we are now paying other jurisdictions to take. However, the day after the government’s hydro announcement the government proceeded with more new contracts for green energy which will simply make the problem worse.

I am also concerned that they are simply delaying payment for many of these costs which is adding $25 billion in interest costs to the amount we will eventually pay – leaving our older selves and our children to pay for the problems this government has created. In fact in a call to an upset hydro ratepayer the Premier actually stated that the children who are in school today and going to have families in 10-15 years should be paying for these costs.

It is also concerning that although the government talks about amortizing the costs over 30 years many of these costs are not for government owned assets, but 20 year contracts with private sector companies. This means that we will be paying for the power for 10 years after it was used.

This government needs to realize not just that we have a crisis in hydro, but how we ended up here. They need to stop signing new contracts for power that we don’t need and can’t afford. They need to review existing contracts to see if there are savings. They need to address the exorbitant salaries of hydro executives – including the CEO who earns up to $4 million per year  – and they need to stop the sale of hydro one.

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to share their hydro stories with me and assure you I will continue to push the government to take real action to address the causes of these increases.