"How do we make Ontario electricity more affordable for residents and business owners?"
When Sir Adam Beck lit up that first street sign that read ‘For the People’ he made it pretty clear who he thought the electricity system was supposed to serve.
You wouldn’t believe the stories that I get in my office. Just this month, I had one couple contact me to let me know that they had to take out another mortgage on their house. Another resorted to technology that Sir Adam would have recognized. They turned off their electric heat and put in a wood stove.
Such is the state of the electricity crisis in Ontario. Earlier this week a senior official in Ontario’s Liberal government told the CBC “We created a bit of a monster” when they described the surging electricity costs in Ontario. That might qualify as the understatement of the year.
Somewhere along the line, we stopped viewing the consumer as the person flipping a light switch and started seeing it as the government agency signing the power contract.
And now neither can afford the system.
When we talk about where we go from here, it’s important to understand that your answer is only as good as your information. And this Liberal government hasn’t been all that forthcoming with information. We don’t know the terms of the deals that were signed. We don’t know what clauses may be available to future governments or what companies were allowed to proceed with their projects even though they had violated the terms of their deal.
So, the first thing we have to do is commit to picking through each of these contracts to see if the terms were violated, if the deadlines were adhered to or, to put it simply, if there’s a way out. In my own riding of Prince Edward-Hastings, I’ve watched power companies ask for and get extensions from the government that drag the project out years beyond what was envisioned by the original deal. That’s not something you do if you’re on the side of the people paying hydro bills. It’s something you do if you’re on the side of the people sending them.
We also have to stop the Hydro One sale. According to the Auditor General, the company has a $4.4 billion transmission infrastructure deficit. The Auditor also pointed out that the result of this infrastructure deficit has been blackouts that are 24 per cent more frequent. Hydro One stockholders aren’t paying to improve transmission. Guess who will end up paying?
That’s where we have to start. But the reality is, the Liberals have such a hold on the information, we don’t know how bad the monster they admit they’ve created actually is.
Todd Smith is the PC Energy Critic and MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings.
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