On­tario Tories can­cel 758 clean en­ergy deals

The Niagara Falls Review - - Canada & World - SHAWN JEFFORDS

TORONTO — On­tario’s Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment is can­celling 758 re­new­able en­ergy con­tracts, in what it says is an ef­fort to re­duce elec­tric­ity bills in the prov­ince.

En­ergy Min­is­ter Greg Rick­ford said the move will save pro­vin­cial ratepay­ers $790 mil­lion — a fig­ure in­dus­try of­fi­cials dis­pute, say­ing it will just mean job losses for small busi­ness.

On Fri­day, Rick­ford said the gov­ern­ment plans to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion dur­ing its sum­mer sit­ting that would pro­tect hy­dro con­sumers from any costs in­curred from the can­cel­la­tion.

“For 15 years, On­tario fam­i­lies and busi­nesses have been forced to pay in­flated hy­dro prices so the gov­ern­ment could spend on un­nec­es­sary and ex­pen­sive en­ergy schemes,” Rick­ford said. “Those days are over.”

The gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment does not in­di­cate which projects are be­ing can­celled.

Rick­ford said the move is part of a cam­paign pledge the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives made dur­ing the spring elec­tion to end the projects.

“We clearly promised we would can­cel these un­nec­es­sary and waste­ful en­ergy projects as part of our plan to cut hy­dro rates by 12 per cent for fam­i­lies, farm­ers and small busi­nesses,” Rick­ford said. “In the past few weeks, we have taken sig­nif­i­cant steps to­ward keep­ing that prom­ise.”

John Gor­man, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian So­lar In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion, called the gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to can­cel the projects “rash.” Gor­man said the move will hurt small in­vestors who have put so­lar pan­els on their rooftops or prop­er­ties.

“This is not about big busi­ness,” he said. “This is about small rooftop projects that are owned by farm­ers and school boards and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and First Na­tions groups. The folks that will be hurt are the in­stall­ers and con­trac­tors and the en­gi­neers: the lo­cal guys, the lit­tle guys who have built up ex­pe­ri­ence in build­ing so­lar over the last few years.”

Gor­man said the de­ci­sion will likely lead to law­suits, and since the gov­ern­ment has not ac­tu­ally paid any money to the com­pa­nies, can­celling them will not bring hy­dro prices down.

“It’s pre­pos­ter­ous to try to tie the can­cel­la­tion of these small rooftop projects to any sav­ings on peo­ple’s elec­tric­ity bills,” he said.

“This would not even have reg­is­tered on the elec­tric­ity bills of On­tar­i­ans,” he said. “It’s just a lose, lose, lose sit­u­a­tion here, re­sult­ing from act­ing be­fore think­ing.”

NDP En­ergy critic Peter Tabuns said the de­ci­sion to can­cel the re­new­able en­ergy con­tracts will hurt thou­sands of jobs across the prov­ince and dam­age air and wa­ter qual­ity. The party called on Ford to stop can­celling con­tracts un­til the im­pact can be deter­mined.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.