By Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times (May 11, 2016) – A hike in hydro prices that came into effect at the beginning of the month will leave families struggling to decide between spending on food or heating their homes, according to the Simcoe North’s MPP.
“We continue to be frustrated that political interventions into the energy sector have damaged the quality of life,” said Patrick Brown, who is also leader of the province’s Progressive Conservatives. “Too many families are struggling to pay their hydro bills.”
“In (Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario, if you use more energy, you get charged more, but if you use less energy, you get charged more as well,” he added.
The hike is expected to add an average of $3 to monthly hydro bills.
Hydro rates in Ontario are three times higher than those in Quebec, Brown said, and twice as high as in Manitoba.
He said Ontario continues to have a surplus of energy, which is being sold to places such as Manitoba, Quebec, Michigan and New York, yet the province is signing more contracts for renewable energy.
“Just last month, the government signed 16 contracts, and what I would say is that as long as there’s a surplus, that is foolish,” said Brown. “That is redundant, and we’re all paying for it.”
The MPP said some of the companies that were contracted for renewable-energy projects had donated to the Liberals, while some that didn’t donate did not receive contracts. The Ministry of Energy called his insinuations baseless.
In an email, Dan Moulton, senior adviser in Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s office, said the large renewable procurement process is administered by the Independent Electricity System Operator and is completely non-political.
Of the 28 developers who submitted contracts, 12 who had also donated to the Liberals were not successful. Of the 12 developers who were successful in their proposals, four had not made donations and another four had also donated to the Progressive Conservatives.
“Over the past 10 years, Ontario has taken a dirty, unreliable electricity system and made it clean — and one we can all count on,” Moulton said.
Selling a portion of Hydro One will only make matters worse, Brown said, since the private sector is motivated by profit, not by affordable rates. PC policy would be to keep hydro in public hands, he said.
Moulton said a move by the PCs to offer lower rates would mean “a return to dirty coal, which Ontarians don’t want.”
“Moving forward, we will continue to focus on managing a system that is clean, reliable and affordable for all,” he said.