Trusting Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals to fix the hydro mess they’ve created is like trusting rabbits to guard the lettuce patch.
It requires an unshakeable belief, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that the same people who caused today’s runaway electricity prices know how to fix them.
And that the Liberals will keep their promise to lower hydro rates if they win next year’s election, the same party which came to power under Dalton McGuinty in 2003 solemnly promising not to raise our taxes.
McGuinty even signed a pledge during that election not to do so.
And we all know what happened next.
Based on their record, I wouldn’t trust the Liberals as far as I could throw them to keep any promise they’ve made, or will make, on hydro rates prior to the June, 2018 election, if they win it with a majority government.
To be fair to Wynne and McGuinty, they didn’t start the financial mess we see in today’s electricity sector, where hydro prices have doubled in a decade, despite a surplus of electricity, the exact opposite of how the market should work.
They inherited an expensive and aging power and transmission grid from the previous Progressive Conservative government, which inherited it from the previous NDP government, which inherited it from the Liberal government before that.
Electricity prices were going to go up substantially no matter who won the election that brought the Liberals to power in 2003.
But where the Liberals were responsible for putting the problems they inherited on steroids, was in their mad, reckless and irresponsible dash into green energy, without any understanding of what they were doing or its consequences.
What Ontarians got in return was unreliable and inefficient power that wasn’t needed, given the province’s energy surplus, energy which had to be backed up by new natural gas plants anyway, two of which the Liberals then infamously cancelled at a public cost of up to $1.1 billion over 20 years.
Because of the Liberals’ 20-year contracts with wind and solar developers, many of them major contributors to the Liberal party, Ontario hydro consumers and taxpayers were forced into buying their expensive and unreliable power first.
Even when it wasn’t needed and even if doing so made the entire electricity system operate less efficiently and thus more expensively.
In 2015, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk concluded the Liberals overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy, which was never needed to replace coal-fired electricity.
McGuinty promised to eliminate coal in the 2003 election for health and environmental reasons, saying it would be completed by 2007. It fact it took the Liberals until 2014.
But the Liberals didn’t replace coal, which provided 25% of Ontario’s electricity, with wind and solar power, which provided just 4% and which, unlike coal, couldn’t supply base load power to the grid on demand.
Instead, the Liberals replaced coal with nuclear power, which emits neither pollution nor greenhouse gases and natural gas, which burns at half the carbon intensity of coal.
Therein lies the ultimate Liberal blunder. They could have replaced coal power without spending a nickel on wind and solar, instead of creating the green energy mess they have.
Ontarians will be paying for that mistake for generations to come.
By Lorrie Goldstein
March 2nd 2017