Wynne made the comments during a conference call with media from across the province. The premier has been aggressively selling the plan to cut hydro rates by 17% since it was announced last week. The cut jumps to 25% if a previous 8% HST rebate is included. But the price-tag of the rate cut – an estimated $25 billion in interest payments over the next 30 years – also came up again during the call.
Wynne acknowledged that the costs for instant relief from the rates comes at a price, and she doesn’t regret it. The government plan re-amortizes current 20-year contracts with electricity generation companies over 30 years, lowering current payments but incurring substantial debt. But the assets covered in the energy deals will have a life beyond the contracts, she said.
“My grandchildren will be paying for these things,” she said. “But they will be using them at the same time.”
Wynne told reporters that she and her team explored a number of options to dramatically cut rates but none provided the kind of customer relief that her government wanted in the near-term. That includes renegotiating green energy contracts which pay high rates to generation companies, she said.
“We actually had some of our business officials look at whether we could do it,” she said. “There are hundreds of these things. They looked at some of the biggest ones. Even if we could have re-negotiated them, it was going to be 53 cents off the bill here and 25 cents here. So, we weren’t seeing the kinds of returns that we needed.”
Wynne said she spoke with an academic who suggested the government simply legislate the deals away.
“He said you could just pass legislation and you could make them all null and void,” she said. “Well, we’d be in court forever.”
The premier also said that in the future, her government will approach green energy contracts differently. She pointed out that most of the previous deals were signed under her predecessor, former Premier Dalton McGuinty.
“We got into a lot of these contracts as a government under the previous premier because we were jump-starting an industry,” Wynne said. “The feed-in-tariff was high, (it was) the premium we were paying to get the industry started. I’m sure historians will have a debate about whether it was we paid too high a price or not.”
Wynne also defended the sell-off of 30% of Hydro One shares. She noted that before the shares went public, the company didn’t exactly have a sterling reputation with the public and that is changing because of the sell-off.
“There are a lot of improvements being made at Hydro One in terms of customer satisfaction,” she said. “The interesting thing was that Hydro One was not a company that was beloved before we made this decision. There were many, many complaints about Hydro One, about customer service, about the professionalism of the company. Those complaints are changing, they’re turning into much more positive responses.” – the moron seems almost proud that generations will pay for her mistake.
Toronto Sun by Shawn Jeffords
March 8th 2017