Why Wynne was booed on hydro

It’s hard to imagine Premier Kathleen Wynne being applauded anywhere in Ontario over hydro rates.

So it’s not surprising she was booed at the International Plowing Match Tuesday in Harriston, Ontario, when she started talking about them.

Wynne told reporters she understood the frustration many rural residents — who have been particularly hard hit by skyrocketing electricity rates — are feeling.

Many may not be aware, she said, that the government is offering qualified rural residents hydro savings of up to 20% as announced in the throne speech.

But beyond soaring prices, rural Ontario has also been ground zero in the war between local communities and Ontario’s wind development industry over the invasion of unpopular industrial wind factories under the Liberals.

Adding insult to injury, wind power makes the hydro system run less efficiently, and thus more expensively, because of its intermittent nature and the fact it has to be purchased before other less expensive forms of green energy such as hydro power.

The current and previous auditors general of Ontario have identified numerous blunders by the Liberal government in developing green energy as one of the major reasons for rapidly increasing hydro rates.

Wynne argues the Liberals had to make major improvements to the grid because of the poor state it was in when they came to power in 2003.

It’s true significant repairs were needed and the cost of electricity would have gone up no matter who won that election.

But, according to Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk, the Liberals have also done a poor job on that file.

Lysyk reported in December, 2015 in her last audit of Hydro One — since the Liberals are now selling 60% of it to the private sector — that between 2010 and 2014, its mainly rural customers experienced 24% more outages lasting 30% longer, while costs to maintain the system increased 31%.

She called it “consistently one of the least reliable among large Canadian electricity distributors.”

Between 2012 and 2014, Lysyk found, Hydro One’s maintenance backlog increased 47% and outages 7%, with a risk of more power failures because it wasn’t replacing $4.5 billion worth of worn out equipment.

In other words, this is unlikely to be the last time Wynne gets a rough ride in rural Ontario over electricity.

Toronto Sun Staff

Sept 20th 2016

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