Hydro One’s decision to buy into a giant coal plant in Montana and a natural gas distribution system in the U.S. northwest is a huge step backward for this province’s climate leadership.

In Ontario, burning coal to produce electricity is illegal – a position supported by the vast majority of Ontarians. So the newly privatized Hydro One decided to invest in dirty air south of the border instead, offering to buy an American utility, Avista, that owns a slice of one of the continent’s largest coal plants.

Here in Ontario, we know firsthand the health and environmental costs of operating giant coal stations, such as the Nanticoke coal plant on Lake Erie, which was once the biggest coal burner – and one of the biggest polluters — in North America. That’s why we shut down our five dirty coal stations.

But instead of respecting Ontario’s leadership, Hydro One has slapped us in the face by going shopping for a utility that owns part of one of the largest polluters in the U.S. northwest – the Colstrip Power Plant in Montana.

Premier Kathleen Wynne assured us that privatizing Hydro One would be in the interest of all Ontarians and that the government would maintain a large say in the privatized utility’s actions. It’s time for the Premier to walk her talk by telling Hydro One to either drop its deal for Avista or – at the very least – use it to help shut down Colstrip.

In fact, instead of investing in a dirty coal-fired electricity generating station, Hydro One should be investing in energy efficiency to reduce the energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions of its Ontario customers.

The potential is huge – the Independent Electricity System Operator says we could cost-effectively reduce electricity use in Ontario by another 33% by 2035 .

Unfortunately, as a result of the Ontario Energy Board’s out-of-date rules, Hydro One currently thinks it is more profitable to invest in dirty U.S. coal than clean energy efficiency in Ontario. This has to change. It’s time for Premier Wynne to tell the Ontario Energy Board to make the promotion of energy conservation and efficiency Hydro One’s most profitable course of action.

Please send a message to Premier Wynne at premier@ontario.ca telling her to direct Hydro One to stay out of the coal business and to order the Ontario Energy Board to make the promotion of energy conservation and efficiency Hydro One’s most profitable course of action.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director