Niagara This Week
January 28, 2014


Hudak’s energy plan flawed

If you bring a hockey stick to a baseball game, you don’t tend to hit many home runs. Unfortunately, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak’s plan to cut electricity costs is all stick and no glove.

Mr. Hudak is busy swinging at solar panels and windmills while the nuclear industry that he wholeheartedly supports is applying for yet another whopping power price increase to start paying for what in all likelihood will be another costly boondoggle – the re-building of the aging Darlington nuclear station.

Mr. Hudak’s target — renewable energy sources with fully transparent fixed price contracts — contributed 10 per cent to the increase in Ontario’s electricity generation costs in 2012, according to a study produced by Navigant Consulting for the Independent Electricity System Operator. The same report noted that subsidies for nuclear power were responsible for 43 per cent of the rise in our electricity generation costs. And now Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is asking for a 30 per cent increase in the price it is paid for nuclear electricity to start paying for the re-building of its aging Darlington nuclear station.

Mr. Hudak often claims that Ontario simply has to bite the bullet on nuclear because we have no other options for “base-load” power. It’s the same argument that has been used for years to justify massive hidden subsidies and public bailouts for nuclear projects.

But it’s simply not true. Our next door neighbour, Quebec, is the fourth largest producer of water power in the world. And its electricity rates are amongst the lowest in North America. Its residential rates are 45 per cent lower than ours. And its rates for large industrial customers are 55 per cent lower. Nevertheless, in 2012, water power imports from Quebec met just 1.7 per cent of our electricity needs. This doesn’t make sense. By importing more hydro-electricity from Quebec we can lower our electricity bills and make our industries more competitive.

Now add to that the fact that Quebec is about to flip the switch on two massive new waterpower projects and you have a province that could soon be looking for somewhere — anywhere — to send millions of kilowatts. And, logically, that somewhere is Ontario. We already have inter-provincial transmission lines in place that can carry enough power from Quebec to replace almost the entire output of Darlington. All we need is a little inter-provincial cooperation

Jack Gibbons
Chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance