Hydro users can’t afford Samsung and costly FIT

By MPP Toby Barrett

With Ontario families already stretching to pay McGuinty’s electricity increases on today’s bills, they cannot afford hydro bills forecast to skyrocket 46 per cent annually over the next four years.

From smart meters, to the Green Energy Act, to the sweetheart Samsung subsidy, electricity bills continue to climb.

Dalton McGuinty’s Long-Term Energy Plan estimates bills will rise 46 percent. He also admits the majority of skyrocketing electricity costs will come from his Feed In Tariff (FIT) program and the Samsung project.

We’ve all watched the problems with the FIT program unfold:

• signing deals, as much as 20 times the going rate for power,
• offering farmers contracts with no capacity to hook them up to the grid,
• canceling off-shore wind projects to protect McGuinty cabinet ministers.

And then paying neighbouring states and provinces to take our power when we have a windy night, and sticking Ontario families with the bill. There is no other jurisdiction in North America that contracts power like the FIT program.

The most egregious example of this flawed approach is the sweetheart Samsung deal.

At the very same time that Dalton McGuinty was writing the rules for the FIT program, he was negotiating an entirely different set of rules in a $7-billion dollar sole-sourced agreement with a foreign-based multinational corporation.

There was no competitive bidding process, no transparency and no opportunity for Ontario companies. To make matters worse, we still don’t know details of the deal, and government refuses to divulge what it would cost to get out of it.

Recently Six Nations said they couldn’t trust the foreign multinational conglomerate Samsung to come through with the jobs, so they walked away. As I asked in the Legislature last week, “If Six Nations can walk away from Samsung without fearing penalty, why can’t this government?”

It’s time to put families first and respect they pay the bills. On the generation side, we require a competitive, transparent and accountable approach to integrate renewables into our diverse supply mix and put an end to sweetheart deals. We need to return to treating energy as economic policy – not social policy – and end day-to-day Queen’s Park interference.

Instead of signing massive, sole-sourced deals, we must ensure our home-grown companies are given equal opportunity to compete for transmission space in a fair, transparent and open process.

Much like the secret Samsung deal, there was never transparency in how these FIT prices – like the 80.2 cents per KwH for solar – were set in the first place. Now that these 20-year deals have been signed, there is no room for competition to drive prices down. The marketplace – in a fair, competitive, transparent manner – should dictate the price.

That’s why Opposition Leader Tim Hudak has announced plans to end McGuinty’s expensive and unsustainable FIT program, as well as the sweetheart Samsung deal.

But to be clear, those who have already invested under the current FIT rules can count on an Ontario PC government to honour their contracts.

Our approach – let the municipal officials have their say, let local families have their say and advisability on the siting and advisability of these projects.

There is no doubt that renewables must be a part of our diverse supply mix, but they must be at rates that Ontario families and businesses can afford.