The legacy of wind will cost our economy billions

By MPP Toby Barrett

Last month’s announced change to the Samsung agreement ushered in the latest government admission that its green energy program is a failure. It’s a failure that has doubled electricity costs, alienated rural communities and never come close to the unbelievable promise of new jobs.

Instead of $9.7 billion for 2,500 megawatts of electricity, as the secret sweetheart Samsung deal originally proposed, Ontario will now spend $6 billion for 1,369 megawatts of electricity – electricity we still don’t need.

The kicker is that while government once boasted Samsung would create 16,000 new manufacturing jobs, it is now bragging about an extended commitment for a promised 900. The $6 billion price tag means we’re spending $6.7 million for each job created. Throw in another $600 to $900 million for politically-driven gas plant cancellations, and it’s no wonder we’re heading for the highest electricity prices in North America.

While we in Opposition have been calling for a change of course on the Green Energy Act, the Samsung retreat only exacerbates an already untenable arrangement. It also does nothing to slow massive industrial wind towers marching on Haldimand-Norfolk. While we pay the bills, we watch 600 jobs at OPG Nanticoke leave as wind towers arrive.

I note as well that even as the Minister of Energy has talked of now seeking municipal input for future wind projects, the Premier says municipalities with “unwilling hosts” declarations are, “out-of-luck” on already approved wind developments.

For our part in Opposition, we’ve been telling anyone who would listen since the inception of the Green Energy Act (GEA) government’s green gamble was doomed to failure. I’ve joined protests, both locally and at Queens Park, spoke at meetings, read in petitions and argued in the house against this draconian attempt to shove industrial turbines down the throats of unwilling rural residents. Instead of listening, government has rejected calls for moratoria and impact studies, leaving rural people to deal with issues regarding property value, health, bird-kill and bird habitat.

So after years of fighting this wrong-headed pollyannaish green vision, we are left with a McGuinty-Wynne gift that just keeps on taking….our money, our jobs, our rural scenery, our health and our property values. Electricity rates have more than doubled in the past decade, while we pay our neighbouring jurisdictions a billion dollars to take our surplus power – helping them compete against Ontario for jobs and investment.

This hardly comes as a surprise given the fact Auditor General Jim McCarter predicted back in 2011 that Ontario’s green energy policies were adding $220 million a year to electricity bills – while international reports suggested that for every green job created four to seven other jobs are lost.

Meantime, reports of a $55 million Samsung-Six Nations agreement, along with recent headlines of $8 million from Next Era to Six Nations only lead to further questions.

Bottom line, the recent changes to the Samsung agreement and government’s approach to green energy procurement amount to little more than window dressing on a ramshackle house. The McGuinty-Wynne legacy will remain – the elimination of market forces and the creation of a top-down regime that will cost our economy in Ontario billions of dollars. In the end we’re still left with a mess on our hands we’ll all be paying to clean up.