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Energy File Mismanaged By Liberals Out of Touch With Impact

(May 15, 2015) This week hundreds of average Ontarians gathered outside Queen's Park to protest skyrocketing hydro rate increases. I was pleased to stand by their side.

The reality is that power rates have tripled since the Liberals took office in 2003. The day Dalton McGuinty became Premier the average consumer paid $780 per year for hydro. That is now up to $1,800 per year. It translates to a $1,020 increase per household or an extra $4.6 billion a year in charges to Ontarians.

In other words, power rates have gone from 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour in 2003 to 16 cents in 2015 and are expected to reach 20 cents by 2018-19.

And as if this wasn't enough, Premier Wynne's long-term energy plan will force bills to skyrocket even further. The removal of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit in December 2015 and the latest 15 percent rate increase on May 1st will add an average $205 per year to your hydro bill.

Then there is the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) that will cost 4.5 million ratepayers an additional $8.50 per year, while providing a $30 credit to 500,000 low income customers. Even then, there still remains a question about who will actually benefit from this program since electricity costs are included in the rent for social housing units.

The bottom line is that hydro rates are unaffordable, and it's all caused by the Ontario Liberals' mismanagement of the energy file.

The Global Adjustment charge is one example of that Liberal mismanagement. It is essentially a direct tax to pay for the Liberal's choices in energy policy. It did not exist when I was in government and has increased 1,200 per cent since it was introduced in 2006. The Auditor General exposed that the Global Adjustment collected from hydro is close to $50 billion, and has largely been used to subsidize expensive wind and solar contracts.

Another example is the $2 billion wasted by this government on the installation of smart meters. Last December's Auditor General's report revealed that the meters do not accurately relay information or encourage conservation as the Liberals said it would. This waste is being recouped somewhere through ratepayers.

The Liberals also cost Ontarians $1.1 billion when they cancelled two gas-fired power plants to save seats going into the 2011 election. This scandal was allegedly covered up through the deletion of emails, which is still under OPP investigation.

Parker Gallant, a retired banker and energy expert, has said that Ontario is exporting energy to neighbouring jurisdictions for a price lower than it costs to produce. At the same time, Ontarians also pay wind and solar producers for their energy whenever it is produced, even in excess, at a rate that is much higher than they could ever sell it for.

To make matters worse, now the Liberals want to sell a 60 per cent share of Hydro One, which will remove any independent oversight or consumer protection, including: the Ombudsman who is currently conducting the largest investigation ever into billing practises; the Auditor General; the Integrity Commissioner; the Sunshine List, Freedom of Information requests; and, the Financial Accountability Officer.

What the Liberals' have done with the energy file is nothing short of an abuse of taxpayers' money and a betrayal of public trust. I urge Ontarians to show their disapproval by speaking out on this issue.


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