TORONTO - If the Ontario government wants to make a dent in soaring hydro rates it should scrap its controversial Green Energy Act.
That according to Christine Van Geyn, the Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. She says Premier Kathleen Wynne’s acknowledgement Wednesday that her government needs to move to address the high cost of electricity is coming far too late for many Ontarians.
“Call me a cynic, but if it takes losing a by election of a Liberal stronghold for this to become an urgent issue maybe you don’t actually care about it,” she said of last week’s vote in Scarborough-Rouge River.
Progressive Conservative candidate Raymond Cho beat Liberal Piragal Thiru by 2,000 votes, snatching the long-held riding from the government.
“It’s been an issue for people in this province for years,” Van Geyn said of the soaring rates. “It takes losing for her to listen.”
Wynne said Wednesday that her newly minted energy minister, Glenn Thibeault, will look into the problem. But the message sent by Scarborough voters — and people around the province — hasn’t been lost on her.
“It’s not something that is isolated in one riding in Toronto,” Wynne said. “This is a concern across the province and I recognize that.”
Van Geyn said that if the government were to dismantle the Green Energy Act that would help rein in rates.
“It’s the whole reason we’re in this mess,” she said of the act. “The auditor general found that as a result of these Green Energy Act contracts for wind and solar power, where we pay between two and three and a half times above market rate, we overpaid for power by about $37 billion.”
And if the government didn’t want to kill the act outright, it could pull back the throttle on signing new deals under it, Van Geyn said.
“Just ending new contracts would help,” she said. “(Wynne) knows that these are a problem. The auditor general has talked about them in repeated reports yet we see new Green Energy Act contracts getting signed.”