We can save Ontario ratepayers billions of dollars by tearing up the green energy contracts that are playing a part in harming our economy, costing us manufacturing jobs and pushing people into poverty.
The political establishment and energy industry will say it can’t be done. Don’t listen to them. None of them have even tried and they don’t have your best interests in mind. Here’s how to get it done though:
Call up the companies the Liberals signed sweetheart deals with and tell them it’s not working anymore. Ontario has many contracts with companies large and small to pay them more than the going market rate for the renewable energy they produce. In some cases, we pay a staggering 40 times the rate.
They won’t be surprised to get our call. They’re probably expecting it and think we’re suckers for not trying to renegotiate sooner. Some will go along with it right away.
The deals many companies have with us right now are so generous that we can cut their rates by a lot and they’ll still walk away happy. The Liberals actually did just this back in 2012, cutting some contracts in half.
Others will say no though. And this is where the hardball begins: We tell them we’re tearing the contracts up.
If this brings them on board, then great. For the rest that call our bluff, turn the tables on them.
Hold a press conference to name and shame them. Physically tear up their contracts on television. Explain to the public that we gave these companies an out, that the ball was in their court, but instead they made the choice to become an enemy of the people.
After they see we aren’t joking, more will slink back and hammer out a deal. Others will posture that they want to go to court.
Good luck with that. While some of these companies have deep pockets — like Samsung, which has a multibillion-dollar deal with the province — and are up for a lengthy legal battle, many aren’t. They’ll settle. And maybe the big ones will too, as it’s the path of least resistance.
But it doesn’t even have to get to that point. This is because we can actually pass bills voiding contracts. Provinces have the power to do this, as Bruce Pardy, law professor at Queen’s University, wrote in 2014.
“If the Ontario Power Authority simply declared contracts under its Feed-In-Tariff to be terminated, the robust compensation clauses contained in those contracts would apply,” writes Pardy. “However, if instead the Ontario legislature passed a statue that explicitly denied the right to compensation, then no compensation would be payable.”
Now the biggest argument against going down this route is that it undermines the trust companies have in us as a contract partner. But this perspective will be isolated to the renewable energy sector, as our decision to tear up the deals will be based on factors specific to that industry.
So let me get this straight: If we tear up green energy contracts, the fallout will be that green energy companies will never want to enter into those sorts of contracts with us again? I fail to see the downside. Where’s the shredder? Let’s get started.
The opposition has been sheepish about playing hardball because they haven’t seen what’s in the contracts. But what they’ll likely find is there are indeed outs for us, they’re just ones the Liberals aren’t using.
It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. This was the case with the billion-dollar gas plants scandal, as the 2013 auditor general’s report explains: “The premier’s office committed to compensating (TransCanada Energy) for the financial value of its contract for the Oakville plant, even though events occurred that we believe could have enabled termination of the contract at a much lower cost.”
Ontario’s famous billion-dollar boondoggle was a choice. If we’d gone to court, passed legislation or even just negotiated more aggressively, we likely would have come out hundreds of millions of dollars ahead. But they never even tried.
It’s time to stop treating deals that were problematic in the first place as more important than the livelihood of the people of Ontario.
I’ve heard from people in this province who, due to energy costs, are now using food banks, maxing out their credit cards and not heating their homes.
This is a scandal. It needs to be solved. And tearing up lousy contracts is a part of the solution.