Ontario ratepayers last year paid $1 billion to dump cheap electricity into neighbouring states and provinces, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns says.
Beleaguered Ontario ratepayers last year paid $1 billion to dump cheap electricity into neighbouring states and provinces, NDP energy critic MPP Peter Tabuns claims.
“We’ve done the math, we found that last year (2013) Ontario subsidized power to people in the United States and Quebec and Manitoba to the tune of over a billion dollars,” the Toronto-Danforth MPP told reporters Monday.
“It is an extraordinary expense that people are carrying on their electricity bills. We think this is a broken system,” Tabuns said, adding that the cost to each of the 4.9 million Ontario ratepayers is about $220 a year.
This is not the first time that this kind of expensive power dump has been raised, including by Ontario’s auditor general.
In 2012, the Council for Clean and Reliable Electricity published a paper stating that Ontario consumers subsidized out-of-province electricity buyers to the tune of $1.2 billion over the previous three years.
While it costs 8.55 cents a kilowatt hour to produce electricity in Ontario, excess power was sold to five neighbouring jurisdictions — Michigan. New York, Minnesota, Manitoba and Quebec — for 2.65 cents/kwh, Tabuns said.
Tabuns, the NDP energy critic, insists the underlying problem is that the Liberal government has entered into too many electricity production contracts, resulting in an over-abundance of power.
“They have pursued private power contracts that have given us more power than we can consume and it goes back to policies that are extraordinarily expensive,” he said.
In Thornhill, where she was campaigning for the Feb. 13 byelection in the riding, Premier Kathleen Wynne said it’s a little rich for the New Democrats to be criticizing the Liberals’ energy policies.
“When we came to office (in 2003) we had an electricity system that was in a shambles,” Wynne told reporters Monday.
“We have made investments, we have come off coal, which means that air quality has improved and kids with asthma are not having to suffer with poor air quality.
“What I would also say to the NDP is there has not been a plan. They’re not supportive of nuclear, they’re not supportive of coal, they’re not supportive of green energy, so that pretty much leaves a blank slate in terms of a plan.”
“The province is going to have to look at how it contains power generation so we are not continuing to pay these huge subsidies,” Tabuns said.
Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s office insisted that Tabuns’ math is wrong.
“According to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), Ontario’s consumers benefit from (those) electricity exports, they do not subsidize them. In fact, exports reduced costs for Ontarians by approximately $300 million in 2013, according to the IESO.”
“Since 2006, Ontario’s net revenue from electricity exports has been over $2 billion. These include exports to all the neighbouring jurisdictions in Canada and the USA.”
Tory MPP and energy critic Lisa MacLeod scoffed at Tabuns’ criticism given that the New Democrats have consistently supported the Liberal government’s heavily subsidized support of wind and solar power — “power that we don’t need.”
“We cannot continue to pay people to take our power because the people on the hook for it are the (Ontario) ratepayers,” she told the Star.