NEWS

Don’t blame green for power hike

[attach]5957[/attach]Every six months the Ontario government sets the new price for electricity and you find out about it when you open your bill. In fact hydro rates went up by eight percent for peak power on May 1.

Some would blame the high rates on government subsidies for wind and solar generation.

Nonsense.

For every $100 you pay for your hydro, $15 goes to pay off the nuclear debt. Decades ago the Conservatives spent tens of billions to build nuclear power plants that were to last 40 years. Each plant came in way over budget. And then we found out they only last 25 years, not 40.

Now, the Liberal government is committed to spending billions more on these plants. They have already signed a $600-million contract to plan the refurbishing of the Darlington nuclear power plant, with no idea of the ultimate cost. The only estimate the Liberals give is that it could cost $6–10 billion.

If you were going to add onto your house and the contractor said, it could cost $60,000, it could cost $100,000, would you just jump in?

Of every $100 you pay for your hydro, $10 goes to the profit-makers. Mike Harris started privatizing the hydro system and Dalton McGuinty keeps it going.

For example, Bruce Energy, which runs the Bruce Nuclear power complex, makes hundreds of millions a year in profits, as does the Japanese power company and Trans Canada Pipe Lines that own some of the new gas-fired power plants in Ontario.

When those profits leave Ontario we are poorer for it. There was a good reason Ontario set up a non-profit, Ontario-based hydro company a century ago and the reason still stands.

We’re also paying for the building of too many gas-fired power plants — plants that are guaranteed payments whether they operate or not.

In fact, we have built so many plants we are regularly subsidizing the export of power. We have a growing problem of surplus power; so much that we regularly pay customers, big industries and buyers in New York state, to take our power. The fancy term is negative pricing. The reality is we pay to produce the power and then we pay people to take it.

What about the impact of green energy? Is it driving up the price of power?

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner (like an auditor general) said in his report last year, “The ‘subsidies’ — for nuclear and gas plants are 70 percent of the subsidies on your power bill. Green energy, under five percent.”

Until the Liberals take an approach that deals with privatization, overbuilding and nuclear investment, we are going to keep seeing price jumps.