Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is pledging to reverse a key energy policy of the McGuinty government by ending generous, long-term contracts for wind, solar and other renewable-electricity projects.
Mr. Hudak would also rip up the $7-billion deal the McGuinty government signed in January, 2010, with a consortium led by South Korean industrial giant Samsung Group.
The Samsung deal, signed by former energy minister George Smitherman, gives the consortium preferential access to the province’s electricity grid and will cost every electricity consumer in the province an extra $1.60 a year on their bill for 25 years.
Mr. Hudak announced on Tuesday that he would honour existing renewable-energy contracts the government’s energy planning agency has inked with dozens of companies. But any future deals, he said, would be awarded through a competitive and transparent bidding process that would ultimately provide relief on hydro bills to Ontario families.
The Tories would end the McGuinty government’s “expensive and unsustainable” so-called Feed-In Tariff or FIT programs and its “sweetheart” Samsung deal if they win the election next October, Mr. Hudak pledged.
“I believe that competition, transparency and affordability are the best means of delivering value to families who pay the bills, and to the industry itself that deserves a predictable and open partner at Queen’s Park,” Mr. Hudak said.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid accused Mr. Hudak in Question Period of standing “steadfastly” against the creation of 16,000 new jobs in Ontario and of being against foreign companies and investment.
“For some reason,” Mr. Duguid said, “that party lives in fear of reaching out to the rest of the world.”
It is not at all clear how much leeway the Tories would have to cancel the Samsung deal or what penalties might be involved. Mr. Duguid told reporters he does not know how much in penalties the province would have to pay the consortium if it were to walk away from the deal.
The McGuinty government lured the company to the province with financial incentives over and above the generous guaranteed revenue stream his government pays green-energy companies. Samsung will receive $437-million in incentive payments over the 25-year life of the deal if it fulfills its obligation to create 16,000 jobs. This will be done by having Samsung woo renewable energy companies to the province. And this is the incentive that will add the $1.60 to consumers’ electricity bills.
“Samsung was basically saying, ‘sign a deal and trust us,’” Tory MPP Peter Shurman said in Question Period.
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