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Tim Hudak: We'll cancel sweetheart Samsung deal  

Credit:  Special to Financial Post, financialpost.com 10 May 2011 ~~

Excerpt: These remarks were ­delivered on Tuesday at the Ontario Power Summit in Toronto by Tim Hudak, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader.

Since I became Ontario PC leader nearly two years ago, skyrocketing hydro and energy bills have emerged as the No. 1 issue I hear about. Families are struggling to keep up.

From smart meters, to the Green Energy Act, to the sweetheart Samsung subsidy, electricity bills continue to climb. Dalton McGuinty’s own Long-Term Energy Plan estimates hydro bills will rise another 46% within the next four years – and I suspect he’s lowballing that figure.

There is perhaps no better example of this government forgetting that families pay the bills than their flawed approach to renewables and the Feed-in Tariff program. We’ve all watched the problems with the FIT program unfold in our daily newspapers. Signing deals, in some cases, that are 20 times the going rate for power. Offering farmers contracts with no capacity to hook them up to the grid. Cancelling offshore wind projects to protect Liberal Cabinet ministers.

And then paying neighbouring states and provinces to take our power when we have a windy night, and once again sticking Ontario families with the bill in return. There is no other jurisdiction in all of North America that contracts power like we see in the FIT program.

Only in Ontario do we pay energy developers 80¢ for 5¢ power. And these rates will not change. They have bound Ontario families to these contracts with expensive rates for the next 20 years.

And perhaps the most egregious example of their flawed approach is the sweetheart Samsung deal. At the very same time that Dalton McGuinty was writing the rules for the feed-in tariff program, he was negotiating an entirely different set of rules in a $7-billion dollar sole-sourced contract with a foreign-based multinational corporation.

The Samsung deal is the largest deal signed by far during McGuinty’s eight years in office. There was no competitive bidding process. There were no lobbyists registered. There was no transparency or opportunity for Ontario companies to come to the table. And to make matters even worse, we still don’t know the details of the deal and the government refuses to tell you or Ontario families just what they have committed us to.

I have always said that renewables should be a part of Ontario’s supply mix, but I would take a fundamentally different approach to integrate them into our system. An approach that ensures competitive procurement, transparency and affordability for the consumers who pay the bills.

Let me address each of these in turn.

Instead of signing massive, sole-sourced deals, I will ensure all Ontario power generators are given equal opportunity to compete for transmission space in a fair, transparent and open process. Much like the secret Samsung deal, there was never any transparency in how these FIT prices – like the 80¢ for solar projects – were set in the first place. And now that these 20-year deals have been signed, there is no room for competition to drive these prices down over time. I think we should let the market – in a fair, competitive, transparent process – dictate the price.

We will also take the decisions on where to put wind farms out of the backrooms at Queen’s Park and restore local decision-making powers the Green Energy Act stripped from municipalities.

Let the elected officials have their say, let local families have their say on the siting of these projects.

Lastly, instead of engaging in social engineering and expensive experiments, I will integrate renewable sources at prices families can afford. I have always said that renewables must be a part of our diverse supply mix, but they must be at rates that Ontario families and businesses can afford.

Even Dalton McGuinty says the largest contributing factor to rising hydro prices over the next several years will be his FIT and Samsung projects.

Let me be clear. An Ontario PC government will end the sweetheart Samsung deal. Also, we will end the FIT program. It is unsustainable and is unnecessarily driving up the cost of energy for families and businesses.

And finally, I believe these expensive energy experiments like the Samsung deal flunk economic sense.

As premier, I will take a completely different approach. I believe energy policy must be treated as economic policy. Reliable and affordable hydro so businesses can hire again, so families can pay the bills.

A balanced supply mix has always been our strength. Ontario has been well served by hydroelectricity and nuclear power. And these reliable, emissions-free sources of energy must remain the workhorse of Ontario’s energy system. Wind and solar are intermittent sources of power. They can complement a 21st century economy, but they cannot power it.

Source:  Special to Financial Post, financialpost.com 10 May 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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