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Energy costs hidden: Retired banker

Retired banker Parker Gallant says the real cost of Ontario’s green energy initiative is hidden in Ontario’s electricity bills.

Gallant, a former vice-president with TD Bank, was one of several speakers that three anti-wind turbine groups in Lambton County arranged for a July 31 town hall meeting at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia.

We’re Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming, Conservation of Rural Enniskillen and the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group organized the meeting to present information about the impact, members say, wind farms will have on the health of people living near them and Ontario electricity costs.

Gallant said there are several lines on electricity bills in Ontario.

“Hidden within those is a lot of extra charges that people are unaware of,” he said, noting what’s known as the “global adjustment” is the largest of them.

It’s the difference between the wholesale market price of electricity and prices paid to companies who have fixed price contracts to sell Ontario power.

As part of its Green Energy initiative, Ontario awarded long-term contracts to wind and solar companies, paying them attractive prices for their power over several years.

“My objective has always been to get the message out that your electricity bills have gone up quite a bit in the last few years, and they’re going to go up a lot more as more and more wind and solar is added on,” he said.

The town hall meeting was targetting urban Sarnia residents in particular, a good strategy for the groups, Gallant said.

“The price of electricity is going to go up and I think people in the urban communities now are starting to notice that, more and more.”

Anne Marie Gillis, a Sarnia city councillor recently nominated as the provincial Liberal candidate in Sarnia-Lambton, said she will take the message to Queen’s Park that Lambton County is an unwilling host for wind energy, if she’s elected in the next provincial election.

“I don’t think it’s hidden,” Gillis said about the costs of wind and solar energy.

“I think the fact that our rates are going up is well known to everyone.”

Gillis said that’s why the Liberal government introduced the clean energy benefit that reduces electricity bills by 10%.

But, Gillis added, the biggest problem she has with Ontario’s Green Energy Act is that it doesn’t allow municipalities to reject wind and solar projects.

While the government is now saying municipalities will be consulted on where renewable energy projects are located in the future, Gillis said she believes her party hasn’t gone far enough yet.

“I think that municipalities need that right to veto,” she said.

“I think things would be a lot smoother, a lot easier, if municipalities did have a say.”

The wind groups are fighting Nextera’s proposed 97-turbine Jericho Wind farm in Lambton Shores and Warwick Township, and Suncor’s proposed 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Power project in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.