Belle river wind turbine. (Photo courtesy of Pattern Energy).

Tories Nix 758 Renewable Energy Contracts

In its continuing effort to reduce hydro bills for Ontario residents, the provincial government is scrapping hundreds of renewable energy projects.

Premier Doug Ford’s PC government announced on Friday that it will be cancelling 758 contracts, which the Tories said will result in a total of $790-million in savings for Ontario ratepayers.  However, the province has not provided a list of which projects will be cut and how officials reached their expected savings total.

In a statement, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford called the energy projects “unnecessary and wasteful” and said the cancellations are part of the government’s plan to reduce hydro rates by 12% for families, farmers and small businesses.

“For 15 years, Ontario families and businesses have been forced to pay inflated hydro prices, so the government could spend on unnecessary and expensive energy schemes,” said Rickford, referring to the former Liberal government’s spending to subsidize green energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels. “Those days are over.”

All of the projects that are being cancelled have not reached their development milestones, which ensure it will be cheaper for ratepayers, according to Rickford.  The energy minister also said the government intends to protect hydro consumers from any costs incurred from the cancellations by introducing a legislative amendment.

However, NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns said the Tories plan to rip up up 758 renewable energy contracts “could cost thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars, and damage the quality of the air and water in Ontario.”

“People don’t want to see our beautiful lakes get dirtier and our air get smoggier, and they absolutely do not want to pay extra to watch that happen,” he said in a news release.

Tabuns also compared the cuts to former premier Kathleen Wynne’s gas plants scandal.

“Mr. Ford’s war on science and the environment may be pleasing his friends in back rooms, and fulfilling promises he made to social conservatives that supported his election bid,” continued Tabuns. “We’re calling on Mr. Ford to put a pause on cancelling these contracts until we know just how much it’ll hurt.”

This most recent announcement to cut renewable energy projects comes the same week that the Ontario government struck a deal with Hydro One to oust the hydro company’s CEO and board of directors. On Wednesday, CEO Mayo Schmidt retired without severance and the directors who sit on Hydro One’s board resigned.