Wednesday, October 9, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cost of killing Oakville gas plant: $675 million to $815 million

Ontario’s auditor general says the cost of the Liberals’ decision to cancel a planned gas plant in Oakville will be at least $675 million, far above the $40 million the government originally claimed.

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk also warns the cost could rise another $140 million for gas deliveries to the new site of the generating station near Kingston.

Lysyk also says the cost of killing the Oakville project is “significantly more than may have been necessary” because of a number of what she calls “questionable decisions” by the premier’s office.

The auditor’s report puts the total cost of scrapping the Oakville gas plant and another in neighbouring Mississauga at a minimum of $950 million, and it could reach almost $1.1 billion.

The opposition parties call the cancellations an expensive Liberal seat saver program for the 2011 election, when the governing party was reduced to a minority but kept all five ridings near the gas plants.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has apologized for the way the Liberals cancelled the gas plants, and said she too disagreed with the way the energy projects were handled.

The auditor found the premier’s office promised to compensate the developer, TransCanada Energy, for the full financial value of the contract, even though she believes the province could have gotten out of the deal at a much lower or even no cost if it simply waited.

“Given Oakville’s strong opposition to the plant, it may well have been possible for the (Ontario Power Authority) to wait it out, with no penalty and at no cost,” said Lysyk. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)