By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, January 22, 2013
Ontario paid $1 billion to export surplus power in 2013, NDP say
Ontario Ratepayers help electrify Manitoba, Quebec, New York, Michigan, and Minnesota.
Poor planning by Ontario’s Liberal government forced electricity ratepayers in the province to subsidize the sale of excess power to neighbouring jurisdictions at a cost of $1 billion in 2013, the New Democrats charged Monday.
The government signed contracts for so much unneeded electricity that Ontario had to export the surplus, at a loss, to Manitoba, Quebec, New York, Michigan or Minnesota, adding $220 a year to the average household electricity bill, said NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns.
“We found that last year Ontario subsidized power to people in the United States and Quebec and Manitoba to the tune of over $1 billion,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary expense that people are carrying on their electricity bills.”
The province buys electricity for about 8.5 cents a kilowatt hour, often through contracts that include generous subsidies for solar and wind power, but then has to sell off the surplus for less than three cents a KWH, said Tabuns.
“They have pursued private power contracts that have given us more power than we can consume, which goes back to bad planning and to (energy) policies that are extraordinarily expensive,” he said. “This is the logical outcome of the way the Liberals have approached this privatized power system.”
A spokeswoman for Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said “Tabuns’ math is inaccurate” and insisted that exporting surplus power actually saved hydro ratepayers about $300 million that they would have had to pay for the unneeded electricity last year.
“According to the Independent Electricity System Operator, Ontario’s consumers benefit from the electricity exports,” said press secretary Beckie Codd-Downey. “They do not subsidize them.”
But the Progressive Conservatives also blamed bad Liberal energy policies for driving up Ontario electricity rates to among the highest in Canada, and said subsidizing power exports only adds to people’s anger over their hydro bills. (Source: CTV News)