Tim Hudak is deceiving Ontarians, and the question is why? I have been listening to Mr. Hudak speak out against Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program for a number of years, and his message has been consistent, which is that the FIT program is the reason for rising electricity rates in this province (still commonly referred to as hydro rates).
In reaction to Mr. Hudak’s ongoing message, I have observed little to no response from the Ontario Liberal government, who launched the FIT program in 2009, or the renewable energy industry itself. Perhaps this has been largely due to the fact that Mr. Hudak’s message, which has been on auto-repeat for a really long time, is both grotesquely inaccurate and bitterly tired to the point that it has become imperceptible to the conditioned ear. The problem as it stands now, however, is that the Liberal party has been so effective at dismantling their own government and alienating themselves from the constituency, that it appears as though the Conservative party has a real chance of success in the upcoming election. My aim is not to judge which party should be given the privilege to govern come June 12th, rather it is to challenge Mr. Hudak’s campaign of misinformation regarding renewable energy in Ontario.
At first glance it appears to be a logical thing to connect a seemingly high feed-in tariff rate to an escalating hydro bill; simple enough. Until one applies some basic math to the problem. In 2013, the cost for electricity service in Ontario was $17.6 Billion. This cost included the price for electricity generation, conservation, transmission, distribution, wholesale markets, and debt retirement. Stay with me for a moment longer here – power generation cost the province $10.7 Billion of that total $17.6, and of that, solar energy projects cost the province $0.559 Billion, or $559 Million. This means that the cost of producing electricity through solar projects contracted by the province represented 3% of the total annual electricity spend, and of this, a far lower percentage came from new projects under the FIT program than were already in operation prior to its inception. The amount of solar generated electricity will increase in 2014 and 2015, due to newly contracted projects coming on line, and the projections are that by 2016 the cost of solar will constitute less than 6% of Ontario’s annual energy expenditure.
One could go much deeper into the world of energy economics in Ontario, however, I believe that we need go no further to demonstrate that Mr. Hudak’s message linking rising hydro bills and the provincial FIT program is nothing more than a campaign of misinformation. It is not possible for a cost that represents less than five percent of the provincial electricity tab, to be the reason for a 44% increase in rates. It is simply not possible. The question we must all ask then, is what are we missing? The reality is that the infrastructure in Ontario has been neglected for so long – by all of our past serving governments – that we are now faced with mass upgrades and new construction costs to bring our aged and antiquated generation facilities, as well as our dilapidated transmission and distribution systems, into the 21st century. It is work that must be done now, or we will face certain disaster in the near future, and a cost that must be borne by us, the rate payer, for who else? Let us not allow the discomfort of this fact, wrapped in the shadowy sales pitch of our would be Premiere, to detract from the truth. So, is it that Mr. Hudak is poor at math, or is there another reason he so despises renewable energy? Spend we must. But would it not be wiser to spend, investing in technologies and a future that will provide long-term benefit to future Ontarians as well as the world?