WHY isn’t that debt paid off? Parker Gallant tells you why


One of the issues that came up during last week’s cross-Province hydro bill protest was the debt retirement charge and why, like Ontario’s own version of Bleak House, it just goes on and on and on, and never seems to get paid off in full?

Parker Gallant has examined the books, the news releases, the ministerial pronouncements and more, and has the answer for you.

The Debt Retirement Charge Premier Wynne’s $6.2 billion _Revenue Tool_

Institute for Energy Research: Germany’s green energy experiment a failure


The Washington D.C.-based energy policy “think tank” the Institute for Energy Research (which receives no funding from either government or industry) has reported that Germany’s experience with “green” energy has been an economic failure.

The Institute reports higher energy prices, energy poverty for Germany’s citizens, and “lavish subsidies” for renewable power generators.

North America (including Ontario) has looked to Germany as an example of green power generation; we can only hope they now heed these lessons.

See the news story and report, here.

Economist Jack Mintz on Ontario: cancel FIT

Jack Mintz
Special to The Financial Post
April 8, 2014

Canada’s ‘sagging middle’ hurting the rest of Canada

With Quebec’s election over, we can turn to Ontario where a scandal-plagued Liberal government will soon present its 2014 budget – and possibly trigger a spring election. Ontario is sagging under the weight of monstrous public debt, uncompetitive energy prices and rising taxes. Given Ontario’s size, other regions of Canada are being hurt.

Ontario has only one way out: economic growth. Luckily, the American economic recovery will significantly benefit Ontario. However, it won’t be enough. The government needs to get its house in order.

Pushing aggregate demand with deficit spending won’t achieve growth. Economic stimulus might provide some short-term relief but won’t generate sustained expansion. Instead, growth will be attained with supply-side policies by reducing onerous regulations, providing some smart tax reforms and shifting to growth-oriented spending, especially to address the notorious Greater Toronto Area infrastructure problem.

Nor will growth come from expansionary public programs like the proposed Ontario pension plan. Forcing people to hold assets in a government-sponsored plan might be helpful to some but it will be just another form of new taxation for others, who are already have adequate savings for retirement.

Ontario’s growth has lagged the rest of Canada, averaging less than 1% annually since 2009. Employment since 2009 has increased by 375,000 but the employment rate has fallen to U.S.-levels of 61.4% as of March 2014, far less than Alberta’s at almost 70%.

Ontario‘s fiscal picture is also not pretty, with gross debt over $290-billion (net debt is $272-billion), requiring $10.6-billion in taxes to cover interest charges. This expense is enormous, about one-half of education expenditures.

The average Ontario debt interest rate is only 4% but interest rates are expected to rise within the next few years. Each point increase in interest rates will add at least another $3-billion in annual interest expense.

Ontario’s energy prices are soaring….

Read the full article here.

High gas prices work their way onto your electricity bill

Cold will mean higher gas and hydro costs

Cold temperatures, long winter will lead to bigger bills this year.

This winter’s brutal weather has savaged your budget if you use electricity, or heat with natural gas.
The high demand for energy has pushed up prices for both forms of energy — some of which consumers will continue to pay even after the warm weather arrives.
Natural gas prices
Consumers saw the result of the higher demand for gas last week, when Enbridge announced its new rates for households who buy their gas directly from the utility.
Rates will jump 40 per cent on April 1, Enbridge announced. A typical household that now pays $1,000 a year for natural gas will pay about $1,400 annually under the new rates.
The increase reflects the higher price that natural gas producers are receiving because of the soaring demand.
After languishing below the 10-year average for the past four years, Alberta gas prices shot above that level early this winter.
Ontario gas utilities can draw on gas stored at the Dawn terminal near Sarnia, Ont., which was purchased earlier at lower prices. But those reserves were drawn down because of the high demand.
“This winter was so cold and so long that we have used much of the cheaper gas we purchased and have recently been buying more gas than normal at higher market prices,” said Enbridge’s Chris Meyer.
She said in recent years, Enbridge has bought gas for $4 to $5 (U.S.) per million British thermal units (BTU, a common method of pricing gas on commodity markets).
With stored gas running short, Enbridge had to buy more on the market, she said. “It typically cost about $20 (U.S.) per million BTU.”
Electricity prices
High gas prices work their way through to your electricity bill as well, since natural gas-fired generators deliver an increasing proportion of Ontario’s electricity.
Gas-fired generation is more expensive than nuclear or hydro-electric power — and more expensive than the coal plants, now closed, that used to supply a significant portion of the province’s power….

Read the full article here

“…natural gas-fired generators deliver an increasing proportion of Ontario’s electricity.”

Ontario power bills spur US to try to lure companies stateside

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Soaring energy prices making Ontario look dim for manufacturers

The Globe and Mail
Last updated

For businesses in Brockville, the attempt to lure them over the border wasn’t new. But the pitch was.
Earlier this winter, manufacturers in the Eastern Ontario community received a letter reminding them that their province’s industrial electricity rates were projected to rise by 33 per cent over the next five years, and 55 per cent by 2032.

“As a hedge against these increases,” it suggested, “setting up an operation just across the border in St. Lawrence County, New York, may be a competitive strategy you should consider.”
Such overtures, if not in written form then made more casually, are becoming increasingly common in Ontario. While they may not find immediate takers, they are emblematic of the mounting economic threat from an energy-cost trajectory that – following a series of questionable policy decisions – the province now seems powerless to do much about.
Owing mostly to a combination of overdue investments in infrastructure, phasing out coal and an ill-fated gamble on green energy, soaring power rates have already greatly increased the cost of doing business in Ontario. That’s particularly true for those in the troubled manufacturing sector. In a report last month, the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario (AMPCO) alleged that the province now has “the highest industrial rates in North America”; per that report, prices are currently 37 per cent higher than in neighbouring New York for the province’s biggest industrial users, and 68 per cent higher for smaller ones.
Adding insult to injury is that, because an excess of energy supply has come online at a time of decreased demand, Ontario is currently selling surplus power to New York and other neighbours at a steeply discounted rate….
Read the full story here.

PCs reaffirm vow to scrap Green Energy Act

An open letter from Tim Hudak today to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli demands a halt to wind power approvals in Ontario, and a news release reaffirms the PC Party’s commitment to end the Green Energy Act.

For Immediate Release
February 19, 2014


(Queen’s Park)- Ontario PC MPPs Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) and Lisa Thompson (Huron Bruce) offered the following statement on the PC Plan to scrap the Green Energy Act:
“Ontario PC Party under Tim Hudak maintains its commitment to scrap the Green Energy Act.
“That means we would remove subsidies on wind and solar, we would restore locally based decision making and we would implement a moratorium on developments until health and environmental impacts are assessed.  
“The Green Energy Act is disastrous for rural Ontarians who live near these intrusive developments and anyone paying a Hydro bill in Ontario is paying this $22 B boondoggle on their bills. 
“Many people like Esther Wrightman of Middlesex County are relying on us to form a government and end this bad plan. 
“The PC Party stands with Esther and everyone else negatively impacted by this disastrous plan.
“We stand with ratepayers.
“And we stand for a province that doesn’t subsidize expensive and unreliable power we don’t need at the expense of a prosperous Ontario. 
For more information contact Lisa MacLeod, 613-823-2116 or Lisa Thompson 416-325-3467

“Hydro Creep”: what Ontario’s rising electricity bills are doing

Ottawa Morning

Here from CBC Ottawa’s morning show, is a panel discussion on Ontario’s electricity bills, featuring an Ottawa area dairy farmer, the head of a business improvement association, and the head of an agency trying to help people in need.
The story is very serious and the message is clear: Ontario’s power policy is costing everyone, and the rises will keep on. Food costs, job losses, more.
Listen here:

Hydro bills draining rural institutions dry: Ottawa Citizen

St Alexander’s in Lochiel

Kelly Egan: Hydro is draining rural institutions dry


From churches to curling clubs to pools and small business, all feel the squeeze

By Kelly Egan, OTTAWA CITIZENJanuary 7 2014

Where we stay, where we play, where we pray — there’s no hiding. Hydro shocks everywhere wires flow.
Electricity costs are to rise about 42 per cent over the next five years. As this is a government guess, expect things to be worse.
We have heard how this is bad for you and me and Main Street. But what of the little churches, the seasonal curling rinks, the homeless shelters, the non-profits getting by on duct tape and donations?
In the hamlet of Lochiel, just north of Alexandria, there is a lovely old Catholic church, St. Alexandre, in a parish founded in 1851.
It is on the verge of closing, with only 30 or 40 congregants left. It has one mass per week and shares a priest with a neighbouring parish. In the winter, it is heated for about three hours a week, using a combination of electricity and gas.
In November, it paid $102 in hydro costs. In December, the bill was $221. And, just to repeat: It is open about two or three hours a week; locked up tight the rest of the time.
“I’m sure we’re double what we used to pay,” said volunteer treasurer Madeleine Theoret, also a longtime parishioner. The collection plate is not being used to save souls but to buy electrons, which is probably not the Vatican’s vision.
When you throw in the cost of heating fuel, it costs an average of roughly $50 an hour to open the old doors.
“Utilities are the lion’s share of expenses at these small churches,” said Alexandria-Cornwall diocesan accountant Tracy Cameron. “It’s what makes all the little bookkeepers cry.”
Churches with rectories have an extra problem, she said, since they were built for many clerics but now usually house only one and, old and drafty, still need to be lit and heated.
Take the Alexandria Curling Club, home to sheets and sweeps for 130 years. The hydro bill in November 2012 was $3,200. In 2013, it topped $4,000 for the same consumption.
President Ian McKay predicts the hydro bill for the next year will be about $11,000 higher than the $28,000 in the previous 12 months.

Read the full story here.

Look, Ontario: free gift cards—pay no attention to those hydro bills

Robyn Urback: Look, Ontario — free gift cards! Pay no attention to that ballooning hydro bill

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne hands out food baskets and gift certificates to Loblaws Supermarkets in Scarborough, Ontario, December 30, 2013.
Tyler Anderson/National PostOntario Premier Kathleen Wynne hands out food baskets and gift certificates to Loblaws Supermarkets in Scarborough, Ontario, December 30, 2013.

The Ontario Liberal government is like that nettlesome semi-estranged relative who is never there when you want them, and always there when you don’t. The Liberals have mastered the dodge and deflect when it comes to disasters of their own making, while at the same time making themselves readily available with a basket of root vegetables and (a TV camera) when the mess is one they didn’t actually cause. Funny, that.
Take the province’s energy plan — a disaster entirely of Liberal making — which has generally been treated with a gap-jawed shrug and a promise to do better next time. Former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s prized Green Energy Act is now in tatters and largely forsaken by his successors in Kathleen Wynne’s government. The Liberals wasted up to $1.1-billion of taxpayer dollars on the cancellation of two Ontario gas plants; a move that will add to Ontarians’ energy bills, which are set to rise by 42% over the next five years. Waste, corruption and ineptitude. Oops. Ah, well — can we talk about banning tanning beds again?

Ontario handing out $100 gift cards for Toronto families to replace food ruined during the ice storm

Power wasn’t the only thing lost in the ice storm. After days without electricity, Toronto families faced freezers of spoiled meat and expensive bills to replace ruined food.
Now, the province is giving out $200,000 worth of gift cards to help families re-stock household fridges in the city.
Ontario Premiere Kathleen Wynne announced Monday that the government partnered with Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Metro to raise the funds — $25,000 from each of the corporations and $100,000 from the province.
Continue reading…

Compare that to the Liberals’ response to a disaster not of their making: the recent ice storm that knocked out power for days in much of Toronto and neighbouring communities. While antagonists might claim  the crisis could have been avoided if Ontario had explored burying powering lines instead of wasting money on futile wind energy systems, most of us can agree that Wynne’s people can’t be blamed for the weather. Storms happen. Sometimes, storms cause power outages. Toronto Hydro and Hydro One employees worked tirelessly over the holidays to get electricity back to its customers, most of whom are now back online. It’s unfortunate, but it’s life.
Nonetheless, Ontario’s government decided it would — no, it must — help out families who lost money in food that went bad in their powerless fridges and freezers during the storm. “We know there’s a need and that’s why we’re asking people to help,” Wynne said at a joint press conference with grocery retailers Loblaw, Sobey’s, Metro and Shopper’s Drug Mart, each of which donated $25,000 in gift cards to help families restock. The government pledged to match the donations, meaning $200,000 in gift cards was made available at the time of the announcement (that figure was later quadrupled to meet demand). “It will not meet the entire need,” Wynne said, “but we will do our best.”

Read the full article here.