McGuinty’s Folly: Messing with the Energy Sector
In the wake of Premier McGuinty’s announcement that he was resigning as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party the platitudes and the admonitory comments have flowed. Lost in the fray is the harm that his energy policies have cost both Ontarians and the rest of Canada.
An article out of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) confirms that the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on the feed-in tariff (FIT) program’s requirement, for Ontario content, looks set to become fact. That ruling, against Canada, will impact not only Ontario but all of Canada. If the ruling is against Canada by the WTO, Japan and the EU will no doubt seek fines and if levied these will be a burden on all taxpayers not just those in Ontario. What this means for the Ontario’s Liberal Party may be significant as the blame will clearly be laid at their feet. This is particularly true when related to the Samsung contract for 2500 MW of renewable energy which carries the caveat that they create jobs (1,300) and buy a percentage of Ontario manufactured product for their investments in the wind (2,000 MW) and solar (500 MW) projects.
The Liberals have been insistent that the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) has created 20,000 jobs (50,000 by December 31, 2012 promised) and brought tens of billions ($7 billion from Samsung alone) in investments into the province. Perhaps the rhetoric should have been toned down as any fines imposed by the WTO or NAFTA (see below) may reflect that rhetoric, whereas, in truth, the GEA has been anything but the wonderful job creating machine the Liberals touted.
Canada is also being challenged under NAFTA by none other then oil baron T. Boone Pickens who has launched a $775 million challenge under NAFTA rules. Mr. Picken’s MESA Power Group of Texas has claimed discrimination in the process of handing out those FIT contracts and there may well be something to that; as they were shut out of the process and blame it on, “the abuse of power and process, and undue political influence in the regulations of renewable power in Ontario,”. That political influence has become more evident recently based on the gas plant moves!
So, while the gas plant moves from Oakville and Mississauga to Bath and Lambton may have been the deciding factor in McGuinty stepping down, his energy legacy, pursued by previous Energy Ministers; Dwight Duncan, George Smitherman and Brad Duguid would likely have caused his demise in the not too distant future.
For decades to come Ontario households receiving their monthly electricity bills will cringe and automatically think of the McGuinty folly.