Former Premier Kathleen Wynne admits Ontario electricity mistakes

The former leader of Ontario’s government says now, they weren’t listening to warnings about electricity costs. No kidding. [Shutterstock photo]
January 8, 2022

Former premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne is not seeking re-election this coming June, after 18 years as an MPP, and five years as premier (2013-2018).

She recently gave an interview to Paul Wells of Macleans magazine in which she admitted mistakes had been made on the Ontario electricity file.

She mentioned the decision the Ontario Liberal government took to cancel two natural gas power plants due to local opposition and put them in other locations–a move that cost billions. It appears they weren’t really paying attention, she says now.

“I think when we got into situations like defending what had happened around the decisions around the gas plants you realize, holy mackerel. How did this happen? How did we get here? Which parts of this were we not paying attention to?”

Wells asked Ms Wynne what part of her government’s experience showed they weren’t listening to advice, and she said, the electricity sector.

“I score myself very low on the electricity price. I believed that the investments that we had made in the electricity sector were important. The first bill I ever spoke to in the House, before I made my maiden speech, was Bill 100 which was the beginning of the transformation of the electricity system. We were going to make big changes in terms of the the supply mix and greening the grid and investing in the grid. I think it’s 50 billion dollars that we invested in upgrading the grid. I believed in that.

But I remember sitting beside Gerry Phillips [Dalton McGuinty’s minister of energy at the time] in many meetings and he would say, ‘We’re piling up a lot of debt here. Electricity prices are going to have to go up. How are we going to pay for this?’ I heard it. But as a member of caucus and cabinet, I don’t think I took it seriously enough.”

Her response seems rather sanguine, considering that Ontario’s electricity prices, which more than doubled, forced businesses to leave the province, resulting in lost jobs. A new term, “energy poverty” arose, and people told stories of having to choose whether to “heat or eat.” The Ontario Association of Food Banks blamed electricity bills for escalated food bank use in its 2016 Hunger Report.

And she makes no mention whatsoever of the shambles the green energy push was for Ontario: two Auditors General noted the exorbitant costs and the overpayment to power generators, and the fact that the province’s electricity ratepayers are stuck with contracts for intermittent wind power for as long as 20 more years.

“If you’ve sat at the cabinet table for six or seven years, you can’t disavow everything that has been done,” Wynne told Macleans.

 

 

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