Sudbury

Politicians sound off in northern Ontario about Liberal hydro plan

Opposition politicians in northeastern Ontario are throwing shade on the province's plan that it says will lower energy costs for residents and small businesses.

Northeastern Ontario opposition MPPs denounce new proposals

The Ontario Liberals revealed their plan to cut hydro rates Thursday. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Opposition politicians in northeastern Ontario are throwing shade on the province's plan that it says will lower energy costs for residents and small businesses.

The plan, announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne Thursday, calls for a 17 per cent reduction in hydro bills come the summer. The initiative involves stretching the financing costs of building and refurbishing power plants over a longer period of time than was previously planned.

"Kathleen Wynne said 'oh yes it will cost a bit more,'" Vic Fideli, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Nipissing said. "It's 25 billion dollars just in interest."

The New Democrats, who already released their energy proposals, are charging that the Liberals' plan is more about refinancing, and less about improving Ontario's hydro sector.

"Their plan is really a financial restructuring plan," Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said. "It has nothing to do with the energy sector. They're keeping everything as is."

The Tories have yet to release their plan for hydro.

Spreading energy costs out longer 'fairer'

Wynne has acknowledged that the bill for the across-the-board-relief will cost more in the long run, but said the new proposals are "fairer, because it doesn't ask this generation of hydro customers alone to pay the freight for everyone before and after."

The plan would keep electricity rates at or below the rate of inflation over the next four years, but government officials said they can't predict the size of the electricity rate increases after that.

Ontario's energy minister, and Sudbury MPP, Glenn Thibeault said spreading out the costs of green energy contracts over 30 years will also help.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault and Premier Kathleen Wynne say spreading out hydro costs over a longer period of time will cost more in the long run but will be fairer to Ontario ratepayers. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

"When we did those 20 year contracts, we front-loaded the payment so it's only you and I and this generation that pays for it," he said.

"We know that our system and the generating capacity that we built will last a lot longer than 20 years."

The Liberals' move comes as Wynne's government trails the PCs by some 14 points in a range of polls and finds itself nearly even with the NDP ahead of next year's election. 

With files from Mike Crawley and The Canadian Press

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