Gas plant cancellation cost taxpayers $2 a year: OPA
Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. (MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun)
The cancellation of a signed contract to build a gas plant in Oakville will cost hydro customers up to $2 a year, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) says.
“It’s less than a cup of Tim Hortons coffee a year,” Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said Thursday.
The $2 figure was greeted with skepticism by Progressive Conservative energy critic Lisa MacLeod, who is tabling a motion that would force the Liberals to release all documents related to the impact on hydro bills of cancelling gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville.
The OPA, Chiarelli and Premier Kathleen Wynne also told Ontarians that cancelling the Oakville plant would cost $40 million, a figure that the auditor later pegged closer to $815 million, MacLeod said.
“I really don’t believe them,” she added.
Auditors estimate that the total amount of money lost by cancelling and relocating both plants could hit $1.1 billion — the bulk of it to be repaid through hydro bills.
Chiarelli said the cost to hydro customers works out to about $2 a year for 20 years.
“(Opposition parties) don’t like the answer, they don’t like the number because they’ve been crying doom and gloom in terms of the impact on prices for years,” Chiarelli said. “It’s a miniscule percentage.”
Ontario hydro bills, which are expected to rise 42% over five years for the average family, are far more affected by the billions of dollars invested to improve the provincial transmission system and add new electricity generation, he said.
Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk reported in October that cancelling the Oakville plant will cost between $675 million and as much as $815 million.
The OPA, which has estimated the cost at $310 million, said it would add $1 a year to a typical family’s bill based on an average consumption of 800 kWh/month.
Using the lower cost figure supplied by the auditor — $675 million — the impact on yearly bills would be $2.01, the OPA says.
The estimate is for “illustrative purposes only” and does not include $40 million in sunk costs that were paid directly out of the provincial treasury or any impact from the Mississauga plant cancellation and relocation.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the private power deals, like the Oakville plant, are driving up hydro costs for consumers.
“A cup of coffee a year certainly isn’t going to keep people warm when they can’t pay their hydro bills,” Horwath said.