Mr. Speaker, Today I rise to ask this house to support a Bill that will ensure that electricity prices are driven by the needs of the people the families the businesses and the economy of Ontario and not by the tacticians who control the back rooms of the political parties.
As representatives of the people, we have a duty to put the rights and the interests of our constituents ahead of political ideology, partisan agendas and the pursuit of political gain.
Mr. Speaker, this Legislature is the principal institution of democracy in Ontario.
We are entrusted with ensuring that the government-of-the-day works for the citizens of Ontario.
The Affordable Electricity Act will do that by making electricity prices as low as they can be by bringing as quick an end as possible to the government-imposed policies and programs that have added several billions of dollars every year to the electricity bills of the citizens of the Province.
This Bill requires the government to put the interests of electricity consumers first.
- It puts priority on generating electricity from the inexpensive, reliable and cost effective hydro and nuclear power plants that the public already owns.
- It brings an end to policies, programs and contracts that force consumers to subsidize foreign-sourced electrical technologies that are unreliable and ridiculously expensive.
- It demands full transparency in the process by which electricity prices are set.
- It allows customers to buy electricity from suppliers who sell it at the lowest price.
- It lets customers buy electricity when the price is the lowest – and always at the lowest price that Ontario’s electricity is being sold to customers in other provinces or in the U.S.A.
This Bill is needed, Mr. Speaker, because the current electricity policies have raised prices to the point where:
- a growing number of Ontario’s families are being forced to choose between paying their electricity bill or buying their food,
- many businesses have been forced to close and
- many of the remaining businesses feel that they can survive only if they move away from Ontario.
The current course spells disaster for Ontario.
Things must change.
But they will only change if this Legislature puts the interests of citizens first.
We can no longer allow political ideologies, back-room games and clever political and bureaucratic deals to displace sound planning and management of the electricity system.
- We must put electricity planning and pricing on a solid footing.
- We must put a stop to the wild ideological gambles and the hopeful technological adventurism that has caused so much harm.
- We must bring an end to the hidden arrangements, the deferred payments and the clever political spin.
WE MUST ENSURE THAT FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES IN ONTARIO HAVE ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE.
If we don’t:
- more families will suffer,
- more business will close and
- our economy will not be able to pay for the important common services that we all need.
Mr. Speaker, the current problems with electricity pricing were recognized by this Legislature more than a decade ago.
In 2004, this legislature passed a Bill to avoid the growing problem.
That Bill required the preparation and approval of a detailed plan for electricity production, distribution and sale in Ontario to protect the interests of consumers; and to put electricity planning on a solid footing for the future.
The Auditor General referred to that Bill in her 2015 report on Electricity Power System Planning.
Most importantly, she noted that the government had done nothing to comply with its statutory requirements.
In her follow-up report of 2017, the Auditor General said:
“The Electricity Act … was amended in 2004 to require the Ontario Power Authority … to … prepare a detailed technical plan and submit it … for review and approval to ensure that it is prudent and cost-effective.”
“However, as of our 2015 audit, no such plan had ever been approved in the previous 10 years as required by the legislation TO PROTECT CONSUMERS’ INTERESTS.”
Instead of complying with that law, the government embarked upon a series of policies that put ideological beliefs and partisan interests ahead of the duty to protect the interests of consumers.
As a result, electricity users in Ontario have been burdened with billions of dollars of unnecessary costs on their electricity bills – every year – costs that would not have been imposed if government had complied with the law.
Electricity Consumers are being forced:
- to pay huge subsidies to domestic and foreign firms to build and operate unreliable solar and wind energy plants,
- to pay absurdly-high prices for electricity produced by renewable electricity facilities;
- to curtail a significant portion of the production from publicly-owned hydro and nuclear generating plants that were already producing cheap, reliable power;
- to pay electricity producers so that they would stop producing electricity;
- to buy electricity that we do not need and to subsidize customers in the United States by selling that surplus power to them for far less than we are forced to pay to buy it.
Mr. Speaker, This Legislature did nothing when the government decided to ignore the law that was passed in 2004.
It did nothing to stop government pursuing destructive policies that undermined those legal requirements by imposing programs that add billions of dollars to current and future electricity bills; and by forcing electricity customers to pay at least $1.1 Billion to plan, build and then abandon two gas-powered electricity plants that were thrust on communities that did not want them.
The Legislature took no effective action even when the Premier confirmed that that decision constituted “a breach of trust between government and the people of the province” and that “the public good was sacrificed to partisan interest”.
In short, Mr. Speaker, this Legislature allowed political ideologies, clever deception and partisan protectionism to prevail over the statutes that this legislature had imposed and over our duty to act on behalf of the citizens of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, We are members of the Legislature of Ontario.
We are the body that has the right to pass the laws that apply in this province.
- We don’t pass laws for fun!
- We pass them so that they will be followed –
- followed by citizens
- and followed by governments as well.
With respect to the laws that deal with the pricing of electricity, we have allowed them to be undermined.
We must do better!
- If we don’t, we are effectively saying that the laws that we make don’t matter at all;
- we are saying that we don’t act as “representatives of the people”; and
- we are saying that this Legislature, the most important democratic institution in the province, is nothing but a sham.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking the members of this House to support a Bill that is firmly committed to putting the interests of the citizens of Ontario ahead of political ideology, partisan interest and personal gain.
This Bill will:
- allow sound and rational electricity planning to proceed;
- it will free electricity users in Ontario from high costs and destructive subsidies for unreliable electricity supplies; and
- it will allow families and businesses to buy electricity at the lowest possible cost over the long term.
It will support economic growth, enhance the competitiveness of Ontario’s businesses and keep jobs in the Province.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all members of this Legislature act on behalf of the citizens of Ontario and the economic future of the Province.
I ask that we all support this Bill and bring it to Second Reading so as to begin a process in this House that will lead to the adult conversation about electricity that has been desperately needed in Ontario for more than 15 years by the citizens of Ontario whom we have the duty to represent and by the businesses of this Province which provide the jobs and the wealth upon which our prosperity depends.
I ask that we all join together to begin this essential conversation.