Premier Wynne says that electricity prices are “unfairly high” and that current rate payers are bearing a disproportionate cost stemming from decades of energy mismanagement by previous governments of all stripes.
Many Chamber members would agree that electricity prices are too high. We’ve heard many stories about difficult choices, like whether to lay off employees or take out loans in order to pay the electricity bill.
So, when the Chamber heard that the government is cutting electricity bills by 25% (including the 8% HST cut already announced in January), we wondered, does the plan go far enough to help struggling businesses?
The rate reduction, made possible my remortgaging the Global Adjustment will extend the period of electricity contracts from 20 years to 30 years. It’s estimated that $25 billion will be saved over 10 years, but another $14 billion will be paid in interest for the extended “mortgage”.
There’s additional relief coming for farmers, the less affluent and rate payers in remote areas. The Industrial Conservation Initiative will be extended to mid-sized manufacturers. Energy conservation programs will continue. Another significant promise is to freeze rates so they will not increase beyond inflation for 4 years.
Questions remain: is this a fair solution to “unfairly high” hydro rates? Is the NDP plan any better? What solutions will the PCs propose? The Chamber will be watching this issue closely now and until the next provincial election, currently scheduled to be held on or before June 7, 2018.