Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said Friday that he was not invited to the provincial government's Fair Hydro Plan announcement at North Bay Hydro, so he held his own press conference in the parking lot.
Citing a leaked cabinet document, Fedeli declared that hydro rates will "continue to skyrocket," and will reach new record highs soon after the June 2018 election, adding that the "Fair Hydro Plan scheme isn't about making life affordable for Ontario," but rather a re-election ploy by the Liberals.
Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault addressed the plan and the leaked document following the announcement. "We've always said that we're holding these [hydro] rates down to the cost of inflation for the next four years. But then after that, it's my job as the Minister of Energy to find ways that we can continue to pull costs out of the system so that the projections that were talked about yesterday [in the leaked document] and they are only projections, and one of many many projections that we looked at, won't be high."
"The fact-filled leaked document proves Minister Thibeault's announcement today was nothing short of financial engineering in an effort to set the stage prior to an election," said Fedeli.
The Conservatives maintain that the leaked document explains how rates will decline in 2017 only to see an increase in 2018. Meanwhile, the opposition claims, the Wynne government's plan will collapse in 2022, rates will immediately climb, and by 2024, Ontarians will be facing the highest rates ever seen.
"We look at where the cost of energy will be in 10 years as a projection. We do that through the Long-Term Energy Plan. In 2010, we had a Long-Term Energy Plan that said our energy costs right now, today, should be $178. In 2013, our Long-Term Energy Plan said that cost, today, should be $170. We've pulled costs out of the system because today the average cost in the province is $156," said Thibeault.
He added, "When you take into consideration the Fair Hydro Plan, costs in the province, on average, will be about $117 come July 1. Our Long-Term Energy Plan will show us where the projection of where our costs will be in 2025[...] we need to keep the projection on a plateau, not an upward trend."
Thibeault spoke Friday about the Fair Hydro Act, 2017 that, if passed, would result in all residential consumers, and as many as half a million small businesses and farms, receiving smaller hydro bills. A reduction of up to 40 to 50 per cent is possible for lower-income and those living in eligible rural and northern communities. A Ministry of Energy release also reiterates that rate increases for four years would be held to the rate of inflation and that, "These measures include the eight per cent rebate introduced in January and build on previously announced initiatives to deliver broad-based rate relief on all electricity bills. Taken together, these changes would deliver the single-largest reduction to electricity rates in the province’s history."
Fedeli, from the parking lot of North Bay Hydro, asked, "Do you want the real facts? I will take this opportunity to correct the minister, yet again. They continue to talk about this Fair Energy Plan, but they're not telling you how they're going to pay for it. The bottom line is they did nothing to fix the problems at Hydro. They are adding $50 billion of additional payments to pay for the mistakes that they've made. In the documents delivered to us by a whistle-blower, we know now how they plan on paying for it."