MPP Smith keeps talking electricity
The stories about rising electricity costs in Ontario are virtually endless, and MPP Todd Smith can recount a great many of them these days.
The Conservative Party energy critic told a number of those stories to members of the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning at the Picton Yacht Club.
The MPP for Prince Edward Hastings said afterward he sometimes feels all he does is talk about electricity, yet he still runs into people who haven’t heard about many of the issues involved.
“I think all I am doing all the time is talking about electricity issues, but here are some people who are just hearing about some of these things for the first time,” he said.
“People totally get how their own hydro bills are going up, but sometimes they don’t realize what’s happening with businesses, and how that is costing us jobs and having other effects.”
Smith said he recently visited companies in the oil, gas and chemical sectors in Sarnia-Lambton who are worried about losing business to the United States due to high electricity rates making them less competative.
He talked about long-term care facility in Sault Ste. Marie which had its electricity rate jump 39 per cent in one year and the city of Timmins, which had electricity costs jump $1.5 million in a single year.
“These are business people so they get it when we talk about how rising costs can end up costing jobs,” Smith said.
He noted that the Easter weekend alone cost Ontario residents $78 million, $50 million of which was to pay for wind and solar power the province didn’t need because of nearly record low demand.
As well the province paid off a $28 million lawsuit over a cancelled wind power project in the Toronto area.
“This kind of thing is happening all the time now,” Smith said of the overpayment for power the province doesn’t need. “It’s especially common now when we don’t need our heater or air conditioners going.
“Cheaper hydro and nuclear power can easily meet demand, but we have to pay for wind and solar whenever the wind blows or the sun shines.”
Smith also addressed a few other ongoing concerns for County residents, including the White Pines Wind project wind project in South Marysburgh and potential school closures in the region.
Smith noted that despite all the stories about rising hydro costs, the government continues to push ahead with projects like this one, noting the fact WPD has started work with certain issues still up in the air show the company is “not exactly a great corporate citizen.”
On the school issue, Smith urged residents to stay vocal in the opposition to school closures, noting the Bluewater District School Board, which covers the area around Owen Sound, recently issued its own moratorium on school closures in Markdale and Tiverton.
“So if people are vocal enough, school board trustees might listen and hold off closing schools even though the ministry of education wants it done before the election,” Smith said.
Looking ahead, Smith said the reports coming out about next week’s provincial budget indicate it will be a balanced budget, although he noted it will be an “artificial balance” through one time sales of assets rather than changing spending.
“They haven’t fixed the structural deficit, although at least the budget is balanced,” he said. “Of course this will be followed by a spending spree so I hope Prince Edward County gets its fair share for its priority projects, like County Road 49 and its new hospital.”
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