Tories zap 758 green energy contracts in Ontario

Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government is pulling the plug on 758 green energy contracts in a bid to save $790 million.

Energy Minister Greg Rickford made the announcement Friday.

“We clearly promised we would cancel these unnecessary and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for families, farmers and small businesses,” Rickford said in a statement.

“In the past few weeks, we have taken significant steps toward keeping that promise,” the minister said.

“For 15 years, Ontario families and businesses have been forced to pay inflated hydro prices, so the government could spend on unnecessary and expensive energy schemes,” he said, referring to the previous Liberal government that was in power from 2003 until the June 7 election.

“Those days are over.”

During the tenure of former premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, the province spent billions subsidizing green energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels.

Rickford said none of the cancelled projects have reached “development milestones,” so it should be cheaper to scrap them now.

The minister said Premier Doug Ford’s new Tory government plans to introduce an amendment in the legislature to protect ratepayers from bearing the brunt of any financial penalties or possible litigation.

“Even after all costs are accounted for, ratepayers can expect to benefit from $790 million in savings from this one decision,” the government said.

But Queen’s Park did not provide a list of the 758 contracts or a breakdown of how that amount was calculated.

Earlier this week, the Tories zapped the controversial White Pines industrial wind farm in Prince Edward County, south of Belleville, which could cost ratepayers $100 million in penalties.

Begun in 2009, it is nearing completion and was supposed to open this fall.

But many residents of the bucolic area strongly oppose the nine-turbine project.

The president of the wind farm’s German parent company penned an open letter to Ford on Friday, urging the premier to reconsider.

“Our company will incur a serious loss of over $100 million,” wrote Hartmut Brösamle, CEO of WPD in Bremen, Germany.

“A new elected government has any right to pursue a different energy policy,” said Brösamle, adding his company’s project is being “ruined retroactively.”

Ford has shown himself to be an interventionist when it comes to the energy business. On Wednesday, he engineered the departure of Hydro One’s CEO and board of directors.

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