By Rick Conroy
April 16th, 2010
A better man might feel empathy for Dalton McGuinty. Gambling, I’m told, is an addiction. He may not be able to help himself. But here’s the thing—it’s Ontario’s energy future he is putting at risk and it is our money he is wagering. Dalton McGuinty never felt comfortable with the energy file. Not since he blurted out an ill-considered promise to close Ontario’s coal electricity plants, in an election debate in 2003, has he managed to grasp the complexity of the business of electricity or how tightly energy in general is tied to the economic prosperity and well-being of residents of this province.
Most folks leave things they don’t understand alone—they don’t try and turn the house upside down hoping it all comes out right. But that isn’t how McGuinty rolls—at least on this file.
Instead he is placing billions of your tax dollars and your children’s tax dollars on a bet that a mix of unproven wind, solar and other exotic means of electricity generation will one day put a meaningful dent into Ontario’s supply of energy. It is a high-stakes gamble—with about the same odds as winning the lottery.
Nevertheless, McGuinty last week announced his government was offering contracts for 184 renewable energy contracts. By some estimates this converts into an $8 billion investment. This is on top of billions more spent through at least four other outlandishly rich contracts designed to attract investors.
All one has to do is look to Europe, which has installed thousands of wind turbines and solar panels over the past two decades. Not one coalfired electricity generating plant has closed due to the introduction of these new generating sources. In fact, European nations are building 50 brand new coal-fired generating plants over the next decade. They are also scaling back wind energy development and the rich incentives required to erect it. Why does McGuinty expect a different outcome in Ontario?