NDP Vows to Wean Ontario Off Nuclear Power

TORONTO - - An NDP government would make retrofitting homes a priority over refurbishing nuclear reactors, says party leader Andrea Horwath.

Horwath told reporters Wednesday at Queen’s Park that if the New Democrats win the Oct. 6 election they would “hit the pause button” on the Darlington atomic project and use the savings to encourage conservation.

“It’s very clear that the government’s nuclear plan is an extremely expensive one,” she said of the Liberals’ nuclear rebuilding plan that could cost $26 billion.

“We don’t think nuclear is the wisest way to go, not only because of cost but because of risk and danger … so we’re looking at other options. The problem we have in Ontario is this government has all but given up on the cheapest form of power which is conservation, which is reducing people’s demand for power through conservation programs.”

Nuclear power currently accounts for about half of OntarioÂ’s electricity generation, but Howarth insisted that energy-saving measures and increased use of renewable power could make up for some of that.

She touted a new four-year $980 million program for Ontarians to retrofit their homes with rebates worth up to $5,000. By improving insulation or installing new windows and doors, she said homeowners could save as much as $700 a year on a $2,000 annual hydro bill.

The NDP scheme is similar to a Liberal government program that was phased out last year.

Energy Minister Brad Duguid said in an interview that Horwath voted against the old retrofit program when the Liberals were touting it — and the replacement conservation plan that helps renters and others.

“She opposed it every step of the way,” said Duguid, adding “it’s a little hypocritical for her” to embrace an initiative she once opposed.

“The new saveONenergy suite of programs is hugely consumer friendly. In fact, it puts conservation programs within greater reach of middle-income and lower-income families, many of whom — as we’re coming out of this global recession — can’t afford to contemplate renovations,” he said, referring to saveONenergy coupons and rebates that help Ontarians purchase energy-efficient products.

Duguid also said Horwath was being “irresponsible” by trying to scrap new nuclear plants because some 70,000 people work in that industry across Canada — and it is by far the most important electricity generator in Ontario.

Progressive Conservative MPP Jim Wilson Simcoe-Grey, whose party favours nuclear power, questioned HowarthÂ’s wisdom of not investing in Darlington because manufacturers need a stable source of electricity.

“With respect to deferring the refurbishing of the nuclear fleet, it needs to be done. So people might have nice cozy homes after the retrofit program with the NDP but they might not have any power for those homes,” said Wilson.

“As far we can see into the future with the need for power that we expect under a PC Leader Tim Hudak government, the best bang for our buck is nuclear.”


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