Ontario’s new deal to buy electricity from Quebec won’t shave a penny from hydro bills but will trim greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change.
“If we can get cheaper power that reduces our carbon footprint … that is a good deal for Ontario,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday as she signed an agreement with her Quebec counterpart Philippe Couillard.
Neither government would reveal the price Ontario is paying for the clean hydroelectric power, saying it is “commercially sensitive” for Hydro Quebec in negotiation with customers in the U.S. northeast.
But Wynne said the seven-year pact will save $70 million — or $10 million annually — from what Ontario had expected to pay electricity suppliers over the period, reducing reliance on natural gas-fired power plants.
Given that Ontario spends $21 billion a year on electricity, it’s no surprise that $10 million in savings won’t make a difference on hydro bills, said New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns, his party’s energy critic.
“Because it’s so small, there’s not an awful lot here,” said Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth), adding the reduction of one million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year under the deal is welcome but is just 0.5 per cent of Ontario’s total emissions.
“Scientists and economists will be able to detect it. Ordinary people will not.”
Progressive Conservative energy critic John Yakabuski said he was disappointed on behalf of Ontarians struggling to pay their hydro bills.
“Today’s announcement does absolutely nothing to address the hydro rate crisis,” the MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke said in a statement.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault hailed the deal as a “step in the right direction” to get more power from Quebec over existing transmission lines at cheaper rates than Ontario can produce.
Under terms of the agreement, Ontario can import up to two terawatt hours of hydroelectricity from Quebec — which is enough to power a city the size of Kitchener for a year.
As well, Hydro Quebec will use surplus Ontario power from renewable energy to pump enough water behind its hydroelectric dams to produce 500 gigawatt hours — enough to serve North Bay — at Ontario’s request during times of peak demand.
The deal is the latest step Wynne’s government, trailing the Conservatives in recent public opinion polls, is taking to ease pressure on hydro bills with a general election coming in June 2018.
Starting in January, the government, which last month axed plans for another $3.8 billion in renewable energy, will waive the 8-per-cent provincial tax from electricity bills.
Source - Toronto Star