The closure this week of a wind turbine plant in Tillsonburg is yet another setback for the Wynne government, which has universally failed Ontarians when it comes to energy.
Electricity prices have doubled in the past decade. The scandals and fiascos mount. Demand dropped – in part due to the government’s mismanagement of the economy as a whole – even as the province handed out over-generous contracts to producers of renewable energy. Having dismissed critics as pessimists, the government was forced to acknowledge the validity of many of the concerns, albeit much too late to avert the problems.
The sudden closure by Siemens Canada of the Tillsonburg plant, sending 340 people to the unemployment line, puts a large dent in the promise of 900 jobs making parts for wind and energy farms under what was a $10-billion deal with Samsung. Under pressure, that agreement was scaled back by a third – with Samsung dropping its own investment target to $5 billion from $7 billion – but the government continued to tout the creation of manufacturing jobs at four such plants.
In Tillsonburg, the plant was one of the major employers, so this week’s blow strikes even deeper.
It’s yet more ammunition for critics of the Green Energy Act and its application. Ontarians are paying some of the highest rates on the continent, and are on an upward course with no end in sight.
Even without the Green Energy Act, however, energy is going to cost us more. Aging infrastructure – from nuclear plants to the wires that bring power to our homes – needs to be replaced. As consumers of electricity, we’ve never paid the actual cost of bringing it to us, let alone all the things that come along with our dependence of energy, such as the environmental impacts.
As with so much of our infrastructure, we’re having to renew decades-old systems while building the new ones to accommodate population growth.
When first elected, the Liberal strategy held some promise. The decision to phase out coal-fired generating plants, while of no practical value on a global or even regional scale, was an attainable goal with some benefits, mostly symbolic. The Green Energy Act gave a boost to alternatives such as wind and solar power, but it quickly became apparent the province was being far too generous, paying providers unsustainable rates well above market value. Even as the province became so awash in electricity that it was exporting it at a loss, Wynne’s government continues to press ahead with bringing new supplies online.
Yes, Ontarians had for years underpaid for electricity, the massive boondoggles and price overruns for nuclear power and a host of other errors (see, particularly, overly generous employee compensation) being subsidized from general tax revenues. That had to change, but the Liberals chose poorly and then fiscally mismanaged the system beyond even what the most jaded of observers expect of government.
The green jobs claim taking on water, the province has little to show for its decisions. It has failed to address the underlying problems with Ontario’s electricity system, the origin of which can’t all be laid at Wynne’s feet. Just most of them. And her government has made every problem worse with poor policy decisions aimed at providing benefits only to themselves and their financial backers, not the public.