Energy Minister Greg Rickford, commenting on Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government’s move to cancel 758 renewable energy contracts, said that the step will save taxpayers $790 million.
However, critics of the plan claim that the number is incorrect, and assert that the cancellation of so many contracts will only lead to large scale job losses in Ontario.
Ontario’s green energy project has been under development by the WPD Canada company for almost ten years. WDP said in response to the announcement that dropping the contracts could cost over $100 million and could trigger many lawsuits.
Defending the decision, Rickford, said that the government is moving forward with the cancellation as part of its campaign promise which pledged to reduce hydro rates by 12 percent for families, farmers and small businesses. He called the cancellation of the contracts as a key step forward in eliminating the “unnecessary and wasteful energy projects” that are barriers to keeping this promise.
Other critics of the decision include John Gorman, president of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, who said that the government’s decision was “rash.” He stated that the people and businesses who will suffer from most from the move are the hard working local installers, contractors and engineers who have already invested time and money in the renewable energy sector. Over ninety percent of the contracts set to be cancelled are small projects owned by farmers, schools, municipalities and First Nations.
Likewise, NDP energy critic, Peter Tabuns, stated that the decision to cancel the renewable energy contracts will cause thousands of job losses in Ontario, and will negatively impact the environment including air and water quality.
The leader of the Green Party, Mike Schreiner, chimed into the conversation stating that the government’s decision is essentially a complete about face turn on the renewable energy sector, which is an industry valuable for its proven ability to create job opportunities while also benefiting the environment. He posed the question, “What company wants to invest in a province that just rips up contracts without any notice, without any due process?”
Cancelling the contracts is seen by many to be a big hit to recent momentum in eco-friendly and energy saving initiatives in Ontario. For example, there has been an increased demand for environmentally friendly and energy efficient doors and windows in Toronto which decrease the strain on both the environment and home owners’ wallet. What ramification the government’s move will have on taxpayers, small businesses, and the renewable energy sector as a whole will play out as more information is revealed about the proposed cancellations.