Cost of cancelled power plants passed on to consumers – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun – April 13, 2013)

TORONTO — It was eight years ago when the government trumpeted its latest additions to the electricity supply.

In a press release from then-energy minister Dwight Duncan, the government announced two gas-fired plants for Mississauga that would, combined, supply 560 megawatts of “reliable, efficient power.”

The two projects, Greenfield North and Greenfield South have proved anything but reliable or efficient. Greenfield South was scrapped in the middle of the 2011 election campaign that saw Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals lose a large number of seats and squeezed to a minority.

It was the second time the Liberals had pulled the plug on a power plant. The previous year, they scrapped a plant under construction in Oakville. Again, political pressure was brought to bear on the Liberals.

On Monday, provincial auditor general Jim McCarter will release his report on the costs of scrapping the Mississauga plant.

In its press release announcing the plants, the government said they would provide power to replace coal-fired electricity and keep the lights on in the high-growth western part of the GTA.

“Combined, the announced projects will provide enough power for over 850,000 homes and represent a total capital investment of about $1.5 billion in Ontario,” Duncan said.

The big question at the time was why the Greenfield South plant wasn’t built at the site of the old Lakeview coal plant, which Tory energy minister Elizabeth Witmer had ordered closed several years earlier.

As it was, Mississauga residents created such an uproar over the siting of the new plant that it became a contentious election issue — particularly for current Finance Minister Charles Sousa in his Mississauga South riding.

When the plant was scrapped, the Tories and NDP dubbed it a “Liberal seat saver” project and demanded an inquiry.

The opposition demanded the government produce all the documents relating to the cancellation of the plants at a Queen’s Park committee. The Liberals dragged their heels — triggering a contempt motion against former energy minister Chris Bentley.

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