GLOBE AND MAIL EDITORIAL: Ontario’s new electricity policy: History repeats as farce (September 14, 2016)

A century ago, when Sir Adam Beck created the public utility that went
on to become Ontario Hydro, his slogan was, “Power at Cost.” A century
later, Ontario’s motto might as well be, “artificially costly power,
priced below cost, with taxpayers picking up the difference.” What a mess.

Karl Marx said that history repeats: first as tragedy, then as farce. In Ontario, the history of failed energy policy repeats – first as farce, and then as more farce.

Premier Kathleen Wynne faces an election in a little over a year and a half, and one of the main issues dogging the Liberal government is the price of electricity. Thanks to policy choices that the government itself seems incapable of unwinding, electricity bills have been on an upward tear for a decade.

Many voters are furious. And so the Wynne government devoted the heart of its Throne Speech this week to a plan to lower the price of electricity. Not the cost of electricity, however. Just the sticker price. Taxpayers of Ontario, you will now be paying for more of your electricity through your taxes, or through future taxes funded by deficit financing, and less through your electricity bill. Yes, that’s the new plan. It looks a lot like the old plan.

Nearly six years ago, Ms. Wynne’s predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, was facing an election. He was, like the current premier, spooked by rapidly rising electricity prices. These spiking prices, note well, had been engineered by the Liberal government’s mishandled Green Energy policy. To win back voters, Mr. McGuinty decided to give consumers a break.

The tool: the so-called Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which ran from the start of 2011 to the end of 2015. The Clean Energy Benefit did not have anything to do with clean energy, and its benefits were illusory.

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