Canadian Press – TORONTO — Ontario has some advice for its fellow provinces as they move to meet the federal government’s newly unveiled goal of eliminating coal-fired power generation in Canada by 2030: keep an eye on those electricity bills.
The province’s Liberal government likes to boast that shutting down coal plants has all but eliminated Ontario’s once-ubiquitous smog days, making life easier for people with asthma and other breathing problems.
But it cost billions of dollars to build new transmission lines and replace coal with power from natural gas, wind, solar and biomass projects — not to mention maintaining a fleet of expensive nuclear reactors that still supply about half of Ontario’s electricity.
Electricity rates for homes and small businesses in Ontario jumped 70 per cent between 2006 and 2014 as coal was being phased out.
The province’s auditor general said the Liberal government’s planning and implementation of new power generation as it moved to replace coal cost consumers an extra $37 billion during that time — including an extra $9.2 billion for green energy projects — and was expected to cost another $133 billion from 2015 to 2032.
The political fallout from soaring hydro bills is still causing problems for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government, which is looking to take steps it hopes will defuse the anger of ratepayers before the 2018 election.
Wynne admitted on the weekend that she should have paid closer attention to the impact of the government’s programs on hydro bills.
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