Excluded from Ontario’s hydro cuts, firms say they can’t compete – by Shawn McCarthy and Greg Keenan (Globe and Mail – March 3, 2017)


Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled a new hydro plan Thursday that targets lower residential rates but provides only modest relief to industrial customers who say soaring electricity costs are driving business out of the province.

Through legislation it intends to pass before summer, the provincial Liberal government will cut residential rates by 25 per cent, including a previously announced 8-per-cent reduction. The plan also promises deep price cuts to rural and remote customers who faced dramatic increases over the past decade, and will boost subsidies for low-income households.

Business customers will not benefit from reduced rates but will instead see an expanded rebate program for those that can shift their consumption to off-peak hours. Companies in Northern Ontario and rural areas will also benefit from a reduction in delivery charges that have driven up bills in less-populated regions.

Faced with a political backlash over soaring power bills, Ms. Wynne said the plan would deliver the largest reduction in electricity costs in the province’s history.

To pay for the near-term relief, the province will add $25-billion in interest costs over 30 years as a result of stretching out financing for existing generation projects. It will also shift $2.5-billion over three years in costs from ratepayers to the general provincial account.

“Electricity rates in Ontario will come down significantly, they’re going to stay down and everyone will benefit,” Ms. Wynne said in a news conference.

The Premier faces an election in spring 2018, and rising electricity bills have been cited as a major factor in her slumping support in opinion polls.

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