Toronto- “Several recently released studies from independent agencies have cast doubt on, and voiced critical concerns about, the Ontario government’s plan to deregulate the electricity market and the move to privatize hydro.
“Basically, the studies are highlighting the many pitfalls associated with electricity deregulation and privatization, and the need for caution in reform. But the Tories are going full steam ahead, regardless of the red flag warnings from every quarter.
“What the studies are saying is what many Ontarians already know, that electricity deregulation and privatization have been bad news for consumers everywhere they have been implemented,” says John Wilson with the Ontario Electricity Coalition (OEC).
One study from the C. D. Howe Institute says that “Ontario is caught in the midst of dramatic reforms, unsure whether its current path will also lead to a crisis,” like those in California and Alberta. The study also calls for “cautious, carefully designed electricity reform” to continue, but the authors are critical of how the government is forging ahead.
Professor Mark Jaccard, the study’s author and former chair and CEO of the B.C. Utility Commission, says that, “Ontario’s design has not yet been tested…..and, that it is “noteworthy that it [the design] does not contain an explicit mechanism to ensure a substantial reserve margin.” Jaccard also points to Ontario’s “17 interconnections with neighboring jurisdictions” as one of the ways the province might deal with inadequate supply situations.
“But he’s forgetting that the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) does not allow Ontario this type of export control. Basically under NAFTA our hands are tied,” says Wilson.
In addition to the Jaccard study, Ontario’s privatization scheme came under fire from Gerald Doucet, secretary general of the London-based World Energy Council (WEC). Doucet says he is not convinced that electricity deregulation needs to be combined with privatization of government-owned electricity companies.
“These are devastating criticisms by the pro-competition C.D. Howe Institute and the WEC. Experts and average Ontarians are telling the government the same thing. It shows that once again the Tory government is following its pro-privatization bent, despite the warnings. But, unless this government begins to listen to Ontario residents, business, industry and others who are calling for a halt to electricity deregulation and privatization, the Ontario economy will be devastated,” says Wilson.
The OEC is a grassroots, province-wide coalition opposed to electricity deregulation and privatization. The coalition is now holding public forums on electricity reform across Ontario. Forums will be held in Hamilton on Thursday February 21 at 1031 Barton St. East at 7:30 p.m. and in Windsor on Saturday February 23 at 12:30 pm, University of Windsor.
For more information please access the OEC website at electricitycoalition.org.
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