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The Ontario Electricity Coalition says the provincial energy minister is fudging the truth when he says electricity deregulation will save consumers billions of dollars.

Citing the disastrous experience of California and Alberta, the group says deregulation and privatization of electricity privatized has lead to skyrocketing rates, frequent blackouts and unscrupulous retail resellers.

The minister just isn’t telling the real story,” says John Wilson, a technical advisor with the coalition. “Consumers didn’t save money. But the profit-making companies that snapped up deregulated utilities and resold power sure did make money. The reality is the consumers will be hurt by his government’s refusal to accept that this kind of electricity reform doesn’t work. It doesn’t save billions. It costs local economies billions.”

The coalition has been sponsoring public meetings across the province on hydro reform. Nearly 500 people attended a public forum in Toronto last week and good crowds have come out to meetings in Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines, Collingwood and other centres. So far the minister has turned down invitations to participate in the meetings.

If the minister is so sure competition will be great for the economy and consumers, then why won’t he face the citizens of the province in a public debate?” asks Wilson. “Had he been in attendance, he would have heard loud and clear from citizens who want the sell-off of electricity scrapped.”