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TORONTO Energy Minister Dwight Duncan, in a speech to the Empire Club yesterday (Thu.), made it clear that the Liberal government is now committed to private, not public power, says the Ontario Electricity Coalition (OEC).

The Ontario Electricity Coalition is shocked by the governments commitment to private power companies, says Paul Kahnert, a spokesperson for the OEC. We have now heard what the government intends to do to change Ontarios electricity system and it is about private investors and private generation.

In his speech, the Minister made it clear that the government has no intention of closing the competitive electricity market. The true cost of electricity does not include profits to big power companies, distributors, retailers, investors, and commodity brokers, says Kahnert. This market was designed by big companies like Enron and their corporate friends to make billions of dollars in profits. Why arent the Liberals closing this market? Todays announcement means that ratepayers money will continue to flood into private hands. That money should be used for building new supply, paying the Hydro debt, and for conservation measures.

Ontario cannot afford private power, says John Wilson, former Hydro board member and electricity consultant. This is the biggest betrayal of voter trust since the Ontario election. Premier McGuinty campaigned for public power and said the electricity market was dead. Ontarians listened and voted in support of this strong stand. In an absolute about-face, the government is making it clear that new power will be private power.

This is not only a betrayal of voters, it is a betrayal of the people who created and developed Ontarios historic public power system, says Wilson. It is now on the road to wrack and ruin.

The Ontario Electricity Coalition is a broad-based coalition made up of seniors, environmental groups, private citizens, the Council of Canadians, labour organizations, and social justice groups.

For more information, please contact:

Paul Kahnert
Ontario Electricity Coalition

John Wilson
Ontario Electricity Coalition

Shannon McManus
CUPE Communications