By David Hains
Premier Doug Ford doubled down on the government’s move to cancel 751 green energy contracts at an estimated cost of $231 million.
Ford gave a forceful defence of the government’s controversial choice to cancel the contracts, which included nixing the White Pines Wind Project in cabinet minister Todd Smith‘s riding, although the windmills were already in the ground.
“I am so proud of that,” the premier told reporters of the green energy contract cancellations before question period.
“They went into communities without their approval and just rammed them down their throats,” he added, pointing his finger at the previous Liberal government.
In question period, the premier chose to field a few questions on the issue from the NDP and illustrated an openness to going further, “If we had the chance to get rid of all the wind turbines, we would, because it’s totally unrealistic,” he said, decrying the high cost of existing wind energy contracts.
The rhetoric matched what the premier said in his successful campaign to become PC leader, when he supported the sentiment of fellow leadership hopeful Tanya Granic Allen to “take those wind turbines and rip them out of the ground.”
Opposition critics bemoaned the premier’s outlook on the file.
Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser was disappointed in Ford’s approach. “I thought the tone had changed and Doug the Dismantler had left the building, but apparently Doug the Dismantler is alive and well,” he said following question period. “The reality is, we’re in energy over-supply right now. But when Pickering comes off and we refurb nuclear we’ll be at the opposite end,” he warned, pointing to the facts about Ontario’s energy mix in the near future. “He obviously doesn’t understand that energy is a long-term plan,” Fraser added.
Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath: “Gee, when he’s not driving a bulldozer into the Greenbelt he’s hoping to pull out wind turbines. That’s pretty troubling,” she said. “The premier is going backwards when it comes to what everybody else around the world is doing.”
Green Leader Mike Schreiner said in a statement that the premier’s feelings about wind power didn’t make economic sense. “No investor would recommend buying high and selling low, but that’s exactly what the premier is doing,” Schreiner said, citing data that the cost to provide wind power has declined by 71 per cent over the past 35 years.
“Ford’s attack on clean energy will keep Ontario in the dark ages while the rest of the world transitions to a prosperous economic future.”
Despite the criticisms, Energy Minister Greg Rickford stayed in lockstep with the premier.
“$790 million in contracts that weren’t required,” the minister told the media when asked if the government could indeed remove installed wind turbines, citing the net present value of over 750 green energy contracts that the government nixed in legislation passed in July 2018. “This was putting tremendous pressure on the contemporary and future dynamic of our costs,” he added.
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