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Taxpayers hit with $180 million cost of moving Mississauga gas plant

By Jonathan Jenkins, Queen's Park Bureau

TORONTO - 

Each man, woman and child in Ontario will be billed $14 to scrap a gas-burning electrical plant in Mississauga.

“The cost — the bottom line cost — of relocating the Mississauga gas plant to Lambton is $180 million,” Energy Minister Chris Bentley said Tuesday.

“We have fulfilled the commitment we had made to the residents of Mississauga and Etobicoke.”

The announcement caps an embarrassing episode for the government, which abruptly cancelled the 300-megawatt project in the middle of last fall’s election campaign. Scrapping the power plant quieted a revolt from residents upset at the construction and eased re-election concerns for three nearby Liberal MPPs. However, the move sparked a multi-million dollar lawsuit from the companies involved.

Bentley said the deal struck Monday between Ontario and Greenfield Power will see a similar sized plant built at Sarnia’s soon-to-be-closed, coal-burning Lambton Generating Station.

“It’s a good fit,” Bentley said, denying the government killed the plant to save the seats of current and former cabinet ministers Charles Sousa, Laurel Broten and Donna Cansfield.

Opposition MPPs said the minister should be ashamed for leaving the public with the bill for saving Liberal skins.

“It’s clear that the Liberal party of Ontario decided to save two seats in the last election by incurring this huge risk and now we’re stuck with the bill,” said NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns. “It’s either going to be on your tax bill or your hydro bill and it’s a scandal, it’s completely outrageous.”

He insisted that Premier Dalton McGuinty bears ultimate responsibility for the $180 million cost.

“It was in the premier’s hands — he made the decision to save those seats. He made a decision that’s going to cost $180 million. That is outrageous.”

Progressive Conservative energy critic Vic Fedeli said Ontarians are effectively paying $180 million to have Liberal campaign staffers write energy policy.

“It doesn’t seem to matter to them; we just see this file being consistently mismanaged over and over and over again and they seem to not take the money into account,” Fedeli said.

The government is still working to resolve a similar dispute with energy giant TransCanada over its October 2010 decision to cancel an 800-megawatt gas-fired plant in Oakville, which was also bitterly opposed by residents.


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