Ontarians are in for a hydro shock.
An internal cabinet document leaked to the Progressive Conservatives shows that electricity rates in the province will remain stable in the lead up to the 2018 election, and then spike in 2022.
The document, which breaks down the Liberal government’s recently announced plan to slash hydro rates by 25%, shows that prices will begin to rise for the average homeowner following this year. The government plans to limit rate increases to 2% a year, but then prices will jump in 2022 when the cap expires.
The Tories say the document was presented to cabinet in March and that they obtained it from a “whistleblower.”
It says that between 2022 and 2027, Ontario residents will be zapped by a 6.5% jump annually, each year. That will be followed by a whopping 10.5% increase in 2028.
When all those hikes are applied, the average monthly hydro bill in Toronto will leap from $142 to $215.
In March, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a plan to cut hydro rates by 17% after months of outrage over increasing electricity costs. The cut amounts to 25% if a previous 8% HST rebate is included.
But the cost of the rate cut is an estimated $25 billion in interest payments over the next 30 years as the government had to reorganize the system’s debt in order to make the reduction possible.
Liberal Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault unveiled the legislation that enables the hydro cut Thursday, giving the legislature eight days to debate and pass the bill before Queen’s Park begins its summer break.
Initially, Thibeault said he couldn’t confirm the document or verify its numbers.
“I’ve been in this position for 11 months,” Thibeault said. “I’ve seen literally thousands of graphs. So for any confidential document, I can’t verify it.”
Thibeault stressed government has received figures for months on their hydro plan which included “thousands of documents” and “hundreds of briefings.” But he did dispute the accuracy of the 10.5% in 2028.
Asked if documents presented to cabinet are often false, the minister said typically reports are presented as “topics for discussion.”
But later Thursday afternoon, Thibeault released a statement saying the documents obtained by the Tories were only a draft.
“Patrick Brown and the PCs have instead decided to share an outdated document with data that is months old, as they try to distract from the fact that they have offered no credible ideas for hydro rate relief,” Thibeault said in the statement. “We have been working on this plan for months, and as we worked on it, the documents and calculations evolved, meaning that numbers shared by the PCs today are completely inaccurate.”
It’s no coincidence that secret Liberal documents show hydro rates will skyrocket after next summer’s provincial election, says the Progressive Conservative energy critic.
MPP Todd Smith slammed the government’s plan to slash hydro rates by borrowing billions, saying documents leaked to the Tories by a “whistleblower” show the true cost of the scheme.
He called the reduction plan a “desperate” ploy ahead of the key 2018 vote.
“They are simply borrowing to get them through the next election and (are) not dealing with the underlying reason why our electricity prices are as high as they are,” he said.
“This is a desperate government. This is a desperate issue for this government. They’ve created legislation that we’re only getting a few days to look at.”
Smith also said the documents suggest the government plans to resurrect the much-hated debt retirement charge. That fee, which was recently curtailed by the government, added about $4 to $5 on the average bill.
But the new Clean Energy Adjustment, which will be placed on bills in the late 2020s to help pay down the debt created by the Liberal’s rate cut, will be like the retirement charge “on steroids,” Smith insisted.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault denied people will once again have to pay a debt retirement charge.
NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said he believes the cabinet document is legitimate and it points out what his party has been saying all along: The Liberal plan doesn’t address the hydro problem.
“It just means that the Liberals allow all of the things that are driving higher prices to continue to be there,” he said. “They’re able to suppress the price for awhile. They piled enough money on top of it that they can make it look good for a bit. But it’s all going to burst out again.”
|Year||Average Monthly Residential Bill||% increase/decrease from previous year|