The fact Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government put aside $231 million to cover the costs of cancelling 758 early-stage renewable energy projects approved by the previous Liberal government makes sense.
The alternative was to keep sticking hydro ratepayers with the costs of going forward with these projects, delivering expensive, unreliable and unneeded electricity for decades to come.
But what the Ford government failed to do at the time was to disclose the $231-million cost of cancelling the contracts, which could be higher since that’s only the government’s estimate.
Instead, the Progressive Conservatives focused solely on what they said would be $790 million in savings by cancelling the contracts.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party discovered the $231-million price tag — vaguely described as “other transactions” by the government — has asked auditor general Bonnie Lysyk to investigate the costs and the government’s claimed savings.
Given how the PCs praised Lysyk’s work exposing Liberal waste when they were in opposition, they should welcome an inquiry if Lysyk decides one is warranted.
That said, let’s remember who created this mess, which was the 15-year reign of error by Liberal premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, until Ford defeated the Liberals last year.
Starting with their disastrous Green Energy Act in 2009, the Liberals signed ludicrously overpriced 20-year contracts with green energy developers at up to 40 times the going rate for electricity at that time.
Lysyk concluded in 2015 that the Liberals had agreed to pay $9.2 billion more than necessary in awarding these contracts, compared to what they could have paid if they had simply followed the advice of their own experts on electricity pricing.
Even Wynne’s own government admitted as it was about to be tossed from power that it had made significant mistakes on green energy.
However, the Liberals claimed this was due to the flawed implementation of their good intentions, which is absolute nonsense.
The real problem was that, as two Ontario auditors general reported over the years, the Liberals had no idea of what they were doing on green energy.
Worse, they were either too ill-informed, or too arrogant, or both, to learn.
Either way, hydro ratepayers will be paying for their blunders for many years to come.