16 November 2010

Hydro: different province, same political problem, same political solution

The province is different  - Ontario, this time – but the raw politics underneath a pledge to cut electricity rates for all homeowners is pretty plain to see.

The government has already rolled out tax measures for residents of Northern Ontario as well as seniors to give them a break on their hydro bills. But amid worries that hydro rates will become an election issue, the government is under pressure to introduce measures covering a broader group of Ontarians.

Speculation was rampant throughout the energy industry that the government plans to tackle hydro rates. But energy sources said an across-the-board rate freeze is unlikely. Such a move would leave the Liberals in the unenviable position of following former Progressive Conservative premier Ernie Eves, who froze household and small-business electricity rates in 2002. A McGuinty government rate freeze would repudiate its assertions made in 2004 that consumers would have to pay the real cost of electricity, said energy consultant Tom Adams.

Freezing or cutting energy rates is pretty much the stock vote-buying method found in several provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador

And the arguments tossed out by the local New Democrats and the province’s Reform-based Conservatives are still energy policy bollocks.

- srbp -