The Opposition NDP say that Greg Rickford and the PC government’s move to cut renewable energy contracts will force Ontarians to pay hundreds of millions in penalties, and is bad for business for the province. However, Greg Rickford is not apologizing for the move.

Last week, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Indigenous Affairs and Kenora Rainy-River MPP Greg Rickford cancelled 758 renewable energy contracts across the province, in an effort to lower hydro bills for Ontario residents.

NDP Finance critic John Vanthof cited a letter from the Business Council of Canada that urges the government to reconsider the White Pines Wind Project Termination Act, and says “we believe this legislation, if enacted, will undermine investor confidence and set an unfortunate precedent for how the government intends to deal with the private sector.”

“The company has already said they will being seeking $100 million from the province for breaking the White Pines contact,” said Vanthof. “Why is this government bent on burdening Ontario families with yet another multi-million dollar electricity boondoggle?”

Vanthof says the Conservative government has at every turn shaken the business community’s trust in dealing with the province.

“In just six weeks this government has managed to cancel renewable energy contracts that will likely cost Ontarians hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties,” added Vanthof. “Does this Conservative government not understand that making Ontario open for business means more than putting up a neon sign at the border?”

Rickford, however, says that cancelling the energy contracts will save ratepayers across the province, through $790 million in savings - part of the PC party’s promise to cut residential hydro rates by 12 per cent.

“Our government is bent on reducing hydro rates by 12 per cent. We’ve taken extraordinary steps to ensure that the renewed leadership of Hydro One will make responsible business decisions moving forward. We’ve made good choices here. Moving forward, Ontarians will experience a lower hydro rate.”

“My own discussions with people in Kenora Rainy-River, my colleagues, throughout the province, have all expressed nothing but extreme pleasure with our decisions with Hydro One and those projects. These weren’t just projects that Ontario didn’t need, they were projects that their communities didn’t want. We will not make apologies for lowering hydro rates and respecting tax-payers dollars.”

Rickford added that it is estimated to cost Ontario $200 million to terminate the contracts, and did acknowledge the legal risk with the contract terminations. However, due to the nature of the back-stop legislation, he says the legislation would mitigate and potentially immunize the province from any legal risks.

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