Public Consultations on Industrial Electricity Pricing & Programs Continue

In April 2019, the government of Ontario began holding public consultations on the province's commercial and industrial hydro/electricity pricing design and programs. Ontario's public consultations came months after General Motors announced it would end all production at the Oshawa assembly plant by the end of 2019. The consultations were launched by the government of Ontario are aimed at improving the design of its commercial and industrial pricing. 

To date, the government's consultations have been conducted online as well as in person.  In addition to general public consultations, the government of Ontario also identified key industry sectors in the province and has been holding sector-specific with these particular industry sectors. The automotive sector, in particular, urged the Ontario government to "fix ridiculous electricity rates". Indeed, manufacturers in the province of Ontario have seen the price of energy increase dramatically over the past years, a factor that undermines the competitiveness of Ontario's manufacturing sector, and divests invaluable investments from Ontario. A report issued in 2018 underscored electricity costs as one of four main areas of concern for the Canadian auto sector.

On April 18, Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, alongside Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, held a sector-specific public consultation on industrial electricity pricing design and programs with Ontario's automotive industry.  On April 24, Energy Minister Greg Rickford held consultations in Oakville with stakeholders in the automotive sector. This week, in-person consultations were held with forestry sector stakeholders

On May 17, Paul Calandra, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, met with business leaders in Peterborough. Minister Greg Rickford offered the following statement with respect to the public consultations: "We want to hear firsthand from stakeholders about how we can improve our electricity system to make businesses more competitive [...]. We need to ensure our job-creating industries can thrive in Ontario with fair electricity prices." 

Less accurately, Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Rickford further stated that "we're fixing the hydro mess we inherited from the previous government. That includes finding electricity pricing solutions that work for industry, to enable them to expand their operations, create jobs and remain competitive [...]".  The statement that the "hydro mess" was inherited from "the previous government" is inaccurate.  

Ontario's problem with excessively high electricity rates began during the Post-WWII economic boom in Ontario.  Prior to this time, Ontario's electricity demand was amply satisfied by what used to be the largest hydroelectric damn in the world that is, Beck 1. After WWII, electricity demand spiked. Part of Ontario's electricity supply problem was remedied by coal and nuclear generators. Coal-generated electricity was then completely phased-out by Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government in 2014 due to environmental concerns: a stark increase in acid rain and smog in Ontario. Perplexingly, the Ford government has alluded to the successful phase-out of coal-generated electricity as an example of how Ontario can fight climate change without the federal government.

Industrial electricity pricing and program consultations will remain open until the end of May 2019.  Electronic submissions will be accepted until June 14, 2019.  More information about the government of Ontario's public consultations can be obtained on the designated government of Ontario's website.