The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce was at the forefront of the discussion around increasing hydro prices recently. Stuart Harrison presented a question, via video, to Premier Kathleen Wynne at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Ontario Economic Summit event in Niagara-on-the-Lake and we submitted a letter to the Long Term Energy Plan 2017 consultations held recently in Peterborough.
The Premier answered our question, starting with an overview of the situation the Liberal government inherited in 2003. She identified that there had been a lot of “false starts” to improving the system and this contributed to further challenges. Premier Wynne also dentified that the government has changed the nature of power by investing tens of thousands into lines, by shutting down the coal plants and by investing and incentivizing renewable energy.
She recognized that there was a cost associated with reaching the goal of having a clean, reliable grid that included renewable energy and that while they have done that, the government is now looking at ways to get costs out of the systems. Premier Wynne referred to two ways her government has done that to date including renegotiating the deal with Samsung on renewable energy and developing a deal with Quebec Hydro for cheap hydro electric energy to supplement what we have in Ontario.
In our letter to the Minister of Energy on Long Term Energy Plan 2017 we highlighted several issues impacting business, including cost of electricity for small business, transparency on electricity bills, innovation around projects
important to Peterborough such as Energy East, and the future of natural gas.
The province is asking how to encourage innovation in the energy sector through private and public sector means. We suggest that the answer is simple: allow innovation to happen. Innovation on a project such as Energy East could benefit the economy in profound ways, potentially pushing our community specifically, but Ontario as a whole to higher levels of natural resource movement and development and safer and more environmentally friendly pipelines.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and by extension the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce advocates for a transparent energy system that offers a reliable and affordable supply of power to all customers at all times. Reducing electricity and energy costs for industry and small to medium-sized businesses is also a top priority. According to an OCC survey, one in twenty businesses in the province expects to close their doors in the next five years due to rising electricity prices. In addition, 38 percent will see their bottom line shrink, with the cost of electricity delaying or canceling investment in the years to come.
We asked that the government look at the electricity system through the lens of the small to medium-sized business owner working to keep people employed and provide a service or a product to their customers.
And we came to the conclusion that any long term energy plan should be rooted in alleviating the challenges
of today in preparation for a predictable, transparent and reliable system in the future.
Click on the image below to read the full letter to the Minister of Energy or watch the video response to our question to the Premier at the Ontario Economic Summit.