House Hansard: Session 38:2, June 13, 2006
June 13, 2006
The Speaker: New question. The leader of the third party.
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): Speaker, a question for the Premier. Today will go down as the day that Dalton McGuinty hit the nuclear button: $40 billion for expensive, unreliable and environmentally risky nuclear plants; $4 out of every $5 of your electricity scheme for nuclear plants, not counting cost overruns.
My question is this: Why throw another $40 billion into your nuclear mega scheme without even trying energy efficiency and energy conservation?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: It cannot be that the leader of the NDP paid any attention to the actual contents of the plan we released today, because that bears no passing resemblance to the plan we released earlier today. The plan, in fact, has a very aggressive conservation component; it has a very aggressive renewables target. Beyond that – and this is where there’s a real separation in terms between our perspective on this and the leader of the NDP’s – we still feel we’re going to have to build more new generation in Ontario. He feels that we can get away without building any new generation whatsoever between now and 2025. So people clearly understand we’re talking about –
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: Yes, there’s going to be more new nuclear, but in fact we’re simply holding the line. There are 14,000 megawatts at present capacity. We’re talking about ensuring that by 2025 there is also 14,000 megawatts of capacity. We’re holding the line on nuclear in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Hampton: Premier, you’re now almost through your third year of government, and people across Ontario still don’t see a conservation plan or an energy efficiency plan from your government. What they do see when they read what you released today is that you’re going to sink $4 out of every $5 into more nuclear. But nuclear has an expensive history in Ontario: cost overrun after cost overrun after cost overrun has racked up billions of dollars of debt on the hydro bill. You give vague promises about doing something about that, but the fact of the matter is that people pay for that hydro debt every day.
How do you justify another $40 billion for expensive, unreliable and environmentally risky nuclear plants when working families in Ontario are still paying on their hydro bills for the debt of the first generation of nuclear plants?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: To the Minister of Energy.
Hon. Mr. Duncan: Let me begin by reminding the member that the plan today will see Ontario’s nuclear capacity decrease from 40% to 30%. That’s a 25% decrease. Let me remind the member that in terms of power produced, it will decrease from 50% to 40%. That’s a 20% reduction. Let me remind the member opposite that there’s one government in the history of Ontario that has brought a nuclear project in on time and on budget. That was the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government. And there’s one government that has actually paid down the nuclear stranded debt. That’s the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government. The member opposite will remember we paid down $1.1 billion of that debt last year: the first time that has happened.
This is a balanced, responsible plan that will ensure clean, green, affordable, secure, safe power for this province now and well into the future.
Mr. Hampton: Well, it could only be for Dalton McGuinty that when $4 out of every $5 is going for nuclear, he would call that balanced and he would call that green.
Here’s what people are saying about Dalton McGuinty’s nuclear mega scheme: "Nukes are anything but solid" – Tom Adams, Energy Probe; "A huge betrayal" – Jack Gibbons, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance; "Nuclear power has far too many costs to justify investing our future in it…. The cheapest, most effective way to start building our system is to invest in maximizing energy efficiency" – Dr. David Suzuki.
Premier, you’re fond of inviting Mr. Suzuki to your photo ops. Why don’t you listen to David Suzuki and say no to nukes and say yes to positive, practical plans for renewables, energy efficiency and conservation? Why don’t you listen to Dr. Suzuki rather than simply –
The Speaker: The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Duncan: Let me quote to the leader of the NDP what Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, said today, "Nuclear energy is clean, safe, cost-effective and reliable – non-greenhouse-gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels while helping to alleviate the massive shortfall of 24,000 megawatts in Ontario’s energy supply expected by 2025."
The member opposite is in wonderland. His numbers are just picked right out of the air. He said, "What did we do on conservation?" Let me remind him. We have now given directives worth $1.5 billion. Those programs are coming on stream. Deep lake water cooling is expanding in Ontario – 25 innovative programs.
What did he do? Let’s go through it. R2000 homes, homes built to federal R2000 energy efficiency standards: project cancelled. Power saver month under the old Ontario Hydro: project cancelled. There’s a list of 10 more I’d be happy to go over with him in the supplementary.
The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question.
Mr. Hampton: To the Premier: It’s interesting how far the government will go to try to find somebody to endorse their nuclear plan. But what is really disappointing here, as I said earlier, is it’s three years into the McGuinty government and there still is no real plan for energy efficiency and conservation. California invests 30 times what the McGuinty government invests in energy conservation. Manitoba invests 33 times what the McGuinty government invests in energy efficiency and conservation. What we saw today was the McGuinty government picking more numbers out of the air for energy conservation and efficiency. The last time Dalton McGuinty did that, it was something called the coal promise, which he broke again and again.
My question to the Premier is this: Why should hydro consumers in Ontario trust your numbers and promises today when you so easily and repeatedly broke your coal promise?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: The minister.
Hon. Mr. Duncan: Let me just review the record on conservation with the member opposite. Power saver month, which encouraged customers to purchase energy-efficient products at local retailers with reduced prices: project cancelled. The refrigerator cashback program, which encouraged consumers to purchase new, energy-efficient refrigerators with a $50 rebate: project cancelled. Street lighting, to encourage the upgrading of 300,000 inefficient Ontario street lights with cash rebates covering 25% of total conservation project costs: project cancelled.
This plan doubles what the OPA recommended on conservation. It doubles renewables. But most importantly, it ensures that the lights will stay on in Ontario. This government’s plan will work. This government’s plan is already working. I will stack this government’s record up against yours on any of these issues any time. Our first priority –
The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.
Mr. Hampton: More promises from the McGuinty government, and I’m reminded of that coal promise. Premier, you broke your coal promise, not once but twice. Now, when I read the fine print today, you’ve washed your hands completely of the coal promise. You’re now saying it’s the Ontario Power Authority’s responsibility to keep your promise, not yours. Environmentalists like Jack Gibbons say that makes you no better than Ernie Eves. Premier, how can you justify downloading responsibility for keeping your coal promise, when you said you were the one who was going to close coal plants, come hell or high water?
Hon. Mr. Duncan: I just happen to have with me publicpower: Practical Solutions for Ontario, and let me read from that document, page 29: "Howard Hampton and the NDP have long demanded the closure of Ontario’s dirty coal-burning generating stations. But converting them to cleaner gas by our target date of 2007 is only part of the solution."
What did he say a year later? "I was asked this question during the campaign. I said, you can’t do it in three years." So he said one thing then, another thing again.
He was up north not long ago and said, "Keep the coal plants open," and then came down south and said, "Close the coal plants."
There’s one party that’s committed to reducing the pollution, to reducing the emissions related to coal-fired generation. There’s one party that has a record of achievement in that. It’s the Liberal Party in this Legislature under the leadership of Premier McGuinty.
Emissions are down. We will continue to move towards the elimination of coal-fired generation in Ontario in a practical, responsible fashion.
Mr. Hampton: I say again that today we’ve seen Premier McGuinty break the coal promise not once, but twice, and now it’s not even his responsibility. It has been handed off to another organization. Today is also the day that we actually see the fusion of the Liberal and Conservative energy policies. Dalton McGuinty has now come together, united in favour of expensive, unreliable, and environmentally risky nuclear power, and he’s okay with coal, too. Premier, can you tell us this: When exactly did you adopt the Conservative electricity policy for your government?
Hon. Mr. Duncan: The one thing I can suggest is that neither opposition party has a plan for electricity, and we do. Let me remind the member opposite that coal –
The Speaker: I am having great difficulty hearing the Minister of Energy respond.
Hon. Mr. Duncan: Under his watch, pollution with coal went up; under ours, it went down. Under his watch, conservation was eliminated; under our watch, it’s being increased by 10 times. Under his watch, Conawapa was cancelled, new renewables were not done, no wind power was brought on; under our watch, wind power is up, hydroelectric is up, new power is up, supply is more secure. Under his watch, prices went up and up and up, and under his lack of plan, he wants to quadruple prices yet again.
This is a responsible plan. It will double conservation, double renewables, reduce our reliance on nuclear and ensure greater security moving forward. It’s a good plan for the future of Ontario.
The Speaker: New question, the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Tory: Mr. Speaker, I don’t suppose I’m able to ask you a question as to which one is Fred and which one is Barney, but never mind. That’s beside the point.