The red-hot outrage over electricity prices in Ontario is a noisy attempt to shape a political narrative of discontent. It is misleading because the hype has a tenuous link to the facts.
Although actual electricity price increases over the past decade have been higher than the consumer price index, they are directly tied to a massive investment, on the order of $50 billion, for the renewal of Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure.
If the debt obligation of such an investment were to come at zero cost, then pigs could fly as well. The relevant questions are: What did we get for this investment? And, given the costs are real, is there a way to give relief to customers most affected by the price increases?
We now have a cleaner electricity system. Removing coal, a cheap but dirty source of power from Ontario’s supply mix, brings a positive environmental dividend, better air quality (no smog days), and a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation — now 80 per cent lower than in 2006. Reducing the health care costs of poor air quality is a separate but important part of the benefit calculus that is entirely ignored in this discussion…