Electric Power is too important for politics:

  • Posted on: 15 January 2014
  • By: Allen Small
Press Release

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The recent ice storm demonstrates how a bad situation is made worse by politics. Such weather related power outages are inevitable in Ontario given our location. Just as inevitable, is the fact that government-mandated hydro monopolies are prone to political interference and mismanagement. They must be broken up. Competition must be encouraged if we are to have an affordable and reliable supply of electricity. 

The handling of the widespread Christmas Power outage suggests that politicians and their upper management staff were incompetent, but that’s not entirely true. They knew exactly what they were doing when they created the circumstances around electrical generation and transmission that exist today. Remember, their ultimate goal is not customer satisfaction; politicians are primarily interested in getting re-elected. Poor service is difficult to define by customers when there is nothing to compare it to, and there are no other choices to turn to. Effectively, Ontario electricity customers are hostages to political whim.

The evidence abounds.

  • The closure of perfectly functional coal generating stations across the province
  • The rapid expansion of subsidized and unreliable wind turbines and solar power panels
  • The ludicrous regulations in the Green Energy Act that prioritize wind and solar power production over hydro and nuclear power which are also “green”
  • The payment of wind and solar power producers NOT to produce power
  • The sale of excess power to neighbouring jurisdictions for less than the cost of production
  • The cancellation and movement of two gas generating stations at huge expense
  • The outrageous salaries and benefits paid to Ontario Power Generation executives as reported recently by the Auditor General
  • The haphazard Gift-Card and food hamper giveaway after the storm by the Premier
  • The resulting persistent and rapid increase in ratepayers’ monthly bills

Each and every one of those things was done to support an ideological or political agenda and had nothing to do with providing better, more reliable service to electricity customers. They were all done without regard for economy or respect for taxpayers’ money.

Would another political party have done better? Emphatically, no! The Liberals have had ten years to really mess things up, and they have, but they in turn inherited a mess from the PC's, who inherited a mess from the NDP and so on. Clearly politicians of all stripes have no expertise in power generation and transmission, and just as clearly Libertarians are the only Party that understands this. Our position is to remove all political involvement and interference as quickly as practical.

So how would Libertarians handle electricity generation and transmission differently than the three parties that have tried in recent years?

Libertarians would stop subsidizing all forms of electrical generation, transmission and risky energy programs. This would involve renegotiating contracts to benefit consumers not corporations. We would reduce and eliminate debt by selling off assets to companies that can take over generation and transmission. We would alter legislation to deregulate power generation and transmission, inviting the market to do what it does best – innovate and reduce costs. The competitive and innovative free market would offer various combinations of affordable and environmentally friendly methods of electrical generation. Individuals and communities would be free to choose their electricity supplier.

It's going to be a difficult process to untangle the huge knot that has been created by years of political cronyism and malfeasance, but it's a problem we must tackle if we want affordable energy production for the businesses and citizens of Ontario, which drive our economy.

The fact is, the general public does not need to understand the intricacies of how power gets to their home any more than they need to know how the supermarket gets bananas to the store.  With bananas, what's important is choice and quality at a competitive price. Consumers of electricity should have choice of reliable service at an affordable price.

The take away lesson from all of this should be that our civilization couldn’t exist without a secure, reliable, and affordable electricity supply, and that makes it too important for politics.

The Ontario Libertarian Party has been a registered political party since 1975. We advocate individual liberty through free markets, property rights, limited government, voluntary interactions and personal responsibility. Contact: info@libertarian.on.ca

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