St. Thomas - "In a matter of only weeks, the Wynne government has re-entered into
the coal business and put Ontario taxpayers on the hook for the cleanup of an American
toxic waste site," stated Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek.
Last week, Hydro One announced the purchase of the Washington based Avista Corp.
for nearly $7 billion. This news comes just one month after Hydro One applied for
another rate increase that would have Ontario ratepayers on the hook for another
$141 more per year. The electricity producer justified the rate hike as a necessary
cost to fix a backlog of repairs.
"I find it pretty concerning, that one day Hydro One claims to be in dire need of
additional funds, yet a few weeks later they are able to find close to $7 billion
to buy a foreign company. Why should Ontario ratepayers continue to pay such high
rates when Hydro One had billions on hand?" said Yurek.
Following the takeover of Avista we now learn the American utility owns a 15-per-cent-stake
in one of the top carbon-producing coal plants in the U.S. This comes following
years and years of the Wynne government boasting they've banned "dirty coal" plants
to cut pollution. In addition, Hydro One will be financing the deal by accumulating
more debt, which in turn has resulted in their credit being downgraded from stable
to negative by both Moody's and S&P.
Hydro One's recent acquisition of Avista comes with more than just a coal plant.
The Ontario electricity producer could now be responsible for the costly cleanup
of an 800-acre "toxic soup" waste site in the U.S. that could cost up to $100 million.
That's money that could have been used as hydro relief here at home.
"The hypocrisy of this deal is just incredible. The Wynne government consistently
pats itself on the back for shutting down Ontario coal plants, then turns around
and jumps right back into the coal business south of the boarder," said Yurek. "Unfortunately,
the downgraded credit rating has the potential to lead to higher borrowing costs
for Hydro One, which will then be passed on the ratepayer. This is simply not fair
to the hard working families of Ontario," Yurek concluded.