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MPP Rinaldi disputes Howe Institute report

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Lou Rinaldi

Lou Rinaldi

A new C.D. Howe Institute report says the Ontario government’s green energy policies are responsible for “drastically increasing energy prices” while having only a “moderate” impact on the environment, but local riding MPP Lou Rinaldi disputes the assessment.

“Ontario is a leader in North America in creating a green environment and a green economy,” Rinaldi, the MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West, said. “Investment in green energy has helped us eliminate coal. The reality is that coal is one of the cheapest forms of generating energy, and we are not going back there. Eliminating coal-fired plants is the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.”

In addition, the reduction in air pollution from coal has reduced the number of premature deaths and hospitalization “saving us billions of dollars in health care,” Rinaldi said.

While the Institute’s report author Professor Michael Trebilcock states there has been a “negligible to negative effect on economic growth and employment” at the same time as on-peak hydro prices almost doubled to 18 cents per kilowatt hour by November of last year compared to 9.3 five years earlier, Rinaldi counters that the Institute’s report focus is “strictly on the cost of generating green energy and does not take into account any of the benefits such as reduction of Green House Gases, better health outcomes and job creation.

“As a result (of the Ontario Liberal government’s policies) we have created a clean tech industry with 30 wind and solar manufactures which supports about 40,000 jobs,” Rinaldi maintains.

The Institute report points out, however, that the Ontario government “doesn’t distinguish between “temporary and permanent jobs or between low-paid service jobs and higher-paid skilled jobs, and more importantly, does not take account of jobs lost through higher electricity prices.”

It also suggests that “Canada impose a revenue-neutral national carbon tax that promotes economy-wide cost-effective emission reductions, with revenues rebated to the provinces from which they originate. This should be supplemented by limited, well-targeted subsidies for research and development.”

Rinaldi says Ontario is “in the middle of the pack when it comes to energy costs in Canada and neighbouring states, according to the Financial Accountability Officer.”

vmacdonald@postmedia.com