What Needs to be Done

What needs to be done to fix Ontario’s electricity system and economy
 (And it won’t be easy)

Paul Kahnert was a Toronto Hydro worker and CUPE Local One member for 33 years.

Paul was spokesperson for the Ontario Electricity Coalition from 2001 to 2010. The Ontario Electricity Coalition and its members CEP and CUPE stopped the sale of Hydro One in a Province wide campaign and court case in the Spring of 2002. Paul has written an informative article that includes a 7 point plan to deal with skyrocketing rates. You can see the full article here Time to Fix Hydro 'Mistake'

What needs to be done to fix Ontario’s electricity system and economy (And it won’t be easy)

  1. All privatization, mergers and the sale of Hydro One must immediately stop. (European countries like Germany are buying back their utilities. We must make a plan to buy back our Public utilities. )

  2. Deregulation didn’t work, period. The IESO electricity market must be closed and Deregulation legislation must be repealed.

  3. Rates must be regulated. “Time of use” rates must be scrapped and replaced with a single rate.  (Smart meters can still be used for a single rate.)

  4. The entire Ontario Energy Board must be replaced and restructured to be a real public watchdog with real teeth so that it acts in the public interest not for the private few. A review should be conducted on the OEB’s decisions on delivery and distribution charges and some of the more glaring conflicts of interest.

  5. Conservation must be FIRST in green power. It is ten times cheaper to use less power than build new generation of any kind. Private electricity producers, green or conventional are not in the business of selling less power. There have been no real conservation measures under deregulation.

  6. Those long term agreements for private wind and solar power will have to be dealt with. This will be one of the most difficult issues. They will sue under NAFTA (As we predicted in 2002)

The planet is in trouble. We need to get on the pathway of harm reduction and harm elimination. Deregulation and private, for- profit power is never going to do what needs to be done.

We need green power. But in order for green power to be effective, conservation must be first.  In order for Green power such as wind and solar to be successful, it must be owned locally, cooperatively and benefit the local community, not profit driven multinational corporations.

     7. Make a plan and rebuild our public utilities. Ontario’s businesses, jobs for youth, the environment and the economy depend on that to happen. Returning these levers of control to local and provincial governments is critical.

If these things are not done, then our problems with high Hydro rates will remain.

The private sector does a great job of making and manufacturing all the things we need for a Hydro system, wire, transformers, switches, poles connectors, relays etc. But they do a terrible job of acting in the public interest. They can’t, they are legally required to maximize profits for their shareholder. That’s where the dividing line is between public and private in the hydro industry.

Some people are tired of hearing about Sir Adam Beck and his vision of Public Power. But... it is a fact. We did have 94 years of Public, non-profit power in Ontario. Sir Adam Beck wasn’t a socialist, he was a practical businessman backed by small and medium businesses and eighteen referendums in Ontario. His vision of Public Power made Ontario’s economy great. It made Ontario a great place to do business.  On his death bed, Sir Adam Beck said “I wished I could have lived long enough to build a band of Iron around Hydro, to keep it safe from the politicians. “ He might have added “And keep it safe from the profiteers.”

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