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Ontario wants more clean electricity from Quebec . . . if it saves money
La Presse reported that Ontario would pay 6.12 cents per kilowatt hour, but Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’s office denied there is a deal between the provinces.
Aug. 8, 2017

Ontario is looking for more clean electricity from Quebec, but only if it saves ratepayers money, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’s office says after rejecting a recent offer from Hydro-Quebec.

The comment came Tuesday after French-language daily La Presse reported a draft agreement, dated June 22, had Ontario purchasing eight terawatt hours of hydro-electric power a year, enough to supply 800,000 households.

Under the deal, Ontario would have paid 6.12 cents per kilowatt hour, higher than Quebec’s average export price of 4.8 cents last year.

“No new agreement has been reached,” a statement from Thibeault’s office said Tuesday. It included a July 27 letter from the minister to his Quebec counterpart noting the draft offer would have cost Ontario ratepayers an extra $30 a year.

“Reducing costs for Ontario ratepayers is a foremost concern for me,” Thibeault wrote to Quebec Energy Minister Pierre Arcand.

The deal would have also required Ontario to make “significant” cutbacks to its own clean-energy generation from wind turbines, solar farms and hydro-electric dams.

In Tuesday’s statement, Ontario said any future agreements with Quebec will have to be “cost effective” and provide “a reduction in Ontario electricity costs when compared to other supply alternatives.”

In addition, any deal would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing Ontario to cut back on electricity generation from natural gas.

Ontario officials stressed that negotiations to buy more power from Hydro-Quebec are continuing, with more talks planned as provincial energy ministers meet at a conference in New Brunswick this month.

“While we haven’t yet received an offer that meets those core objectives, we look forward to continued discussions with our Quebec counterparts,” said the statement from Thibeault’s office.

Progressive Conservative MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings) said he’s concerned Ontario is negotiating for more electricity considering this province has a surplus.

“This is power that Ontario doesn’t need,” Smith, his party’s energy critic, told a news conference at Queen’s Park, questioning whether the government is looking to close the Pickering nuclear generating station early.

At Massey Hall, Finance Minister Charles Sousa said “that’s not the case.”

Ontario signed a deal last October for Hydro-Quebec to “store” hydroelectric power until this province needs it, by pumping enough water upstream from Quebec dams to produce 500 gigawatt hours of hydroelectricity on demand.

That’s enough to power the city of North Bay for a year.

The seven-year deal will save Ontario an estimated $70 million, because it won’t have to rely as much on natural gas-fired power plants while the Darlington nuclear generating station is having a $12.8-billion, 10-year refurbishment of its atomic reactors.

As Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government is under fire for high electricity prices and faces an election next June, Thibeault has pledged to look for new ways to get costs down in addition to delivering an average rate cut of 25 per cent this year on household hydro bills.

Ontario and Quebec are holding a joint cabinet meeting in September, when any new deals on electricity are likely to be announced.