Citizens want to take back control of hydro

News Jun 23, 2017 by Bob Wood Norfolk News

The rates may be coming down, but Norfolk residents are still concerned about what is happening with hydro in Ontario.

These concerns were evident at a public meeting held on a warm Thursday evening earlier this month at the Port Rowan Community Centre.

A crowd of about 70 listened to a panel of four paint a dismal picture of hydro privatization and hardship for families and businesses in the county.  

The event was sponsored by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Panellist Jeremy Thibodeau, vice-president of OPSEU 230, noted that the crowd was much larger than the 25 to 30 people who have been turning out for meetings in bigger towns.

Perhaps the reason for the good turnout had to do with the fact that “Port Rowaners pay more than every jurisdiction in North American except Hawaii,” Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett noted.

Barrett is receiving an increasing number of complaints on hydro issues. One Turkey Point couple living on a fixed income, for example, is paying 60 per cent of their monthly income on electricity, he reported.     

Although hydro is outside of his jurisdiction, Norfolk County Ward 1 Coun. Noel Haydt also regularly gets phone calls.  

“People on fixed incomes are struggling and have to make a choice between whether they are going to eat or keep the lights on,” Haydt told the crowd.

Former New Democratic Party MPP Rosario Marchese of Toronto put forward a spirited overview of the history of public power in Ontario.

Using a graph, Marchese illustrated how rates had remained steady for 94 years.

Prior to 1905, Ontario had private electricity, which was only affordable to the very wealthy. Conservative politician Adam Beck succeeded in a campaign to bring down the cost. Beck established the principle of “hydro at cost” by eliminating the profit and the profiteers. The result was that people and businesses thrived.

Then in 1999, Premier Mike Harris deregulated hydro, breaking it up into five bureaucracies. Harris “gave away” the Bruce nuclear station to a British firm that now turns a profit of $650 million per annum — an event Marchese cited as a turning point for Ontario.

“Mike did that. No one else did that,” Marchese said.

Port Rowan resident Gordon Wilson chaired the meeting. Wilson summed up the general feeling of the audience this way: “We are not happy. There are things we can do. We want hydro back in people’s hands, not government sticking it to us as we’ve seen for the last few years.”  

Barrett said that the provincial Liberals’ Green Energy Act “had opened the door to high rates” and argued that it should be dismantled.  

The signing of unnecessary electricity contracts must cease and authority for locating of wind turbines should be transferred to municipal government, said the MPP.

Marchese wants to buy back hydro from the “profiteers” who now control it.  Challenged by audience members as to whether this can be done, Marchese said government could do it, if it is motivated.

Thibodeau spoke of OPSEU’s We Own It campaign. The campaign is a grassroots movement of Ontarians who want to keep public services public. Rolled out just ten months ago, it continues building momentum and already has 35,000 supporters.  

We Own It assists in starting local chapters and organizing events like picnics and other activities.  

Thibodeau says many local councils have passed motions calling for moratoriums on the outsourcing public services without prior rigorous review of the proposals. That’s a direction Norfolk council could take, he said.

The meeting also touched on other potential privatizations such as a pending move to sell long-term care facilities in Grey County and frequent speculation about selling LCBO assets.

No Liberal MPPs were asked to be part of the Port Rowan panel. Thibodeau said they have been invited to similar events but have not attended.

Citizens want to take back control of hydro

‘We are not happy,’ residents tell politicians at Port Rowan public meeting

News Jun 23, 2017 by Bob Wood Norfolk News

The rates may be coming down, but Norfolk residents are still concerned about what is happening with hydro in Ontario.

These concerns were evident at a public meeting held on a warm Thursday evening earlier this month at the Port Rowan Community Centre.

A crowd of about 70 listened to a panel of four paint a dismal picture of hydro privatization and hardship for families and businesses in the county.  

The event was sponsored by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Panellist Jeremy Thibodeau, vice-president of OPSEU 230, noted that the crowd was much larger than the 25 to 30 people who have been turning out for meetings in bigger towns.

Perhaps the reason for the good turnout had to do with the fact that “Port Rowaners pay more than every jurisdiction in North American except Hawaii,” Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett noted.

Barrett is receiving an increasing number of complaints on hydro issues. One Turkey Point couple living on a fixed income, for example, is paying 60 per cent of their monthly income on electricity, he reported.     

Although hydro is outside of his jurisdiction, Norfolk County Ward 1 Coun. Noel Haydt also regularly gets phone calls.  

“People on fixed incomes are struggling and have to make a choice between whether they are going to eat or keep the lights on,” Haydt told the crowd.

Former New Democratic Party MPP Rosario Marchese of Toronto put forward a spirited overview of the history of public power in Ontario.

Using a graph, Marchese illustrated how rates had remained steady for 94 years.

Prior to 1905, Ontario had private electricity, which was only affordable to the very wealthy. Conservative politician Adam Beck succeeded in a campaign to bring down the cost. Beck established the principle of “hydro at cost” by eliminating the profit and the profiteers. The result was that people and businesses thrived.

Then in 1999, Premier Mike Harris deregulated hydro, breaking it up into five bureaucracies. Harris “gave away” the Bruce nuclear station to a British firm that now turns a profit of $650 million per annum — an event Marchese cited as a turning point for Ontario.

“Mike did that. No one else did that,” Marchese said.

Port Rowan resident Gordon Wilson chaired the meeting. Wilson summed up the general feeling of the audience this way: “We are not happy. There are things we can do. We want hydro back in people’s hands, not government sticking it to us as we’ve seen for the last few years.”  

Barrett said that the provincial Liberals’ Green Energy Act “had opened the door to high rates” and argued that it should be dismantled.  

The signing of unnecessary electricity contracts must cease and authority for locating of wind turbines should be transferred to municipal government, said the MPP.

Marchese wants to buy back hydro from the “profiteers” who now control it.  Challenged by audience members as to whether this can be done, Marchese said government could do it, if it is motivated.

Thibodeau spoke of OPSEU’s We Own It campaign. The campaign is a grassroots movement of Ontarians who want to keep public services public. Rolled out just ten months ago, it continues building momentum and already has 35,000 supporters.  

We Own It assists in starting local chapters and organizing events like picnics and other activities.  

Thibodeau says many local councils have passed motions calling for moratoriums on the outsourcing public services without prior rigorous review of the proposals. That’s a direction Norfolk council could take, he said.

The meeting also touched on other potential privatizations such as a pending move to sell long-term care facilities in Grey County and frequent speculation about selling LCBO assets.

No Liberal MPPs were asked to be part of the Port Rowan panel. Thibodeau said they have been invited to similar events but have not attended.

Citizens want to take back control of hydro

‘We are not happy,’ residents tell politicians at Port Rowan public meeting

News Jun 23, 2017 by Bob Wood Norfolk News

The rates may be coming down, but Norfolk residents are still concerned about what is happening with hydro in Ontario.

These concerns were evident at a public meeting held on a warm Thursday evening earlier this month at the Port Rowan Community Centre.

A crowd of about 70 listened to a panel of four paint a dismal picture of hydro privatization and hardship for families and businesses in the county.  

The event was sponsored by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Panellist Jeremy Thibodeau, vice-president of OPSEU 230, noted that the crowd was much larger than the 25 to 30 people who have been turning out for meetings in bigger towns.

Perhaps the reason for the good turnout had to do with the fact that “Port Rowaners pay more than every jurisdiction in North American except Hawaii,” Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett noted.

Barrett is receiving an increasing number of complaints on hydro issues. One Turkey Point couple living on a fixed income, for example, is paying 60 per cent of their monthly income on electricity, he reported.     

Although hydro is outside of his jurisdiction, Norfolk County Ward 1 Coun. Noel Haydt also regularly gets phone calls.  

“People on fixed incomes are struggling and have to make a choice between whether they are going to eat or keep the lights on,” Haydt told the crowd.

Former New Democratic Party MPP Rosario Marchese of Toronto put forward a spirited overview of the history of public power in Ontario.

Using a graph, Marchese illustrated how rates had remained steady for 94 years.

Prior to 1905, Ontario had private electricity, which was only affordable to the very wealthy. Conservative politician Adam Beck succeeded in a campaign to bring down the cost. Beck established the principle of “hydro at cost” by eliminating the profit and the profiteers. The result was that people and businesses thrived.

Then in 1999, Premier Mike Harris deregulated hydro, breaking it up into five bureaucracies. Harris “gave away” the Bruce nuclear station to a British firm that now turns a profit of $650 million per annum — an event Marchese cited as a turning point for Ontario.

“Mike did that. No one else did that,” Marchese said.

Port Rowan resident Gordon Wilson chaired the meeting. Wilson summed up the general feeling of the audience this way: “We are not happy. There are things we can do. We want hydro back in people’s hands, not government sticking it to us as we’ve seen for the last few years.”  

Barrett said that the provincial Liberals’ Green Energy Act “had opened the door to high rates” and argued that it should be dismantled.  

The signing of unnecessary electricity contracts must cease and authority for locating of wind turbines should be transferred to municipal government, said the MPP.

Marchese wants to buy back hydro from the “profiteers” who now control it.  Challenged by audience members as to whether this can be done, Marchese said government could do it, if it is motivated.

Thibodeau spoke of OPSEU’s We Own It campaign. The campaign is a grassroots movement of Ontarians who want to keep public services public. Rolled out just ten months ago, it continues building momentum and already has 35,000 supporters.  

We Own It assists in starting local chapters and organizing events like picnics and other activities.  

Thibodeau says many local councils have passed motions calling for moratoriums on the outsourcing public services without prior rigorous review of the proposals. That’s a direction Norfolk council could take, he said.

The meeting also touched on other potential privatizations such as a pending move to sell long-term care facilities in Grey County and frequent speculation about selling LCBO assets.

No Liberal MPPs were asked to be part of the Port Rowan panel. Thibodeau said they have been invited to similar events but have not attended.