A losing trade
By Chad Ingram
Published Jan. 12, 2017
The Wynne government is starting 2017 with its promise to reduce Ontarians’ Hydro One bills, but with the introduction of the province’s cap-and-trade system on Jan. 1, it seems likely that the cost of living, for Haliburton County residents, anyway, will continue to climb.
Hydro bills are expected to decrease by an average of eight to 10 per cent, and up to 20 per cent for some rural residents, depending on where one’s residence is located.
Yes, any relief on electricity bills is certainly a welcome development, even if it comes as a cynical and politically motivated manoeuvre ahead of the 2018 provincial election.
Ontarians pay an audacious amount of money for electricity, due, at least in part, to the failed green energy programs of the provincial government, programs that have left Ontarians subsidizing over-priced contracts for the creation of electricity, electricity that often ends up getting sold – at a loss – in states such as New York and Michigan.
Rural residents are hammered with high “delivery charges,” charges that, as many of the county’s seasonal residents will know, are accrued even if no power is being consumed.
Like paying for the delivery of pizza you don’t get to eat.
So, yes, a break of however many dollars on Hydro One bills is a nice way to start the new year.
However, it’s likely that increased expenses in other areas, increases brought on by the province’s new cap-and-trade program, will outweigh savings on electricity bills.
Cap-and-trade systems put a limit on the volume of carbon emissions companies are permitted to produce. Companies that exceed the limit can then buy carbon credits from companies whose emissions are below the limit.
With the oil and gas sector the No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions, this means cap-and-trade regulations increase the price of doing business for these companies. Those price increases then get passed along to consumers.
Gas prices jumped by four to five cents a litre in much of Ontario beginning Jan. 1. But county residents, many of whom are already living near or at the poverty line, won’t just get hit at the pumps. That increased price in fuel will come back to them again on their tax bills, as municipalities grow their roads budgets to accommodate increased gas prices. Food – which is already expensive in Haliburton County – will also cost more since companies will have to pay more for the transportation of their goods. Depending on how homes are heated, it will cost more to heat them.
In a community with no public transit system, until such time the province outfits the Highway 35 corridor with electric car charging stations, gas-powered automobiles are a way of life. A necessity.
While the cap-and-trade system is designed, at least in part, to entice Ontarians to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, in the county, we simply don’t have a choice. There is no alternative. Just dole out more cash.