The Ontario government intends to cancel more than 750 renewable energy contracts in a bid to save the province's taxpayers a few extra dollars on their hydro bills.
Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford made the sweeping announcement on Friday, labelling the clean energy projects "unnecessary and wasteful" in an afternoon press statement.
A spokesperson for Rickford and his department could not be immediately reached to discuss the details of the cancellation, including what types of projects will be shuttered, how the government determined they are "unnecessary and wasteful," and how many jobs will be lost in the process.
In the statement, Rickford said the cuts, if approved in the Ontario legislature, would result in ratepayer savings of $790 million.
"We clearly promised we would cancel these unnecessary and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for families, farmers and small businesses," said Rickford. "In the past few weeks, we have taken significant steps toward keeping that promise."
The cuts will include 758 renewable energy contracts across the province, whose projects have not yet reached critical development milestones, the news statement explained. Cancelling them now, in the early stages, will maximize their benefit for hydro ratepayers.
The provincial Progressive Conservative government, led by Premier Doug Ford, will soon introduce a legislative amendment aimed at protecting Ontario consumers from any costs incurred as a result of the contract cancellations. Rickford confirmed that even with those costs accounted for, the $790-million savings figure is accurate.
"For 15 years, Ontario families and businesses have been forced to pay inflated hydro prices, so the government could spend on unnecessary and expensive energy schemes," he said. "Those days are over."
Ford campaigned on an April promise to cut Ontario hydro bills by 12 per cent if he won the June election, using a variety of measures that would scrape $173 off the top of the annual average hydro bill.
Friday's announcement follows other cuts to Ontario's climate-friendly agenda, including a plan to withdraw from a cap and trade program with Quebec and California, and to resist the federal government's carbon tax scheme.
The Trudeau government has said the moves indicate Ontario is withdrawing from a national climate change strategy, forcing Ottawa to review nearly $420 million in transfer payments meant for projects that reduce pollution. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said he would take steps to impose a price on carbon pollution in Ontario, while returning revenues directly to the province's population —with or without Ford’s support.