This week, just one year after winning his third mandate, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, announced his resignation. The announcement has provoked speculation on what led to the decision, and what his legacy will be. His energy policies - for better or for worse - seems to stand out on both counts.
In his 2003 election campaign, McGuinty promised to close all coal-fired power plants by 2007. In 2005, he announced the closure of one of the province’s largest polluters, the Lakeview generating station. However, by 2006, he accepted responsibility for his government’s failure to do so, calling the plan, “too ambitious.”
In 2009, the McGuinty government passed the Green Energy Act, hailed by its supporters as a turning point that would turn the province into a world leader in renewables. Through this act, the Feed-in Tariff program promised premium prices (some of the highest in the world) to producers of renewable energy with long-term contracts. By 2012, the province announced that it was lowering the guaranteed prices for both wind and solar.
To encourage job-growth in the manufacturing sector, the McGuinty government offered subsidies to large-scale manufacturers of renewable energy if they sourced a certain amount of their equipment from local suppliers. The government’s deal with Samsung is probably the most infamous of these, and has largely been blamed for increasing the cost of domestic electricity bills. Such deals are also being investigated by the World Trade Organization on charges that the domestic content regulations break trade-rules.
At the end of his time as Premier, criticisms of McGuinty’s approach to energy policies have ben criticized from all sides. Perhaps his approach was to corporate, too bureaucratic, and maybe, too ambitious.
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