Gas plant cancellations cost $585 million: Ontario Power Authority
Ontarians will pay at least $585 million to not build gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.
Premier Kathleen Wynne wouldn’t apologize for the debacle Tuesday, but said she is frustrated with the process that led to the siting of the plants in unwelcoming communities.
“I regret the situation and I have said that I take responsibility to make sure this never happens again,” Wynne said during an appearance before the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy.
The premier said she was unaware of the cost when her government cancelled the Oakville plant in 2010 and the Mississauga plant in 2011, and instead depended on the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to later provide the numbers.
Colin Andersen, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) which negotiated the settlements with the two private gas plant owners, told the committee the price for relocating the Oakville plant will be $310 million, not the $40 million often repeated by Ontario Liberals.
Ontario’s auditor general has reported that the bill for the Mississauga plant relocation will be $275 million, not the $190 million estimate previously provided by OPA.
Wynne said she was given a wide range of numbers by OPA, and just learned of the $310 million estimate for Oakville Tuesday.
“We didn’t get the full story either. That’s the frustration from my perspective,” Wynne said. “(The New Democrats) didn’t get the full story, the Conservatives didn’t get the full story, we didn’t get the full story and the people of Ontario didn’t get the full story.”
When asked who knew that the cost of Oakville would be more than the $40 million “sunk costs,” Andersen said “everybody” knew from the outset.
“I didn’t have access to any numbers,” Wynne said, when asked about her awareness of the cost.
The premier said she still can’t say for certain how much the Oakville cancellation will set back Ontarians.
“I believe that the cost is going to be more than $40 million,” Wynne acknowledged but said there were so many numbers floating around that she’s waiting for an auditor’s report on the final Oakville figure.
Wynne said she was told in March that the estimate for the Oakville plant was $33 million to $136 million, and just learned Tuesday that the OPA had a higher figure.
Andersen said it was a complex matter to determine the true expense of moving the plants.
“We provided them with a lot of numbers and the numbers are very complicated and they can’t be distilled down into easy-to-communicate elements,” Andersen said.
Tory MPP Vic Fedeli said the premier was “evasive,” accusing her of failing to disclose the real cancellation costs because that would show how members of her government misled the public with lowball estimates.
Wynne was prepared to throw the bureaucrats at the OPA “under the bus,” Fedeli insisted.
“It must be damned crowded under that bus right now,” he said.