Energy

Green Lobby Up In Arms After Cut In Subsidies

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

Ontario Premier-elect Doug Ford has already dismantled major components of his predecessor’s green energy legacy — much to the chagrin of the renewables industry.

Doug Ford — brother of late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — won the election on June 7 to be Ontario’s next premier. His Progressive Conservative party also won a decisive majority in the province’s legislature, ending 15 years of Liberal Party rule. Ford has promised a return to fiscal responsibility, sharply rebuking the Liberal Party’s accumulation of spending scandals and debt during its reign.

“The party with the taxpayer’s money is over,” he yelled to a cheering crowd on election night.

In his bid to fix Ontario’s budgetary woes, the incoming premier has announced a rollback of costly environmental programs enacted under the previous administration. The business-friendly Ford has vowed “the very first item” on his agenda will be to end a cap-and-trade carbon tax. The cap-and-trade program funded a number of other environmental initiatives.

Ford will also be undoing GreenOn, a sweeping program in Ontario that promoted green energy through a number incentives, he announced June 19. GreenOn, launched in late 2017, awarded residents with free smart thermostats and rebates worth thousands of dollars for solar equipment. The program has been riddled with waste and inefficiency.

“[The Ontario government] allocated C$76 million dollars for this program for the whole year. They blew through it in two months,” Ford said of his decision to end the GreenOn rebates. “So they came back to us and said ‘we just blew through C$76 million of the taxpayers’ money in two months, and by the way, we want another C$224 million out of each and every one of your pockets.’ We ran on ending the cap and trade, reducing gas prices by 10 cents a liter, ending the carbon tax — the worst tax Canada has ever seen. It hurts jobs, it hurts families, it hurts businesses.”

There is one group, however, that is very unhappy to hear the government incentives will be coming to an end: the solar lobby.

“In the last few years the available business for a solar company within Ontario was insufficient to keep the boat floating,” stated Klaus Dohring, president of Green Sun Rising, according to CBC. “If we were totally dependant on Ontario as a business, we would not exist anymore.” (RELATED: Doug Ford Says Carbon Tax’s ‘Days Are Numbered’ In Ontario)

Other solar executives have made similar comments, claiming their businesses will not last without the government rebates that make their products more attractive to consumers. Nevertheless, a Ford spokesman said the premier-elect has been given “a clear mandate” from voters to undo the expensive and unpopular programs initiated by his liberal predecessor.

Ford’s late brother, Rob, became a well-known figure in the media in 2013 for his admission of smoking crack cocaine and his larger-than-life personality. Rob passed away in 2016 from abdominal cancer.

Ford will be replacing outgoing Premier Kathleen Wynne on June 29.

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