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North should move to regional pricing: Hampton


August 29, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

A regional pricing system might hold the answer to Northern Ontario’s energy woes, the Chronicle Journal reported.

A regional pricing system might hold the answer to Northern Ontario’s energy woes, the Chronicle Journal reported.

According to a 2004 study on electrical costs, prices would likely be substantially lower were the province to adopt the new system. The potential payoff for the forestry sector could come in the form of averted job losses.

“The study was very conclusive,” the Chronicle Journal reported NDP leader Howard Hampton as saying. “If we had a system of regional hydro rates, industry and consumers would be paying significantly less,” he said.

In a recap of the Independent Electricity Market Operator report, the Chronicle Journal concluded that between October 4, 2002 and December 31, 2003, a move to regional pricing would have seen Northern Ontario users paying less than market price for electricity.

Steep energy prices remain the centre of contentious debate in the northern part of the province, and have been blamed for thousands of job losses and many mill closures.

“The McGuinty government policy of driving rates through the roof is killing jobs,” the Journal reported Hampton as saying. “Their statement that they’re studying the issue doesn’t hold water. It’s already been done. The information is all there to act on this, so why the delay on the part of the McGuinty government?”

In response to Hampton’s remarks, Steve Erwin, a spokesman for Energy Minister Dwight Duncan claimed Hampton’s accusations were ‘out of context.’

“It’s still being reviewed. It’s a complicated issue. There’s a lot of depth to studying this issue. These things do take time. We want to do this properly and not rush into a decision,” the Journal reported him as saying.


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