After initially denying Fort Frances Power Corp. customers the benefit of the province-wide 4.3 cent/kWh cap on the price of hydro purchased on the spot market, the province announced Monday it has changed its mind.
“After receiving additional information from the town, and after numerous conversations between town officials and my staff, I have concluded that extending the cap to these northern resident is not only fair, it’s appropriate,” said Energy minister John Baird.
“Our government wants to protect electricity consumers from the price volatility we experienced last summer and that includes those living in Fort Frances,” he added.
“The Ernie Eves government is a government that listens,” noted Jim Wilson, minister of Northern Development and Mines. “This is definitely good news for the residents of Fort Frances.
“We are dedicated to building strong communities in the north, and I believe this clearly demonstrates that commitment,” he stressed.
“The residents of Fort Frances are very pleased that the government intends to apply the price cap to our local community,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said in a press release issued by the province this morning.
“This lifts a weight off the shoulders of local residents,” he added. “We thank the Ontario government for listening to our concerns.”
The price cap only will apply to the FFPC purchases at the spot market price, and would be retroactive to May 1, 2002 when the electricity market first opened to competition.
This accounts for about two-thirds of the town’s power needs.
The remaining power will continue to be purchased from Abitibi-Consolidated and will not fall under the cap, but FFPC cutomers will still benefit from a further 1.23 cent power credit, thus honouring the deal that was negotiated between the town and the mill nearly a century ago.
Local PC candidate Cathe Hoszowski chalked up the province’s about-face to the vocal efforts of the FFPC and individuals including herself, who visited with the Ministry of Energy to state the FFPC’s case on March 7 on her “own dime” and her “own time.”
“After years of hearing nothing but negative rhetoric from our MPP [Howard Hampton], the government was pleased to have an informed dialogue about the challenges that face our citizens and our communities,” she remarked.
“I believe that if you, as a representative of the riding, approach the government in a positive, constructive manner, and you give them the right information, you will get the right decision.
“Today’s announcement is proof of that,” she remarked.
Hoszowski said the role of an MPP is to fight for their constituents.
“What is important in downtown Toronto may be more important to Howard Hampton than the main streets of Northern Ontario, but my focus is where it should be—on the Kenora-Rainy River riding,” she said.
“That will always be my commitment. Citizens should expect nothing less,” she stressed.
Hoszowski wrote a letter to both Premier Ernie Eves and the Ministry of Energy in an effort to make her point prior to her March 7 visit.
“Through some good dialogue, and some good information that they [the province] never had before, I was able to bring forward the concerns of the people of Fort Frances and see something happen.
“And this is just the tip of the iceberg of what can happen when someone comes forward and takes a proactive approach,” she added.