Premier Kathleen Wynne will testify next week before a legislative committee investigating the government’s cancellation of gas-fired power plants in Mississauga and Oakville.
The Liberals, meanwhile, want to call Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak to testify on the same day as the premier, to buttress the government’s contention that his party would also have cancelled the plants had it been in power.
They will also have the CEO of the Ontario Power Authority provide updated numbers on what it cost to scrap the Oakville plant – a price tag expected to exceed the $40-million the government has previously claimed.
The government said it will not reveal any updated numbers on the cost of cancelling the Oakville plant until Mr. Andersen makes his report to the committee. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, in fact, professed that he did not even know the cost.
“The most current numbers that they have, I have not seen,” he told reporters. “I do not personally have the most recently updated numbers … the numbers changed.”
Former energy minister Chris Bentley testified at the committee Tuesday that he, too, did not know the entire figure for cancelling the Oakville plant.
However, he conceded that there would be extra costs on top of the $40-million.
He also denied ordering the cover-up of gas plant documents, something the opposition had accused him of doing last fall. Mr. Bentley resigned in February and also gave up his seat in the legislature.
NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns and his Tory counterpart, Vic Fedeli, repeatedly pressed Mr. Bentley on costs, but could not get a hard figure.
“I found it discouraging, at best, that he was just playing all over the landscape and not giving the answers that I believe he should give,” Mr. Tabuns said afterward.
Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid, who was energy minister when the gas plants were scrapped, said he pushed for the Oakville plant to be killed in part because of local opposition and because the province did not immediately need the electricity it would have provided.
“I recommended to the premier and the government that we should not proceed any further with this troubled project,” he said.
The party first considered scrapping the Mississauga plant near the start of the 2011 election campaign, he said. Mr. Duguid said he advised against it but, near the end of the campaign, he was told by a former staffer from the premier’s office that the cancellation would go ahead.
The province’s auditor-general revealed last week that scrapping the Mississauga plant cost $275-million, $85-million more than the Liberals had claimed. The auditor’s office is working on a report into the Oakville plant that will not be finished until late summer.
With a report from the Canadian Press