The head of a solar energy lobby group is crying foul over the Ontario government's move to cancel 758 renewable energy contracts.
Late last week, Energy Minister Greg Rickford announced the government plans to cancel FIT contracts at an estimated $790-million in savings to Ontario ratepayers.
According to a number of reports, the FIT program awarded renewable energy producers long-term contracts with rates well above the fair market value of electricity.
The question of what it will cost Ontarians for cancelling the contracts remains unknown.
In an interview with Bayshore Broadcasting News, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker said it's to early to say what the cost may have.
"That would certainly be a question for the Minister to go through the detail of what they've done," Walker says. "I believe, again, our whole intent is to make life more affordable for Ontario. I'm sure they've taken a good look at what the cost would be in regard to the long-term savings we're going to accomplish."
Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) president and CEO John Gorman says the majority of FIT contracts scrapped by the Tories are small, rooftop contracts that will have a negligible impact on Ontarians' hydro bills.
"What took us by surprise is the fact 748 of the 758 contracts this government is cancelling are small solar projects that are going on the roofs of schools, farm buildings, into rural municipalities on community centres, or into First Nations," Gorman says. "These projects, because of their small distributed nature, have no impact on hydro bills ... but they were important projects for those farmers, school, RMs and First Nations groups."
Gorman says CanSIA expects more than 6,000 jobs will be lost in the province and more than $500-million in planned investment lost.
"That's a lot of jobs, that's a lot of contractors and installers and electricians who had been lined up to install these things and now they're out of luck," Gorman says.
According to Gorman class action lawsuits are beginning to take place among those affected by the cancelling of FIT contracts.
"These folks are mad," he says. "Farmers are business people who are going to be looking to be made whole from the cancellation of these contracts."
"Our fear is that it's going to be lot of taxpayer money paying cancellation fees out to folks."