The billion dollar gas plant boondoggle has taken over Ontario politics. The opposition parties are outraged. The Premier is sorry.
There is no doubt that the Liberal's gas plant scandal is politics at its worst. Self-interested quick fixes and a third-rate cover up have produced enormous financial costs, paralyzed the legislature and undermined public trust in government.
The Liberal government's energy planning seems to be driven by what works for the Liberal Party, not for the people of Ontario.
The Holland Marsh gas plant -- located near homes, schools and prime farmland -- faced significant local opposition. It was not relocated. It is located in a Conservative held riding.
Energy planning is too essential to be guided by such blatant political self-interest. It is clear that Ontario needs a long-term energy plan and a new way of planning for the energy technologies of the 21st century.
Instead, the Liberals lurch from one quick fix to another. Without a long-term plan, they've failed to site gas plants properly. They have failed to implement renewable energy effectively. And they haven't pursued conservation programs at all.
At least the Liberals have reversed their plans to waste billions on new nuclear reactors that are not needed. After the gas plant scandal, it would have been outrageous for the government to commit billions to new nuclear without an independent review of costs or alternatives.
The government's energy planning must enter the 21st century. Increasingly we live in a horizontal world with decentralized systems. In the same way that the Internet has revolutionized communications, business and social interactions, new technology is changing the way we use and generate energy.
The declining cost of renewable technologies, especially solar, is making it possible for more and more people to afford to generate their own electricity. Even IKEA is now selling do-it-yourself solar systems. Can Ontario's energy planners keep up with IKEA?
Our energy future requires innovation, entrepreneurialism and community engagement. Politicians moving around power plants like chess pieces won't work. We need to change the way the game is played and what we play it with.
The stakes are higher than the billion dollars we've already wasted. Ontario desperately needs a long-term energy plan that recognizes the world is changing, that engages communities in planning and that promotes local energy solutions.