Ontario’s cancelled natural gas power plant timeline

Key events related to the cancellation of two energy projects in Ontario.

TORONTO — Ontario’s new auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, will release a report today on the cost of cancelling a gas plant in Oakville two years ago. Here is a list of the key events:

September 2009: Ontario Power Authority announces it has accepted TransCanada’s bid to build a 900-megawatt natural gas-fired power generation facility in southeast Oakville.

Dec. 11, 2009: Fast-growing Citizens for Clean Air coalition in Oakville steps up opposition to the project with campaign slogan: ‘It just doesn’t make sense.’

October 1, 2010: Opponents of proposed Oakville gas plant bring in famed American environmental activist Erin Brockovich to speak against building the project so close to homes and schools.

October 7, 2010: Ontario Government announces cancellation of the proposed Oakville Generating Station.

Sept 28, 2011: In middle of the Ontario election campaign, Liberal candidate Charles Sousa quietly announces plan to scrap a partially built gas plant in Mississauga, but construction continues on the project for another two months.

Oct. 6, 2011: Liberals fall one seat short of third majority government, but save all their seats in the Mississauga-Oakville area where two gas plants were cancelled.

Nov. 21, 2011: The government announces Greenfield South Power would stop construction on the Mississauga gas plant, which was 30 per cent complete by then.

July 16, 2012: Liberals announce decision to stop construction on the Mississauga gas plant project and relocate it to Sarnia area will cost $190 million.

Sept. 13, 2012: Speaker Dave Levac issues preliminary ruling that Energy Minister Chris Bentley was in contempt of parliament for refusing to produce all documents on the cancelled gas plants to a legislative committee.

Sept. 14, 2012: Premier Dalton McGuinty tells legislature the government doesn’t want to release all the gas plant documents until it completes negotiations to compensate developers of the cancelled projects.

Sept 24, 2012: Energy Minister Chris Bentley announces deal with TransCanada Energy to relocate the proposed natural gas plant from Oakville to an Ontario Power Generation site in Bath, near Kingston. He claims total cost of cancelling Oakville plant is $40 million.

Sept 24, 2012: Liberals release 36,000 documents on the two cancelled gas plants. McGuinty and Bentley say that’s all the documents that exist.

Sept. 25, 2012: Progressive Conservatives introduce contempt of parliament motion asking that the prima facie case against Bentley go to a committee for public hearings.

Sept. 26, 2012: Contempt motion starts nasty and, at times, personal debate that grinds all other legislative business to a halt for over a week.

Sept. 27, 2012: Ontario Power Authority advises government it is searching out more gas plant documents.

Oct. 2, 2012: Conservatives and New Democrats ignore plea from McGuinty and send contempt motion against Bentley to a legislative committee for public hearings.

Oct. 12, 2012: About 20,000 more pages of documents on cancelled gas plants are released.

Oct 15, 2012: McGuinty suddenly announces plan to resign as premier and prorogues the legislature until February to allow for a cooling off period after the bitter contempt debate, and to give the Liberals time to pick a new leader.

Nov. 1, 2012: Energy industry analyst Tom Adams predicts final cost of cancelling both gas plants will be $1 billion higher than Liberals were claiming. McGuinty says all documents have been released and total cost will be $230 million.

Jan. 26, 2013: Kathleen Wynne wins Liberal leadership race.

Feb. 7, 2013: Premier-designate Wynne asks auditor general to investigate costs of cancelling Oakville gas plant in addition to looking into Mississauga project.

Feb. 8, 2013: Bentley announces his resignation from politics.

Feb. 19, 2013: Legislature resumes sitting. Progressive Conservatives revive contempt of Parliament charge against the Liberals over cancelled gas plants, which died when McGuinty prorogued the legislature in October.

Feb. 21, 2013: Government announces third batch of documents on the cancelled gas plants has been unearthed.

Feb. 28, 2013: Premier Wynne expands mandate of justice committee “to look at the tendering, planning, commissioning, cancellation, and relocation of the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants.”

March 8, 2013: Justice committee hearings resume into cancelled gas plants and contempt motion against Liberal government.

April 15, 2013: Auditor General Jim McCarter reports decision to scrap gas plant in Mississauga will cost at least $275 million, $85 million more than the Liberals had been claiming.

May 7, 2013: McGuinty tells legislature’s justice committee he made the decisions to scrap the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants, and did so without knowing what it would ultimately cost.

May 15, 2013: Wynne apologizes for way the government cancelled the gas plants, admitting mistakes were made.

June 5, 2013: Ontario’s privacy commissioner rules top Liberal staff in McGuinty’s office broke the law by deleting all emails related to the cancellation of the two gas plants.

June 7, 2013: Ontario Provincial Police launch criminal investigation into the destruction of emails involving the cancellation of two gas plants by senior Liberal staff.

July 29, 2013: New Democrats say new batch of emails on cancelled gas plants shows unelected officials in McGuinty’s office tried to pressure the Speaker into changing his ruling on contempt of Parliament.

Aug. 20, 2013: Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says staff in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet “misled the public”’ about ability to recover deleted emails related to the cancelled gas plants.

© 2013 The Canadian Press