Winners and losers in Samsung's deal with Ontario

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s announcement of a $7-billion deal allowing Samsung Group and a Korean utility to build 2,500 megawatts of solar and wind farms in Ontario last week may appear on the surface to be good news, but it is problematic in many ways.
There are definitely winners.
Samsung gets cash incentives, a toehold in the competitive North American market, and the right to sell power into the electrical grid at guaranteed preferential rates.
McGuinty gets political mileage for becoming the leader in green energy in North America, along with 16,000 jobs in five new plants being built to manufacture solar and wind turbine parts.
But, there are lots of losers, too.
David Butters, president of the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, says the deal will create two classes of manufacturers in this fledgling industry: Samsung and the rest.
For Port Hope politicians, this is not good news. A new wind turbine manufacturing plant, Pro-Energy and Power, is hoping to create 75 jobs, mostly in trades, with its proposal for a new facility in the area. Hiring is suppose to begin in the first quarter of this year. It is these types of companies, Butters is concerned about.
But that is not all. The first of the five-phase plan for the construction of these Samsung plants leaves Eastern Ontario in the cold. Two plants will be built in southwestern Ontario in Chatham-Kent,/Essex, near Windsor and Haldimand County, south of Hamilton. The remaining three locations were not announced.
Considering the mixed success of economic development offices and MPP Lou Rinaldi to attract green energy investments to the area, Northumberland is left wondering if it will enjoy the benefits of this massive stimulus. When the province announced new ethanol plants would be built, the county was left empty handed. Let’s hope this is not the case this time.
Yet, it will be regular people who will bare the impact of these decisions. There are already concerns the preferred rates Samsung gets for selling its power to the grid will double rates. So, it will cost more for homeowners. The question is: Will industry get a break or will consumers bear the entire burden? Somebody has to pay.
Then, there is the NIMBYism when it comes to building the wind and solar farms. Grafton-area residents are already embroiled in a battle. Concerns range from health to loss of land values. Northumberland residents are not alone. Similar battles are being won and lost across the province, including Wolfe Island, Prince Edward County, Grey-Bruce County near Owen Sound, Manvers Township near Peterborough and North Gower near Ottawa.
These protracted encounters will mean delays for developers, higher costs for the projects and subsequent slow downs for manufacturers. There is also a suggestion from some commentators that Samsung is counting on orders from American markets, as well. And, while new green legislation in the United States is pushing alternative energy, there may be conditions demanding a “Buy American” clause in any agreements to get federal or state funding for projects.
Certainly, it is hard to argue against efforts to bring green energy to Ontario. It is equally difficult to deny the benefits of sustainable sources like wind and solar power. Indeed, the manufacturing jobs are most welcomed.
Still, the risk being taken by McGuinty is a high-stakes gamble, potentially leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Northumberland residents. Rinaldi could be hurt by election time. If the current trends continue, there will be many angry voters licking their lips to send him packing.

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