The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Baillie

Jamie Baillie and the Conservatives continue to tell their political base in Nova Scotia that it is the NDP’s efforts on growing renewable energy and fighting climate change, and not the high price of coal, that is increasing power rates. We’ve written about Baillie’s unforced error on energy before: here and here.

But when he’s talking to a different audience, such as the National Press Club, Baillie offers a very different view on hydro-electricity, coal power and electricity prices:

Jamie Baillie: I am an opposition leader… This is one of those times when I actually completely agree with what the government is doing and have said so in the legislature… Coal is dirty and expensive and getting more expensive and electricity prices continue to climb in my region as a result – which is a hardship for our industrial base and manufacturing… This agreement provides an opportunity to give Atlantic Canada a long-term fixed-price to a clean, green supply of electricity… This may be the single, greatest way that by working together we can kick start real, true sustainable long term economic growth for our region… I commit my party to making sure we will use this as a start of a whole new age.

The NDP understand coal prices are driving electricity costs up and that cheap hydro and community-owned small-scale renewables are solutions to rate increases. The Liberals say much the same. And Jamie Baillie? It depends on the audience.

The Conservatives have lately taken to claiming that Nova Scotians pay the highest rates for electricity in the country. If we stay fixed to coal, that may become true. Right now it’s false. Take a look at this chart from Hydro Quebec and take note of the price of electricity in hydro-rich provinces like BC, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland and coal-reliant Alberta. Lower-priced hydro will help bring a healthier mix to our electricity and keep rates stable.

Average electricity prices in Canada.