Many Ontarians were pleased Premier Ford recognized (sort of) inflation was harming us and gave us short-term (6 months) relief from the sales tax on gasoline of 5.7 cents a litre. In the interim with high inflation driving everything up we should be pretty sure the foregone taxes were or will be fully recovered from sales taxes applied to everything else we consume. The tax relief started on July 1st and ends December 31st, 2022. Looking at the recently released 2021-2022 Public Accounts it is obvious why he did that. Sales tax revenue from April 1, 2021, jumped from $26.6 billion to $30.4 billion by March 31, 2022, an increase of $3.8 billion (14.3%) so, presumably, sales taxes played a role in driving up inflation while increasing the government’s coffers to allow them to achieve an unplanned surplus!
It is interesting the Ford led government chose just one of the many sources of energy we regularly use for the gesture and ignored “electricity” which is consumed daily by almost all businesses and residents in the province. Perhaps he was of the opinion the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) was more than we deserve as the Provincial sales taxes on our electricity bills represent only 76.5% of the OER but it only applies to residential users! If that’s the case, he ignores the fact; those who pay the costs of that rebate are present and future taxpayers who will have to pay the accumulated debt from the OER. Kind of “in one pocket but out of the other one” tax!
Worth considering and related to the foregoing is the recent announcement by OPG stating they will be selling “clean energy credits” to Microsoft in a “first–of-its-kind deal”!
One should wonder, will Microsoft be charged sales taxes for something intangible that will serve to improve their ESG (environmental, social and governance) disclosure scores? Those will reputedly be OPG’s “carbon-free hydro and nuclear assets”. That seems quite strange as Ontario ratepayers (residential and businesses) already purchase the power that OPG hydro and nuclear provide in addition to: those contracted parties of unreliable and intermittent wind and solar generation also claiming to be “carbon-free”. We ratepayers pay for the power to keep lights on and our manufacturing base, offices, restaurants, etc. etc. operating. We are also burdened to pay the power bill for our hospitals, schools, etc. via our taxes and obliged to pay sales taxes on what we consume.
What is particularly annoying, as a ratepayer; was, what the article noted about the revenue generation from those “clean energy credits”: “OPG said revenue from the credits would also help OPG in its own commitment to achieving net zero as a company by 2040. The funds received will either go toward investments in new clean generation in Ontario, back to the ratepayer or back to the taxpayer through the province.”
From all perspectives the funds generated for the province by OPG are already substantial as OPG’s December 31, 2021 financial statements indicate. OPG’s water rental costs were $415 million (paid to the province) including $26 million for spilling water during SBG (surplus baseload generation) situations plus $239 million in pseudo income taxes. Collectively that was $654 million. What is missing from the foregoing however is the 7% sales taxes we ratepayers paid for the 77.6 TWh (terawatt hours) OPG generated and produced gross revenue of $6.877 billion. When that OPG generated power was delivered to us ratepayers we paid the sales taxes, and the province earned another $481.4 million giving the province $1.135 billion for our (taxpayers) investment in OPG.
It should be recognized the foregoing $1.135 billion doesn’t include OPG’s “Net Income Attributable to Shareholder” ie: the Province of Ontario; which was $1.325 billion. That means the “Province” claimed $2.460 billion for the 77.6 TWh OPG generated and delivered. The combined revenue added 3.2 cents/kWh to what we ratepayers consumed. The $2.460 billion is about six (6) times more than the savings of 5.7 cents a litre (approximately $400 million) we will save for the six months of a slight reduction in costs when filling our ICE vehicles with gasoline.
The return on OPG’s equity (December 31, 2021 was $15.532 billion) and the RoE (return on equity) is set by the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) at 8.4% so at $1.325 billion it is very close to the setting, however, if one adds the additional revenue the Province generated it becomes a collective RoE of 15.9% and above what most private sector power companies would hope to achieve! Unfortunately, no one sets the allowed “return on equity” for the province and there is no competition to keep rates down!
One should hope the Ford led ruling party will finally recognize their role in the gouging of ratepayers and ensure any revenues generated by the sale of those “clean energy credits” by OPG finds its way to reducing ratepayer bills rather than further spending by OPG or the province.