Ontario’s fall economic update Thursday contained a mixed bag for consumers, introducing a 10 per cent rebate program for electricity bills while admitting hydro rates will jump 46 per cent over the next five years.

Electricity rates will continue to rise as the province shifts away from coal-fired generation to renewable, green energy sources for which the government pays much higher prices, and will only start to moderate after 2015, said Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

The 10 per cent Ontario Clean Energy Benefit will be applied after all other items on the electricity bills, including taxes, and will kick in starting Jan. 1. The rebates may not show up on utility bills until next May, but they will be retroactive until the start of the year.

The opposition parties call the cut in electricity bills a blatant attempt by the Liberals to buy votes before next fall’s election, although they support the idea of giving consumers a break.
Duncan also announced a 50-year extension of a contract with Teranet, the company that operates the province’s electronic land registry.