A few days ago the Globe and Mail devoted its entire editorial space to a denunciation of the complete mess the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals have made of the energy file in Ontario. Using blunt language more usually found in the conservative-leaning Sun or Post– not a moderate journal like the Globe and Mail, the editorialists noted, “thanks to a misguided government policy of artificially pumping up the cost of producing power in the province, Ontarians had overpaid for electricity to the tune of $37-billion between 2006 and 2014, and will continue to be overcharged by another $133-billion by 2032.” The editorial went on to say, “The scale of the waste is so large as to be almost incomprehensible, which may explain why (Ontario Auditor-General)…Lysyk’s report was a one-day news wonder when it landed last December. Once the count gets into the hundreds of billions, the mind goes numb. If the province announced construction of the Burning Money Biomass Plant, fuelled by bales of five and 10-dollar bills, it probably wouldn’t be capable of destroying $170-billion.”
It is hard to know where to start with this mess, which in fairness has to be traced back to the Mike Harris era, when, concerned that Ontario Hydro had become almost a parallel government, he ordered Hydro to be broken up into an alphabet soup of component companies. The ultimate goal was to privatize these companies but the government of the day chickened out and left us with more chief executives than we had before, more employees on the Sunshine list, and staggeringly higher power bills. So much higher that Ontario has lost one of the key advantages that made it the manufacturing heart of Canada—cheap power.
This is what happens when ideology is allowed to trump the expertise and experience of the people who made Ontario Hydro the envy of the world. Perhaps best symbolizing the triumph of dogma over common sense we go back almost exactly ten years to June 12, 2006. On that day the four smokestacks on the Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga, dubbed the ‘four sisters’ were toppled by explosives. The photo-op was cheered by climate change foes, but the problem was that even as the chimneys were coming down, the government was planning on replacing them with gas-fired generators—also emitters of carbon. Adding to the short-sightedness was the rush to demolish Lakeview instead of locating the gas fired generation on a site that had been accepted by the public as a power generation location for decades and which was already connected to the power grid. Instead the government tried to shoe-horn gas-fired generating stations into neighbourhoods where they were not wanted, triggering the scandal over delated emails related to the gas plant cancellations that persists to the present. Not to mention the billions the government paid out in penalties for breaking contracts.
It is not a crazy idea to attempt to reduce emissions related to electricity generation. What is crazy is allowing people with zero expertise but no shortage of arrogance to dictate the methods by which the reductions should be achieved. As the Globe editorial suggests, the better way would have been to impose carbon emission quotas on Ontario Power Generation and let the experts figure out how best to achieve it. Guelph University economist Ross McKitrick has published several papers that take issue with many underlying assumptions of the government’s Green Energy policy which he describes as “nuts.” With regard to the benefits of shutting down coal and the massive expansion of wind and solar, McKitrick told the Bay Observer, “The province had commissioned work in 2005 that showed that shutting down the Lambton and Nanticoke (coal fired) power plants would reduce concentrations of these contaminants by about 1/10 of 1% in urban locations around Southern Ontario, the same as would have been obtained simply by finishing the new pollution control systems that were then being installed.”
Instead Ontario has inherited a system where we pay for the privilege of giving power away to other jurisdictions, where consumers pay more for power than almost anywhere in North America, where the so-called “green energy” jobs that were to replace the well-paying manufacturing jobs that were driven out of the province have failed to materialize, and where we are locked into long-term wind and solar contracts with Chinese and Korean companies that will be a drain on Ontario taxpayers for decades. As the Globe put it, in surveying the province’s latest proposal to add another agency to the alphabet soup of electricity agencies– the “ultra-low carbon service provider,” which will hand out taxpayer dollars to help people purchase electric cars and retrofit their homes, “Ontarians should be worried.”

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

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