December 4, 2010

The “green collapse”

Energy Probe Executive Director Lawrence Solomon writes in today’s National Post that countries arround the world are turning their backs on expensive and unproductive wind and solar power generation. And, he says, Ontario is next.

Countries that adopted an “extreme green” outlook are now realizing that so-called “renewable” power is leading to financial disaster. They have “recently swallowed their pride, slashed their subsidies and backstabbed their renewables industries.” He cites Spain, German, France and Australia as all taking dramatic steps to avoid financial ruin.

As for Ontario, the province will have no choice but to follow suit. Right now, Ontario electricity consumers are experiencing rate hikes “50 times greater than those countenanced in some U.S. jursidictions.” The provincial regulator was “neutered” by the Ontario government, he says and is now unable to protect consumers.

“Following public protests, and in advance of an election in which power prices are expected to loom large, one major natural gas plant–needed to back up wind turbines– was recently cancelled. Other natural gas plants, again opposed by the public, may likewise fall. The wind farms that require such backups, and which are themselves opposed by dozens of community groups and their local governments, could be next in this house of cards.”

Well, we hope so. It is bad enough to watch our communities be industrialized and destroyed, the health of our residents threatened, but it is quite another to watch once strong and wealthy Ontario being sent over a waterfall in this very rickety boat.

It’s time for the truth about wind. The corporate wind developers, at whose hands financial crisis is being meted out all over the world, won’t tell the truth, but thank goodness there are many commentators like Solomon who will.

The whole article may be found here:

October 13, 2010

The truth about politics in Ontario: they’re all to blame

In today’s Financial Post, pundit and now, as it turns out, wag, Lawrence Solomon creates the speech that Tim Hudak should give today to the Energy Association. But won’t. Because the truth is, all parties in Ontario have contributed to the current situation regarding electricity, the Conservatives no less than anyone. We have already recommended reading Hydro: the decline and fall of Ontario’s electric empire (up until the last chapter when the authors fall hard for the false economy of “green” energy) for a background of the politics of power in this province, but Solomon’s fake speech for Hudak sums it all up.

The link to the full article is below but here are some delicious bits:

“…that Oakville power plant should never have been ordered in the first place–it was the result of another political decision, a grand-standing decision to replace the province’s entire fleet of coal plants in favour of windmills and other forms of renewable energy. The windmills not only cost several times as much as coal, they are also unavailable most of the time, because the wind doesn’t blow on demand. To provide backup when the wind doesn’t blow, the citizens of Oakville were told they would need to live with a power plant for a neighbour.”

“…until today, I have failed to vigorously defend our province’s coal-generating stations–some of which are among the cleanest on the continent–and I have failed to vigorously attack the entirely unjustified wind and solar projects that are bankrupting our province.”

-[On Europe] “Europe has other lessons for us, too. The more countries went green, the harder they fell. In Spain, the biggest green subsidizer of all, every green job that the government created cost more than two jobs elsewhere in the economy. Spain’s unemployment rate is now 20%, the highest in the developed world. To rescue its economy, it is slashing green subsidies, leading to a wave of green companies filing for bankruptcy. Other European countries are also bailing out of this so-called green economy, in good part because their governments are finding out that industrial wind farms aren’t necessarily environmental. They gobble up farmland, destroy birds by the thousands, and pollute communities with noise. Because of community opposition, the largest grass-roots movement in the western world is no longer anti-nuclear, but anti-wind.”

Wow. Don’t you wish that’s really what Hudak was going to say?

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe.

October 8, 2010

What the renewable energy surge in Ontario is really all about

Excellent column in today’s Financial Post by Terence Corcoran. For those who don’t have high-speed Internet, we post the entire article here.

It shows what this is all about: not the environment, not people’s health, but MONEY.

Terence Corcoran, Financial Post · Friday, Oct. 8, 2010

The Swedish retail giant IKEA announced Thursday it will invest $4.6-million to install 3,790 solar panels on three Toronto area stores, giving IKEA the electric-power-producing capacity of 960,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. According to IKEA, that’s enough electricity to power 100 homes. Amazing development. Even more amazing is the economics of this project. Under the Ontario government’s feed-intariff solar power scheme, IKEA will receive 71.3¢ for each kilowatt of power produced, which works out to about $6,800 a year for each of the 100 hypothetical homes. Since the average Toronto home currently pays about $1,200 for the same quantity of electricity, that implies that IKEA is being overpaid by $5,400 per home equivalent.

Welcome to the wonderful world of green economics and the magical business of carbon emission reduction. Each year, IKEA will receive $684,408 under Premier Dalton McGuinty’s green energy monster–for power that today retails for about $115,000. At that rate, IKEA will recoup $4.6-million in less than seven years–not bad for an investment that can be amortized over 20.

No wonder solar power is such a hot industry. No wonder, too, that the province of Ontario is in a headlong rush into a likely economic crisis brought on skyrocketing electricity prices. To make up the money paid to IKEA to promote itself as a carbon-free zone, Ontario consumers and industries are on their way to experiencing the highest electricity rates in North America, if not most of the world.

The government’s regulator, the Ontario Energy Board, has prepared secret forecasts of how much Ontario consumers are going to have to pay for electricity over the next five years. The government won’t allow the report to be released. The next best estimate comes from Aegency Energy Advisors Inc., in a study it did for the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters group. Residential rates are expected to jump by 60% between 2010 and 2015. Industrial customers will be looking at a 55% increase. (See graphic.)

Going back to 2003, based on numbers dug up by consultant Tom Adams, the price of residential electricity in Ontario hovered around 8.5¢ a kWh in 2003 — the first year of the McGuinty Liberal regime. By 2015, Aegency Energy estimates the price will be up to 21¢, an increase of 135%. Doubling the price of electricity in a decade is no way to spur growth and investment. In this age of global economic competition IKEA may end up with fewer sales of its Billy bookshelves in Toronto because its customers will be bogged down with soaring power bills and a sliding economy.

Almost all of these increases are due to green energy activism brought on by George Smitherman, the former Ontario energy minister now running for mayor of Toronto on the claim that his Green Energy Act is not responsible for rising prices.

There are probably some holes that can be picked in the Aegency Energy numbers in the graph, but they are not likely to make that much of a difference. If the OEB has better numbers that disprove the Aegency report, then let’s see them. In the meantime, Aegency is all we have and their report was an eye-opener when it was released back in August — for everybody except Premier McGuinty, his Energy Minister, green activists and Mr. Smitherman.

Mr. Smitherman is the godfather of the Ontario Green Energy Act and the feed-intariff scheme that will transfer billions of dollars out of consumer pockets and into the hands of subsidized solar and wind power producers and government corporations. He likes to blame rising electricity prices on the province’s new HST and the failure of previous governments to maintain infrastructure. The numbers in the Aegency Energy report make it clear that Mr. Smitherman is running on a dead battery.

The full scale of Ontario’s green energy spending extravaganza is hard to convey in a few words, but here’s a list of the increases in dollar spending Ontario’s electricity consumers will have to bear during 2015, in millions of dollars:

Feed-in-tariff $3,848

Renewable energy $330

Renewables — other $96

Bruce Power $74

Bruce Power new $461

Ontario Power Generation $237

Natural gas $192

Non-utility generation $170

Conservation $267

Transmission $1,012

Distribution (non-green) $293

Distribution (green energy) $759

TOTAL 2015 COSTS $7,739

Each line item is a story in itself, although nothing beats the feed-in tariff as a cost to consumers and industry. At $3.8-billion in 2015 alone, it’s the price of keeping IKEA and the other solar and wind producers in green stuff. To get solar and wind to consumers, and fulfill other Green Energy Act requirements, will also force the province’s transmission and distribution companies to increase spending by another $1-billion.

All those costs and spending (which total more than $21-billion between 2010 and 2015) will add little to Ontario’s electricity inventory. Through that time period, total electricity demand in Ontario is expected to remain relatively flat. By 2015, in other words, Ontarians will likely be consuming the same amount of electricity as they are today but paying twice as much as they were in 2003.

There is even a prospect that Ontario will generate additional surplus electricity that will have to be exported to the United States, essentially subsidizing U.S. consumption. Tom Adams adds that the latest U.S. electricity forecasts suggest U. S prices will remain stable. Price are lower this year and are expected to increase next year by 2.4%. Ontario, meanwhile, is looking at average gains of 9.7%. “We’re heading toward European prices,” he said.

The supposed objective of all this is to reduce carbon emissions and offset the mandated closure of Ontario’s coal plants. But the Green Energy Act reaches way beyond offsetting coal. It aims to reduce Ontario carbon emissions, although no targets have been set.

According to Aegency Energy’s calculations, the cost of power produced by IKEA solar panels at 71.3¢ will reduce carbon emissions at a cost of $1,384 a tonne if there is a corresponding reduction in Ontario’s need for gas-fired electricity production. That number compares with official national and international carbon tax ideas involving maybe $25 a tonne or, at the extreme, $200 a tonne.

Average per-capita carbon emissions in Ontario are said to be about 15 tonnes. The government’s schemes suggest that reducing Ontario carbon emissions by say 20% to 12 tonnes would cost $5,000 per person or upwards of $15,000 per household per year. That’s a lot of Billy shelving.

Read more:

April 20, 2010

Parker Gallant on electricity costs in Ontario

Retired banker Parker Gallant (what an elegant name!!) has had plenty to say about the hydro bills in Ontario, and has written about the goings-on in the electricity utility in Ontario several times in The Financial Post.

In his most recent article he says Ontario is committing suicide with its high power rates, pricing itself “out of the market.” 

Finding information useful to ratepayers in Ontario is “almost impossible” but what he did finr “is a complex, unproductive, costly and expanding beehive of corporate and institutional activity that produces less and less electricity at ever rising cost.”

The full article is here:

He was also interviewed on Ottawa’s CFRA recently. Here is the clip:

March 26, 2010

Smog deaths: more mythology

One of our thoughts about wind turbines and the health effects in particular is, Where are the doctors? Well, one spoke up by writing to The Financial Post; his letter appears today.

In it, Dr Paul Cary of Cambridge, Ontario, refers to the recently released study by Ross McKitrick at the University of Guelph which has exposed “more than statistical fiddling” regarding the number of smog-related deaths, specifically that declared by the Ontario Medical Association.

Cary goes on to say that the OMA statement was based on a “simplistic epidemiological comparison of death rates and air pollution.” The OMA then stated that air pollution contributes to deaths in Ontario. However, as Cary says, “as any experienced physician is aware, what kills the frail elderly and the severe heart and lung patients on hot days is dehydration and heat stroke.”

He concludes: “I would hope that Dr. McKitrick or another researcher will lift the rocks necessary to expose the original Ontario Medical Association paper to scientific light before Premier Dalton McGuinty ruins the Ontario economy with his alternative energy policy.”

Hear, hear!

And to you, Bart Geleynse of Prowind, we don’t anymore want to hear your CanWEA-directed bleat, “Coal is killing people!” It isn’t true, never was.

Dr Cary’s letter is here:

March 6, 2010

Opposition to wind energy development heightens—but will McGuinty government listen?

Probably not. Because they think they’re smarter than we are and they also think that this utterly daft idea, which is being proven wrong across the oceans, is the way to get them elected again. Promises of closing coal-fired power plants and job creation will be answered by erecting enormous turbine towers throughout Ontario.

But. The more turbines are built, the louder the complaints, both from people who are the “involuntary neighbours” of wind turbine developments, and from right-thinking economic analysts, who see this for the boondoggle it is.

Menwhile, the Ontario Conservatives are meeting in Ottawa this weekend to determine their strategy for the next election, with particular emphasis on wooing the urban voters. In our view, wind turbines and the folly of wind energy development generally is the ideal issue for ALL voters. For more on that see the last article in the string listed below, by law and economics professor Michael Trebilcock.

Some news articles appearing this week:

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