Queen’s Park Hallowe’en announcement: trick or treat?
The press release issued by the Ontario government on October 31st (Hallowe’en Night) carried this headline: “Helping Homeowners Cut Energy Bills.” As soon as I read it I thought, haven’t we heard this before?
The release inferred the government was going to help around 37,000 homeowners obtain “home energy audits and retrofits”. The committed dollar amount was $100 million over three years from the “Green Investment Fund” (GIF). The $325 million GIF was announced in the “2015 Fall Economic Statement” and again in the 2016 Budget and will come from the “cap and trade” tax we will shortly experience. The GIF is already committed to spend almost $300 million of the total fund. The upcoming tax is forecast to generate $1.9 billion annually; the bulk of the tax will come from the 4.5 million households in the province who were told the cost will be $5.00 monthly per household if you heat by natural gas, and an additional monthly cost of $8.00 for transport included in the fuel price. The $13.00 per month per household should generate annual revenue around $700 million (4.5 million [households] X $13.00 X 12 [months] = $702 million).
The promise made in the press release is: “Thanks to this investment, Ontario homeowners can upgrade their homes, improve their energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint and, importantly, save money.” Really.
Let’s recall former Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli’s and his July 2013 message in which he told us we would save money by conserving electricity use: “Ontario has saved billions of dollars through conservation, and we have a clear opportunity to do more. By investing in conservation before new generation, where cost-effective, we can save ratepayers money and give consumers new technology to track and control energy use.”
Chiarelli’s July 2013 forecast, when the average cost of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity was 8.4 cents, was wrong. Very wrong.
Three years later, the average cost is 11.1 cents/kWh, up 38%, costing the average ratepayer $250 more a year, and yet we did conserve! With that in mind, we should expect the same thing to happen in respect to the natural gas file. Energy ministers have consistently failed to complete a cost/benefit study and have actually lied to Ontarians about savings.
Current plans offering financing for natural gas expansion of $230 million to extend gas pipelines to rural areas will surely raise the distribution costs for existing and future homeowners heating with natural gas. Building transmission lines to carry intermittent unreliable wind and solar electricity generation to the grid did, so we should expect the same! Coupled with the “cap and trade” tax to be levied on natural gas distributors, the expansion will push the cost of heating with gas higher.
In the meantime, the MOECC (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) also announced their plans to hand out the new “cap and trade” tax to individuals who purchase an electric vehicle as per a June press release: “Cash back: When you buy or lease a green plate eligible electric vehicle, you can receive an incentive of up to $14,000. You may also receive an incentive of up to $1,000 for the purchase and installation of a Level 2 home charging station. Ontario will also work with the federal government to explore ways to eliminate the HST from new and used EVs by 2018.”
And, “Great perks: You get a green licence plate that identifies you as an EV owner and allows you to drive in all provincial high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, even with only one person in the vehicle, and will provide free access to high occupancy toll (HOT) toll lanes in the future. You’ll also get free fuel under Ontario’s overnight charging program between 2017 and 2020.”
The Ontario citizens who heat their homes with natural gas or electricity, but can’t afford to purchase an EV should bask in the warmth of knowing by paying the “cap and trade” tax (hidden in your natural gas heating bill and via gasoline purchases) you are helping the rich people purchase an EV and also making sure they don’t have to pay for their fuel, or even the upkeep of the roads they travel on.
Now, doesn’t that make you feel better, knowing that the next time you see a Tesla automobile you’re seeing your tax dollars are hard at work?
In the meantime sit back and enjoy all the money the Premier Wynne-led government has saved you —just like she did on your electricity bill.