November 25, 2016
A recent press release from Environmental Defence announced the launch of yet another effort to “green” Ontario via an organization formed by the usual cadre of environmental non-government organizations (ENGO).
This one, the 100% RE or Renewable Energy, pushes the insanity of suggesting Ontario’s “next energy plan should empower citizens and communities to join the global movement toward 100 per cent renewable energy.” It suggests Ontario “should follow the lead of communities, such as Oxford County, that are transitioning to clean and healthy 100 per cent renewable energy”.
It is apparent that the people at Environmental Defence — the same ENGO that was a participant in the creation of the Green Energy Act — somehow believe they are superior energy planners than those with qualifications. Beyond Environmental Defence, the 100%RE group includes the usual suspects such as the David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina, Greenpeace, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Physicians for the Environment, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and several lesser known names, including the Toronto Environmental Alliance and TREC. The latter were responsible for the Toronto Exhibition Place wind turbine used by countless Ontario Liberals as a photo-op but which generates almost no usable power and whose control now rests in the hands of Toronto Hydro. TREC have placed a plaque at the base of the turbine with the names of the people who invested in the turbine and have no hope of ever seeing a return on their money. One of the names on the plaque is Dianne Saxe, the current Environmental Commissioner. (It appears supporting industrial-scale wind turbines that kill birds and bats did not deter the Ontario Liberal government from appointing Ms. Saxe as commissioner of the environment.)
Now, with Premier Wynne’s recent mea culpa at the Ontario Liberal Party convention when she referred to Ontario citizens having to choose between heating their house or buying food, one has to wonder: exactly why did it take her so long to admit to her mistake? Maybe it’s because the Ontario media has recently noted rising electricity bills are causing energy poverty; the hard-luck stories in print and on TV are often heart-wrenching. Those stories, and the relentless arrival of the monthly hydro bill, has had a lot to do with recent polling results showing that 67% disapprove of the job Premier Wynne is doing.
One of the obvious “mistakes” Premier Wynne made was not paying attention. When she was confronted by communities back in August 2013 declaring themselves “unwilling hosts” to industrial wind turbine developments, her response, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen, was to shrug it off: “Wynne has asked the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association to raise awareness in communities slated for the turbine projects about the benefits of hosting, including the financial gains that can come from being power generators in a cash-strapped economy.”
Was she so naive that she didn’t realize those “financial gains” would come from the pockets of average households, and that OSEA claimed responsibility for developing the Green Energy Act that had a role in rising electricity bills?
Her announcement on the repeal of the 8% provincial portion of the HST is at best comparable to sticking her finger in a dike to stop the flood. It has apparently slipped her mind she was part of the team that placed the tax on our energy bills, while simultaneously blessing a 10% rebate known as the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.
The net gain to households from those actions was a 2% reduction, at the same time as the Ontario Energy Board was approving rate increases for both the electricity and distribution lines on our bills that were multiples of the 2% net gain from the Liberal government actions.
The upcoming plan to add a “cap and trade” tax to households will quickly negate the latest 8% reduction. On top of the new tax, Ontario Power Generation, which generates about 60% of the power we consume in the province, has submitted a rate application to the OEB that could add $63 to the average bill.
Premier Wynne’s “mistake” will continue to drive up our bills for some time. If she pays any attention to the dreamy musings of Environmental Defence and their ilk in the drive for 100% renewables, those heart-wrenching stories will become a daily occurrence.
Creating the Green Energy Act based on faulty ideology, and with no comprehensive cost-benefit analysis in place was a big mistake — one that remains fundamentally not corrected.