January 16, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on October 3, 2016 he would put a price on carbon starting in 2018, if the provinces have not put one in place. He also announced the price would start at $10 a ton and rise to $50 per ton by 2022. As Ontario residents may already know, as of January 1, 2017 the Premier Wynne-led government already moved in that direction imposing a “cap and trade” tax they claim will burden us with a cost of $13 per month via a tax on gasoline and one on our home heating source of natural gas.
This new tax comes on top of one ratepayers in this province should already be aware of as we have been paying for carbon reduction for some time via our electricity bills.
A website providing the Ontario Energy Report states at the bottom it “was first produced in Q3 2014” and uses IESO as its data source. The quarterly reports contain lots of information; however, they are generally not available until the end of the quarter following the one being reported on. The reports provide: generation achieved from the TX (transmission connected) market and details on the capacity of both TX and DX (local distributor connected) sectors. The report is also specific in terms of both exports of surplus electricity and imports and their respective destinations (exports) or sources (imports). Contained in the 16 pages are many charts and graphs providing information on other facts such as the average hourly electricity price (HOEP), the Global Adjustment (GA) by ratepayer class (A and B), conservation initiatives, etc.
The report also has a graph specific to CO2 emissions from Ontario’s electricity sector starting in 2007 and identifies, by year, the Megatonne (MT) emissions. If one looks at 2009, which is the year the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) was passed, total emissions were 16 MT. In 2015 emissions had dropped to 7 MT. The 7 MT in 2015 were flat measured against 2014’s emissions and, based on results available for the first three quarters of 2016, it appears set to a level that will be around 5.5 MT! The drop of 10.5 MT since 2009 suggests the Ontario electricity sector reduced CO2 emissions by 10,5 million tons.
How much have Ontario electricity customers paid?
Ontario ratepayers should suspect the foregoing results have been achieved via our electricity bills as they have climbed at multiples of inflation to accommodate renewable energy in the form of wind, solar, biomass, etc. So, how much have we have paid, and continue to pay, for that achievement, and what does that translate to on a cost per ton basis?
That question can be answered in part by the Ontario Auditor General (Bonnie Lysyk) report of late 2015. That report noted ratepayers paid $37 billion more than necessary from 2006 to 2014 for contracts negotiated by the Ontario Power Authority, and they will pay another $137 billion more by 2032 to satisfy those and other contract obligations through to their expiries.
That brings the cost to $170 billion.
The AG’s report noted wind and solar contracts were estimated to have been paid $9.2 billion over the actual market value, due to prices that failed to reflect the drop in a competitive environment.
So, using the $170 billion to calculate the cost per ton to reduce the 10.5 million tons of CO2 emissions, it appears ratepayers are paying about $16,000 per ton. Using only the $9.2 billion (wind and solar) the cost per ton of reducing CO2 emissions comes in at over $835 per ton. The latter cost does not account for the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar which requires back-up from gas plants and easily doubles the costs, raising the emission reduction cost to over $1,600 per ton.
What the ratepayers of Ontario have been paying to reduce emissions in the electricity sector makes the Prime Minister’s upcoming carbon tax of $10 a ton in 2018 and $50 per ton by 2022 look like chump change!
If he really is intent on driving the Canadian economy into the ground, he needs to take a lesson from Ontario’s Premier Wynne and her predecessor, Premier McGuinty.