Re-reading Premier Wynne’s statement of March 2, 2017 on her announcement of Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan, one is struck by the avoidance of the truth, the sudden empathy displayed and her blatant claims. As one example, she suddenly noticed “Electricity is not a frill — it’s an essential part of our daily lives.”
The Premier has obviously forgotten her party clearly treated it as a “frill” by taking advice from environmentalists who persuaded her (and predecessor Dalton McGuinty) that industrial wind turbines (IWT) and solar panels could easily replace the power generated by coal plants. They were so taken by those claims the energy minister didn’t bother to do a cost-benefit analysis as noted by Ontario’s Auditor General (AG). They also charged ahead installing “smart meters” at a cost of $2 billion (AG report) and instructed the OPA (Ontario Power Authority) to acquire 10,500 MW of renewable energy principally in the form of IWT and solar panels.
The year prior (2008) to the creation of the Green Energy Act, Ontario’s coal generation plants produced 23.2 TWh (terawatts) or enough electricity to supply 2.4 million (55%) average households . In 2016 wind and solar* collectively and intermittently generated 14.2 TWh — 9 TWh less than coal plants generated in 2008. The collective cost of wind and solar and their back-up (gas) in 2016 was approximately $3.8 billion or 27 cents per kilowatt (kWh,) whereas the cost per kWh of coal power generated in 2008 was 5.5 cents/kWh (OPG annual report).
Renewables: five times more costly
In short, the collective cost of electricity supplied by renewables and their back-up (gas) to replace coal generation turned out to be five times more which clearly raised the cost of the “frill,” but our Premier(s) and Energy Ministers were apparently unaware** costs were rising to that extent.
On the latter point the Premier in her statement claims: “But it’s not as if I’ve been unaware of the challenge. I have seen the rising rates. My family and I get a bill like anyone else.” Premier Wynne’s salary in 2016 was $208,974.00 and in 2006 was $108,031.00 so she has seen a pay increase of 92% in 10 years. It’s doubtful she was impacted by the $536,84 average annual increase she experienced in her cost of electricity as it represents less than one day’s pay at her current compensation level.
The Premier’s statement blames rate increases on past governments and claims since the Liberals regained power in 2003 they had to engage in “fixing a system that had been structured unwisely”. Naturally, the 2003 blackout (caused by a fault in Northern Ohio) is blamed for the upgrade by the Premier to obscure their contracting of unreliable and intermittent wind and solar generation at above market prices. The Premier now claims the “electricity grid” they created “is second to none.” And yet, the AG noted in her December 2015 annual report that power outages increased 24% and lasted 30% longer!
Later in her statement the Premier notes “But the way we financed those investments was a mistake.” The disturbing part of the statement about “those investments”, was Premier Wynne’s assertion “In the past few years we’ve invested more than $50 billion in electricity infrastructure — new dams in the south, new towers in the north, $13 billion to refurbish nuclear power plants alone and billions more to ensure new transmission and distribution lines everywhere.”
That part of the Premier’s spin will form the basis of Part 2, in this series, tomorrow.
* Wind and solar generation are classified as “base-load” generation whereas coal was strictly used for “peaking” (high demand periods) purposes.
** The writer has consistently sent Premier Wynne and her predecessor along with the various Energy Ministers a link to every article written no matter where it appeared.