During the pandemic Federal and Provincial Governments should save real “charitable” jobs not those related to “climate change”

One of the fallouts resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic as recently reported was: “Canada’s charities say they have begun laying off staff and shutting down their services, which are usually in high demand during economic downturns, as the sector feels the financial sting from COVID-19.”

What is a “charity?

As most of us know the institutions referred to in Canada as charities, has changed, as much wider regulations were brought in by Prime Minister Trudeau’s government. The change now allows charities to “carry out unlimited “public policy dialogue and development activities”.  This means they are free to spend money on partisan issues favouring political parties. The charities of the “climate change” religion love the change and many of them have expanded those partisan activities.  Many of us however don’t think charities of their ilk are what we feel are real charities!

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word “charity” as, 1. benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity and 2. generosity and helpfulness esp. toward the needy or suffering.

These aren’t charities!

Back in 2014 the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) was investigating seven* (7) environmental charities however as soon as the Liberal Party was swept into power the investigation was cancelled.  Reviewing the most recent CRA filings and a news report (Pembina) for those seven charities one discovers in the latest year they received $7,449,747 in grants or contracts ($183,000) from the government.  If the foregoing isn’t disturbing enough, their latest CRA filings indicate they collectively received $22,107,186 in donations from other charities.  It is difficult to understand exactly how that almost $30 million is somehow remotely associated with the Merriam Webster definition of what constitutes a “charity”!

The other galling piece of information about the almost $30 million of charitable donations that “group of seven” received is; some of it came from charities owned by the Province such as the Trillium Foundation and the Greenbelt Foundation which are both dependent on funding from Ontario taxpayers.  Gross revenue for the seven was just under $39 million.  Six of the seven charities (Pembina attributed no salary costs to their charity in CRA flings) reported salaries for their top 10 employees in a range from $40K to $350K and the average salary of each of the 54 of them, would appear to be just shy of $100K per annum.  Those salaries are not what one would expect from those who are benevolent and want to help the needy,

It should also be noted those seven “environmental” charities are just a few of the thousands of environmental groups active in Canada and registered with the CRA as charities.  Many of them can be found on “RECEN” (The Canadian Environmental Network) and many others can be found listed on the Canadian Directory for Environmental Groups. Additionally a number of major corporations such as TD Bank and Suncor have established charities that hand out money to many environmental charities such as the Clean Economy Fund (a Bruce Lourie creation) who in turn hand it out to other environmental charities.  Another example is “Evergreen” a Pan-Canadian Expert collaborator who received  $375K from the Suncor Foundation and additional funds from MaRS Discovery District. The latter (a provincially owned charity) also received funds from Suncor.  It’s become a game of “follow the money” for a lot of us taxpayers.

How Dare They!

The Federal and Provincial governments in Canada need to take some time and speak with those who are engaged in real philanthropy and stop calling climate change activates, charitable institutions.

Save the jobs of real charitable workers and let the eco-warriors figure out how to keep their lights on!

*The David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, The Pembina Foundation, Environmental      Defence, Equiterre and the Ecology Action Centre

Using less drives up Electricity Prices again, signaling the Province should act

The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) just released their Monthly Electricity Report for February 2020 and surprise, surprise, costs went up and ratepayers and taxpayers will pay up!

While Ontario consumption was down by 51,938 MWh (what 75,000 average households would consume in one month) in February 2020, we should also note it had 29 days versus 28 days in 2019. That extra day would add approximately another 400,000 MWh of demand meaning daily consumption decreased by about 15,000 MWh.

So, if we consumed less how come the costs of generation went up?  

As Ontarians know the previous McGuinty/Wynne led governments bungled the electricity sector up so badly that it will take years to sort out.  A combination of things made costs of generation increase this February despite reduced consumption.

Let’s start with wind which, according to my friend Scott Luft, generated 1.555 TWh (TX and DX connected) in February 2020 versus 1.379 TWh in 2019. To cap things off we curtailed almost 96,000 MWh in 2020 versus about 52,000 MWh in 2019.  The combined costs in 2019 of wind generated and curtailed, was approximately $192.4 million (13.9 cents/kwh) and in 2020 it was $234.3 million (15.5 cents/kWh) or $41.9 million higher.  As if to make wind’s unneeded production obvious we exported 1.651 TWh in 2020 and 1.478 TWh in 2019.  One will note in both years wind generated less power than electricity exported—ie; it wasn’t needed!  To make the foregoing (surplus generation) sink-in, the exports in 2019 were sold at an average HOEP (market price) of $27.89/MWh (2.8cents/kWh) and in 2020 we sold them at a lower HOEP price of $14.68/MWh (1.5 cents/kWh).  What this means is our net exports* in 2019 generated $3.3 million more in revenue ($19.9 million) than 2020 ($16.6 million) despite having exported 61.4% less.

The results of the above means Class B ratepayers saw an increase in their February costs up from 11.6 cents/kWh to 12.8 cents/kWh (HOEP plus the Global Adjustment) whereas Class A ratepayers (by picking the “high 5” peak hours annually) saw their costs reduced from 8.22 cent/kWh to 7.46 cents/kWh.

What does the future hold?

With March having signaled the start of a shutdown of much of the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic one should expect consumption will drop further. The drop in consumption in Ontario will also occur in neighbouring states and provinces meaning exports will drop as will the HOEP market price.  The result will be more wind and solar curtailment, more spilled hydro, more steamed-off nuclear at the time of year when our consumption always falls as warmer weather arrives but we have more sunlight and don’t need our air conditioners or furnaces on to the same extent.  All of that foregone generation and reduced exports will drive up the price of the delivered and consumed electricity. The result will bring further substantial costs for the ratepayers and taxpayers of the province.

While I believe we should be thankful Premier Ford on March 24, 2019 announced electricity rates for the ensuing 45 days would be billed at the off-peak rates for residential (annual average consumption of 9,000 kWh) and small business (annual consumption of 150,000 kWh or less) ratepayers, it is not a big deal! The one-time savings per “average” household will amount to about $50.00 and possibly $2,000 for the largest “small business”!

The question becomes why, under the “State of Emergency” the Ford governement declared, didn’t they act to reduce “first to the grid” rights of wind and solar and stop paying for curtailed power?   At the same time, they should have reduced time-of-use rates more than they did to encourage consumption which may eliminate some of the wasted generation we will undoubtedly experience for the next three months.

The time has come for the contracted suppliers of our electricity generation sector to join the rest of us during this pandemic and if they don’t, the Province should legislate them to show the world: “We are all in this together”!

*Total exports minus imports

MaRS Discovery District, Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation redefine the word “charity”

With all that is going on in Ontario and the rest of the world associated with the pandemic perhaps it is time for some of our politicians to look inward and try to determine if their past creations make sense and if those creations should be tossed aside.  The result might be to save some hard-earned tax dollars that could be re-deployed to cope with some of today’s Covid-19 fallout.  This looks at just three of those creations.

All three of the captioned companies were creations of the Ontario provincial government and annually receive tens of millions of taxpayer funds which they then reputedly hand out in a “charitable” way.

Their annual reports filed for just the year ended March 31, 2019 indicates they collectively received almost $155 million from the province and $3.7 million from the Federal government. Those funds in turn supposedly resulted in $153 million expended on “charitable activities”.

It’s unclear how many employees the three charities have in total but a review of the recently released Ontario “Sunshine List” indicates 78 employees made the list and received just over $12.7 million in compensation indicating, the “average” salary received was just shy of $163,000 each.*

While the Ontario Trillium Foundation appears incorporated as a “not-for-profit” both MaRS and the Greenbelt are registered charities and their files can be found on the CRA Charities list under the names of “Greenbelt Foundation” and “MaRS Discovery District”.  Let’s examine the three!

Greenbelt Foundation:

In Greenbelt’s filings with the CRA for the March 31, 2019 year-end they provide a list of other “charities” whom they granted funds to and on that list are several towns, municipalities and even Ryerson University.  Also, on that list can be found donations made to the David Suzuki Foundation (revenue of $12.7 million in the most recent year-end), Environmental Defence (annual revenue $3.7 million) and the World Wildlife Fund (annual revenue of almost $25 million).  The other amusing (not for taxpayers) thing about Greenbelt is they spent $564,854 on advertising and promotion and received a miserly $2,929 in actual charitable donations for which they issued tax receipts. What the foregoing infers is our tax dollars are being wasted and also handed out to help charities (we may not willingly support) and municipalities but we taxpayers have no say in the matter.

MaRS Discovery District:

In the case of MaRS we should recall that it was $50.5 million of Ontario taxpayer dollars that first funded them when Dalton McGuinty was the Premier as noted in a 2005 Press Release.  Another $20 million came from the Federal Government.  Since then the province has annually provided them with $20/30 million and the Federal Government with a few million more.  Additionally most will recall the taxpayers back in 2014 bailed them out of their “Phase 2” $344 million expansion.  In their latest CRA filing they record spending $653 thousand on advertising and promotion and raised $528 thousand for which they issued charitable receipts.  Better than Greenbelt but, they still didn’t cover their “A and D spending”!  Major expenditures included $7.5 million on office supplies, $4.4 million on consulting and professional fees, $23.1 million on compensation, $12,3 million on management and administration and $14.4 million on “other expenditures”!  They then have the audacity to suggest and report $40.6 was spent on “charitable activities” but for some unknown reason are not required to report who the beneficiaries were of their largess with our tax dollars.  Needless to say, they lost $3.4 million yet they have 62 people on the recent Sunshine list! Many of those** they funded or provided with their “expert” advice and our tax dollars are reputedly connected to the MaRS “cleantech” sector.

Ontario Trillium Foundation:

As noted above the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is not registered as a charity however, in their most recent year-end financial statement they record having pledged $108,148,100 in grants to numerous parties.  Their year-end, March 31, 2019, discloses over 410 grants averaging approximately $263,000 with several spread over 2 or 3 years and many of them are true “charities”.  Never-the-less sprinkled among them are grants to the likes of Tides Canada (annual revenue of $35.9 million) and the IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) with annual revenue of $29.8 million and a few smaller ones. Donations to other “climate change” charities in the past were much higher and went to: David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina, WWF, Environmental Defence, Sierra Club, etc. etc. Perhaps those now responsible for handing out our hard-earned tax dollars at OTF realized the meaning of what a “charitable institution” really is? Despite the foregoing it should be up to us taxpayers to pick the charity we would support which would eliminate the approximately $30 million of expenses they incur for administration, compensation, etc. Let us decide where some of our taxes should go!

At the present time the three “charities”, briefly reviewed, are providing no meaningful contribution to the pandemic and instead are consuming tax dollars that may be better applied to keep the province from collapsing in an economic heap.  Those 78 employees on the “Sunshine” list could be redeployed to actually contribute to the real charitable activities currently needed.

Our governments must make decisions now to consider our economic future and not penalize our younger generation by creating insurmountable debt.

*Full disclosure.  The writer is a member of a small charitable organization (40 members) and each and every member is paid absolutely NOTHING.

**Represented by 56 “startups” whom MaRS reputedly helped to reach that stage.

Social Distancing for Covid-19 affects electricity costs

The economic effects of Covid-19 are driving up the costs of electricity for residential and small businesses in jurisdictions, like Ontario, where time-of-use pricing is the standard.  As many businesses shut down temporally, lay off their employees or get them to work from home, electricity consumption will drop.  That drop will have little effect on the generators of that power, be they crown corporations or privately contracted ones. They receive guaranteed prices for their generation and for curtailed power (wind and solar), spilled hydro or steamed-off nuclear.  To add fuel to the fire we export surplus power to our neighbours at a price of about 10% of its cost.

The “social distancing” resulting from business closures, etc. will result in a power consumption drop. Despite the drop, however, costs to ratepayers and taxpayers will climb.  The effect; resulting from that social distancing and those milder temperatures during the Spring Freshet, means, demand will fall and consumption will drop even more than it always does during April, May and June.

Ironically those three months is when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining meaning industrial wind and solar generation is high and those contracted generators have “must-take” contracts and are also paid handsomely to curtail their generation.

As an example of the foregoing Scott Luft tracks wind generation and its curtailment and in 2019 during those three months ratepayers picked up the $111 million cost of 938,244 MWh (megawatt hours) of curtailed wind.  That curtailed generation represented what 447,000 average households would consume in three months.  To make matters worse Ontario exported 5,145,700 MWh (what 2.4 million average households would consume) to our neighbours and sold it for an average of $8/MWh but the costs of that generation was north of $120/MWh. A rough estimate of the cost of selling off that surplus is $575 million. So, ratepayers in Ontario, during last Spring, paid almost $700 million for nothing!  During those same three months 2,266,700 MWh of wind generation was accepted and paid for at a cost to the ratepayers/taxpayers of approximately $330 million and solar’s 1 TWh or so of generation, added costs of over $500 million. We clearly didn’t need any of that!

As if to exacerbate the foregoing (during this pandemic) our system of control, over pricing, via the Ontario Energy Board, allows our major generators, OPG and others, the ability to generate a ROE (return on equity) in the 9% range.

Ratepayers represented by small and medium sized businesses are fighting to stay alive during this pandemic and must pay the full time-of-use rates which during high demand hours are 20.8 cents/kWh to keep the revenue flowing to those in the electricity sector.

Time to use the “State of Emergency”

Perhaps it’s time for Premier Ford to use the recently declared “State of Emergency” for the electricity sector to ease the pain for our small and medium sized businesses as well as all of those residential customers who have been temporally laid off.   Pass legislation that will get our contracted and crown owned electricity generators to reduce their generation prices during this pandemic.

It’s time for all of us to equally share the pain!

OPG’s Record Results for 2019

The Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced their financial results March 12, 2020 for the year ended December 31, 2019 and the media appears to have been so focused on Covid-19 to even notice.  At first glance the $1,126 million of after-tax income reported appears to be less than 2018’s $1,195 million but the latter includes after-tax income of $205 million associated with the sale of the Lakeview Generating Station and unrelated to earnings from power generation.

Power generation was 77.8 TWh (terawatt hours) in 2019 versus 74 TWh in 2018 and gross revenue climbed by $485 million from $5,537 million to $6,022 million.  Payments, in lieu of taxes, were $190 million versus $141 million in 2019. All-in, the province will be able to include $1,316 million as revenue.  That, as Scott Luft points out, is a long way from covering the $5.5 billion in costs for the “Ontario Electricity Rebate”* (OER) for the upcoming March 31st year-end budget.

Noted in the financial report is the following: “The Enterprise Total Generating Cost (TGC) per megawatt hour (MWh) was $50.82 for 2019, compared to $53.24 for 2018.”  While it appears the claim in this statement is the cost of generating a MWh decreased on a year over year basis, OPG do not define what is included in the “TGC” calculation.  One should suspect a number of substantial costs, paid by ratepayers, are not included in the TGC!

This writer’s preference is to calculate the actual costs per MWh by simply dividing gross revenue by actual generation.  If one does that calculation for 2019 for OPG; the per MWh cost is simply $6,022 million (total revenue) divided by 77.8 TWh (generation reported).  Resulting from this calculation; the cost per MWh for 2019 was $77.40/MWh or 7.74 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour).  Ratepayers in the province would be happy if that was the average of TOU (time-of-use) rates, but ratepayers know, other factors played a role in increasing costs.  Wind and solar generation have driven prices up over the past 10 years by over 100% due to above market, contracted prices and the inability of wind and solar to generate power when it is actually needed causing us to export surplus generation for pennies on the dollar to our neighbours.

Looking back in OPG’s past is interesting.  If one reviews their financial statements for 2009 (the year the GEA was passed) the same calculation as noted above indicates a per MWh cost of $60.97 (6.1 cent/kWh). That means we have seen an increase of $16.43 per MWh or 26.9% over the 10 years!   Ontario’s inflation rate over those same 10 years was 17.97% so the cost of OPG’s generation over that time-frame was slightly above Ontario’s inflation rate.

While we can commend OPG for keeping their costs of generation at reasonable levels it is unclear why they suddenly went south of the border to acquire a string of hydro electric generating stations at a cost of C$1.12 billion. The acquisition of Cube Hydro (merged with Eagle Creek Renewable Energy) adds 627 MW of (mainly) hydro electric capacity but does absolutely nothing (on its surface) to benefit Ontario ratepayers.  As a provincial crown corporation their focus should be to ensure the delivery of cheap reliable power to Ontario ratepayers!

We ratepayers will need to keep our eyes fixed on OPG to ensure they don’t loose sight of their mission which is noted on their website as “ Ontario Power Generation’s mission is to provide low-cost power in a safe, clean, reliable and sustainable manner for the benefit of our customers and shareholder.”

*The OER replaced the Wynne led governments “Fair Hydro Plan” subsidizing rates for residential customers.

The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices should “fact check”

Back in 1989 (thirty-one years ago) Noel Brown, a senior UN environmental official told the Associated Pressentire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.” Brown noted the Maldives would be under water as the oceans would rise by three feet. While the Maldives weren’t mentioned in the recent report from the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC), “rising sea levels” were; as one of, “the main hazards and conditions on the way to 2050.”

The year 2000 has come and gone but to the best of my knowledge no nations have disappeared due to rising sea levels. The Maldives recently announced they are opening four new airports in the current year.  The lack of them being under water however, hasn’t deterred the numerous “experts” involved with the CICC.  Higher sea level concerns for Atlantic Canada and BC were also included in the report by the Canadian Council of Academies (CCA) in their July 2019 report; the forerunner of the CICC’s report.  As pointed out in an earlier article CCA’s disclaimer under “Conclusions” saw them opting out of everything forecast in their report.  Despite the opt out position taken by the CCA the media only focused on the disastrous message.  Reuters noted the CCA report was a follow up to one from Minister McKenna’s ministry and reported:  “Canada’s unique geographic, environmental, and social identity shapes the hazards that it faces and its exposure to climate-related risks,” Eric M. Meslin, president and CEO of the CCA, said in the press release.”

Returning to the issue of “flooding” the CICC’s report on page 19 touts the Netherlands for their leading-edge ability to control flooding “even though a quarter of the country is below sea level.”  What those “experts” failed to note is “The low-lying Netherlands has been fighting back water for more than 1,000 years, when farmers built the first dykes.“  A search turned up an article confirming “flooding” in the Netherlands is not a recent event caused by the effects C0 2 on the atmosphere or melting artic ice!

The CICC’s report also highlighted severe flooding in Thailand in 2011 as if it was a one-off event.They ignored the probable cause which had nothing to do with “climate change”!  Had they looked back to 1942 they would have discovered a more severe flood and a YouTube video  highlighting the damage before “global warming”, the “climate crisis” or “increased emissions” was even a concept. Again, a simple search on the web by the CICC “experts” would have generated information as to why the 2011 flood occurred. One they may have found was a report by Richard Meehan, a civil engineer and adjunct faculty at Stanford University.  Mr. Meehan’s biography notes he “began his career designing and building irrigation and flood control works in Thailand in the 1960s”.

Mr. Meehan’s report notes: “Though monetary damages in the 2011 flood were unprecedented, the flood itself was not an extreme natural event, hydrological statistics variously suggesting a 30 to 75 year return period for a similar flood.”  The report states the reason for the monetary damages was essentially because “of poorly drained swampy lands on the lower Chao Phraya floodplain, including vast tracts of former swamps and riceland now occupied by very large industrial “estates” (or industrial parks in western terms), each the size of a city and home to hundreds of modern manufacturing plants developed in the 1970s and after.”  The message is clear: don’t build homes or industries in flood prone areas or at some point in the future the damages from a flood will be costly to you and/or your insurer!

The Charting our Course report does sprinkle in some benefits to “global warming” such as: “parts of Canada could benefit from warmer temperatures. Warmer winters could, for example, result in fewer cold-related deaths and illnesses and lower heating costs for households and businesses. Warmer temperatures in spring, summer, and fall could also open new tourism opportunities that previously did not exist.”

The following paragraph in the report however dispels those benefits by stating: “any benefits in a high-emissions scenario are likely temporary and short-lived. Benefits diminish as extreme climate events become more common and intense. Fewer deaths due to extreme cold are offset by more deaths from extreme heat*. Savings in heating bills are offset by increased use of air-conditioners in the summer.

It is interesting the word “likely” is used as it signals the 79 “experts” spending $20 million of our tax dollars are not really convinced those “high-emissions” will actually cause the damages they profess!

Despite the foregoing our senses should tell us the “experts” will ultimately recommend we need much higher carbon taxes to save the world from the likely “climate crisis”.

They might change their mind if they actually did proper research and “fact checked” their conclusions!

*Debunked in:  The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices is “Charting our Course”

A new decade starts with climbing electricity prices in Ontario

IESO just released their January 2020 Monthly Market Report and it brought ratepayers and taxpayers more bad news.  Consumption in the first month of 2020 was down by around 599,000 MWh (what 855,000 average Ontario household’s consume monthly) or 4.7% compared to January 2019.

Consuming less however, cost us more, thanks to the way the McGuinty/Wynne led governments ruled the Province granting renewable energy; “must-take”, contracts at high prices!

Costs were up even though wind generation in January 2020 was down from 2019 by about 216,000 MWh (including curtailed).  Unfortunately consuming so much less had a negative effect on market prices as IESO sold off more generation to our neighbours.  Net exports increased from 1,106,328 MWh to 1,605,552 year over year, up 45.1% and the HOEP average price received for those exports for 2020 was only $14.82 MWh versus $27.82 the prior year.  Wind was not needed either year as in 2019 it was 93.7% of Ontario’s gross exports (1,637,496 MWh) and in 2020 it was 68.7% (1,364,869 MWh).

The drop in the market price (HOEP) of $13/MWh was more than offset by the climb in the Global Adjustment (GA) which increased from $80.85/MWh in 2019 to $102.31/MWh in 2020.  The increase in the GA had a much higher negative effect on Class B ratepayers driving up that portion of costs to 10.24 cents/kWh in 2020 versus 8.08 cents/kWh in 2019.  The foregoing represents a 26.7% increase whereas Class A ratepayers were not as affected seeing their share of the GA climb from 5.32 cents/kWh to 5.66 cents/kWh, an increase of 6.4%.

What the foregoing means is the GA portion of electricity costs to Class B ratepayer, year over year, increased $139.7 million to $911.4 million for just the first month of the new decade despite a reduction in consumption of almost 600,000 MWh. Class A ratepayers saw increased costs of $11.9 million to $196.4 million on a consumption increase of only 3,000 MWh.

Let’s try reverse

Maybe the time has come to drop rates for Class B ratepayers so they would consume more and ironically cause the GA rate to decrease and the all-in price to drop!  Failing that, drop the rate for those small and medium sized Class B businesses so they have competitive electricity prices that would allow them to increase their profits, hire additional staff and in the process consume more electricity!

Time to turn the McGuinty/Wynne Ontario axiom “consuming less, costs more” upside down!

PS: Thanks to Scott Luft of Cold Air for his wind data.