The OCAA is Seeking Future Blackouts for Quebec in the Winter

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) under Jack Gibbons was busy throughout 2021 making the rounds of various cities and municipalities throughout Ontario convincing them they should tell the Ford government to close all the natural gas plants in the province.  A total of 32 cities and municipalities joined hands with Gibbons thanks to inept (the only descriptive that made sense) councils and told the government of Ontario to shut those gas plants.  Gibbons somehow convinced them Quebec has a huge surplus of hydro generation that will easily replace those gas plants when our power demand needs them.  Apparently, none of those councils bothered to investigate Gibbons claim.

Gibbons bio indicates he is an “economist” and reportedly “studied economics at the University of Toronto (B.A.), Queen’s University (M.A.) and the University of British Columbia“!  We should have serious doubts about his claim based on the rhetoric associated with his push to close the gas plants. Gibbons comes across like a pitchman selling snake oil in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

If any of the mayors or council members bothered to do even a little research they would have discovered Quebec’s peak demand occurs in the winter.  Hydro Quebec encourage their ratepayers to use less power during the December to March period as 61% of households use electricity to heat their homes versus only about 17% in Ontario.

If the Ford led government in Ontario responded to the OCAA desires the results would have a negative effect on households in both provinces but in particular Quebec due to their peak winter demand*. 

A recent four (4) days of cold winter weather in both Ontario and Quebec dispel the “Gibbons/OCAA” notion!  Ontario was called on to provide considerable power to Quebec over those four days and without the availability of our natural gas plants (most of which were built to back up intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation) our ability to provide that power would have been close to NIL as our Ontario demand was also relatively high.

Over the four days commencing January 13th through to January 16th we exported just over 106,000 MWh (megawatt hours) to Quebec for an average of 1,104 MW/hour and the peak day was the 16th with an average of 1,410 MW/hour.  Over those four days Ontario’s gas plants generated just over 395,000 MW so we were able to provide our neighbours with what they needed (27% of our gas plant generation) to keep those electric furnaces and baseboard heaters operating so they would avoid blackouts and freezing households.  We provided those 106,000 MW at an average cost of less than 5 cents/kWh based on the HOEP prices over those four days so their cost didn’t drive up Hydro Quebec’s energy prices whereas Ontario’s ratepayers lost money on every kWh exported.

Carbon Credits please

Perhaps Hydro Quebec should either provide Ontario with “carbon credits” or pay the Federal “carbon tax” for the power supplied, allowing us to recover some of the costs for that natural gas generated power to keep them warm. Unfortunately, Ontarians should doubt that will ever happen!

* In Québec, peak periods occur during winter because so many of us heat our homes with electricity.

California power grid teeters as EV demand strains supply

I was a guest this morning on 960 AM SAUGA radio on the Marc Patrone show. We talked about California and the problems they are experiencing due to a heat wave which has caused the ISO (Independent System Operator) to issue warnings about potential brownouts and asked people to avoid charging their EVs during certain hours.

We also discussed solar panel trash, the promise of hundreds of thousands of jobs if we tackle climate change according to a report out of Simon Fraser University and what the carbon tax is doing to our Cost of Living in Canada.

You can listen to the podcast here starting at 1:08:48.


Or if you subscribe to NEWSTALK CANADA you can listen


The Ontario Liberal Electricity Legacy is Complicated

The Cost of Subsidizing Green Energy Contracts for Industrial and Large Commercial Ratepayers came from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario in a report issued March 18, 2021!  What it states is the upcoming three years (2021-2023) will burden taxpayers with a cost of $2.8 billion.

My take on that “burden” was an estimate of $3.8 billion in an article posted November 9, 2020 just days after the Provincial budget was released announcing the subsidy. I did note, at that time, my estimate was a “back of the envelope” calculation and several events have occurred since then affecting the cost estimates.  The FAO’s forecast is the cost is 2.2 times what the budget estimated it was going to be whereas my estimate was 2.9 times the budget number.

The FAO report goes into further detail suggesting out to 2040 “the renewable generation subsidy program will cost the Province a net total of $15.2 billion.” The latter is referenced in the FAO report as the “Net cost to the Province” as the report stated; if the current subsidy program remained in effect through to 2040 for all segments of electricity consumers the total cost would have been $38.6 billion plus a loss of $1.3 billion in HST.  What the recent amendments to the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) program did was reduce the “OER discount provided to residential, farm and small business ratepayers”, which resulted in a reduction of $24.7 billion in estimated costs over the 20 years.

No doubt many Ontario ratepayers will recall Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, in 2015 issued a report castigating the Ontario Liberal Party stating; “From 2006 to 2014, the electricity portion of the hydro bills of residential and small-business consumers increased by 70%. In particular, the Global Adjustment fees, covering the excess payments to generators over the market price, cost consumers $37 billion during that period, and are projected to cost another $133 billion from 2015 to 2032.”

That report from the AG was the bedrock used by the Ford led Ontario Conservative Party to make it a major issue during the leadup to the last provincial election and at that time they promised to reduce electricity rates by 12%.  We ratepayers are still waiting for that to happen!  With the advent of the relief provided by the province as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic our rates were reduced but the announcement from the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) on February 22, 2021 stated; “residential and small business customers will resume paying Time-of-Use (TOU) and Tiered pricing under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP) at prices that were set by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) on December 15, 2020.”  To put the foregoing in context a look at TOU rates before the Ford government were elected and comparing them to those announced by the OEB discloses the 12% promise is a distant memory as we see the percentage increases in all three categories has jumped by a large multiple of the inflation rate as the following depicts!

Time of Use    March 2018    March 2021    % Increase
Off-peak              6.5/kWh            8.5/kWh           30.7%
Mid-peak            9.5/kWh           11.9/kWh          25.2%   
On-peak             13.2/kWh          17.6/kWh           31.8%       

The difference between then and now is simply that back then the Wynne led government was using taxpayer monies to provide relief via the “Fair Hydro Plan” which subsidized rates by 29% (based on my bill) whereas the Ford government is now using taxpayer dollars to provide a subsidy of almost 98% (based on my bill).  It’s simply a case of incurring taxpayer debt to subsidize ratepayers.  Instead of taking money from our after-tax pocket they are incurring it for future taxpayers to pay.

In an interview back in March 2020 Premier Ford in response to the question about why he hadn’t achieved the 12% reduction in electricity rates went on and used the phrase “it’s extremely complicated”.  That phase is very similar to the phrases used by former energy ministers such as Bob Chiarelli and Glen Thibeault as well as the current leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, Steven Del Duca. 

What is obvious from the foregoing is the time has arrived for someone/anyone with basic common sense be appointed to the Ministry and make a serious effort to uncomplicate it!

Perhaps it’s simply a pipe dream!

This is what a kilowatt hour of electricity in Ontario REALLY costs

Our household just received the electricity bill from Hydro One and our consumption for the month dropped by 14% compared to the 2020 bill.  If one does the simple math on the latest bill, ie: total cost including taxes divided by consumption it suggests the cost per kWh (kilowatt hour) was 13.8 cents. Going through the same process for the 2020 bill produces a higher cost of 15.9 cents/kWh.

The foregoing year-over-year drop of 2.1 cents/kWh does not really represent a more efficient system, instead it is a reflection of the Ontario government’s move to “lock-down” all of us commencing December 26th due to an anticipated jump in Covid-19 cases.  Shortly after the “lock-down” the Ontario government instructed the electricity sector to only charge residential ratepayers 8.5 cents/kWh from January 1, 2021 for 28 days and subsequently extended that order for an additional 12 days.

The bills on page 1* from Hydro one in a separate little box in dollars and cents, provides what is referenced as “Total Ontario support”. For our household it worked out to 13.6 cents/kWh meaning collectively, the all-in cost per kWh consumed was 27.4 cents with 98.2% of that allocated to taxpayers.

Examining our bill for March 2011 indicated the full all-in cost at that time, was 12.5 cents/kWh. Compared to the recent bill with an all-in cost of 27.4 cents/kWh it represented an increase in 10 years of 119%.

To put the above in context, the OEB in their “Yearbook of Electricity Distributors” for 2019 indicated Ontario had almost 4.8 million residential ratepayers who, on average, consume 750 kWh monthly! In 2021 the all-in costs of one month’s consumption by those residential ratepayers was approximately $1,315.2 million whereas in 2011 it was about $600 million.  Over 12 months residential ratepayer all-in costs for 2011 were $7.2 billion. For 2021 all-in costs could amount to $15.8 billion shared by residential ratepayers and taxpayers.

What the increase of approximately $8.5 billion all-in costs to residential ratepayers/taxpayers over those 10 years represents are principally; the effects of the GEA. Those costs were added as industrial wind turbines and solar panels received 20 year contracts at above market prices over the first few years and then were built and added to the grid.  Lots of other spending under the GEA also increased costs with spending on; conservation, energy storage, rate class establishment containing cross subsidies, gas plant additions to back up the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar etc etc. The gas plant costs include $1 billion of expenses to move two of them. A major scandal eventually evolved from the disclosure on the reason for the moves and the costs.

The Justin Trudeau led government seem to view the recent and very visible history of what happened in Ontario as one he and his party favour.  The outcome in Ontario should serve as a warning to the rest of Canada what happens when the government sees CO 2 reduction as the thermostat to control the climate!

Going green for electricity generation is very costly so get ready to pay up to charge your Tesla!

*Page 2 is the actual bill containing individual costs for kWh consumed, distribution costs, regulations costs, etc.

We should wonder, does the term, “net-zero” reference the future cash available for us to pay to heat and eat during Canada’s cold winters?

Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Jonathon Wilkinson, a few days ago made the announcement that he has chosen his “Net-Zero Advisory Body” and it is reputedly filled with individuals with “a diverse range of expertise in science, business, labour, policy-making, rural economic development, and Indigenous governance.”  Their Mandate; “is to identify pathways to help Canada achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Looking back to December 2020 when Wilkinson released his; “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” report, one would note it stated; “The Government is proposing to increase the carbon price by $15 per year, starting in 2023, rising to $170 per tonne of carbon pollution in 2030. The increasing price will make cleaner options more affordable and discourage pollution-intensive investments.” 

It certainly appears based on the foregoing claim, increasing the carbon price (tax) would drive emissions down so why does Wilkinson believe increasing bureaucracy with “prejudiced” advisors will somehow add value? Is the “$170/tonne carbon tax”, that will inflict economic pain on all Canadian’s, somehow (in his “Rhodes Scholar” mind) insufficient?  Wilkinson’s Ministry reported: “Over the long term, Canada’s economy has grown more rapidly than its GHG emissions: the emissions intensity for the entire economy (GHG per Gross Domestic Product [GDP]) has declined by 36% since 1990 and 20% since 2005.” The Ministry also noted; “Canada represented approximately 1.6% of global GHG emissions in 2016”. It is worth noting the foregoing occurred before we had a carbon tax!

To make matters worse and add more costs to Canadian households the announced imposition of the CFS (Clean Fuel Standard) with separate requirements for liquid, gaseous and solid fossil fuels will add $1,395.00 in additional annual costs to the average Canadian household based on a study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Both the “carbon tax” increase and the “CFS” were added to Liberal plans meant to reduce and eventually negate Canada’s 1.6% of global GHG emissions. Now, there appears to be further plans to negatively impact the Canadian economy via more tax related issues to achieve that goal.

One of those is associated with the recent Biden/Trudeau chat which suggested the possible implementation of “carbon adjustment fees or quotas on goods coming from countries “that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations.” What the foregoing implies is cheap imports from countries like China, India, Vietnam, Brazil, etc. will suddenly attract an import tariff raising the import costs of products from those countries and impact the ability of households to purchase them.  One should expect the foregoing would result in those countries retaliating; meaning they would impose tariffs on imports from Canada, thereby reducing our trade, the associated economic activity and the jobs resulting from that trade.

What followed from the Biden/Trudeau virtual meeting was another meeting the following day between John Kerry and Jonathan Wilkinson and one of the major issues they focused on was; “things like working on vehicle emission standards for Canada and the U.S., again, looking to see how we can accelerate work to both enhance the energy efficiency of the existing types of vehicles that are being sold, but also to look at how we can accelerate the deployment of zero-emission technologies,”. One must assume the reflection suggested in Wilkinson’s remark, references electric vehicles (EV) and some of that EV production will be coming to Canada! Thanks to the generosity of all of Canada’s and Ontario taxpayers who are anteing up $590 million for Ford’s Oakville plant, 3,000 of the current 3,400 jobs at that plant will be saved at a cost of approximately $200K per job to produce electric vehicles.

To top things off the Federal government will also hand out a $5K “incentive” if you purchase an eligible EV and should you be a Quebec resident they will top that up with another $8K and if a BC resident they will add another $5K.                                                                                                                          We Canadian taxpayers are truly generous in our efforts to save the world from “climate change” thanks to the dolts we reward with our votes come election time!   As one of those whose tax dollars they are using to achieve “net-zero” by 2050 I am dubious I will live to see that day. I would suggest I am one of the many, including those who are blithely writing the cheques, who, at that time, will be shocked to realize our elimination of Canada’s 1.6% of emissions to achieve “net-zero” had no effect on climate change

PS:  To all who have read the article, I would recommend you watch a 1 hour and 13-minute documentary released in 2007 called: The Great Global Warming Swindle.   

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance turned its back on gas-fired power plants

An article in the Toronto Star back on August 30, 2020 written by Angela Bischoff of the OCAA was headlined:  “We need to phase out Ontario’s gas-fired power plants, not ramp them up”. That signaled the OCAA had turned it’s back on some of its former funders. The OCAA is a “charity” and if one looks back to an article penned in August 2012 it noted “OCAA disclose in their filing that private funding (over $750 per annum) comes from; Union Gas, European Power Systems (gas equipment), Northland Power (wind developer), Sky Generation (wind developer), Enbridge Gas”!  At that time both Union Gas and Enbridge Gas were funding OCAA’s “charitable” (sarcasm intended) endeavours which were focused on: eliminating “coal and nuclear generation while favouring wind, solar and gas generation.”  The times have apparently changed!

OCAA’s Plan

The article in the Toronto Star states: “Importing low cost power from Quebec is also a sensible alternative. Our neighbours have plenty of power to spare—in fact, they have been dumping it on spot markets in the U.S. for years now.”  The article goes on to make other specious claims but they have been somewhat successful as noted recently having convinced Kingston’s City Council to pass a motion that tells the Province to shut down “fossil fuel generation”.  OCAA’s website now claims they have convinced 13 municipalities* to pass a similar motion claiming Ontario can import clean hydro from Quebec. The next municipality they have focused on is Toronto, where Toronto City Councillors Jennifer McKelvie and Mike Layton will urge Toronto City Council to adopt a motion calling for the phase-out of gas-fired electricity in Ontario “as soon as possible.”

Had Angela Bischoff, her boss, Jack Gibbons, or any of the councillors in those 13 municipalities bothered to search for some facts they may have discovered Hydro Quebec’s peak demand occurs in the winter and the bulk of what they export to the US and the Maritimes is contracted.  The foregoing is relatively easy to find as Hydro Quebec’s financial reports disclose it.

Quebec’s Peak Electricity Demand

 From Hydro Quebec’s financial report for the 1st quarter of 2020: “Hydro-Québec’s quarterly results are not necessarily indicative of results for the year on account of seasonal temperature fluctuations. Because of higher electricity demand during winter months, revenue from electricity sales in Québec is higher during the first and fourth quarters.”

A somewhat dated (2012) report from Statistics Canada states: “Sixty-one percent of households in Quebec used electric baseboard heating systems,” and provides insight on why Ontario would be unable to count on an adequate supply of electricity from Quebec during our winters. Bischoff and Gibbons should stop telling lies!

Again, looking at Hydro Quebec’s 2019 annual report amplifies the foregoing and indicates Hydro Quebec encourages reductions in use during the winter by providing “two new rate offerings for Rate D residential and farm customers and Rate G business customers Winter Credit Option, which gives customers a credit if they reduce their electricity use during peak demand events.”  They refer to it as “Dynamic pricing” and go so far as to say it is: “our way of thanking customers for helping us reduce electricity demand during peak periods.”

With those facts in hand, those OCAA spokespeople shouting; “we need to phase out gas-plants” and count on electricity supplied by wind, solar or “cheap hydro” from Quebec better install a household gas generator. They and those naïve councillors will not like it when Ontario experiences those rolling black-outs that will occur should the Ontario Minister of Energy actually listen to them.

*Kitchener, Windsor, St. Catharines, Burlington, Hamilton, Guelph, Cobourg, Halton Hills, King, Woolwich, Selwyn, Kingston and Waterloo.

Tracking Ontario’s Ruinous Green Energy Experiment

Ontarians will no doubt recall the 2008 Great Recession and how Canada emerged from it better off than most of the G7 and G20 countries. In Ontario we faired pretty well to the point where the McGuinty led Liberal government decided to usher in the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) in 2009 under the guidance of the then Minister of Energy, George Smitherman. Smitherman promised us electricity rates would only increase 1%!  He suggested wind and solar contracts under the GEA were the way to reduce emissions while keeping electricity price increases low!

From the foregoing perspective it is interesting to look back at the electricity sector in the province to see what has emerged since enactment of the GEA to see how we ratepayers/taxpayers have been affected and how Smitherman’s forecast worked out.  My friend, Scott Luft, makes the foregoing task relatively easy by downloading data from IESO on a regular basis.  His update to the end of 2020 below can also be found on his twitter page!

What is initially evident (adjusted for exports/imports) is consumption was down 1.6 TW (terawatts) in 2020 compared to 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic presumably was the cause however, costs increased by $381 million meaning the average cost of generation per kWh went up from 10.6 cents/kWh to 11.7 cents/kWh. In Ontario using less electricity somehow always costs more!

Eleven years after the GEA clicked in

It has now been over eleven years since the GEA received third reading in Ontario’s legislature and most of the 20-year large wind and solar contracts to (mainly foreign) companies were signed shortly after it was passed.  Scott Luft’s chart provides an opportunity to look at the figures at the end of 2009 and compare them to 2020 to see the effect on our electricity costs.

The chart indicates the cost of electricity delivered to both the TX (transmission grid) and the DX (distribution grid) in 2009 cost us $8.965 billion and in 2020 it was $15.459 billion, an increase of $6.494 billion or 72.4%.  The increase in consumption (adjusted for imports/exports) was 3.2 TWh more as Ontario’s population increased 1.6 million from 2009.  The result was, the average generation cost of a kWh went from 6.34 cents/kWh to 11.07 cents/kWh or 74.6%.

The burden of those increased costs played out differently depending on rate class, with those labelled Class A paying less and Class B ratepayers (residential and small/medium businesses) paying more.  Needless to say; “energy poverty” has increased.

Cost increase drivers

So, after noting the huge increase in annual costs of $6.5 billion since 2009 it is worth examining why those costs jumped:

First wind and solar generation in 2020 was 17.5 TWh (2.9 TWh less than our gross exports) with an additional 2.4 TWh curtailed and together their combined costs were $215.9 million per grid accepted TWh (21.6 cents/kWh) adding about $3.8 billion in costs. In 2009 it was 2.5 TWh at a cost of $246 million.

 Secondly hydro costs shot up by $800 million** and while accepted generation indicated a decrease of 0.62 TWh it doesn’t include the 4 TWh OPG was forced to spill in 2020.  Hydro’s grid accepted cost came in at 5.38 cents/kWh in 2020 with inclusion of the spilled hydro and 3.7 cents/kWh in 2009. 

Finally, nuclear generation costs were also up considerably by $2.9 billion*** as both generation and per kWh costs increased.  In 2009 nuclear generation supplied 55.28% of all generation (including net exports) * and that increased to 56.71% in 2020. The per TWh cost in 2009 was $58.2 million (5.82 cents/kWh) and $87.5 million per TWh (8.75 cents/kWh) in 2020. 

The above three costs total $7.5 billion. If one deducts the cost of coal generation in 2009 of $750 million the net increase becomes $6.75 billion which is close to the increase noted above of $6.5 billion.

Reviewing Scott Luft’s chart highlights the fact wind and solar were the principal culprits in driving up Ontario’s electricity costs.  The McGunity/Wynne led governing Ontario Liberal Party handed out the contracts at above market rates with “first to the grid” rights despite the unreliable and intermittent nature of wind and solar generation.  The combined per kilowatt cost (21.6 cents/kWh) of those two sources of generation is two to three times the cost of non-emitting clean energy such as nuclear or hydro which together have the ability to supply Ontario with well over 95% of its electricity needs.

The Green Energy Experiment has cost Ontarians dearly!

* Net exports is total exports minus total imports.

**OPG spent $1.5 billion on two large hydro projects which were Big Becky and another $2.6 billion on expansion of the hydro available from the Mattagami River which collectively added about 500 MW of additional capacity

***Nuclear cost increases were mainly related to refurbishments of Bruce (two units), Darlington (one unit) and extension costs associated with maintenance upgrades at Pickering.

Ontario’s 2020 budget and action on the electricity file

Action on the electricity file—Sort of!

The Ontario Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, finally released Ontario’s 240 page 2020 budget on November 5, 2020.  Amongst other spending the budget contained actions focused specifically on Ontario’s small and medium sized private sector employers ignored by the prior government and ignored by the current government to this point! Those companies have suffered from huge increases in their electricity costs since implementation of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) instituted by the former McGuinty/Wynne led Liberal Governments. The current Ford government and the prior government have been lobbied extensively as those costs continued to rise. The budget specifically referenced the climb in costs experienced by both large industrial customers and those classified as “commercial employers” by noting:

As demonstrated in Chart 1.6*, the price of electricity for industrial employers increased by 37 per cent from 2008 to 2019, while commercial employers have seen their electricity commodity costs increase by about 118 per cent over the same time period. These increases far outpaced the overall rate of consumer price inflation (21.4 per cent) over the same period. That means the increase for commercial employers was about five times higher than the rate of inflation.”

The foregoing clearly demonstrates “commercial employers” bore the brunt of the rate increases as “industrial employers” were much more successful in their lobbying efforts as rates climbed due to the GEA.  The large industrial ratepayers played a role by getting the previous government under the leadership of Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2011 to create their “Class A” status allowing them to considerably reduce their costs. They did this by picking five (5) hours at, or close to, the peak demand hours out of the 8,760 hours in the year. They reduced demand by firing up their gas generators behind the meter (BtM) at the anticipated peaks.The reduction in “peak demand” was labelled as “conservation”! The requirement to reduce demand during those “peak demand” hours was recently suspended by the Ford led government as noted in their announcement of June 26, 2020.

The budget announcement contained the following verbiage related to how they were to bring relief to both the large “industrial” and the “commercial” employers:  “Bringing more jobs to Ontario with a comprehensive plan to address the job-killing high costs of electricity, saving medium size and larger industrial and commercial employers about 14 and 16 per cent respectively, on average, on their electricity bills (at an additional expense of $1.3 billion over three years);”. 

The budget projected a $1.3 billion cost (over three years) which is simply a transfer to taxpayers. From a simple “back of the envelope” calculation the cost estimate contained in the budget appears to be incorrect and should be well over the amount suggested. 

To wit:  In 2019 the GA allocated to Class A customers was approximately $2.4 billion and to “commercial employers” almost $5 billion.  The 14% reduction for the Class A “industrial employers” would therefore cost approximately $320 million annually and the 16% reduction for “commercial employers” would add about $950 million. Together the two would annually cost $1,270 million or almost what the budget suggests would be over three (3) years.  The cost to taxpayers would therefore come to over $3.8 billion or almost triple what the budget claims.

While it is commendable the Provincial Government has finally listened to Jocelyn Bamford Chair of the CCMBC (Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers & Businesses) it is disappointing they appear to have bungled the estimated costs of the reduction in the electricity bills. The $3.8 billion in costs will be added to the $5.5 billion in annual costs the taxpayers are now footing for the relief given to residential users referenced as the “Ontario Electricity Rebate” on our monthly bills.

It is also disappointing the Ford led government has been unable to deal with the intermittent and unreliable renewable energy contracts signed by the McGuinty/Wynne led Liberal Government.  It is those contracts which were responsible for driving up the costs of electricity in the Province. Ontario’s costs of electricity were once a major benefit of the Province used to attract jobs not scare them away!

*Page number 93

Is the Ford led Ontario Government trying to create the Circular Economy?

There are many definitions of a “circular economy” but most are similar.  Here is one: “A circular economy is an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used and systems thinking is at the core.” Former Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, Mark Carney is a big fan of the circular economy and will bring his beliefs to the UN where he will be a Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.

If one pays attention to the activities at Queen’s Park it seems as if each day Premier Ford’s government puts out a press release that seeks to win the support of voters whose ballot choices in the last election were for the opposition parties.  The other day it was about changes to the “Blue Box” program and today it’s about how they are “Taking Action to Reduce Electronic Waste”.      

Needless to say, the objectives of both programs appear to be an attempt to virtue signal those who believe the world will end from human waste and all the things we are reputedly doing to consume, either the necessities of life such as food (safely protected by plastic) or energy (it must be renewable).   

The latest objective is those nasty “electronic” things like, smart phones, televisions, computers, tablets etc.  In the interim due to the pandemic we are told to self-isolate; use “Zoom” to connect with friends, family and work and our children use computers or tablets to gain their education remotely. 

One of the common themes in the press releases is that the “producers” will pay up as if to suggest we consumers (us lowly voters) won’t have to pick up the costs.  If one believes that, your ignorant of the obvious—producers and/or importers of the products we consume will simply raise their prices making everything we buy more expensive.  Presently those producers pay municipalities a portion of the costs (approximately $125 million annually) associated with the Blue Box program but that will more than double and supplement the municipal tax base. We shouldn’t expect to see our realty taxes decline however as those municipalities will surely find other ways to spend that money.

The previous McGuinty/Wynne led Liberal governments did the same thing except they pushed the “GW” (global warming), theory signing wind and solar contracts because they would save us from GW.  They told us (George Smitherman when Minister of Energy) our electricity rates would only increase 1%.  We all know how that turned out as electricity rates more than doubled and Ontario lost numerous jobs as businesses moved to other locations due to rate increases.

Those wind and solar contracts the Liberals signed up will be here for as much as another 10 years. At the time the contracts expire or they no longer can produce any electricity they will have to be classified as “waste”! Those wind turbines and their fiberglass blades (each blade weighing as much as 30 tonnes) will need disposal as they are not currently recyclable!  The other question is what happens to the 30/50,000 tonnes of cement supporting each of those turbines throughout the province?  The 2,600 MW of solar panels positioned on rooftops or in farmer’s fields will also require disposal so, is that cost as well as the cost of recycling those end-of-life wind turbines going to result in another future press release telling us our politicians are “taking action”? 

While wind turbines may have some recyclable parts, it doesn’t include those blades nor does it include that cement.  In the case of solar panels an article out of Australia carried the following message about them: “The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, such as lead and tin, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis.”

So, Ontarians should expect lots more waste and further costs from those wind turbines and solar panels even though Ontario’s Auditor General in late 2015 reported  “Ontarians have paid $37-billion more than market price for electricity over eight years and will pay another $133-billion extra by 2032 as a result of haphazard planning and political meddling, a report from the Auditor-General says.”

The question becomes will the “producer” of those wind turbines and solar panels simply walk away from those contracts and will Ontario’s taxpayers be obligated to pick up the costs of recycling them when they become waste?  While some of the wind contracts originally handed out required the contract parties to guarantee to remove them it’s unclear the guarantee covers recycling costs.  The other issue surrounding many of them is that the original parties sold them to many public sector pension funds so will the onus to recycle them or pay fees fall on them? If yes on the latter point, the public sector employees will look to taxpayers to supplement any shortages in their pensions. 

It seems apparent Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford is smitten by the gobbledegook of both our Prime Minister who believes, budgets will balance themselves and those like Mark Carney.  In Carney’s case he believes all things can be recycled to avoid creating waste and is hellbent on converting us from prior economic theory that has created wealth in many parts of the world, reduced poverty levels and improved life and lifespans for billions of humans. 

These are scary times and not due to Covid-19 but to those political experiments that are taking place here in Ontario and around the world.

That circular economy in the eyes of our politicians, may make them believe they are draining the swamp but instead they are creating one that will drown us in debt!

NB:  Well today’s Press Release confirms Premier Ford is sold on the “Circular Economy” concept!  He handed Pollution Probe $375,000 of Ontario taxpayer dollars so they can scoop plastic from the Great Lakes. Pollution Probe are a charity and their 2019 financial filings with the CRA indicate they received $4,190 from “Provincial Governments” so they must be delighted they were able to lobby this government for so much more.  According to the Ontario Lobbyist Registry they are not even registered.

Pollution Probe are big fans of the Circular Economy concept as their website clearly states: 

Pollution Probe works across sectors to engage stakeholders and develop practical pathways towards a circular economy in order to cut down on waste and maximize both environmental and economic benefits

Now it appears Ford and his Minister of the Environment Jeff Yurek don’t understand that the Great Lakes are not all Ontario’s responsibility.  Eight (8) U.S. States border the Great Lakes along with Ontario but one presumes the taxpayers located in those U.S. States are not being asked to contribute to this cleanup. The Ford led provincial government are throwing money around much like our Federal Government and it is evident they believe in the same Circular Economy that our Prime Minister does.     

Ontario’s electricity bills reconvene their climb

The OEB (Ontario Energy Board) recently advised us our electricity rates would once again rise but they tried to soften the blow by noting rates hadn’t increased since November 2019.  They said the average household (consumption of 700 kWh) would see an increase of $2.24 a month* on their hydro bills.  The latter applies only to the actual cost of power which is about 60/65% of most household bills.  The increase was principally blamed on lower demand in the province due to the Covid-19 pandemic impact as many businesses were forced to shut down or reduced their demand.  Lower demand did not occur in most households however as many employees and others were forced to work from home meaning household demand actually increased.  The impact of the $2.24 average monthly increase translates to about $27.00 annually so is probably close to inflation rates however incomes have fallen meaning more households may now, or in the near future, experience “energy poverty” meaning 10% or more of their income will be spent to keep the lights on and the house heated.

As the rate increase notice was announced by the OEB they also offered households and small businesses the opportunity to either choose to remain on TOU (time of use) rates or to convert to the RPP (regulated price plan).  The TOU plan affords you the opportunity to consume power at lower rates during certain times whereas the RPP is a constant price (12,6 cents/kWh) up to 1,000 kWh increasing to 14.6 cents/kWh for anything above the first 1,000 kWh.  The OEB has therefore amended their “bill calculator” to allow you to enter the information from your previous bill(s) to calculate which plan would afford you the lowest monthly cost.

I would encourage all to use the OEB calculator (link in foregoing) to determine the best one to use before making the choice to stay on TOU or convert to RPP by notifying your distributor.   

It is worth noting the OER (Ontario Electricity Rebate) which reduces electricity bills of households by 33.2% will remain in place and continue to labour Ontario’s taxpayers** with a cost of approximately $5.5 billion annually.

Another support program specifically aimed at low-income households either on the verge of, or experiencing, “energy poverty” is the OESP (Ontario Electricity Support Program) which provides a direct credit to your monthly bill.  The credit you may qualify for is dependent on the income level and number of people living in the home.  An application must be completed and submitted which should be done (via the link above in the full name of the program) for those who qualify.

There is also one other support program available to individuals who are in arrears or behind on either their electricity or natural gas bill. It is known as LEAP (Low-income Energy Support Program) but it must be accessed via an “intake agency” listed on the OEB (link via the full program name above).  The amount available is dependent on similar criteria to that of the OESP.

I would encourage those who are, or know of people, experiencing difficulties to access the programs applicable. Energy poverty in Ontario’s winter climate must not happen!

*My estimate of total annual costs to households associated with the monthly increase is $120 million.

**Don’t expect the Ford Government to ever deliver on their promise to further reduce your electricity bill by the 12% announced during his run-up to the Provincial election.