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.

One week of bad news suggests Canada is on the way to becoming the next Venezuela

For most common-sense Canadians, the past week or so has been distressing as the provinces and federal health officials have pushed the envelope about the increased cases of Covid-19. Our activities have been restricted and events such as Thanksgiving parades, Christmas parades etc. have been cancelled.  As if to make matters even worse, the Justin Trudeau led minority government keeps spending our tax dollars in a wasteful way and receive support from the NDP, led by Jagmeet Singh and his Rolex watches. Time is running out and we can’t afford his and Trudeau’s socialist dreams!

Canadians are probably wondering what the actual outcomes of the “reset” emanating from the Throne Speech; will be, as the signals in it suggest the record spending over the last six months will continue.  On top of that we have witnessed some emerging news about past budget spending related to grants for electric vehicles, the coming Clean Fuel Standard tax, a potential tariff on imports, cessation of the WE scandal investigation, disturbing news about the World Wildlife Fund and very recently an announcement about the banning of single use plastics.  Let’s quickly examine a few of those!

Electric Vehicle related spending:

The past week was full of news about how our Federal Liberal Government and Ontario’s Provincial Government is and will continue to spend our tax dollars to electrify us.  We heard the 3-year $300 million Federal program handing out $5K subsidies to new buyers of EVs had blown through 62% ($186 million) of the budget in just the first year and they will, no doubt, top it up.  Additionally the Feds are spending $130 million to build charging stations and if that wasn’t enough the Feds and the Province of Ontario got together to hand out $590 million of our tax dollars to save 3,000 jobs at Ford Canada so they can manufacture EVs.  The latter works out to be almost $200K per job. Interestingly the WEF (World Economic Forum) noted “producing an electric vehicle contributes, on average, twice as much to global warming potential and uses double the amount of energy than producing a combustion engine car.”  Based on the foregoing from the WEF Ontario will see its emissions increase which appears to fly in the face of the objectives of both governments. Will that mean carbon taxes will increase beyond the legislated $50/ton and will those taxes only apply to those of us driving an ICE (internal combustion engine) automobile?  Will those driving ICEs continue to pay gas and/or diesel taxes to ensure our roadways are maintained with pavement generated from fossil fuels?  Why are EV buyers granted money from us taxpayers but don’t pay for road upkeep? 

A solution I would recommend is that EVs must use charging stations powered by the intermittent and unreliable generation from wind and solar which cost Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers billions. Much of what wind and solar generates for Ontario’s electricity grid is exported to NY and Michigan at a fraction of its cost so eliminating that cost from our electric bills might offset a portion of the present carbon tax and the upcoming CFS (clean fuel standard) estimated to cost the average family $440 per employed person! As a matter of interest “net exports” to NY and Michigan from Ontario in 2019 were 15.7 TWh (terawatt hours) or the average annual consumption of about 1.7 million Ontario households. The cost to Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers just for 2019 was approximately $1.7 billion!

Liberals’ ‘supercluster’ program is not very super:

Back in February 2018 Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced the 5 groups named as part of the $950 million program that would use our tax dollars to create  “a made-in-Canada Silicon Valley” to add billions of dollars to the GDP, get businesses to invest heavily in research and development – and create 50,000 jobs. One of those picked for the cluster was none other than the MaRS Discovery District (MDD), a charity owned by Ontario’s taxpayers and originally created by former Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. Readers will recall Ontario taxpayers bailed them out of a large real estate deal a few years ago. MDD’s CRA filings for the past 5 years indicate they received $115 million from Ontario’s taxpayers and another $9 million from the Federal taxpayers.  If one examines the Federal Government’s files for “Grants” however, it indicates MDD were the beneficiaries of $26.1 million in grants since the Liberals gained power and additionally have been awarded $2.1 million in contracts and several of them were “unspecified” as to amount(s) contracted for. Time for the CRA to do an audit! 

The recent news from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) about the “supercluster” suggests spending has lagged and its unlikely the government will meet its economic growth expectations. The PBO noted the government had only funded $30 million by March 2020 end and $18 million of that went to pay “operational and administrative” costs.  We taxpayers should be pleased in this case that the money allocated is less than budgeted but if MDD is typical of the members of the cluster perhaps the Trudeau led Liberals are finding other ways to hand them our tax dollars 

Will the Trudeau led government impose import tariffs:

 A recent article by Jack Mintz in the Financial Post raises an interesting question that could result in future inflation and loss of private sector jobs. He noted U.S. Presidential Candidate Joe Biden if elected President; “will impose carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations.” As we Canadian taxpayers have seen; the imposition of “carbon taxes” the results of “renewable energy” and the upcoming “Clean Fuel Standard” along with the planned “single use plastic ban” have and will continue to drive up our costs of living and make our businesses less competitive. Canada imported $44.8 billion in goods from China in 2019 and as China gets 70% of its energy from coal most of those imports (including solar panels) have a carbon intensity at a higher level than Canada. The IEA recently noted: “one of every four tons of coal used globally, is burned to produce electricity in China.”  By buying solar panels from China, along with the other goods we are doing the opposite of helping to reduce emissions globally and additionally it results in harming the Canadian economy.

So, the question becomes, what could the Trudeau government do to offset the rising costs (they imposed) in order to meet our carbon reduction targets. I guess we could act like Joe Biden and levy a “carbon adjustment fee” and raise the cost of everything we import from China and elsewhere including imported oil from Saudi Arabia that feeds our Eastern Canadian refineries, etc. etc.

The foregoing begs the question, why is the Trudeau Liberal government so intent on the destruction of Canada’s economy?

Let’s ban single use plastics and save the world from climate-change:

Well, our informed Federal Government, once again believe they can impose restrictions on Canada that will save the world from the impending disaster (sarcasm intended) ie: “climate change” by banning single use plastics! The current Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Johnathan Wilkinson, has recently told us so; echoing the Throne Speech which stated: “The Government will ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled. And the Government will also modernize Canada’s Environmental Protection Act.”  Wilkinson’s announcement identified six types of single-use plastics which were; shopping bags, straws, stir sticks, cutlery, six-pack rings and certain take-out containers in his plan to adopt a “circular economy”.  Wilkinson suggested local stores would provide customers with paper bags or reusable ones. The push-back was immediate and surprisingly came from the CBC where they pointed out with facts; replacing plastic shopping bags with paper ones would actually increase Canada’s carbon footprint and reusable bags are definitely “potential bacteria carriers”.

Once again, this announcement and plan from the Justin Trudeau Liberals will not only further damage the fossil fuel industry but it will also drive up Canada’s emissions. This government seems incapable of doing a cost/benefit study to determine the validity of their misguided agenda and instead want to see the Canadian economy implode even further than the “pandemic” has caused!      

The U.S. Government has halted funding to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

A recent US investigation disclosed how WWF and other conservation groups ignored atrocities associated with anti-poaching guards implicated in human rights abuses in South Africa but the MSM ignored the news.  The U.S. cut their promised funding by just over US $12 million. Interestingly enough the news on the UN Summit on Biodiversity held just over a week ago was picked up the MSM and our PM, Justin Trudeau, got lots of attention as his commitment was to protect “25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of the country’s oceans by 2025, and hitting the 30 per cent mark on both fronts by 2030.”  WWF Canada boasted how they got Trudeau to join their “Leader’s Pledge for Nature” and were delighted with his commitment. Now while the U.S. recently cancelled funding for WWF, Canada’s Federal Liberal Government have handed out WWF’s Canadian branch almost $12 million via 42 grants since the Liberals gained power. It seems quite co-incidental the former CEO of WWF Canada was none other than Gerald Butts who left his position in 2012 to become the political advisor to Justin Trudeau.

Perhaps the RCMP should be charged with doing a little investigation into some of the goings on since the Liberals gained power.  They might just uncover some interesting stuff!

National Geographic award Trudeau their “Planetary Leadership Award”:

As if to top off all the weekly bad news for Canadians, National Geographic decided to grant our PM an award that “recognizes a world leader who has successfully established globally significant protected areas, such as national parks, wilderness areas, or marine reserves, that are fully shielded from exploitation. Immediately after that was announced launched a petition telling National Geographic to rescind it because “you shouldn’t give awards to people who build pipelines”. Their founder Bill McKibben was crucified in the Moore documentary “Planet of the Humans” that decimated all renewable energy with an emphasis on biomass where McKibben was a big supporter.

Most Canadian taxpayers would be delighted if Trudeau had actually built even one pipeline. Despite not admiring or their fixation on labelling the current environment a “climate emergency”, I believe most Canadians would agree our PM doesn’t deserve this or any awards or accolades.

Drain the Swamp:

Hopefully the highlighted events occurring here in Canada emanating from our democratically elected governments awaken Canadians to what is actually going on. The time has come to push back and remind those we elected what our values are!  Drain the swamp now, before Canada sinks to the same status as Venezuela!

Strathmere Group Part 5

Collaboration Amongst the US and Canadian Eco-Warrior Charities

The prior article in this series dealt with just one of the many reports recommending to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on how Canada should plan to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and create jobs that would reputedly make Canada a green economic example in the world of the “climate change” advocates.  As noted, Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s “buddy” was front and centre as one of the “members” involved in the “Bridge to the Future” report.

There have been many other reports (and numerous letters) preaching the same discourse in the past several months and just one example of those issued September 2020 was “Recommendation for Recovery and Budget Actions in 2020-2021”.  It is 108 pages long and came from the “Green Budget Coalition” comprised of what they claim are “25 of Canada’s leading environmental organizations”. Ten of the members in the coalition are members of the Strathmere Group, evidence of their continued endeavour to push their 2009 Declaration!  Needless to say, the recommendations carry a similar agenda to the “Bridge to the Future” and are supported by some of the same charitable foundations. As this is a longer report their recommendations are embellished!  Needless to say, they recommend the government spend tens of billions of our tax dollars to achieve their goals.

Perhaps the time has come to look at what the June 2, 2009 Declaration aimed to achieve and try to determine their success.  The full letter with the 21 counterpart US environmental groups who also signed the “Declaration” are contained in the letter on Pembina’s website (as of the date of this article)  in this link labelled as a “Fact Sheet” should the reader wish to view it in its entirety!

Declaration signed by the 12 Canadian and 21 U.S. environmental groups:

Declaration of U.S. and Canadian Environmental and Conservation Leaders on U.S.-Canada Cooperation on Climate, Energy, and Natural Areas Conservation

On June 2, 2009, leaders from the major U.S. and Canadian environmental and conservation organizations met outside Washington, D.C. to discuss solutions and areas for coordination. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss common climate, energy and natural areas conservation issues recognizing the integration of U.S. and Canadian economies and our mutual need for clean energy job creation.

North American ingenuity can protect our deteriorating atmosphere, grow manufacturing jobs in harnessing wind and solar energy, improve our security by reducing our dependence on oil, minimize climate change’s drastic impact on human and natural communities, and protect our fragile natural areas such as the Arctic and the Boreal Forest.

The CEOs of U.S. and Canadian environmental organizations call on the United States and Canada to:

Show bold leadership on the world stage, especially leading up to the Copenhagen climate meeting, and within each country through addressing climate change head-on. Many States, Provinces and Indigenous Peoples are already showing leadership in tackling the threat to our climate system and implementing strong policies to protect it.

Incorporate climate science into policy and permitting decisions affecting natural resource management in order to best ensure that wildlife and natural systems can survive in a warming world.

Declare a moratorium on expansion of tar sands development and halt further approval of infrastructure that would lock us into using dirty liquid fuels from sources such as tar sands, oil shale and liquid coal. Tar sands oil production is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution in Canada and is having a devastating impact on Boreal ecosystems, migratory birds, and air and water quality. Pollution from production of fuels from tar sands, oil shale and liquid coal undermines gains made through fuel efficiency and other mechanisms meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Strengthen investments in renewable energy and in energy efficiency and conservation through creating new clean energy jobs and increasing prosperity through new technologies. A continental commitment to enhanced energy efficiency and rapid expansion of renewable energy, that minimizes impact on the natural world, is critical. Moreover, energy security is best achieved through investment in the cleanest available energy and through ending our dependence on fossil fuels.

Declare a moratorium on industrial fishing and development in the Arctic Ocean until there is a comprehensive scientific analysis incorporating the newest information on climate change impacts and until there is a system for integrated, precautionary ecosystem-based management of industrial activities.

Work cooperatively with all Arctic countries and Peoples to curb all sources of pollution of the Arctic, including from land-based sources.

Protect the North American Boreal Forest as one of the world’s last large intact wilderness forests and as a critical global carbon reservoir in its peatlands and forests.

I will leave it to the reader to initially review the 7 declarations/proposals and determine if the environmental leaders successfully achieved their goals since signing of the letter. The final chapter—Part 5 (A), will attempt to grade them on their level of success.

Stay tuned for the final chapter on this story!

PS: The “Declaration” they signed June 2, 2009 surprisingly received little publicity and the only article found referencing it, was one archived appearing in the June 4, 2009 edition of the New York Times written by Michael Burnham of Greenwire as “supplement content”.  The article makes no reference specifically to the Strathmore Group but the named environmental organizations are the same ones who signed the “Declaration”!

The Strathmere Group Part 3

Collaboration Amongst the US and Canadian Eco-Warriors

The second in this series dealt with the role Marlo Raynolds of the Pembina Institute played in the formation of the Strathmere Group.  It also outlined his ascent to power under the Justin Trudeau led Federal government despite his drubbing when seeking to win a seat as a Liberal MP in 2015. His ascent was to the Chief of Staff position to Trudeau’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.  Raynolds continues in that role under current Minister Jonathon Wilkinson. So thanks to Rob Scagel I am able to point to some of what Marlo Raynolds has been up to since he was handpicked by Justin Trudeau for his current position. 

The chart represents some of the companies and charities who have been busy lobbying Raynolds since his assent to Chief of Staff of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.  Interestingly enough six of the Strathmere Group members, which he formed, have knocked on his door 103 times since his appointment in late 2015.  Included in those six are the charity (Pembina Institute) he was a key player at from February 2004 until August 2012.

In reviewing Federal contracts awarded to the six eco-warrior it is also interesting to note Pembina Institute received ten (10) contracts since Raynold’s appointment and they averaged $24,857.00 each putting them under the limit requiring competitive bids.  Surely just a coincidence!  The only other contract awarded was one to Environmental Defence for $24,999.99. The bulk of the 11 contracts were made by the Ministry of Natural Resources where Trudeau’s buddy Seamus O’Regan is the Minister whereas earlier contracts came from the Ministry where Raynolds is the Chief of Staff.  Seems extremely co-incidental!

In an effort to search for grants to those on the Strathmere list, the discovery was made it was a difficult task despite the claim from the Liberals in their 2015 “Real Change” campaign book: “We will make government information more accessible,”.  Nevertheless, I managed to locate a few and as one example the Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project was one studied by a collaboration of 21 groups who were principally First Nations communities joined by two of the Strathmere Group members.  Those two were the Pembina Institute and CPAWS who respectively received $29,980 and $20,440 of the total study’s cost.  Teck Resources cancelled this $20 billion dollar project earlier this year right around the time rail blockades sprang up across the county despite having the support of First Nations!  Interestingly enough CPAWS reports they receive Federal Government grants in their CRA filings BUT the Pembina Institute doesn’t!

Based on the obvious confidence Raynolds displays one wonders was it him who suggested Catherine McKenna put a message on twitter she later apologized for which said: “Canada Salutes Nicaragua and Syria for joining on to the Paris Agreement!Global#ClimateAction.#COP23,” or suggested she pose for a picture advocating “conservation” with a bicycle wearing high heel shoes

In any event, it presumably was him who organized a meeting of the minds back in late May/early June 2009 with 21 US “environmental and conservation leaders” to elicit a cooperative agreement with the 12-executive represented, Strathmere Group members from Canada, who were: 

Canadian Environmental and Conservation Organization Leaders

Rick Bates, Executive Director, Canadian Wildlife Federation

Gerald Butts, President and CEO, WWF-Canada

Bruce Cox, Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada

Stephen Hazell, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada

Eric Hebert-Daly, National Executive Director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Bob Oliver, Executive Director, Pollution Probe

Devon Page, Executive Director, Ecojustice

Marlo Raynolds, Executive Director, Pembina Institute

Sidney Ribaux, Executive Director, Equiterre

Peter Robinson, President, David Suzuki Foundation

Graham Saul, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada

Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Canada

There are recognizable names in the list such as Raynolds and Rick Smith of Environmental Defence but the one that stands out is Gerald Butts the former “Principal Secretary” of none other than our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau until Butts resigned as a result of the SNC-Lavalin affair.  Back in June 2009 Butts was the President and CEO of WWF and this was shortly after he left the “Principal Secretary” position to former Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty.  Many have credited Butts as the individual responsible for bringing the GEA to Ontario advocating for wind and solar generation at prices that caused more than a doubling of Ontario’s electricity rates. The result was businesses left Ontario and their jobs went with them. Ontario’s electricity prices became amongst the highest in all of North America.  I was not pleased to see ”Butts is back” as a member of the “Task Force for a Resilient Recovery” based on his influence with his friend and Canada’s current Prime Minister!

So, we know where Gerald Butts is now hanging his hat and we are well aware at this juncture Marlo Raynolds is helping to formulate the Canadian version of the “Green New Deal” but what has happened to the others who travelled to Washington to sign what was labelled a “Declaration”?

We will answer the foregoing question in the next episodes of our look at the Strathmere Group so stay tuned!

NB: A news release from July 16,2010 had the following to say about Raynolds: “Mr. Raynolds has worked for the Pembina Institute since 1995 and has been Executive Director since 2004.

The Ontario Energy Board appears to give special treatment to Hydro One

The OEB recently released their 2019 Yearbook of Electricity Distributors and it provides a full collective report on all distributors in the province as well as individual statistics on each of them.  It includes financial information as well as statistical data and includes information such as; outage tracking and alluded causes, average consumption, number of customers and a myriad of other info.

A quick example how to use data contained is to simply divide the total NET* revenue of $3,921,857,499 by the “energy delivered” of 129,764,883 MWh indicating the average distribution cost was 3.02 cents/kWh in 2019 and 2.83 cents/kWh in 2018.  The increase of about 2 tenths of 1 cent (0.019) translates to a 6.7% increase or about 3.3 times the inflation rate for 2019.  While that slight increase seems tiny it actually represented additional net revenue of $175.2 million in 2019 versus 2018 despite a drop in “energy delivered”.  The latter dropped from 132.4 TWh in 2018 to 129.8 TWh in 2019.

Interestingly enough if one examines Hydro One data for the same two years their net revenue increased by $176.9 million which is more than the collective increase from all the local distribution companies (LDC).  Hydro One’s distributed power declined by 687 thousand MWh or about what 81,000 average household would consume in a year.

Another find in the data is the calculation of the RoE (Return on Equity) and collectively it amounted to an average of 9.7% in 2019 but for Hydro One the RoE was the highest, coming in at 15.88%.  What the latter suggests is when Hydro One seek a rate increase the OEB bless the application ignoring their much higher than average RoE.

The OEB, on November 22, 2018, issued a letter to All Licensed Electricity Distributors and Transmitters telling them: “The OEB has determined that the updated cost of capital parameters for rate applications for rates effective in 2019 are:

Cost of Capital Parameter Value for Applications for rate changes in 2019 ROE 8.98%“!

So, the OEB sets the value for the future and while the overall average came in at 9.7% for 2019 one should realize that due to Hydro One being the largest LDC in the province and due to the 15.88% RoE they achieved the overall average was pushed up to that level by them.

One would hope the OEB brings Hydro One back to earth on future applications for rate increases and protect us ratepayers rather than provide those benefits to their shareholders for the dividends they hand out at their targeted “Payout Ratio” of 70-80%!**

Ratepayers want value for the cost of electricity and the OEB are the government body that is supposed to ensure that happens!

The time has come for the OEB to recognize why they exist!

*Gross revenue less the Cost of Power.

**Hydro One’s Targeted dividend payout ratio remains at 70% – 80% of net income.

Trudeau prepares to roll out radical environmental agenda

I was once again invited to be a guest on the Marc Patrone show on SAUGA 960 AM on Tuesday August 18, 2020 to discuss a variety of issues surrounding the energy sector in Canada and the planned “green” agenda that set Ontario back.  That green agenda now appears about to be rolled out by the Trudeau led Federal Government.

It’s about a ten minute chat about the foregoing and you can find it here starting at minute 50.29 of the podcast:


or here:



Wow! June 2020 Demonstrates Consuming More Electricity Decreases Costs

The IESO recently released their Monthly Market Summary for June 2020 and Ontario’s electricity consumption increased from June 2019 by 3.9% (434,000 MWh) or about what 500,000 average households would consume in a month. The consumption increase was driven by Class B ratepayers who in June 2020 consumed 758,000 MWh (up 10.2%) more than June 2019.

GA for Class A and Class B  ratepayers:     

As a result of the increased consumption, the GA for “B” Class ratepayers year-over-year decreased from $142.11/MWh to $129.14/MWh and the HOEP increased from $4.84/MWh to $11.22/MWh. Class B costs (some costs are partially allocated to taxpayers) dropped from $146.94/MWh to $140.36/MWh whereas Class A consumption dropped (308,000 MWh) but their GA costs increased from $76.67/MWh to $84.89MWh.

Surplus Exports Cost  Less:

The result of increased consumption produced a higher HOEP and that meant we ratepayers and taxpayers lost less money in 2020 exporting our surplus generation than 2019. This past June we exported 181,000 MW less to our neighbours but because the HOEP (market price) was higher we increased our revenue from $8.2 million to $17 million which helped to lower costs even though the 1.5 million MWh we exported were sold, on average, for only $11.22/MWh or 1.1 cents/kWh.

Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT) Generation and costs:

IWT overall (grid and distributor accepted plus curtailed) were basically flat comparing 2019 with 2020 but the curtailed generation was higher in 2019 (138% higher) so we didn’t have to pay for as much wasted power.  Our costs for IWT in June 2020 was about $114.6 million versus a cost of $125.1 million in 2019. Accepted generation for IWT was approximately 17% of their rated capacity in 2020 versus less than 15% in 2019 but in 2020 represented 46% of our export volume ie: it was surplus to our needs!

OEB’s Market Surveillance Panel Monitoring Report  32 

Almost as a coincidence and just a couple of weeks before IESO issued their MMS, the OEB on July 16, 2020 released their 32nd Market Surveillance Report and it has some interesting observations. One that stood out was: “the Panel concludes that much of the long-term investment over the last decade has not been very competitive, imposed unnecessarily high costs on Ontario consumers and removed the transparency of price signals that lead to economic-based decision making.”   One must assume the panel was referencing the McGuinty/Wynne governments creation of the Green Energy Act and the handing out of those lucrative contracts for wind and solar generation to mainly foreign companies at rates well in excess of the market. Most Ontarians believe the GEA was conceived by the Gerald Butts/Ben Chin team as senior advisors and both wound up, coincidently, with the Justin Trudeau led Federal Liberal Party serving in senior staff roles.

Another observation in the OEB report stated: “The Demand Response (DR) Auction also continues to annually procure capacity that is not required to maintain reliability. To date, the IESO has not activated any DR resources in the real-time energy market, although consumers have paid more than $200 million for this capacity.”  Coincidently my friend, Scott Luft of the Cold Air website who monitors IESO’s activities advised me of a tweet saying:  “Last week during Ontario’s heat wave, the IESO declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 on multiple days and twice activated [Demand Response (DR)] resources to meet capacity needs.” So the question becomes, did IESO declare an “Alert Level 1” for the first time ever to justify the $200 million cost paid by us ratepayers?  Scott went on in his e-mail to note: “The average cost of DR capacity for this summer was around $59,725 per megawatt, which is roughly 1/10th of the rate the ICI program costs Class B consumers. As a class B consumer, I’ll take the DR – even with the requisite level 1 “Emergency.

Following on that remark from Scott, yet another observation related to the ICI (Industrial Conservation Initiative) is where the Panel stated: “Finally, the Panel reiterates that the current design of the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) program – in combination with a low-price environment and high Global Adjustment (GA) charges – creates an uneconomic and inefficient incentive to reduce demand when there is ample supply and capacity. The Panel remains of the view that only the cost of peak generation should be recovered through peak demand charges, while non-peak costs should be allocated such that all consumers who benefit from that capacity pay for it.”

The Panel’s recent report reiterates what was contained in their 2018 report in respect to the ICI program which I wrote about in a recent article.  It is surprising the current Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford has basically done nothing to recognize and change the ICI program and stop the spending on “conservation” initiatives related to reducing consumption by both ratepayer classes.

As June 2020 results demonstrate, consuming more electricity reduced costs for Class B ratepayers as we may not be forced to either export surplus generation caused by wind and solar or pay to curtail them which simply increases the GA and drives down the HOEP market price!