The Ford Government Brings us More Promises and More Tax Dollars Down the Drain

It’s become hard to understand exactly why the Ford led OCP (Ontario Conservative Party) seems set on imitating the Trudeau government who are hell-bent on destroying Canada’s fossil fuel sector but, many recent and past announcements and actions by the OCP suggest they are two peas in a pod!

As one example Minister of Energy Todd Smith issued a press release about the taxpayer subsidized ONroute Electric Vehicle Charging Stations recently and the release noted there were 72,655 EV currently registered in the province and “by 2030 one out of 3 vehicles sold will be electric”.  That would represent sales of around 170,000 EV! Presently the currently registered EV represent 0.85% of all vehicles weighing less than 4,500 kilograms in Ontario (2019 stats) and most if not all, received provincial and/or federal tax grants.  One should wonder will this Ford government’s sudden love affair with EV trigger a return of the provincial grant that the Ford government killed when first elected?

Another announcement by Minister Smith in the Belleville Intelligencer had the following quote in an article about his plan to lower electricity rates during the night: “Our government has reversed the trend of skyrocketing electricity prices and given families and businesses more control when it comes to their energy bills,”.  The article failed to note the recent Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) report indicated taxpayers would be picking up $6.9 billion of costs in the current fiscal year associated with his claim. What the foregoing infers is, “the trend”, seems to be; lets increase the provincial debt to burden future taxpayers.

Cheaper Nighttime Rates May Produce Blackouts

The article in the Intelligencer was headlined: “Energy Minister Todd Smith eyes ‘ultra-low overnight electricity plan“, and suggested it was to “benefit shift workers and support EV adoption”. Minister Smith has directed the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) to review the concept of implementing the reduction, “for residents who charge their electric vehicles overnight”! This looks to be simply another burden on future taxpayers with little benefit to those “shift workers” who, if they drive EV, will have to charge them during the day when rates are at peak levels. It will also result in higher rates during “peak demand” times of each day and a further burden on future taxpayers.

The issue of cheaper rates during the night may also benefit municipalities who have jumped on the “net-zero” concept and have told the province to shut down our gas plants that serve to back up the unreliable and intermittent wind and solar generation.  One wonders if Minister Smith is familiar with the fact that several municipalities such as Ottawa are aiming to convert their transit buses and other municipal vehicles to battery fueled vehicles. Ottawa alone intends to purchase 450 E-buses by 2030 and have a full E-bus fleet by 2036.  One should assume those buses will be charged principally at night and if so, what impact will it have on demand if all 32 municipalities who have told the province to shut down the gas plants convert their fleets?  Obviously, they will also demand they can charge those buses, etc. with those lower nighttime rates too! The City of Ottawa will borrow $400 million from the taxpayer owned “Infrastructure Bank” (a Trudeau led government creation) to assist in the purchase of those buses which further burdens all of Canada’s taxpayers!

Those buses charging at night also may have other issues as some cities who have moved to E-bus fleets have had bad experiences due to sudden fires. Germany has had several flareups in different cities. Recent events where fires broke out are of concern; meaning E-buses will require more stringent regulations such as separate garage stalls further raising conversion costs. Insurance companies have not yet dealt with those issues but will undoubtedly raise their premiums as a result of those events.   

In his push to support EV to reduce emissions Minister Smith ignores the fact the Pickering Nuclear generating station that supplies Ontario with 2,500 MWh every hour of the day will be shut down in 2025!  So far, the ministry has not identified what will replace that emission free power.

The absence of generation to meet demand in the future can be visualized by the following chart Scott Luft recently posted on his twitter page showing demand increasing substantially in the future! 

The plans and targets the current Ontario government has to reputedly reverse “the trend of skyrocketing electricity prices” seem destined to continue throwing our tax dollars down the drain.  A recent report by the Fraser Institute forecasts Ontario’s net debt will reach $503.3 billion or about $130K per household by 2023-24!

The time has come for this government to take action and stop spending money that serves to increase the possibility of a future debt crisis!

PS: Stay tuned for the next plan by the Ministry of Energy to drive up our Cost of Living.

Promise Made, Promise Missed by a Country Mile

Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun recently penned a great article utilizing facts emanating from a February 16, 2022 report released by the FAO (Financial Accountability Office of Ontario).  Goldstein’s article took the factual information from the FAO report and pointed out how, when Doug Ford was campaigning back in 2018, he promised to reduce electricity bills by 12% but failed to do so based on the FAO report. Lourie neatly referenced it as a “stretch goal”, a term made famous in Ontario by former Premier Wynne.  Wynne had promised a 17% reduction goal in electricity rates but when she was unable to do that, she referenced it as one of the Ontario Liberal Party’s “stretch goals”.

The article and the FAO’s report inspired me to review my bill from April 2018 and compare it to the bill I had just received from Hydro One.

I first compared the actual cost of the “electricity” line and discovered back in May 2018 the calculations using my bill indicated it averaged 8.4 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour) whereas my recent bill averaged it at 8.94 cents/kWh. That clarified that the cost of the actual electricity consumed increased by 6%.  Further calculations including “delivery” and “regulatory” charges less the discounts; which in 2018 was the 8% provincial sales tax had accelerated under the Ford led government to become a 14.9% discount on my recent bill. The 2022 discount meant the bottom line per kWh costs were 13.8 cents/kWh versus 16.6 cents/kWh in 2018 representing a 16.8% reduction.  At first glance it appears Ford’s “promise made” was a “promise kept” but this is where the FAO report calls him out.

The FAO report in part 3. highlighted as, “Energy and Electricity Support Programs” lists and itemizes the relative costs of the nine (9) subsidy programs grossly expanded on by the Ford led Ontario Government. It concludes those subsidies will total $6.9 billion!

The foregoing $6.9 billion is being absorbed by taxpayers! Interestingly enough the electricity subsidies represent 52.7% of the Provincial deficit forecast in the Province of Ontario’s February 14, 2022 “Third Quarter Finances”. That forecast indicated we Ontarians can look forward to a provincial deficit of $13.1 billion for the year ending March 31, 2022!

If one does the simple math ($6.9 billion divided by 150.5 TWh [terawatt hours] of grid connected generation less imports) to how much, per kWh, the $6.9 billion represents; it is about 4.6 cents/kWh. That 4.6 cents/kWh added to the 13.7 cents/kWh brings the actual current costs to 18.3 cents/kWh. That means actual costs in the past four (4) years increased by 10.2% suggesting Ford’s promise to reduce electricity costs missed his promise by 22.2% or an average of 5.5% per year.

Promise made and promise missed by a country mile!  PS: Stay tuned for further concepts related to other potential juggling involving the Energy Ministry