Eye Catching Happenings, a Look Around

Item 1: Ontario Working to Secure Clean, Affordable and Reliable Electricity

When discovering Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, had asked OPG to “Investigate New Hydroelectric Opportunities”, it immediately had yours truly paraphrasing the Britney Spears song, “Oops, they did it again”!  The January 20. 2022 press release announced he had “asked Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to examine opportunities for new hydroelectric development in northern Ontario.”  If Minister Smith had dug though some of the files prior ministers had left behind, he would have discovered that an investigation had taken place before as Hatch Ltd completed one titled “Developing Hydroelectric Potential in Northern Ontario”.  The report even had the following quote from Bob Chiarelli, former Minister of Energy: “Our 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan expands the target for waterpower to 9,300 megawatts and establishes a priority for connecting remote communities. This report helps identify opportunities for hydroelectric projects that can help Ontario be ready to generate power when and where we need it.”  Ontarians know; that never happened!

It sure appears for some reason the current Minister is pleased to hand out our tax dollars to repeat the same review which serves to only further delay the potential to increase Ontario’s hydroelectric power.

Item 2: India’s solar irradiance 7 per cent below long-term average

The foregoing article from a few days ago stated:  “In what could have significant ramifications for productivity and returns from solar power projects in India, a latest study has found solar irradiance over the country over the past ten years was 7 per cent below long-term average.” What that suggests is generation from the 49.3 GW (gigawatts) reportedly in place in India at the end of 2021 will not deliver the generation anticipated because of those damn clouds. To make matters worse, another article, indicated India has recently experienced several very high demand periods which came close to breaking the record set in 2021. The article goes on to suggest India could face “widespread blackouts this summer”. The issue of energy security seems to be spreading further afield beyond countries who have adopted the “net-zero” COP-26 mantra.  It’s a bit of a surprise that India is facing those blackouts as they have targeted solar as their principal renewable source coupled with nuclear power. Additionally India did not commit to net-zero by 2050 at COP-26 but have instead said they “will aim” at 2070 as the year they consider it as possible.

Item 3a: McMaster University looks to install four gas-powered generators on Cootes Drive

A couple of weeks ago I penned an article pointing out the fallacies of the ICI (Industrial Conservation Initiative) program and how taxpayer funded institutions, such as York University, are taking advantage of it to the detriment of small and medium sized companies and their status as Class B ratepayers. On the same day the article was posted another article came to my attention from the Hamilton Spectator which was about McMaster University’s plan to install four gas-powered generators specifically aimed “to reduce the university’s energy costs” under the ICI program.  Curiosity piqued led to the examination of expenditures in their financial statements but I first looked at the budget expenditures by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities and noted those expenditures for the 2019-2020 year were just north of $6.655 billion.  Looking at York University’s financial statements disclosed for the 2017-year expenditures on “Taxes and Utilities” were $33.3 million and those had declined to $23 million for their 2021 year-end suggesting the installation of two gas-generators may have saved them $10 million annually.  Looking at McMaster’s financials discloses their “Utilities and maintenance” in 2017 were $38.6 million and for their 2020 year-end showed a small increase to $38.7 million. Presumably by installing four gas-powered generators they too will be able to reduce those costs utilizing the ICI program.  It seems there is no end to the taxpayer funded bureaucracies need for more and more taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.  The time has come for the Ontario Minister of Energy to kill the ICI program and stop the continual pocket picking of us taxpayers/ratepayers.

Item 3b: Phasing out gas plants by 2030

So, while 32 municipalities have teamed up with Jack Gibbons and the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) insisting Ontario phase out all the gas plants by 2030; they are ignoring bureaucracies in their backyard who are installing gas-powered generators. Both Toronto and Hamilton have signed on despite the universities in their municipalities installing those gas-powered generators to reduce their energy costs. That seems extremely ironic as the gas generating plants provide back-up power for that intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation whereas these gas generators have the sole purpose of reducing energy costs. It is also fascinating to note who some of those who donate to the OCAA are too, as they include none other than George Smitherman who when Minister of Energy during the McGuinty era brought us the GEA (Green Energy Act) which he promised would only raise rates by 1%.  Another supporter of the OCAA is Peter Tabuns of the NDP who supported Smitherman and the GEA. The supporters also include renewable energy companies and their founders as well as individuals like Mark Winfield of York University and Glen Estill, past president of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) etc. etc. Those profiting from wind and solar seem happy to donate to help Gibbons continue his false premise that wind/solar and Quebec will supply all the electricity we need!

Item 4: Ottawa reveals its latest plan to plant 2 billion trees by 2030

No doubt many Canadians will remember when our PM Justin Trudeau, met with Greta Thunberg on September 27, 2019 before they marched in the “climate” rally in Montreal and then shortly after the march promised he would plant 2 billion trees in the next 10 years.  An article in the CBC dated December 21, 2021 indicated two years after the promise only 8.5 million trees had been planted so at that rate it would take 470 years before they were all planted rather than the 10 years he promised Greta. Not to worry though as the intention is to speed things up by using our tax dollars to get the annual planting up to levels of 320 million annually by 2025 and spending up to $355 million per year. We should find it amazing that a teenager without any scientific training has so much influence on politicians such as Trudeau that he commits to spend $3 billion of Canada’s tax dollars just so he can get a photo op with Greta and later one with him actually planting a tree. 

Conclusion: Climate Science is Unsettled

One hopes the foregoing demonstrates the ineptitude of our political leaders in respect to their worries about “climate change”!  Their worries have been imposed by guiding lights such as Greta Thunberg, Jack Gibbons and results in those politicians refusing to give up on the “net-zero” push despite the many qualified individuals such as Steven E. Koonin, telling us “Climate Science” is Unsettled!  

Throw out the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) Program with the Garbage

Universities and Hospitals and many other government operations are allowed to qualify as “Class A” institutions so take advantage of the ICI program by picking peak hours to go off-grid for their electricity needs.  The following “note” was found on page 7 in a study London Economics Institute did for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters dated October 22, 2019.

Examples of larger load customers that are not industrial (i.e. not the focus of this paper) include hospitals, large office complexes, and university campuses. The boundary for a “large” customer is generally around the 5,000 kW mark.” 

In other words, if peak demand at a university or hospital reached 5 MW, they qualified to access the ICI program.  

Former Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, reduced the qualification to 3 MW in 2015 and then to 500 KW in 2017.  The reduction expanded the number of Class A customers and would obviously allow many other government institutions such as colleges and good-sized government buildings or departments to become ICI entities.  So, presumably for years, Class B ratepayers have been subsidizing numerous government institutions be they provincial or federal.  Unfortunately, IESO doesn’t publish a list of Class A ratepayers so it’s impossible to know how much additional taxes we Class B ratepayers are paying to support those government entities who are beneficiaries of cheap electricity prices.

As both a ratepayer and taxpayer it doesn’t seem right government institutions get preferred rates!  It allows them to suggest their budgets are lower so they can pay their professors, etc. more!  They basically access after-tax dollars from Class B ratepayers who have been forced to spend additional funds to obtain electricity for their small business or to heat their homes and cook their meals. 

Pretty sure York University where they crank out eco-warrior graduates via the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) are one of those taking advantage of the ICI as several years ago, they installed two gas generators which was covered in an article your truly penned back in 2020. The article from July 2020 provided details on how York University takes advantage of the ICI program in much more detail while outlining how their Professor Mark Winfield, an eco-warrior, claims it was “the leading edge of innovation in electricity systems around the world”.  

The time has come for Ontario’s Minister of Energy Todd Smith, to stop the double taxation allowed under the ICI program by simply cancelling the benefit for government related institutions.  An exchange with a contact brought me the following observation from someone I have much respect for as they know the system much better than yours truly. 

The ICI program has become a government welfare system for large industrials and it undermines the emission reduction efforts of others.  It should be redesigned to make sure everyone pays their appropriate share of the fixed costs of the electricity system that serves them.

PS:  Here is the link to article titled: Ontario is a Bottomless Pit for Class B Ratepayers as the ICI Demonstrates