Greenpeace Canada, York University Professor and OCAA Chair attack the Ford Government

The Doug Ford led Ontario government took almost three years since they were given the mandate to govern the province (decimating the Wynne led government) to recognize “renewable energy” is given preferential treatment by IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator)!  What they recently did was to state they would “repeal sections of the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 that were introduced under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 to promote and prioritize the development or renewable energy.”  They opened the comment time for 40 days commencing April 15, 2021.

The takeaway of the proposed changes was focused as: “Prioritizing renewable generation is no longer appropriate. Going forward, Ontario will ensure value for ratepayers by allowing all resources to compete to meet system needs.”  

As one would expect pushback from the eco-warriors started and Keith Stewart, Senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada (Stewart worked for Gerald Butts at WWF as Director, Climate Change) jumped! He was ticked with the proposed changes in regulations and expressed his distain via twitter:

Keith Stewart@climatekeithDoug Ford isn’t only screwing up the pandemic response. His latest climate move: Proposal to Eliminate Renewable Energy Requirements for Ontario’s electricity system#onpoli https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-3471 9:48 AM · Apr 25,

Many will recall Greenpeace lost it’s charitable status in 1999 after having operated as a charity since 1976. Revenue Canada “refused to recognize the new Greenpeace Environmental Foundation as a charity, saying its activities have “no public benefit” and that lobbying to shut down industries could send people “into poverty.” It appears Greenpeace continue wishing to “send people into poverty”, ignoring the governments proposed changes are specifically focused to;  “ensure value for ratepayers”.  

An interesting aside! Greenpeace Canada has evolved and created a new entity having charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency with an “Effective date of status: 2020-09-02”. The new entity is Greenpeace Canada Education Fund (GCEF).

They claim GECF is: “Separate from the campaigning arm of Greenpeace, the Greenpeace Canada Education Fund invests in scientific research, education, and other activities aimed at raising awareness of the environmental issues that affect people in Canada and around the world.” It goes on to state; ”To maintain our independence and integrity, we never take money from governments or corporations. That means the Greenpeace Canada Education Fund relies on donations from individuals, foundations and other non-profit organizations to achieve our goals.” The foregoing echo the words from Greenpeace Canada’s website but a simple search noted Greenpeace Canada got two grants totaling $100K from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada a division of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change so it appears they will take money from governments!

It is also worth noting the new charity and Greenpeace Canada have the same address at 33 Cecil St., Toronto. The December 31, 2019 annual report for Greenpeace Canada claims they spent over $760K on “Public outreach and education” and almost $3 million on fundraising.  They must feel using the new entity will help them reduce “fundraising” expenses due to their ability to issue tax receipts meaning, taxpayers will pick up a good portion of the fundraising costs in the future. 

One should wonder why the CRA changed its mind?      

The other individual who jumped on the bandwagon to condemn the Ford government’s initiative was none other then Mark Winfield*, a York U Professor and former Program Director at Pembina. Joining him with “quotes” in an article posted on “The Energy Mix” was Keith Stewart and Jack Gibbons** of the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance). The article headline is capitalized and scarily states: “Ontario Creates ‘Innovation Wasteland’ with Latest Renewables Rollback, Critic Warns”.  Some of the scarier quotes from the three individuals in the article are: “allergy to renewable energy”, “evidence-free decision making”, “a political vendetta”, “a program of extermination”, etc. etc. Their concerns seem over the top and aimed at scaring the reader.

Ontarians, who have experienced huge electricity cost increases since the advent of the GEA however, seems oblivious to the unidentified author of the article and the three individuals quoted! Perhaps someone else pays their electricity bills or they have solar panels on their roof or simply, facts don’t matter to them! 

The facts were formerly presented by  Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk in her December 2, 2015 report which stated: “Between 2004 and 2014, the Ministry issued two policy plans and 93 ministerial directives or directions that did not fully consider the state of the electricity market, did not take long-term effects fully into account and sometimes went against the OPA’s advice.”  The report further described the costs to Ontario’s ratepayers as follows! “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.

Those eco-warriors who are dependent on our tax dollars are totally unconcerned about the plan to “ensure value for ratepayers” and instead are hell-bent on further destroying the Ontario and Canadian economies and the well-being of all Canadians!

The time has come to remove the charitable status of them all (including University Foundations)*** unless they dismiss the professors demonizing fossil fuels so they can appreciate what those in the private sector are burdened with!

* For more on Winfield and York University check out this article!

**More on Gibbons and the OCAA here!

***York University Foundation’s (registered charity) April 30, 2020 annual report indicates total revenue of $1.268 billion and a claim that $1.095 billion of that was spent on “charitable activities”.

Ruminations on the Ontario Liberal Electricity Legacy and Premier Ford’s inactions to correct them

I was on the Marc Patrone Show at 960 AM March 23, 2021 to discuss the Ontario Liberal Party legacy in respect to the electricity sector in the province.  We pointed out the billions of dollars in costs of the OLP legacy and how they continue!  At the same time the discussion noted that after almost three years in power the Ford led Ontario Conservative Party has done hardly anything to change the system other than shifting billions of $$$ in costs from ratepayers to taxpayers.

You can listen to our conversation on Sauga 960 AM here on the March 23rd podcast starting at 46:1 ending at 1:02.

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!

Battery Storage will Save Ontario Ratepayers as Much as $760 million and Hell is about to Freeze Over

It appears, those who monetarily benefited from the GEA imposed on Ontario’s ratepayers by the McGuinty led Ontario Liberal Party in 2009 are back seeking more ratepayer dollars. 

NRStor and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC) have teamed up in an effort to obtain a contract from IESO. The latter, SNGRDC already have a significant portfolio of investments in 13 wind and solar projects including the 230 MW Niagara Regional Wind Farm. NRStor was founded by Annette Verschuren, former CEO of Home Depot and NRStor’s claim to fame is “energy storage” and as such they received several contracts from the OPA (absorbed by IESO) under the GEA. A former senior executive of IESO, Kim Warren is one of the three members of their Board of Directors and he presumably still has some pull within IESO.

It should be obvious that both SNGRDC and NRStor have benefited greatly from the contracts they received from the IESO to the detriment of Ontario’s households and businesses of all sizes and sectors—but they want more!

NRStor appear to be a Tesla agent in Canada and it is probable the project currently in the planning stages will use Tesla’s “Megapack” battery storage for the jointly owned “Oneida Energy Storage Project” (OES) which is a proposed 250MW/1000MWh storage facility.

Driving up Electricity Costs with our Tax Dollars

The OES is not the only “energy storage” project in the early stages as TC Energy, who sold their Ontario gas plants to OPG last year are also in the process of seeking a contract to create a “pumped storage” 1000 MW unit in Meaford, Ontario using water from Georgian Bay. Needless to say, the locals in and around the chosen site are fighting hard to preserve the local landscape and the affected area of Georgian Bay! In TC Energy’s case one should suspect they are trying desperately to obtain “carbon credits” to help offset the upcoming rising costs of both the “carbon tax” and the “clean fuel standard” (another tax) the Justin Trudeau Government has undertaken.  Those taxes may make TC uncompetitive with other global energy companies.

The opportunity to make money in the “OES” case is twofold in that they will purchase power when the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) is low and sell it back either at a contracted price or when the HOEP is higher during high demand hours. One assumes they also want “carbon credits” they can sell to others for additional revenue.

Insofar as the two partners of the OES are concerned it looks to be simply a means to obtain more ratepayer dollars! In NRStor’s case the benefit will accrue to their new New York owners, Blackstone Energy Partners who purchased them in the spring of 2020 and is itself a subsidiary of Blackstone with $571 billion in assets under management.

 Examining the Project Overview suggests in addition to the promise to save us ratepayers $760 million the energy storage project will also result in a “4.1 Million tonne reduction in CO2”.  Not sure how buying surplus energy in Ontario that is basically emissions free will save those 4.1 million tonnes but if they say it’s a perfect solution, we should suspect both politicians and public bureaucrats will be swayed by those claims.  One wonders if the politicians and bureaucrats recall the words of George Smitherman, former Ontario Minister of Energy when he told us the GEA would only raise electricity rates by 1% and it would create 50,000 jobs! His claims were praised by many ENGO at that time.  Ontario’s ratepayers are well aware neither promise came to pass!

It is evident already that politicians and bureaucrats are excited about the OES project. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities had the CIB (Canada Infrastructure Bank) sign an MOU with OES and shouted out:   “Renewable energy projects in partnership with Indigenous communities – like the Oneida Energy Storage project with the CIB, Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation and NRStor – are a great example of how our economy will grow in the future and how forward-looking investments can help Canadians achieve their economic and environmental goals,” One should assume the Minister and the bureaucrats at the CIB did not bother to determine the emissions required to manufacture the batteries nor the cost of recycling them!

It also appears from the “Project Review” that perhaps some politicians and bureaucrats in Ontario have also endorsed the project as Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Minister of Indigenous Affairs issued the following statement: “Ontario is uniquely positioned to take advantage of energy storage solutions and I congratulate the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation, NRStor and the Canadian Infrastructure Bank on this important project milestone today.” To top that off IESO receives many laudatory mentions in the OES review suggesting their plan to secure a contract will be an easy one with the help of Kim Warren’s inside knowledge. 

For some reason the review uses 2017 data which is now quite dated.  It also notes; “Ontario’s Auditor General has confirmed using forecast data from the IESO that the province is expected to continue to experience on average 2.8 TWh of Surplus Baseload Generation (SBG) per year from 2022-2032”. Bearing the foregoing in mind, one wonders why adding storage of that surplus, storing it for several hours and then selling it back at a price higher than purchased will somehow save us overburdened ratepayers $760 million? Buy low, sell high, appears to represent an additional cost to ratepayers while rewarding OES!

The OES appears to be simply another Trojan Horse* that will serve to further undermine the Ontario economy!

* The Trojan Horse is a story from the Trojan War about the subterfuge the Greeks used to enter the independent city of Troy and win the war.

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.     

Probing Ontario gov’t owned charity, real estate holdings

I was delighted to once again be invited onto the Marc Patrone show on NEWSTALK SAUGA 960 AM this morning to discuss my post of yesterday about the charity MaRS Discovery District.  We also touched on issues related to all charities operating in the country.
You can find the 10 minute or so chat on the podcast starting just past the 33 minute mark here: https://sauga960am.ca/podcasts/
OR
Find it on here on the website NEWTALK CANADA: