Ontario Teacher Pension Plan Using our Tax Dollars to Create “Green” Jobs in Other Countries

The OTPP Board of Directors just announced they are investing $1 billion dollars of Ontario taxpayers’ contributions to their pension plan but it will be in other countries. They claim it’s a good thing as it will help them achieve “net-zero emissions” presumably by creating jobs elsewhere! We should not it’s not the first time they have done that! 

Earlier investments have gone to Cubico Sustainable Investments, with their headquarters in London, England.  Cubico has offices in ten (10) countries but Canada is not one of them and their portfolio includes onshore wind, solar, transmission and distribution assets.  OTPP have invested in Anbaric Development Partners who are involved in transmission and storage projects in the U.S.A.  They are also invested in NextEra Energy (U.S.$864 million invested) another US company.  NextEra took advantage of Ontario’s Green Energy Act to build several intermittent and unreliably IWT (industrial wind turbines) and solar projects in Ontario and then sold them off to none other than the CPPIB (Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board).

The latest announcement relates to OTPP’s US$1 billion investment in Corio Generationof Australia who actively pursue offshore wind contracts and the article in the Financial Post noted:  “The joint venture will fund the development of 14 fixed-bottom and floating projects in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Ireland and the United Kingdom, all of which are currently in development by Corio with an initial target of up to nine gigawatts.”  Once again, the OTPP is investing in other countries to create jobs.

In 2020-2021, there were 130,923.28 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers, according to the Ontario Ministry of Education and 2,025,258 students which on average is 15.46 students per teacher.  The 2021 OTPP report noted: “We deliver retirement security to 333,000 working members and pensioners.”  The average pension benefit per retired teacher was $36K; based on the 2021 OTPP report noting $6.909 billion was the amount delivered for “pension benefits! On another note, the Ontario Ministry of Education’s annual budget for 2021-2022 year was $33 billion which works out to $250K per “full time equivalent” teacher for just that year.

Based on the above information we taxpayers are doing a fine job of ensuring public school teachers are; not overworked, well paid and secure in the pension benefits they will receive when they retire! 

So, the question becomes why is their Pension Plan so determined to create jobs in other countries instead of Ontario and Canada whose private sector taxpayers pick up all the costs associated with their employment and retirement benefits?

The investments they continue to make suggest it is apparent the Board of the OTPP have fully endorsed “net-zero” and all of the false promises our PM Justin Trudeau made at the COP-26 Conference related to job creation. 

No doubt us taxpayers should assume if those OTPP investments don’t work out the teachers using our contributions to create those “net-zero” jobs (everywhere but Canada) will come cap-in-hand to the Ontario Ministry of Education seeking more of our tax dollars to ensure they are able to retire in comfort. 

THE PROPOSED CLEAN ELECTRICITY STANDARD

Comments by the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada

April 15, 2022

by Robert Lyman and Parker Gallant

On March 8, 2022, the government of Canada published a document entitled, “A Clean Electricity Standard in Support of a net zero electricity sector”. The stated purpose of this document was “to send a clear signal that the Government of Canada intends to move forward with regulations to achieve a net-zero electricity system by 2035; to outline considerations related to this objective; and to solicit comments from Canadians regarding the scope and design of the CES”.

The Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada (hereafter referred to as “the Coalition”) is a not-for-profit association that represents small- and medium-sized manufacturers and other businesses in Canada.  The goal of the Coalition is to advance policies that promote economic growth and retain good jobs in Canada. 

General Comments

Much of the current public discussion concerning future energy transitions is based on speculation about the timing, cost, and pace of commercialisation of new technologies. It would seem more prudent to base one’s judgments on what has actually happened in past energy transitions rather than try and predict the future.

The period from scientific discovery to widespread commercialisation of technologies has been much longer than is currently estimated by advocates of rapid decarbonisation. None of the steps in the innovation pathway – research, discovery, testing, demonstration, initial market development or widespread commercialisation – operates according to a fixed or predictable schedule.

Professor Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba, perhaps the world’s foremost expert on energy transitions, has argued that past transitions have been slow, painstaking and hard to predict. Existing technologies, both for generation and consumption of electricity, have a lot of inertia. Smil observes that the changes in technology and infrastructure required to decarbonise the world in a few decades as a ‘grand delusion’.

The proposed CES seems premised on the view that, in the face of high market costs and barriers, governments can force the pace of change and retain the support of the electorate in doing so. Outside of the centrally planned economies, however, no government has attempted to prescribe the timelines for commercialisation of new technologies or the dates by which a large share of society’s needs must be met by a new technology. ‘Picking winners’ may be an increasingly popular aspect of national industrial policy (despite its history of failures), but a prudent government should be hesitant about committing billions of taxpayers’ dollars to technologies that are not ready and cannot compete without permanent subsidies.

Those who pursue the net zero goal will be confronted with the reality that hydrocarbons are nature’s most efficient embodiment of primary energy. The combination of high energy density, abundance, stability, safety, portability, safe storage and affordability is unmatched by any other source of energy. Governments cannot wish those advantages away.

The electricity sector offers good examples of the immense barriers to net zero. Just meeting the additional generation requirements needed to power proposed conversion to electric vehicles would require a major expansion in the electricity generation capacity across Canada, sometimes estimated as the addition of 10,000 megawatts of capacity from today’s levels. The provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Alberta still have coal fired capacity collectively totalling over 9,000 MW which will also require replacement, adding considerable additional costs.

The two largest power projects being built in Canada today, Site C in British Columbia and Muskrat Falls in Labrador, have a combined design capacity of 1,944 megawatts. To meet just the additional EV-related  power demand, at least eight more projects of the same size would have to be built. It generally takes at least 15 to 20 years to bring such a project to production in Canada. There are none even being contemplated at this time.

Central to the vision on which the proposed CEP is based is the thesis that in future Canada must rely primarily on wind and solar power generation for incremental supply, notwithstanding that these sources are intermittent and frequently unreliable.

The Issue of Costs

The discussion paper presents the transformation of Canada’s electrical energy system from one which is predominately reliant on low- or zero-carbon dioxide emissions to one that has virtually no carbon dioxide emissions as though it can be accomplished at low cost. Indeed, considerations of cost seem barely to enter into the presentation of facts, which is a highly unrealistic approach.

Canadians’ experience with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity systems in Ontario and Alberta have already revealed the significant economy-damaging costs of seeking to increase reliance on wind, solar and biomass energy. In Ontario, electricity rates for consumers doubled over the past decade and, according to the Ontario Auditor General, the cost of the move to increased wind and solar energy will be $90 billion over the life of the existing contracts.

Those who have studied the experience of other countries that have sought to increase reliance on renewable energy sources for electricity generation have found consistent patterns. These efforts bring about large increases in the actual prices that must be paid for electricity by consumers and businesses. Further, the price increases grow and accelerate as the percentage of electricity generated from intermittent renewables increases. This is due to the need for large and increasing amounts of costly backup and storage – things that are not needed at all in conventional hydrocarbons-based systems. Jurisdictions that increased generation from renewables up to as high as 30 per cent to total electricity supply have seen an approximate tripling in the price of electricity to ratepayers, except where a large portion of the increased costs is off-loaded to taxpayers.

In the remainder of these comments, the Coalition will address four specific aspects of the proposed CES:

  • The paper’s treatment of energy technology pathways
  • The paper’s proposal to minimize use of natural gas-fired generation
  • The cost of bulk electricity storage
  • Issues related to transmission

Technology Generation Pathways

The concept of technology is touted in the discussion paper as a way to achieve “net-zero” electricity for which wind turbines (onshore and offshore), solar (photovoltaic and concentrated), hydro and nuclear are considered to be zero emissions! It goes on to claim: “low and non-emitting generation technologies are becoming more cost-competitive, the pace of low-carbon electricity deployment must accelerate for Canada to reach NZ2035”.

The paper also opines favourably on possible energy sources under development such as SMR (small modular reactors), hydrogen fuel cells and carbon capture as zero emission. It also favours biomass (cogeneration and simple cycle) ahead of any form of natural gas generation. 

Biomass:  The treatment of biomass as low emissions flies in the face of reports from the UK where one of the world’s largest biomass power plants (DRAX)1. ranks third in the EU for emissions (if they were counted) and also received more than £800m in subsidies.

Solar photovoltaic is also a questionable source of energy in Canada (weak winter solar) and where it has been developed has cost more than estimated and produced considerably less power than forecast.  The larger projects started on the Nevada deserts have had many problems and the State 2. is dependent for over 60% of its electricity needs on natural gas plants. It would also need storage which would add considerably to its costs.

SMR technology is in process in many locations around the world but to date only a small number are operating, with Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov,3. the world’s first floating nuclear power plant which began operation in May 2020 producing energy from two 35 MW SMRs. China’s Huaneng Group Co.’s 200-megawatt unit 1 reactor at Shidao Bay is now feeding power to the grid in Shandong province, the China Nuclear Energy Association 4. said in a December 2021 article. Other SMRs are under construction or in the licensing stage in Argentina, Canada, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States of America.  SMR, dependent on costs, appears to be a possible “net-zero” energy source before several others but is unlikely to meet the targets committed to by the Canadian Federal Government at COP26.

Wind and solar are touted as playing a “key role”in reducing the electricity sector’s emissions but it will be very costly as demonstrated in Ontario5. where prices more than doubled in less than 10 years as they rose to represent over 15 per cent of capacity but generated only 9 per cent of demand, often when not needed. It must be recognized they receive “first-to-the-grid” rights meaning clean hydro is spilled and clean nuclear is steamed off to maintain grid stability and ratepayers are saddled with those costs in addition to what is paid to wind and solar developers. Due to their unreliable and intermittent nature they require backup from natural gas generation and ratepayers are saddled with that cost too.

Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) is a major part of the discussion paper.  Based on the following excerpt however it seems to be viewed as temporary: “Over time, however, natural gas coupled with CCUS will increasingly be in competition with other emerging options that are both non-emitting and flexible in the roles they can play in electricity systems.” The issue of CCUS has gained interest from the Government of Alberta 6. and six major oil patch participants who are seeking “carbon capture credits” to assist in recovering some of the costs. While Canada is a leader in the development of CCUS the costs involved will be billions of dollars. Those costs will add considerably to electricity generation costs from flexible fossil fuels required to back up intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation.  A report from June 2020 from Rutgers University 7. stated: “The analysis suggests coal-sourced CO2 emissions can be stored in this region at a cost of $52–$60 ton−1 , whereas the cost to store emissions from natural-gas-fired plants ranges from approximately $80 to $90.”  Note the foregoing are US dollars and those costs will be added to each kWh delivered. Transferring part of these costs from emitters to taxpayers through the use of investment tax credits for CCUS will not reduce the cost to society.

Hydrogen blending with natural gas will raise consumer costs and risk public health while barely reducing emissions, a US think-tank 9. reported in a March 30, 2022 article. It goes on to state “A blend of 20% green hydrogen in natural gas would raise fuel costs for heating and cooking by a factor of two to four, as renewable H2 is currently six to 14 times more expensive than fossil gas, the study explains. Green hydrogen prices would have to fall by roughly an order of magnitude to achieve parity with the price of natural gas for use in buildings.”  The “Discussion Paper” suggests “releasing the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada to position Canada as a world-leading producer, user and exporter of clean hydrogen, and associated technologies”.  It appears once again the blending of hydrogen and natural gas would further drive up the cost of electricity should this be cast as another regulation.

Natural Gas

Natural gas has long been favoured as a clean, efficient, plentiful and affordable source of energy supply for multiple uses. In absolute terms, natural gas is the fastest growing source of supply for energy consumers, and through the use of liquification one of the fastest growing sources of international energy trade. In the United States, the increasing domestic supply of natural gas and its affordability have allowed the US to convert a large amount of previously coal-fired electricity generation to the lower cost and cleaner fuel.

In Canada, natural gas is used both for reliable base-load power generation and a back-up source to help cope with the serious problems of intermittency that plague wind and solar generation sources that have been used for political reasons. According to Canada’s Emissions Inventory, published by Environment and Climate Change Canada, in 2019 natural gas fired generating plants produced 46,100 GWh of electricity, 8 per cent of Canada’s total, and emitted 22 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, 32 per cent of the emissions from power generation. This, however, is only illustrative of how extremely low greenhouse gas emissions already are from electricity generation in Canada. Emissions from natural-gas generated power are only 3 per cent of Canada’s total emissions.

Increasingly, natural gas electricity generation in most provinces will come to represent a backup source produced from plants constructed a decade or more ago. The Independent Electricity Systems Operator of Ontario (IESO) recently completed a study to determine the feasibility and cost of phasing out natural gas generation by 2030. The findings of that study are very relevant to the federal government’s consideration of the Proposed Clean Electricity Standard. These included the following:

  • Gas generation offers a set of services, including quick response time and assured availability, that keep the grid reliable and help balance the variability of wind and solar.
  • Completely phasing out gas generation by 2030 would lead to blackouts.
  • Replacing gas generation in Ontario by 2030 would require more than $27 billion to install new sources of supply and upgrade transmission infrastructure. This translates into a 60 per cent, or $100 per month, increase in the average monthly residential bill.
  • There are many other practical considerations that make a 2030 phase-out impossible, including the time that it takes to plan, get regulatory approvals for, and build new infrastructure and non-availability of storage as an alternative. Those impediments are likely to last well beyond 2030.

The IESO report did not address the fact that many natural gas generation facilities, including those operated by private firms (i.e. the so-called non-utility generators, or NUGs), while often signed to 20-year contracts, generally operate for much longer than that. In fact, it is not surprising to see them operating under 40-year contracts. The premature cancellation of these contracts could cost well over $600 million, which would also be added to consumers’ bills.

Anyone considering the termination of existing contracts across Canada and the construction of new generation, transmission and storage facilities to replace the services now provided by natural gas-fired generators would have to take these factors into account.

Storage

Battery Storage is only cited once in the Discussion Paper in the following context: “leveraging Canada’s competitive advantage in mining to build the Canadian battery and critical mineral supply chains”.  The foregoing suggests the author(s) do not regard it as a means to significantly support the electricity sector, perhaps due to its high costs.  A report from June 2021 by the US NREL 8. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) estimated the cost as; “(e.g., a $300/kWh, 4-hour battery would have a power capacity cost of $1200/kW).” That translates to a cost of U.S.$1.2 million for just 1 MW (megawatt) of storage for 4 hours and if done to any scale would drive up electricity prices.

No jurisdiction has yet succeeded in getting the percentage of its electricity generated from intermittent renewables past 50 per cent on an annualized basis. As the reliance on renewables increases, the grid operator must rely more on coal or natural gas-fueled backup power, and where these are prohibited, on some form of storage, most likely from large batteries. The cost of batteries is high and increases with the period of time for which storage is required, and whether the storage is needed only to balance daily or seasonal variations in demand

The cost of batteries sufficient to power a jurisdiction of millions of people would be enormous. In jurisdictions where a calculation has been made, the costs of the batteries exceeds the full annual GDP of the jurisdiction, and implies an increase in the price of electricity by a factor of 15 or more. For example, according to a study by Roger Andrews[1], the total amount of storage needed to provide secure supply in California amounts to about 25,000 GWh per year, more than a full month’s current rate of usage. Even assuming a substantial reduction in current battery prices, the cost of that would be in the range of US $5 trillion. And these batteries would need to be replaced regularly. Ken Gregory[2], a Canadian engineer, has assessed the cost of electrifying the United States economy without hydrocarbon-based generation, including the cost of battery backup. Simply to meet 2020 demand for 31 days would require storage that would cost $77.4 trillion, almost four times current US annual GDP.

Bulk electricity battery storage is hopelessly insufficient, no matter the cost. David Wojick, a Virginia-based Ph.D. in the logic and philosophy of science, explains this well in his article “California secretly struggles with renewables” (January 19, 2021).

Here is an excerpt:

California has hooked up a grid battery system that is almost ten times bigger than the previous world record holder, but when it comes to making renewables reliable it is so small it might as well not exist. The new battery array is rated at a storage capacity of 1,200 megawatt hours (MWh); easily eclipsing the record holding 129 MWh Australian system built by Tesla a few years ago. However, California peaks at a whopping 42,000 MW. If that happened on a hot, low wind night this supposedly big battery would keep the lights on for just 1.7 minutes (that’s 103 seconds). This is truly a trivial amount of storage…Barely time to find the flashlight, right? “This one reportedly utilizes more than 4,500 stacked battery racks, each of which contains 22 individual battery modules. That is 99,000 separate modules that have to be made to work well together. Imagine hooking up 99,000 electric cars and you begin to get the picture.”

Large-scale battery storage of electricity is still an infant industry, with enormous costs and technological risks, It is foolish in the extreme for Canada to commit to a pattern of electricity generation dependent on large-scale batteries for security of supply.

[1] Roger Andrews, The cost of wind and solar power: batteries included. Energy Matters, November 22, 2018

[2] Ken Gregory. The Cost of Net-Zero-Electrification of the USA. Friends of Science. December 20, 2021

Transmission Costs

The Discussion Paper notes; “Achieving net-zero electricity will require coordinated efforts. Provinces and territories hold jurisdiction over electricity planning and operation, while the federal government holds jurisdiction over emissions reduction regulations, interprovincial transmission projects, and international commitments, among others.” 

What the foregoing infers is either conflict or agreement will occur between the two parties as to how to achieve “net-zero electricity” which will obviously depend on projected outcomes and the current generation sources in each province/territory. 

One example is referenced as the “Atlantic Loop” project which aims to transmit hydro power from Muskrat and Churchill Falls (both located in Labrador) to other Atlantic regions, principally Nova Scotia which has 8 coal fired plants that federal regulations says they must close by 2030.  No doubt Nova Scotia would be happy to replace those coal plants with hydro power but what cost would Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador charge for that power? The other consideration is that Quebec is a winter peaking province so has little surplus energy available during that period meaning little or no generation from Churchill Falls. 

To top things off, Muskrat Falls is way over budget, having ballooned from an estimated $7.2 billion to $13.1 billion. The Federal 10. government stepped in to provide up to $5.2 billion with $1 billion of that as a loan guarantee and another $1 billion for transmission costs.  The latter $1 billion is 20 per cent of the estimated cost of the Atlantic Loop which in late January 2022 Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said his Ministry required more information before they could “justify a federal investment”. 

Based on the comments in the Discussion Paper it appears the government is prepared now to “justify” that investment as it states: “The ‘Atlantic Loop’ project is an example of collaboration to bring clean power to where it’s needed in Eastern Canada. The Government of Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank are currently collaborating with provinces and regional partners to advance this intertie project, which could greatly reduce emissions and maintain electricity affordability in the Atlantic region.” So, Nova Scotians should now wonder what will the cost be for the power combined with the costs of the transmission.  Will the cost of electricity be truly affordable? To top things off, GE 11. (who supplied the turbines) has been having problems with the software for the LIL (Labrador Island-link) slated to bring power to the Northeast Avalon.   

High voltage transmission projects vary in terms of costs per kilometer. As one example the 301-kilometer Eastern Alberta Transmission Line 12. completed several years ago cost $1.8 billion or about $6 million per kilometer.  Two major power lines under construction in northwestern Ontario are estimated to cost much less!  Those are the East-West Tie Line, 13. a 450-kilometre line stretching from Wawa to Thunder Bay, at a cost of $777 million makes its projected cost per kilometer $1.7 million. The other project is the 1,800 kilometer Wataynikaneyap Power 14. line serving many small indigenous communities on its route.  In total it will serve 15,000 people for a total cost of $1.9 billion or just over $1 million per kilometer and $126.6K per person and over $500K for a family of four.   

An article in the Financial Post on March 31, 2022 penned by Francis Bradley, CEO of Electricity Canada titled “The clock is ticking on Canada’s electricity grid15. stated “Under net-zero, Canada will stop its reliance on fossil fuels by mid-century. However, by the government’s own estimation, to do so Canada will need two to three times the amount of electricity it produces now in order to decarbonize other sectors of the economy.”  The article went on to note: “Transmission lines — the big power lines that move electricity long distances — are hugely complicated to survey and then build. Even making sure the electricity infrastructure on your street is ready for the increased load will take years of investment.”  Mr. Bradley went on to say; “Decarbonizing Canada’s economy by 2050 will be a herculean task. Decarbonizing the electricity system in less than half that time will be doubly so. If either is to have any chance of succeeding, the electricity industry will need to do more, faster, as Prime Minister Trudeau has said. But that also works the other way. The countdown clock is ticking. And we’re still waiting for vital leadership.”

What the above illustrates is that just the costs associated with ensuring the transmission lines delivering the “clean green” renewable energy will require significant upgrades costing billions of dollars.  Those costs coupled with those associated with the desire to eliminate fossil fuel generation will drive up power costs for families and businesses. It will affect the provinces of Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to a much greater degree due to their current use of fossil fuels in the generation of their electricity needs.

The foregoing suggests costs in the tens of billions of dollars which in turn will damage Canada’s ability to attract new business, it’s related capital and will decimate the economy and drive-up unemployment levels. 

Conclusion

This analysis outlines the impossibilities of achieving the goals set by the Government of Canada within the proposed time frame.  Any push towards the unrealistic outcomes included in the planned government policies will badly damage the Canadian economy.  As well, they will lead to millions of Canadian households living in energy poverty, spending well over 10 per cent of disposable income on trying to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. It is no accident that Canadian government climate plans never include reputable, independent cost/benefit analyses, as to do so would reveal to Canadians just how unachievable and punitively costly the stated goals are. 

It is important to recognize Canada’s total emissions in 2019 (last reported year) were 20 Mt lower than China’s emissions increased in the two years between 2019 and 2021 during the pandemic. China’s emissions reported by the IEA (International Energy Agency) rose to over 11.9 billion tonnes which represents 33 per cent of total global emissions. China was also the only major economy to experience economic growth in both 2020 and 2021, questioning the often-cited claim that “the environment and the economy go hand in hand”.

Sensible, measurable policies to achieve tangible benefits to the environment are welcomed by the Coalition.  Unfortunately, the approach in the Clean Electricity Standard document does not qualify as either measurable or achievable.

  1. https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/ottawa-hands-n-l-5-2-billion-for-troubled-muskrat-falls-hydro-project-1.5526011
  2. https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/business/muskrat-falls-power-in-march-2022-could-be-too-optimistic-according-to-pub-consultant-100661743/
  3. https://www.transmissionhub.com/articles/transprojects/eastern-alberta-transmission-line
  4. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-power-contracts-valard-1.5726667
  5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/wataynikaneyap-power-proceeding-1.5340793
  6. https://financialpost.com/opinion/francis-bradley-the-clock-is-ticking-on-canadas-electricity-grid https://news.sky.com/story/climate-change-draxs-renewable-energy-plant-is-uks-biggest-co2-emitter-analysis-claims-12428130
  7. https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=NV
  8. https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Russia-connects-floating-plant-to-grid
  9. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/china-is-home-to-world-s-first-small-modular-nuclear-reactor-1.1698791
  10. https://www.ieso.ca/en/Corporate-IESO/Media/Year-End-Data
  11. https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/oil-gas/oilpatch-looks-to-ottawa-for-carbon-capture-tax-credit-as-alberta-pushes-six-projects-forward
  12. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rsfs.2019.0065
  13. https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy21osti/79236.pdf
  14. https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-transition/hydrogen-blending-will-raise-consumer-costs-and-risk-public-health-while-barely-reducing-emissions-us-think-tank/2-1-1193416

Other related observations

Peak emissions occurred in 2007 at 752 megatons and our population was 32.89 million so per capita emissions were 22.86 tons per person.

Emissions in 2019 (latest from Government of Canada) were 730 megatonnes and our population was 38.19 million so our per capita emissions were 19.11 tons per person a drop of 16.4%.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions.html

Canada had wind capacity at the end of 2021 of 14,304 MW and 2,399 MW of solar which reputedly generated slightly less than 6% of total electricity of 647.7 TWh!  https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/canada-energy-future/2020/results/index.html  From this “variable renewable energy (VRE) sources such as wind and solar. Figure R.21 shows that by 2050, total non-hydro renewable capacity in the Evolving Scenario is over triple 2018 levels. Total wind capacity rises to 40 GW and total solar capacity rises to 20 GW.” It also has a key uncertainty “Export market developments: Climate policies, fuel prices, electrification and power sector decarbonization in export markets could impact future projects and transmission intertie developments.”


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: