5 reasons not to believe wind power lobby spin-Part 2

CanWEA points to Denmark as a fine example of “affordable” wind power — great if you think 47 cents a kWh is affordable [Photo Pioneer Institute]
In Part 1 of this series, I dealt with two of the five claims CanWEA makes for industrial-scale wind power development in its October 11, 2018 blog post, “Five reasons why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply”.

Refuting those two claims for omission of facts was relatively easy.

Here are the details on the remaining three.

3. CanWEA claim: “Wind energy will be necessary if Ontario is to keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable through the next decade.”

CanWEA says the IESO “forecast a need for significant new electricity generation, especially from 2023 onwards, as the Pickering Nuclear station shuts down, other nuclear units are being refurbished, and generation contracts expire.”   Well, that is true as IESO did suggest a shortfall, but here are the facts: the forecast shortfall is 1,400 MW. The OPG Lennox generation station with 2,100 MW has a contract expiring that year. So the question is, will the contract be extended? I was recently taken on a tour of the Lennox facility where I observed they were in the process of refurbishing one of the four 525-MW units which suggests they anticipate a renewal of the contract. With the anticipated renewal the “need for significant new electricity generation” is simply a figment of CanWEA’s imagination.

This claim goes on to suggest: “New wind energy would help keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable, as well as more affordable.” And, “Other jurisdictions around the world are proving this – for example, Denmark now produces more than 44 per cent of its electricity from wind turbines on an annual basis.” The Denmark example ignores the cost of residential electricity on Danish households which is the highest in Europe. Denmark’s household electricity price is 312.60 Euro/MWh or $471.10 CAD/MWh, based on current exchange rates.

Is CanWEA suggesting is that if Ontario’s ratepayers were paying 47.1 cents/kWh it would be affordable? That seems like a big stretch and would push many more households into energy poverty!

The same applies to the claim of it being “reliable.” As noted in a June 2017 peer-reviewed report by Marc Brouillette, wind generation in Ontario presented itself when needed only 35% of the time. If one considers that wind’s annual generation averages about 30% of capacity, it is therefore “reliable” about 10.5% of the time it’s actually needed. (Note: IESO values wind generation at 12% in their forecasts)

4. This CanWEA claim suggests: “Wind energy provides many services to system operators to keep electricity supply flexible.” Their view of “flexible” fails to align with what the grid operator IESO would consider flexible. As Marc Brouillette’s report noted, “… wind output over any three-day period can vary between almost zero and 90 per cent of capacity.” That variance often requires clean hydro spillage or nuclear steam-off or the export of surplus capacity or full curtailment.

All of those actions cost ratepayers considerable money. Wind is unable to ramp up if demand increases and is the reason Ontario has over 10,000 MW of gas/oil plant capacity, with much of it idling in case the wind stops blowing or clouds prevent solar from generating. CanWEA needs to review the definition of “flexible.”

Another amusing statement under this claim is that: “Wind energy can also provide a suite of electricity grid services, often more nimbly and more cost effectively than conventional sources, helping to ensure reliable and flexible electricity supply. These services include: operating reserve, regulation, reactive support, voltage control, primary frequency response, load following, and inertia and fast frequency response.”   The bulk of those “suite of electricity grid services” are requirements for any generators on the grid. The ones suggesting operating reserve, reactive support, load following and fast frequency support are really referencing the curtailment of wind generation as noted in the preceding paragraph.

5. CanWEA’s final claim is:Wind energy is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions” and goes on to suggest: “Ontario has achieved a 90 per cent reduction in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions over the past 15 years, and wind energy has been an important contributor. Wind turbines do not emit greenhouse gases, just as they do not pollute the air.” If CanWEA bothered to be truthful, the trade association would not claim “wind energy has been an important contributor” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.   If you review year-end data as supplied by IESO for the year 2004 and compare it to the data for 2018, you are obliged to reach the conclusion that wind generation played absolutely no role in the “90% reduction in the electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions.”

Ontario demand in 2004 was 153.4 TWh (terawatt hours) and in 2018 was 137.4 TWh representing a drop in demand of 16 TWh. Nuclear generation in 2004 was 77 TWh and in 2018 was 90.1 TWh for an increase in generation of 13.1 TWh. The drop in demand of 16 TWh, plus the increased nuclear  generation of 13.1 TWh, equals 29.1 TWh. Those 29.1 TWh easily displaced the 2004 coal generation of 26.8 TWh!

Ontario didn’t need any wind turbines to achieve the 90 per cent reduction in emissions by closing the coal plants, and CanWEA was totally wrong to suggest wind generation played anything more than a very small role.

As the saying goes, “there are always two sides to every story” but if it doesn’t fit the message you wish to convey, you simply ignore the other side! CanWEA has done that consistently while ignoring the negative impacts of industrial wind turbines.

Here are just five:

1.Providing intermittent and unreliable generation,

2. Causing health problems due to audible and inaudible noise emissions,

3. Driving up electricity costs,

4. Killing birds and bats (all essential parts of the eco-system), and

5. Possible link to contamination of water wells.

I could list other negative impacts, but I would first invite CanWEA to attempt to dispel those five.

Needless to say, the anticipated response will be “crickets”!

PARKER GALLANT

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5 reasons you can’t believe the wind power lobby spin

Part 1 of an analysis of the lobbyist’s claims for low power prices and good times ahead

Since the new Government of Ontario announced it would repeal the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), the wind power trade association and lobbyist CanWEA, together with the Ontario NDP, Ontario Green Party and numerous environmental groups such as Environmental Defence, Greenpeace Canada, etc., have been throwing temper tantrums.

The consistent claim was “it will have a chilling effect on job creation and investors in the clean economy.” CanWEA have been one of the most outspoken complainers issuing several press releases  with spurious claims about wind power.

One blog post, on October 11, 2018, was the most blatant of the propaganda campaign.  It was titled “Five reasons why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply” and, then, in case you missed it, or to support a new PR onslaught in Ontario, it was reposted via their Facebook page March 31, 2019. The post references selected CanWEA and AWEA claims, including some prepared by others but paid for by CanWEA.

Let’s examine their claimed “five reasons” to choose wind power, starting with two

  1. CanWEA claim: “Wind energy is now the lowest-cost new electricity source” and note: “Alberta recently agreed to procure power from four wind generation projects at an average contract price of 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour – a price that is considerably below the cost of power generation in Ontario today.”

CanWEA fails to disclose that for each MWh of power, wind generators are given a REC (renewable energy certificate) which can be sold to anyone required to either reduce their emissions or purchase a carbon credit/REC. Valuations vary with demand but RECs generally have a value of $15/50 MWh or 1.5/5.0 cents/KWh. If the value of that REC was included in the CanWEA claim, they would have to say the “average contract price” was from 5.2 cents/kWh to 8.7 cents/kWh. Wind power generation in Alberta, as in Ontario, gets “first to the grid rights” meaning whatever is produced, no matter the need, must be accepted by the Alberta Electric System Operator/AESO.

If the wind power isn’t needed, AESO disperses other generation, which they presumably pay for, adding electricity generation costs to ratepayer bills. To make that clearer — In Alberta the AESO in a report notes wind generation negatively impacts pricing. A chart of wind’s capacity factor during “AIL (Alberta Internal Load) peak demand” (in the report) in 2017 shows wind reflected at 6% of its capacity!

That is a clear message that wind cannot be counted on to deliver power when needed.

Those same issues/problems are found in Ontario (wind rated at 12% of capacity) and most other regions around the world where industrial wind turbines represent a minor or major part of grid-connected capacity.

2.CanWEA claim: “Wind energy provides significant economic benefits” and states: “Ontario leads Canada in wind energy operations and wind energy supplies almost 8 per cent of the province’s electricity demand.”

One assumes the 8% refers to 2017, as 2018 results for Ontario were unknown at the time of the CanWEA post in October 2018. Total grid-connected generation, including gross exports in 2017, were 151.2 TWh. Wind accepted generation was 9.2 TWh which represents 6.1% of total demand.

If you include the 3.3 TWh of curtailed wind the wind power owners were paid for, the percentage rises to 8.1% .

That makes the delivered price for grid-accepted wind 17.8 cents/kWh.

And, that 17.8 cents/kWh doesn’t include the 6 TWh of spilled hydro or the 1 TWh of steamed-off nuclear, or the costs of idling gas plants (for when the wind doesn’t blow) which would add another $860 million more driving wind costs to ratepayers to over 27 cents/kWh.

CanWEA’s claim includes several other assertions.

Thousands of well paying, much-needed jobs in manufacturing, construction and local services” and provides a link to a report commissioned by CanWEA by Compass Renewable Energy Consulting Inc. In the Compass report, a chart indicates the economic benefits the 5,552 MW of industrial wind turbines in the province will create. Over the years (2006-2030) “Direct and Indirect Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) [of] 64,500”. They define FTEs as: “Full Time Equivalents refers to full time employment for one year. One FTE = 2,080 hours.” If one calculates the annual jobs the forecast of 64,500 FTE over 20 years (normal FIT contract terms) for 5,552 MW of wind power results in an average of 322.5 jobs annually. This is hardly something to be bragging about.

A stable source of income for landowners” which fails to mention the landowner is committed to a “non-disclosure agreement” meaning if adverse effects occur such as health problems experienced by the landowner families or animals, they can say nothing. Also, if the developer has incurred debt to erect the turbines, the lender will frequently register a lien on the property which may affect the ability of the landowner to borrow funds using the property as security. The landowner is also usually committed to extend the terms of the lease via the agreement for further periods of time in the event the developers contract may be extended.

Property tax revenue for municipalities” which is true, but … the revenue is nominal as the wind turbines are subject to industrial rates that have no connection to their capital costs (approximately $1.5 million per megawatt [MW]) whereas all other industry in a municipality, pay taxes on the full value of their invested capital. This means the decree by former Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan to MPAC to assess IWT at only $40K per MW is still enforced with only minor adjustments.   The “tax revenue” to municipalities is often much less due to the declined values of households affected by the closeness of those turbines. It frequently causes a net tax loss to municipalities.

Funding for community-based initiatives” is something that was forced on wind developers as many communities wanted to fight back, but were thwarted in Ontario by the GEA. They tried using existing by-laws under their control but usually lost. In order for the developers to proceed with limited objection they proffered “community funding”! The funding was normally less than one half a percent (0.5%) of anticipated revenue so many municipalities accepted the tokenism.

New and sustainable revenue for Indigenous partners” which the Ontario Liberal Government built into the FIT program presumably to suggest support for First Nations by offering higher subsidies if some ownership was held by them. This allowed the developers to negotiate use of First Nations land for the erection of those IWT similar to the “Funding for community-based initiatives”.

Last, this assertion.

Ontario’s wind energy industry is at the heart of a growing wind turbine operations and maintenance business for Canada’s 6400+ wind turbines”. This claim came about because CanWEA established an     O & M (operations and maintenance)“ program to bring together stakeholders to address key challenges facing Canadian wind farm operators. Its key areas of focus are determined by program participants, and include benchmarking data, health and safety best practices, improved networking, and information sharing on critical issues like wildlife and the environment.” Why CanWEA brags about normal maintenance issues is beyond the pale, but claiming “improved networking and information sharing” should be read as their ability to lobby hard for the developers in respect to those “critical issues” that actually connect with the public like noise emissions and health problems, and the killing of birds and bats.

PARKER GALLANT

Soon: Part 2 in this series will deal with the remaining three claims made by CanWEA

Wind power lobbyist spins numbers to its advantage

Too bad the facts show that actually, wind power isn’t needed in Ontario

Comber wind project with 72 turbines: add up ALL the costs for the truth

The trade association and lobbyist for the wind power development industry, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), loves to provide its audience with information that only shows them in a good light. Their audience, “environmental” organizations and gullible politicians are easily sold.

Once again CanWEA has put the spin out.

A recent short post is titled “A Canadian Success Story” and it claims “Wind energy met approximately 6 per cent of Canada’s electricity demand in 2017 – and more than that in jurisdictions such as P.E.I. (28 per cent), Nova Scotia (12 per cent), Ontario (8 per cent), Alberta (7 per cent) and New Brunswick (7 per cent).”

It is curious as to why CanWEA would have used 2017 as their “success story” as it was an expensive one for Ontario’s ratepayers. Wind generation, the curtailment of excess generation, the need for backup gas plants, and the inability of wind to deliver actual power when needed, all played a significant role in continuing to drive up costs for Ontario electricity consumers.

Power arriving on the grid when demand was low was a big factor in the creation of the Fair Hydro Plan by the former government. IESO reported grid-connected wind delivered 9.2 TWh (terawatt hours) which was only 6.4% of total grid-connected generation — not the 8% claimed by CanWEA. Another 3.3 TWh of wind generation was curtailed in 2017 which added costs.

The 9.2 TWh delivered to the grid cost ratepayers $1,242 million and the 3.3 TWh curtailed added another $396 million, bringing the total cost of wind generation to Ontario’s ratepayers to $1.638 billion or 17.7 cents/kWh! If spilled hydro of 6 TWh and 1 TWh of steamed-off nuclear caused by wind due to surplus baseload generation (SBG) conditions, their costs of about $330 million bring the total cost of wind generation to $1.968 billion. And that is without gas plant idling costs for when wind is absent.

The total costs for all grid-supplied electricity in 2017 amounted to approximately $16 billion. So, the cost of wind power generation, along with the wasted hydro and nuclear, represented about 12.3% of all costs for 6.4% of their grid-accepted generation. If costs of our exports were included, wind generation effects on our electricity bills would be even higher. In 2017, nuclear and hydro supplied 97.1% of Ontario’s demand; with the spilled (wasted) hydro of 6 TWh and the 1 TWh of steamed-off nuclear, they could have supplied 102%.

In other words, wind wasn’t needed.

Scanning stats for a couple of months in 2018 shows that during the hot and high demand summer months of July and August, wind generation does what it generally does — falls flat. Data supplied by Scott Luft and the IESO monthly summaries shows wind provided only 4% of Ontario’s demand in July and 4.4% in August. In May 2018, a low demand month, grid-connected wind supplied 5.7% of Ontario demand. It could have supplied 9.1%, but almost 40% of what it could have generated was curtailed due to the month’s low demand.

What this all demonstrates, again, is the intermittency and unreliability of power from wind turbines. Wind power forces ratepayers to simply hand out money without any benefit.

Our politicians need to recognize spin when they see it, and understand that wind turbines provide almost no value in reducing emissions, or providing a reliable supply of electrical power.

PARKER GALLANT

 

Ontario’s ECO says It’s the end of the world!

Cooked! says the enviro commissioner in her last, histrionic report

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Dianne Saxe, released what appears to be her final “independent”* report on March 27, 2019 — it was full of hyperbole!  A CTV article issued after her news conference at Queens Park about the report carried this quote from her:  “If the world can’t hold together on the Paris Agreement we are toasted, roasted and grilled.”

The Saxe quote immediately reminded me of a very humourous Beyond the Fringe video from 1961 titled “The End of the World”. The cast: Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett are seated, huddled, on the top of a mountain waiting for The End of the World. Needless to say, the “End of the World” didn’t arrive so they agreed to meet “the same time tomorrow” in case it did.

End-of-the-world claims are common these days, it seems: in 2009, Al Gore claimed the Polar Ice Cap would be entirely melted in five to seven years. Turns out to be another wrong prediction, but the humour was missing, much as it is missing from the ECO’s remarks to the media and in her report.

Ms. Saxe’s lead in to the report is titled “FOSSIL FUEL CONSERVATION WOULD FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE WHILE SAVING ONTARIANS BILLIONS” and the report itself is titled: “A Healthy, Happy, Prosperous Ontario 2019 Energy Conservation Progress Report, Why we need more energy conservation”.

We heard very many similar stories in the past about how Ontarians could “save billions!“

If one looks back to an article from October 29, 2004 Dwight Duncan, then Ontario Minister of Energy, was defending the $2.3 billion cost of smart meter installations. In a media report “Duncan wants the meters installed so residents and businesses can save money by using electricity in off-peak hours. He says Italy saved so much money that consumers there did not have to pay for the meters. But he doesn’t know if Ontario electricity users will be that lucky.”

Needless to say, we weren’t that lucky!

Several years later when George Smitherman held the post of Energy Minister he testified April 9, 2009 before the Standing Committee on General Government in respect to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. One of his offerings to the Committee was the big promise: “We anticipate about 1% per year of additional rate increase associated with the bill’s implementation over the next 15 years. Our estimate of cost increases is based upon the way that we actually amortize costs in the energy sector. The research contracted by the official opposition does not. Their report apportions capital costs without consideration of the life of the asset, or, put another way, they didn’t amortize those costs. Their report counts the costs for conservation programs without providing any benefit for reduced consumption by the consumer.”

The new ECO report is 268 pages reiterating these same messages we ratepayers and taxpayers have been hearing, over and over again, for the past 15 years. Is Ms. Saxe unaware the Ontario voters reduced legislative seats held by Liberal MPPs to seven and the principal reason behind their fall from grace was the energy/electricity file? In searching the report, the words “electricity conservation” garners 175 hits and the word “electricity” generates 799 findings. The word “renewables” provides 66 hits and the word “billion” is used 53 times.

Ms. Saxe sincerely believes the world will come to an end unless Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers freeze in the dark or pay dearly for any energy consumed!

Ontario’s ECO wants Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers to reduce their fossil fuel consumption** while China’s power industry has called for hundreds of new coal power plants to be built by 2030. They have asked the government to allow for the development of between 300 and 500 new coal power plants by 2030 in a move that could single-handedly jeopardize global climate change targets.

That puts a damper on what Ontario might hope to achieve to prevent being “toasted, roasted and grilled”. Perhaps if each of the taxpayers of the province were paid the $207,676.40, the “Sunshine List” disclosed Ms. Saxe was paid in 2018 as the ECO, we would be happy to absorb higher prices for electricity or could buy an expensive EV to reduce our fossil fuel consumption. Until that happens, Ms. Saxe should tone down her expectations!

Ms. Saxe should realize if we are freezing in the dark it is difficult to be “happy, healthy and prosperous”!

Until then, let’s meet “same time tomorrow.”

PARKER GALLANT

*The Premier Ford led government has decreed the ECO should in the future report directly to the Auditor General.

**Fossil fuel consumption in Ontario in 2015 was (petroleum products and natural gas) 2,269 pj (petajoule) with a value of $16.8 billion according to the report and Ontario generated GDP (gross domestic product) of $618 billion meaning fossil fuels contributed only 2.7% of our GDP.

Dalton McGuinty: ex-premier “Dad” is still preaching

A shorter version of this article appeared in The Financial Post on March 7, 2019.

Mr. McGuinty’s energy policies brought higher electricity bills and industrialized rural communities with wind turbines–not everyone was happy.

Dalton McGuinty is back, but did he ever really go away?

Former Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty has recently reappeared in public. He has launched a university lecture tour with the theme “Climate Change: Can We Win This? Be Honest”. He has already addressed audiences at University of Toronto, Queens and more recently at the University of Windsor. He is scheduled to appear at Western University in March.

Having resigned in disgrace as Ontario’s Premier in October 2012 due to the gas plant scandal, McGuinty has kept a very low profile since. Perhaps he now feels Ontarians have forgotten not only that affair but all the other bad policies he brought us. Those other policies included the promise of no tax increase which was followed by the imposition of a health tax, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), which resulted in Ontario having the highest electricity prices in Canada and a doubling of Ontario’s debt. There were others.

McGuinty was recently honoured by a Liberal colleague, Ottawa Mayor, Jim Watson who promised him the “key to the city” in 2019. Mayor Watson of course held various cabinet positions in the McGuinty government before abandoning the ship to return to Ottawa.

Mr. McGuinty’s seminars demonstrate he is still a firm believer in “climate change” and is convinced he and the province’s taxpayers should do more. In a CTV Windsor news report, he is quoted as saying that while current Premier Doug Ford is fighting the carbon tax,: “we should embrace it” because “it is the most effective and efficient way to demonstrate a commitment to addressing climate change”.

He must view taxpayers as bottomless pits with surplus cash.

Not only has McGuinty re-entered public view, he has also accepted appointments as a director to several corporations. He is on the Boards of Innergex Renewable Energy Inc, Pomerleau Inc., and Electrovaya Inc. He also became a lobbyist for Desire2Learn as well as being appointed “a special advisor”.

The latter two companies; Desire2Learn and Electrovaya both received substantial Government of Ontario grants during McGuinty’s time in office as the Premier. Desire2Learn were awarded a $4.25 Million Grant from the Government of Ontario in January 2011 and Ekectrovaya received their $17 million dollar Grant in August 2009. Desire2Learn also received $3 million from the education ministry. In 2014 McGuinty was caught red-handed trying to lobby on behalf of Desie2Learn to certain members of the Wynne led government and was forced to register as a lobbyist.

While Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. is a Canadian company it is headquartered in Montreal and depends on Ontario for only 6% of its revenue. Its asset base in Ontario consists of one solar generation unit of  33.2 MW and three small hydro generation units totaling 36 MW. Its unclear what Ontario’s former premier brings to their Board of directors unless they were seeking a politician of his ilk.

Pomerleau Inc is a private Quebec headquartered civil works and building company and it appears McGuinty joined them as a member of their Board of Directors in the early part of 2016. They have been quite successful at winning contracts in Ontario including those with Provincial funding. A large waste water treatment plant in Kingston was one such win. A report to Kingston Council October 5, 2010 contained the following: “The funded portion, as per the agreement, was reviewed with respect to the award of contract to Pomerleau Ontario Inc. and was considered to fairly represent the defined works. The total projected budget for the engineering and construction remains within the $116,325,000 approved budget envelope, which includes electrical co-generation, on-site biosolids storage, staff costs and allowances for furnishings and equipment to be purchased outside the construction contract.” And: “In June 2005, the Province of Ontario announced project funding of $25,000,000.”

There are more interesting connections: former Mayor of Kingston, John Gerretsen, who served in the McGuinty Cabinet and Gerretsen’s son was Kingston’s Mayor from 2010-2014 and is now an MP In the Justin Trudeau Liberal government. Pomerleau is working with SNC-Lavalin and other companies on the first “Infrastructure Bank” investment in respect to the $6.3 billion Montreal REM project. As reported, “Construction on the project is already underway. SNC-Lavalin, Dragados Canada, Inc., Aecon Group Inc., Pomerleau Inc. and EBC Inc. were all part of the winning consortium and broke ground on the project in April.” As the SNC-Lavalin Federal controversy unfolds it will be interesting to see what eventually happens to this project.

On April 7, 2017 Dalton McGuinty, joined the Electrovaya Board of Directors. At that time Electrovaya was being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). In the OSC Proceedings one finds the following: “Between May and September 2016, Electrovaya issued five news releases that announced significant new business relationships in unbalanced terms. Electrovaya also did not disclose in its MD&A that revenue estimates announced in two previously announced commercial arrangements would not be realized.”

Just over two months later the OSC reached an agreement requiring Electrovaya Inc.’s CEO to pay a $250K penalty over OSC disclosure violations as noted in the Financial Post on June 30, 2017. Is it possible Electrovaya’s new Board Member played a role in getting their CEO and the OSC to reach that agreement?

Clearly Mr. McGuinty has value to those companies he handed out grants to, and perhaps they saw the value he could add to their business if appointed as a member of their board or as an “advisor”. One might assume he is being rewarded monetarily for both his board/advisory positions and for those speaking engagements. The former appears to be the case as the December 31, 2017 Annual Information Form for Innergex Renewable Energy discloses that Mr. McGuinty is the holder of 8,505 Deferred Share Units with a current value of approximately $121,000.

Mr. McGuinty is presenting himself to the younger generation and university audiences as a father and grandfather who is simply interested in preserving the environment and influencing positive climate change. Many Ontarians however, will recognize him for the damage his Premiership created both in terms of making the province the most indebted sub-national government in the world as well as the province decimated with industrial wind turbines and solar panels causing electricity prices to be among the highest in North America.

PARKER GALLANT

 

P.S. The resignation of Gerald Butts from the PMO February 18, 2019 is noteworthy also for his role in both getting the Ontario Liberals elected in 2003 and for setting their policies: “Butts largely wrote the platform McGuinty successfully campaigned on during the 2003 Ontario election. It contained more than 100 promises, including pledges to cancel proposed tax cuts and increase social spending. It was also heavy on environmental protection: McGuinty promised incentives for renewable energy, and to phase out Ontario’s coal-fired power plants.”

 

Ben Chin and Gerry Butts: we’ve seen this show before

After watching and reading the former Attorney General’s testimony before the House of Commons Justice Committee, Yogi Berra’s famous quote “it’s deja vu all over again” immediately came to mind. The former AG, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) in the 30 minutes of her opening remarks mentioned two names: Ben Chin (seven times) and Gerry Butts (five times).

For the benefit of those who didn’t follow Ontario politics during the McGuinty/Wynne era, it’s worth pointing out both Gerry Butts and Ben Chin played significant roles in Ontario, especially the ill-fated electricity file.

Butts is credited as the mastermind behind Dalton McGuinty’s election as Ontario’s Premier: Butts was, according to the Toronto Star, “the man they call ‘the brains behind the operation’ and policy architect of the Liberal government since 2003.”

Butts left the McGuinty government in mid-2008, after he and the Ontario Liberal team set the stage for the Green Energy Act, by pushing for renewable wind and solar projects and to close coal plants. Butts went off to lead the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) for four years before joining Justin Trudeau as his political advisor. As we now know, Butts was the director leading the “drama teacher” Justin Trudeau, to a win as Canada’s Prime Minister.

Ben Chin, engaged as a “political advisor” to Dalton McGuinty, was the McGuinty candidate chosen to run against the NDP’s Peter Tabuns in a byelection in 2006. Chin lost, but returned as a “senior advisor” to Premier McGuinty’s office where he again worked with Gerry Butts. Chin left for the private sector and a short while later was hired back as Vice President Communications for the OPA (Ontario Power Authority). The OPA was the creation of Dwight Duncan when he was McGuinty’s Minister of Energy and became the Crown corporation to enact the myriad of things mired in the Green Energy & Green Economy Act (GEA).

Chin later became embroiled in the “gas plant” scandal as the Premier’s principal contact with the negotiating team dealing with TransCanada et al on compensation issues related to the cancellation. Ontario’s ratepayers know how that turned out! While Chin occupied his position with the OPA, Tom Adams and I were investigating the gas plant scandal by reviewing thousands of documents. Tom and I uncovered interesting details in exchanges between him and a political staffer in the Energy Ministry headed up, at that time, by Brad Duguid.

The following reveals some of our findings in an article I wrote about the “smart grid” and a Brad Duguid directive.

Co-incidentally (noted by Tom Adams), the Duguid directive is dated the same day as the e-mail exchange between Alicia Johnston (formerly a senior political staffer for Energy Minister Brad Duguid, later promoted to the Premier’s Office) and Ben Chin (a senior Ontario Power Authority executive).  That e-mail exchange contained Ms Johnston’s suggestion to engage Tyler Hamilton, a contributor to Toronto Star, as an “expert” to counter the Adams and Gallant duo who “are killing me”; Chin agreed. Shortly after, Hamilton received a contract from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for a report on the smart grid.

The spin emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Prime Minister himself is not all that different than what we were hearing several years ago during the gas plant scandals days. The following is one such quote from the mouth of the former Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty when queried as to the costs of the gas plants move: “I am waiting for the day when somebody says, ‘Actually it’s $400 trillion,’ because, as I say, ‘If Elvis says it, I’ve got to print it.’ What was the latest number? $1.3 billion? Do I hear 1.7? When are we going to get to 2.8? It’s kind of an interesting game . . . In total we are talking a $230-­million cost.”

Those two unelected individuals (Butts and Chin) originally involved in the Ontario electricity muddle now find themselves named as two (out of eleven) of the bullies pressuring JWR to grant SNC-Lavalin a DPA (deferred prosecution agreement). In the case of the GEA and the gas plant scandal it took much longer to surface in the public eye than the current SNC/JWR scandal so it would appear the Chin/Butts team has lost some of the spin abilities they displayed in the past. Not to usurp of malign the mainstream media, the following are a few excerpts from the JWR testimony related to Ben Chin and Gerald (Gerry) Butts.

The Chin former AG dialogue:

“Two days later, on September the sixth, one of the first communications about the DPA was received from outside of my department. Ben Chin, Minister Morneau’s chief of staff, emailed my chief of staff and they arranged to talk. He wanted to talk about SNC and what we could do, if anything, to address this. He said to her, my chief, that if they don’t get a DPA, they will leave Montreal and it’s the Quebec election right now so we can’t have that happen. He said that they have a big meeting coming up on Tuesday and that this bad news may go public.

And:

“A follow-up conversation between Ben Chin and a member of my staff, Francois Giroux, occurred on Sept. 11.Mr. Chin said that SNC had been informed that the PPS — or by the PPSC — that it cannot enter into a DPA, and Ben again detailed the reasons why they were told that they were not getting a DPA. Mr. Chin also noted that SNC legal counsel, Frank Iacobucci, and further detailed what the terms were that SNC was prepared to agree to, stating that they viewed this as part of a negotiation.” And:

To be clear, up to this point, I had not been directly contacted by the prime minister, officials in the prime minister’s office or the Privy Council Office about this matter. With the exception of Mr. Chin’s discussions, the focus of communications had been internal to the Department of Justice.”

And:

On Sept. 20, my chief of staff had phone calls with Mr. Chin and Justin To, both members of the minister of finance’s office, about DPAs and SNC.”

The Butts former AG dialogue:

“On Dec. 5, 2018, I met with Gerry Butts. We had both sought out this meeting. I wanted just to speak about a number of things, including bringing up SNC and the barrage of people hounding me and my staff. Towards the end of our meeting, which was in the Chateau Laurier, I raised how I needed everybody to stop talking to me about SNC, as I had made up my mind and the engagements were inappropriate. Gerry then took over the conversation and said how we need a solution on the SNC stuff. He said I needed to find a solution. I said no and I referenced the preliminary inquiry and the judicial review. I said further that I gave the clerk the only appropriate solution that could have happened and that was the letter idea that was not taken up. Gerry talked to me about how the statute was a statute passed by Harper and that he does not like the law. I said something like that is the law that we have.”

And:

“On Dec. 18, 2018, my chief of staff was urgently summoned to a meeting with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to discuss SNC. They wanted to know where I — me — am at in terms of finding a solution. They told her that they felt like the issue is getting worse and that I was not doing anything. They referenced a possible call with the prime minister and the clerk the next day.”

And the foregoing led to this:

“I will now read to you a transcript of the most relevant sections of a text conversation between my chief of staff and I almost immediately after that meeting.

Jessica: Basically, they want a solution, nothing new. They want external counsel retained to give you an opinion on whether you can review the DPP’s decision here and whether you should, in this case. I told them that would be interference. Gerry said: “Jess, there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” At least they are finally being honest about what they’re asking you to do. Don’t care about the PPSC’s independence. Katie was like, “We don’t want to debate legalities anymore.” They keep being like, we aren’t lawyers, but there has to be some solution here. MOJAG — I text — so where were things left, Jessica? Jessica: So unclear. I said, what? Of course, let you know about the conversation, and they said that they were going to kick the tires with a few people on this tonight. The clerk was waiting outside when I left, but they said that they want to set up a call between you and the prime minister and the clerk tomorrow. I said that of course, you’d be happy to speak to your boss. They seem quite keen on the idea of you retaining an ex-Supreme Court of Canada judge to get advice on this. Katie Telford thinks it gives us cover in the business community and the legal community and that it would allow the prime minister to say we were doing something. She was like, “If Jody is nervous, we would, of course, line up all kinds of people to write op-eds saying that what she is doing is proper.”

The foregoing highlights the unmitigated gall of two unelected individuals who, for whatever reason, see themselves as “king makers” much as they did for the McGuinty government in Ontario. Presumably they reasoned, it worked once so we will try it again.

The voters and believers of democracy in Canada should be grateful for the intestinal fortitude displayed by Jody Wilson-Raybould!

PARKER GALLANT

P.S. If the reader would like to see the damage done to Ontario in respect to the electricity sector my 2012 writings over 10 Chapters referenced as “Electricity and the Liberals Hansard History” Chapter 1 through 10 can be found on the WCO website: http://www.windconcernsontario.ca/?s=ELECTRICITY+AND+THE+LIBERALS+HANSARD+HISTORY%2C+CHAPTER

Just released 2018 electricity data: are things finally looking up in Ontario?

Why ‘down’ is actually ‘up’ in topsy-turvy Ontario

Last month, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) released the grid-connected 2018 Electricity Data. Under the “Price” heading the IESO said this: “The total cost of power for Class B consumers, representing the combined effect of the HOEP [2.43 cents/kWh] and the GA [9.07cents/kWh] was 11.50 cents/kWh”.

In 2017, that combined price was 11.55 cents/kWh, so there has been a slight decline. That slight decline represents an annual savings to the average household consuming 9,000 kWh per annum of—wait for it—$5.00.

If Bob Chiarelli was still Minister of Energy, he would probably suggest you could now purchase two “Timmies” with that much money!

The price drop isn’t very much but, the question is, how or why did the average price drop?

Ontario’s overall consumption in 2018 increased from 2017 by 5.3 TWh (terawatt hours) or 4%.  In 2017 the IESO reported grid-connected consumption was 132.1 TWh and in 2017 it increased to 137.4 TWh.  This is increase is a “good thing.” Here’s why:

  • Curtailed (paid for but not used) wind power fell by 1.207 TWh, which saved around $145 million!
  • Nuclear maneuvers (steam-off) or shutdowns declined by 791 GWh (gigawatt hours) and saved approximately $60 million.
  • Net exports (exports less imports) also fell by 2.318 TWh and, combined with the higher HOEP average for the year, saved ratepayers approximately $320 million.
  • Foregone hydro generation was probably lower as the first three quarters reported by OPG show it dropped from 4.5 TWh to 2.4 TWh (down 2.1 TWh). That saved around $90 million.

Taken together, that $615 million ratepayers had to absorb in 2017 comes to much more than Class B residential ratepayers benefited in 2018. There are only 4,665,000 of them so total net savings was only about $25 million.* Other Class B ratepayers presumably received some very minor benefits, too.

The reason these benefits were not more is because additional costs were levied in 2018, absorbing most of the remaining $590 million. The Ontario Energy Board approved large rate increases for OPG for the regulated hydro and nuclear generation segments.  The rates for the latter rose substantially and will also increase further in 2019 and 2020 before falling back in 2021 as the OEB used their power to attempt to “smooth” the nuclear refurbishment costs over several years.

Despite the fact that increased consumption in 2018 helped to, ever so slightly, reduce costs, the IESO continued their efforts to get us to reduce consumption by spending upwards of $350 million on conservation programs.

Why?

The small price drop for Class B ratepayers turns the economic law of “supply and demand” which is: increased demand will increase prices.  Somehow that law works in reverse in Ontario’s electricity sector!

Enjoy your two extra “Timmies” this year!

PARKER GALLANT

*These savings have nothing to do with the 25% reduction under the Fair Hydro Act which eliminated the 8% provincial portion of the HST and provides a 17% reduction for residential ratepayers. The FHA amortized assets over a longer timeframe than normal in the rest of the electricity generation world.