McGuinty’s MUSH[y] Tax

The University of Western Ontario’s (UWO) publication, Western News, recently published a news item about their annual electricity bill. The bill for UWO was reported as $25 million in 2011 and the writer incorrectly blamed 25% of that bill on what they called a Global Adjustment (GA) “tax”. The author tried to explain what the GA represented but many of the facts were wrong. One thing the writer was correct on was that UWO was a “Class A” customer, because they consume in excess of 5,000 kWh per month-the cutoff point for large users.

Class A and B customers were created after lobbying by the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (42 members) but the benefits of this classification didn’t come into play until January 1, 2011. Class A customers are able to reduce their costs of electricity by picking 5 peak demand hours that occur over a 12 month period, This task can be predicted with relative accuracy by looking at Ontario’s electricity peak demand patterns which occur on hot days in the summer in the hours close to dinner. Once the hours are picked the Class A customer can fire up the diesel backup generator to reduce their demand on the grid and the shift is complete. As Aegent Energy reported the shift in 2011 reduced the GA Class A customers paid by $10.97 a MW or 28.7% less then they would have paid under the previous system. This shift reduced the Class A customer’s share of the GA while increasing the share paid by Class B ratepayers. For 2011 that shift cost Class B ratepayers $225 million. The amount of that shift will increase in the current year as the GA pot grows to over $7 billion from $5.1 billion in 2011. For 2012 the shift will be over $300 million and close to 40% less for the Class A consumers under the old system.
When created the Class A group was portrayed as a means for Ontario’s manufacturing sector to secure competitive electricity pricing but it didn’t distinguish between private and public sector entities. Those Class A public sector customers ironically include those who produce most of the electricity generation, transmission and distribution that Class B ratepayers are subsidizing through this shift. While there is no list of public sector Class A companies it is assumed they include Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, Toronto Hydro, OLG, LCBO, York University, Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto, etc., etc. many of whom are in the MUSH (municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals) category.

It certainly appears the Western News article was correct by referring to the GA as a tax. That “tax” was exacerbated by the changes announced in Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan’s budget (endorsed by the NDP) wherein he reduced the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit for Class B customers utilizing more then 3,000 kWh per month immediately impacting small and medium sized businesses (job creators) and a large number of Ontario farmers.

In summary, the Ministry of Energy’s plan to reduce Ontario’s peak electricity demand is: use “dirty” diesel generators while simultaneously creating a hidden stealth tax on Ontario’s Class B ratepayers.

Some plan!

Parker Gallant,
June 22, 2012

McGuinty’s “Chicken or Egg” Clean Energy Strategy—The Lourie Influence

April 12, 2012 was an eventful day in the eyes of the McGuinty government with a press release at 8.45 AM announcing the appointment of fourteen (14) “members of the Ontario Clean Energy Task Force (CETF) and then minutes later at 9.21 AM another release proclaimed the “McGuinty Government Launches Clean Energy Economic Development Strategy” (CEEDS). The second release declared CEEDS would “create even more new jobs in the clean energy sector.” and CETF would “help broaden Ontario’s energy focus by facilitating collaboration within Ontario’s clean energy industry to identify export markets, marketing opportunities and approaches to identify export markets,” and said CETF will include energy experts and “lead cleantech trade missions to support domestic manufacturers by showcasing Ontario’s clean energy solution in key markets”.

All of the rhetoric was intriguing but the appointees to the CETF who will lead those offshore trade missions to “Asia, the Middle East and the United States” was something that is the key to creating exports so it is important to look at the appointees. That is examined in the following chart:

Ontario’s Clean Energy Task Force respresenting? Of the 14 Appointed how many are:
Bruce Lourie related 9
Investors/Developers or Beneficiaries of the Green Energy Act 8
Foreign Owned Companies 6
Related to GEEA or OSEA (see below) 5
CanWEA members 5
On the Ontario Climate Change Advisory Panel 4
Tides Canada Related 4
Not for Profits, Environmental NGOs and Charities 4
CanSIA members 3
Mike Crawley Related 2
Canadian Owned Private Companies 2
Ontario Taxpayer Owned Companies 1
Have a demonstrated expertise in the Export Market 0
NB: GEEA is the acronym for Green Energy Act Alliance and OSEA for Ontario Sustainable Energy Association

Obviously many of those on the list of 14 show up in several of the categories yet in the writer’s humble opinion none of them have demonstrated an ability to generate exports or domestic jobs that reputedly flow from the billions of ratepayer dollars the McGuinty Liberal Party have deigned to throw at the renewable energy marketplace. If one actually examines the entities represented by the government appointments it is impossible to locate even one company that has actually exported anything (beyond taxpayer or ratepayer cash) that would create jobs and tax revenue for the benefit of Ontario. The fact that 9 of the individuals can in some substantial fashion be found related to Bruce Lourie is a testament to his influence. Mr. Lourie’s influence on the energy ministry and the resultant creation of the Green Energy and Economy Act speaks volumes about his ability to successfully lobby for his concepts.

Lourie’s influence goes back a couple of decades when he was a major contributor to a report titled “Degrees of Change: Steps Towards an Ontario Global Warming Strategy” prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in 1991. The report was prepared by the Ontario Global Warming Coalition (before “climate change” became the new buzz word) and presented to the NDP Government of the day led by Premier Bob Rae. Shortly after that event Maurice Strong was appointed as Ontario Hydro’s CEO and busily went about executing some of the recommendations in the report along with his ideas of how Ontario Hydro should be restructured including buying 35,000 acres of forest in Costa Rica.

That many of the recommendations contained in this report were ultimately enacted in one form or another is a testament to the influence that Lourie has exerted on past and present governments.

As can further be seen on the chart, out of the 14 members appointed to the CETF, not one came from any Ontario based company that actually has a manufacturing base in the Province with the exception of Siemens Canada. How these appointees will magically do anything to leverage Ontario’s “clean energy experience” is a complete mystery as the province has not proven to be the panacea of clean energy manufacturing that George Smitherman, when Minster of Energy or the Premier, Dalton McGuinty has promised it would be.

With electricity prices more then 100% higher today then when the Liberals came to power, with 600,000 manufacturing jobs gone (some directly caused by high electricity prices), electricity prices to rise by a further minimum of 46% in the next three years, electricity exports subsidized by Ontarians and the status of a have-not province firmly under the Liberal belt why would any jurisdiction in Asia, the Middle East or the USA believe we actually know what we are doing. Europe is moving away from renewable energy subsidization leaving Ontario shining as a beacon of government handouts and standing out as someone who arrived too late for the party.

That the McGuinty government would first announce who they appointed to the Task Force and later let us know what they would be charged with doing is indicative of how the management of the Liberal Government does everything backwards. As the Auditor General’s report highlighted; the concept and completion of a cost/benefit analysis is a step all Liberal Energy Ministers seems reluctant to undertake. The effects of this lack of proper planning will be felt for decades.

Parker Gallant, June 25, 2012

Samsung: Not playing nice in the [Wind] Yard

A Samsung consultant, Jason Chee-Aloy spoke out recently to John Spears in the Toronto Star about the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and how they are giving his clients a rough time. He infers that his clients; Samsung, Pattern Energy Group, NextEra Energy Canada and IPR-GDF North America need to get IESO’s blessing sooner to ensure their planned investments are not impacted. Chee-Aloy said “Things have to move faster,”. What Chee-Aloy sees as a risk is the possibility that industrial wind generation may be curtailed. He is also annoyed with the slowness of the approval process. The not so subtle, innuendo, is that these foreign entities will take their money and go home meaning, promised jobs wouldn’t happen nor would targets for renewable energy, in the Long-Term Energy Plan (crafted as a “guide” by former Energy Minister, Brad Duguid) be achieved.

The missing part of Mr Chee-Aloy’s concern was that consulting fees for his employer “Power Advisory LLC” (of Carlisle, Massachusetts) may also be at risk. Mr, Chee-Aloy’s past life found him as the Director of Generation Procurement at the Ontario Power Authority where he was responsible for procuring over 13,000 MW of generation (the 2010 Sunshine list shows Mr. Chee-Aloy earned $132,176 and in 2009 he earned $176,931). Mr. Chee-Aloy also worked for IESO and should have been well aware of the issue he now says is causing all of the problems. It is labelled as SE-91 by IESO and is a committee that seeks to deal with the intermittent nature of wind generation (and our surplus power problems) perhaps even constraining IWTs without payment. So when Mr. Chee-Aloy was negotiating those OPA contracts would he have ensured that the Ontario ratepayers were protected by framing the contracts to do that; as his position would demand? One wonders if protecting Ontario ratepayers was on his mind or whether he was having visions of a bigger personal payday! One also wonders what the “conflict of interest” rules are that apply to Ontario’s public service sector. My research on this took me to the Ontario Lobbyist Registry but a search for both Power Advisory LLC and Mr. Jason Chee-Aloy produced no results. Are our watchdogs watching is something that certainly came to mind as a visit to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner on Ontario’s website states that former public servants are prohibited from a number of activities. In my opinion this appears to be a situation that needs to be looked at to determine if Mr. Chee-Aloy breached the “conflict of interest” rules.
The interesting part of the quote above is that when Mr. Chee-Aloy uttered the words on June 14, 2012 that “Things have to move faster,” did he realize that the following day the Environmental Registry would suddenly bless both the Haldimand (140 MW) and the South Kent (270 MW) applications. Both of these have Samsung written all over them. So Samsung is now ready to proceed with the capital expenditures to establish both the 410 MW of wind and 100 MW of solar.

The estimated capital costs of those three projects will be approximately $600 million based on the “levelized unit energy costs”or LUEC ($1 million per MW for wind and $2 million per MW for solar) issued by the Institute for Energy Research. That $600 million investment may also qualify Samsung for those cheap industrial rates announced June 12, 2012 by Chris Bentley, Minister of Energy. Those 20 year guaranteed rates are set at 5.5 cents per kWh under the proviso that an investment of $250 million dollars is made. The $600 million of capital costs would therefore seem to bestow that benefit to Samsung, meaning the 1300 jobs they are reputedly obliged to create under the Smitherman negotiated contract will ensure that Samsung’s Ontario factories are not harmed by increasing electricity rates. That sure begs the question—will Ontario’s ratepayers wind up subsidizing the Samsung electricity rates while they face all of the other, economic, health, nature, property value declines, etc. that wind turbines impose?

If one examines the capital costs of the three Samsung approved generation facilities to determine how quickly they will recover their investment you must look to the actual production that will be generated from the 410 MW of wind and the 100 MW of solar capacity.

The 2011 Ontario experience for wind generation is that it will produce 27.8% of its rated capacity and for solar the accepted norm is approximately 13% at Southern Ontario’s latitude but the latter statistics are not available in Ontario’s public domain.

Allowing for the foregoing the calculation to produce the anticipated revenue for those two Samsung generation sources can be calculated easily as per the following.

For wind:
410 MW X 27.8% X 8760 (hours in a year) X $135.00 per MWh (the contracted amount to be paid per MW delivered to the grid.

The foregoing calculation would indicate that the 410 MW of wind generation should, on average, produce revenue of approximately $134 million for each of the next 20 years or $2.68 billion over the life of the contract.

For solar:
100 MW X 13% x 8760 X $446.00 per MWh produces an annual value of approximately $51 million or $1.2 billion over the full 20 years of the contract.

So those three approved renewable generation sources will produce gross revenue of almost $3.9 billion dollars allowing Samsung/Pattern to recoup their capital costs in only 6 1/2 years, The other 12 plus years will be pure gravy.

In the writer’s opinion it would appear that Mr. Chee-Aloy will enjoy the benefits of some significant consulting fees for his new employer all at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers. Was that on his mind while he went about contracting for those 13,000 MW while gainfully employed at the OPA?

The story behind the Samsung contracts is something that demands a public enquiry but it presumably is something that the Liberals don’t want and something that the NDP won’t endorse given their penchant to believe that renewable energy will eventually resolve climate change.

Parker Gallant,
June 19, 2012

Curing “Dutch Disease”: interesting connections behind the scenes

Editor’s note: this is off the topic of wind, but useful to understanding how so many groups are working together or are at least somehow connected, as they try to influence public opinion about issues, such as the environment. Much of the public’s understanding of industrial wind power generation comes from their nurtured impression that “wind is green, wind is good.”

Curing “Dutch Disease”: interesting connections behind the scenes 

Much has been written about Thomas Mulcair, and his recent discussion of “Dutch Disease.” That’s a concept that explains the apparent relationship between the increase in exploitation of natural resources and a decline in the manufacturing sector. Mr. Mulcair should recognize that he has Bruce Lourie doing his part to find a cure, which he’s been working on for several years before Mr. Mulcair’s pronouncement.

Lourie is the President and CEO of the Ivey Foundation focused on the same issues that Vivian Krause wrote about in a recent Financial Post article. The article looked at Tides Canada and its U.S. relationships who are doing what they can to stop growth in the oil sands. Funds from the U.S. via Tides, are used to influence the media and politicians to stop expansion of the oil sands by focusing on saving our forests.

Mr. Lourie is doing his part by sitting on Tides “Energy Initiative Advisory Board” along with Tom Rand, Lead Clean Tech Adviser of MaRS Discovery District. MaRS is a charity that has received over $150 million of (mainly Ontario) taxpayer funds since its founding. Lourie also sits on the Board of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). Both the OPA and the Ivey Foundation are members of a Lourie creation; the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network (CEGN) as are several of the US names Ms. Krause said grant money to Tides Canada or its Canadian sisters. Those include the Oak, Bullitt and Wilburforce Foundations. Lourie via the Ivey Foundation, has also directed grants ($1.7 million) to Tides Canada or its sisters, Sage Centre and Forest Ethics, for their advocacy to protect Canadian forests. Coincidentally, Lourie sits on the Board of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity (CGBD) of San Francisco which has many of the same members named in Ms. Krause’s article. The list includes Tides Canada and the Ivey Foundation. The Trillium Foundation (a member of CEGN) where Lourie sat as a director until recently also has granted considerable money to Tides and Sage Centre (refer Charts 1 and 2 below).

Coincidentally Tides, Sage, the Sustainability Network (Lourie founded and where he is an “adviser”) and CEGN (until recently) all leased space in the same building at 215 Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Sage Centre appears to have been created to generate Tides “charitable status” client rentals for Ontario based environmental not-for-profits as this statement was found on the Robertson Building’s website; “With their new office in Toronto, Sage is extending their mission of project incubation for groups working on environmental and social sustainability issues to a new province.” One of their successes at renting out their charitable organization number can be found at OSEA who offer charitable receipts via Tides Canada.

The following chart highlights grants from the Ivey and Trillium Foundations to key “forest “ advocacy groups including Tides, Sage and Forest Ethics which received $3.4 million:

Chart 1 (000’s)
Granting Name
Grantee Name Trillium Ivey Foundation Total
Tides Canada $1,328 $330 $1,658
Sage1 $309 $579 $888
ForestEthics2 $0 $822 $822
sub-total $1,637 $1,731 $3,368
CPAWS3 $270 $1,045
WWF4 $463 $1,621
Sierra Club5 $373 $586
Others6 $5,210
Total $10,193 *

1. Predecessor of Forest Ethics. 2. Cited in Krause article as sister of Tides Canada. 3. Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society. 4. World Wildlife Fund. 5.Includes Sierra Club Legal Defence Fund now called Ecojustice. 6. Includes other Ivey Grantees including; Ontario Nature, Nature Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Sustainability Network (founded by B. Lourie), etc. NB: No search of Trillium Foundation grants were conducted on the “Others”

One of the grants Sage Centre received from Trillium defined the purpose clearly: “$165,700 over 18 months to create and demonstrate a new model of managing and mentoring emerging charitable activities.”

* NB: The $10,193,000 in grants by the Ivey Foundation were all directed to “forestry” issues. Chart 2. divides those grants into three segments: “A” indicates grants directed at Alberta forest advocacy, “B” for grants directed at Boreal forests Canada wide and “F” for forestry issues Canada wide.

Chart 2. Amount (000’s)
A. $1,644
B. $3,042
F. $5,507
Total $10,193

 

The Ivey Foundation’s grants demonstrate their apparent wish to cripple the forestry sector and in the process halt further development of the oil sands. They do this either in a planned or inadvertent process by enlisting public sector support from Trillium Foundation, Ontario Power Authority, MaRS, etc., thereby enlisting public sector employees. Appointments to Boards, senior advisory positions (Lourie sits on Premier McGuinty’s “Climate Change Advisory Panel”), etc., accorded to individuals by ruling parties, signals public sector employees that they should do the bidding of the appointees without considering implications on taxpayers.

Lourie’s environmental influence is Canada-wide with connections to dozens of like-minded ENGOs/charities who benefit from the largesse of institutions in the municipal, provincial and federal fields. Collectively, these ENGOs use taxpayers and foundation funds (some supplied by government foundations such as the Friends of the Greenbelt and Toronto Atmospheric Fund–CEGN members) to convince politicians that renewable energy will save the planet and that the development of Canada’s natural resources, including the oil sands, is bad.

If these foundations truly believe in “Dutch Disease” they should give their money directly to Thomas Mulcair and the NDP who seem intent on wiping it out, for political gain; and bureaucrats should stop handing them taxpayer funds to assist them in those beliefs.

Parker Gallant,
May 31, 2012