Wind power: not free, not reliable

Last week the wind power industry lobby organization, the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, put out a news release stating that wind power ought to be part of every government’s (or governments-in-waiting) energy strategy because it is inexpensive and reliable.

Not so, says this Alberta letter writer.

Wind power is neither reliable or inexpensive

By Letter to the Editor on May 17, 2014.

Re: Wind energy has proven to be reliable and cost competitive Herald May 6, 2014

Mr. Weis, representing the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), told us that wind generation is reliable and inexpensive. Wind power is neither.

Weis failed to mention that over time, wind facilities produce a mere 32 per cent of their design capacity because they are so unreliable. Over the past half day, the output of wind turbines in Alberta has been less than one per cent of their design capacity! Reliable? And all of this “nothingness” for a few billion dollars? CanWEA also will not tell you that when the wind is blowing, coal and gas plants remain running to stabilize the power grid. As a result, there is little or no reduction of carbon dioxide.

You will recall the decades-old mantra, “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” However, installing wind facilities is the opposite of “reduce,” because wind farms duplicate existing generation capacity. They also require massive investments in new inefficient transmission lines. In 2012, Alberta Energy reported, “The existing capacity of the transmission system . . . is insufficient for additional wind-powered generation.” They estimated the cost, in the next four years, at $2.8 billion. Inexpensive? You and I will pay for these lines.

CanWEA does not want you to know that wind turbines are slaughtering thousands of bats and birds annually in Alberta. The Alberta government recently wrote, “Post-construction surveys (showed) . . . 16 bat mortalities per turbine.” Mitigation practices have been studied and proposed, but apparently best practices are not followed and wind companies are not monitoring mortalities at new wind facilities. If monitoring is being done, then animal deaths are being covered up by CanWEA members because they don’t want you to know the gory statistics.

“an expensive environmental scam paid for by Alberta’s citizens”

If we received actual economic or environmental benefits from wind turbines we would all support their development. But wind generation duplicates efficient conventional generation; wind facilities are expensive; wind generation does little or nothing to reduce emissions; wind generation compromises the stability of the power grid and turbines kill thousands of bats and birds in Alberta annually.

Reliable and inexpensive? Hardly. Wind electrical production is an expensive environmental scam paid for by Alberta’s citizens and businesses.

Clive Schaupmeyer

Big Thunder a no-go; Horizon wind loses

A report from Thunder Bay via The NetNewsLedger says that Horizon Wind has not been successful in its attempt to force the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to approve its application for the Big Thunder wind power generation project atop the Nor’Wester escarpment.

The Big Thunder application was filed well over a year ago, and the Ministry has not made a final decision on it.

The project is the subject of numerous legal actions, including one from the Fort William First Nation which has said it was not consulted properly on the wind power generation project.

Big Thunder has been controversial since its beginning: the project was to have required the razing of hundreds of ancient sugar maples in what is the northernmost stand of the trees in Canada, and significant alteration to the landscape.

See the NetNewsLedger report here ; and the Thunder Bay News report here —more news as we receive it will be posted.

 

Enniskillen Mayor: don’t talk to wind power developers

ENERGY

Mayor urging township residents to not speak to wind developers

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer

Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:48:34 EDT

Enniskillen Township residents should feel free to exercise their right to remain silent when wind energy companies come calling, says Mayor Kevin Marriott.

EDF EN Canada has reportedly been approaching residents and groups about its Churchill Wind Project proposal, a 100 to 150-MW wind farm it wants to build in Enniskillen and neighbouring Plympton-Wyoming.

Marriott said he turned down a request from the company to meet with township council, and urged others in the community to do the same.

“We’re unwilling hosts,” Marriott said. “We’re not interested, end of discussion.”

Enniskillen was among approximately 80 Ontario municipalities declaring themselves unwilling hosts for wind turbines after the provincial government said it was changing how it awards renewable energy contracts.

The 2009 Green Energy Act took away municipalities’ planning powers for wind projects, leading to an outcry from many rural communities and municipal councils. Last year, the province said a new system of awarding renewable energy projects will require companies to work with municipalities.

“It will be very, very difficult for a developer to be approved without municipal engagement, in some significant way,” Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said last June.

But, Marriott said that until the province clarifies what it means by municipal engagement, “We’re being vigilant.”

He advised the anti-wind turbine group, Conservation of Rural Enniskillen (CORE), against meeting with the company.

“I said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t consult with them because they may be able to use that as a check mark,'” Marriott said.

“Who knows what could be construed as public consultation.”

Read the full story here.

Can government end “green” contracts? YES, says Queens law prof

Killing green energy contracts

Hudak’s Ontario Conservatives can easily and legally negate the giveaways the Liberals had lavished on renewables developers

Tim Hudak says the Ontario Conservatives, if elected, will cancel lucrative wind and solar contracts put in place under the Liberals’ green energy program. Can he do so without racking up huge compensation costs?

The answer is yes – if he does it the right way.

The wrong way is to direct the Ontario Power Authority to simply terminate existing contracts, which have robust compensation clauses. The liabilities would dwarf the $1.1-billion paid out by the Liberals for cancelled gas plants.

The right way is to legislate: to enact a statute that declares green contracts to be null and void, and the province to be free from liability. The compensation clauses in the contract will be rendered inoperative if the statute says so.

Statutes can override iron-clad provisions in a contract because that is the nature of legislative supremacy: Legislatures can pass laws of any kind, as long as they are within their jurisdiction and do not offend the constitution. Legislating on electricity production is clearly a provincial power, as are “property and civil rights.”

Since the Canadian constitution does not guarantee property or contract rights, there are no obvious constitutional limitations on a provincial legislature’s ability to change any contract as it likes. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, in Canada there is no constitutional right to compensation for property expropriated by government.
Courts interpret ambiguous statutes as implicitly requiring compensation be paid to the owner of expropriated property. But if the statute is clear that no compensation shall be paid, the words of the statute govern. Where a statute and a contract are in conflict, the statute prevails. Although unilateral and retroactive changes to established contracts might seem to offend the rule of law, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that prospectivity is not a constitutional requirement for legislation.

What about NAFTA? Could a U.S. or Mexican firm with a cancelled green energy contract in Ontario seek compensation for discriminatory expropriation under Chapter 11? If government action singled out a specific party’s contract for termination, it could well be characterized as discriminatory. But if Hudak’s statute cancelled large numbers of contracts for a public policy objective and treated domestic and foreign firms similarly, then NAFTA protections are unlikely to apply.

So, done the right way, a new PC government could indeed rip up green energy contracts with no liability. …

Read the full story and comments here.

Bruce Pardy is Professor of Law at Queen’s University.

Editor’s note: This is one approach to the idea of whether the contracts can be cancelled; another is that they are simply not fulfilled. Under the Environmental Protection Act (section 47), it is clearly stated that the Director of the Ministry of the Environment has the power to choose NOT to approve a Renewable Energy project, and even to rescind an approval, if it is in the “public interest.”

Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to the Minister of Energy Mr Bob Chiarelli some months ago on this topic, citing legal precedents; we received an acknowledgement but have received no response to our questions on this issue

Public sector investment doesn’t=jobs in Ontario

Here, from today’s Financial Post, an opinion piece by Philip Cross, former Chief Economic Analyst at Statistics Canada.

Philip Cross: Public sector investment never ‘kick-starts’ more business investment

Philip Cross, Special to Financial Post | May 13, 2014 | Last Updated: May 13 10:12 AM ET

Ontario public sector investment has tripled, while business investment stagnates

Business investment is the most important dynamic in a growing economy. It commits a firm to a plan for its growth and creates jobs. Investments made today determine what our industrial structure will look like years from now, and how productive those industries will be. For Canada, watching business investment pour into our energy sector 10 times faster than the rest of the economy so far this century locks in that our future lies in producing oil and gas and transporting this to new markets inside and outside of Canada.

FE0513_investment_310_MF

So what does investment say about Ontario’s future? A look at the graph to the right tells an alarming story, with public sector investment tripling since 1998 while private sector investment has stagnated. Over the past 16 years, private sector investment in Ontario rose a total of only 17% from $39.8-billion to $46.4-billion, or 1% a year. Meanwhile, investment by the public sector soared 293% from $9.9-billion to $29.0-billion, or 18% a year (the public sector includes public administration, health, education and utilities, since Ontario’s electricity utilities clearly make decisions at the behest of their political masters, not on the basis of market principles). After a spike related to infrastructure spending during the 2009 recession, public sector investment has settled back into its long-term growth path. As a result, public sector investment has risen from one-quarter the size of private sector investment in 1998 to nearly two-thirds this year. Private and public sector investment are actually converging more than the graph shows, since the billions government is spending on urban transit cannot be separated out from the rest of transportation, which is allocated to the private sector.

One insight jumps out from comparing private versus public sector investment in Ontario. Public sector investment never “kick-starts” more business investment, creating the virtuous circle governments always hope for when launching the latest wave of government capital spending. Instead, more public sector spending creates a vicious circle, where a “failure” of business investment to respond to higher public sector spending justifies the perceived need to further boost public sector investment “to fill the gap.” Repeated enough times over more than a decade of parochial provincial budgets, and the result is a tripling of public service spending while business investment stagnates.

What businesses have been the most reluctant to invest in Ontario’s future, despite the much-vaunted benefits of an engorged public sector, including a highly-educated labour force? Pretty much all of them. Since the peak in 2008, business investment has fallen by $3-billion. The drop is widespread across all industries. Overall, 11 major industry groups have cut back, while only five have invested more. Manufacturing posted the largest drop, with 15 of its 22 member industries paring investment outlays. Before 2008, manufacturing consistently was the largest industry investing in Ontario. Now it has slipped to fourth place. But this is far more than a story of weak manufacturing investment, with important declines also occurring in finance, retail and wholesale trade, recreation, and information and culture among others.

It is not just that public sector investment crowds out business investment, although that clearly is a factor. The aggressive expansion of public sector investment is symptomatic of a wide range of public sector policies that discourage business spending in Ontario— uncompetitive electricity rates, higher minimum wages, more regulation, a new pension plan tax, and high budget deficits that promise future tax hikes….

Read the full story here.

Ontario pilots concerned about aviation safety near turbines

CTV London
Published Tuesday, May 6, 2014 6:13PM EDT
Fears have re-ignited in southwestern Ontario after a fatal plane crash involving a wind turbine in South Dakota that left four people dead.
Garry Sheperd has been flying for over 30 years. He’s a seasoned pilot, and he’s not pleased about the wind turbines he’s now sharing the skies with.
“The ones we’ve got coming to our backyards here are 400 feet at present, but the new generation are 500 feet. In Europe they’re over 700 feet and it’s just a matter of time before there’s a conflict.”
Four men were killed in April after their plane apparently collided with a wind turbine in South Dakota during foggy weather.
And Sheperd fears that he and his fellow pilots are just as at risk, especially those flying in and out of the Kincardine Municipal Airport, where 10 of 92 soon-to-be-built turbines in the Armow Wind farm could be flight risks.
“We pilots have been adamant that these aircraft and these turbines don’t mix.”
But the company disagrees, Jody Law of Pattern Energy says, “At Armow, we have worked closely with the federal regulatory agencies to ensure that the project will be in complete compliance with all safety regulations and standards.”
In fact, the Armow Wind farm has been approved by all provincial and federal bodies.
But it’s not just the size or the fact they are spinning that concerns pilots. Sheperd explains it’s an invisible force unique to turbines that can cause problems flying past.
“As the blades turn there are vortices that come off them and rotate downwind…so we’re climbing up through that invisible hazard and we shouldn’t have to do that.”
Eight turbines near the Chatham airport were ordered removed by Transport Canada last June for safety issues, but remain standing.

Parker Gallant on the problem of expensive, surplus power

Save energy, use energy...it's too big for you to understand
Save energy, use energy…it’s too big for you to understand

When you do a little research on the issue of energy in Ontario, it becomes obvious that the problem is surplus and very expensive electricity.  Ontario companies who use a lot of electricity and compete across the U.S.-Canada border are finding they are under siege from their U.S. competitors—their clients are getting better prices from U.S.-based border companies.

Two companies mentioned in the speech by Minister Chiarelli at Giant Tiger last week were held up as examples of a change to one of the programs that former Energy Minister Chris Bentley brought in.  That program was the Industrial Electricity Incentive (IEI) program. …

Let’s look at the two companies that Chiarelli is asking us all to support, and the many more that may follow now that the bar has been lowered to increase consumption!  Before going there, however, I should explain that one objective of the IEI is to reduce our export volumes. For 2013 that was 18.3 TWh at the average HOEP of 2.65 cents per kWh.  At one point Minister Chiarelli mistakenly suggested Ontario had earned a profit of $6 billion on exports but since his discovery of that mistake he perhaps believes it is better to at least keep some of the jobs at home.   The cheap electricity was Ontario exported was creating jobs elsewhere like New York and Michigan.

One of the companies that Minister Chiarelli mentioned was Detour Gold, a relatively new gold producer located in Northeastern Ontario south of James Bay.  The following was found in their latest annual report:  “In January 2014, the Company was accepted into the Industrial Electricity Incentive Program for a 6-year fixed rate electricity contract at CAD $0.05/kWh with the Ontario Power Authority which is estimated to reduce power costs by approximately CAD $20,000 annually.”*  Now if you run the numbers on the savings at, say, 4 cents a kWh, it works out to consumption of 500 MWh annually or  enough to power about 50 average homes, or less than 1% of a TWh.

The other interesting fact about this is that Elections Ontario reports that Detour Gold in 2012 contributed $9,300 to the Ontario Liberal Party—about 50 % of their reported annual savings. Makes you wonder…

Read Parker’s full article here: Minister Chiarelli surplus electricity production

 

*Addendum to Post of April 29, 2014: 

While Detour Gold claim a savings of only $20,000 annually in their annual report as a result of their IEI six (6) year contract the actual amount that they will save is probably closer to $20 million or $120 million over the 6 years.  We base those calculations on the information recorded on the Environment Ministry website where they record their approval in 2010 of an application for a 230 kilovolt (KV) transmission line to supply the mine with 120 megawatts (MW) of power.  On that basis 120 MW could supply Detour Gold with in excess of 1 million MW hours annually and at a price of $50 a MWh would produce annual savings of $20 million.  That is a much better pay-back on  the $9,300 contribution they made to the Liberal Party and it will be extracted from all the other ratepayers in the province!  Kind of sounds like a new way of creating one of Premier Wynne’s “Revenue Tools”.

 

MPAC study not likely to quell property value controversy

 Wind turbines don’t hurt property values, MPAC says

Industrial wind turbines have been controversial in rural communities. A new Ontario study investigated the value of properties close to turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more, with towers 70 metres or taller, and blades 35 metres or longer.

Municipal Property Assessment Corp. concludes properties near industrial turbines are “equitably assessed” — but group opposing wind farms says the research is flawed.
By: John Spears, Toronto Star Business reporter, Published on Mon Apr 28 2014

Wind turbines do not have a significant effect on the sale prices of nearby homes, a study by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. has concluded.

A group that opposes large-scale wind power development quickly labelled the study as “a self-serving exercise by bureaucrats to serve their government masters.”

Big wind farms can have an effect on rural landscapes, with the tips of the blades reaching more than 100 metres into the sky. The turbine towers are topped by blinking red lights at night.

Turbines have created rifts in some rural communities. Leasing out land for turbines provides income for some landowners. Others complain the turbines mar the countryside, cause illness for neighbours and kill birds and bats.

The MPAC study looked at properties close to 1,157 big Ontario turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more. Such turbines have towers 70 metres high or taller, with blades of 35 metres or longer.

The study took note of whether the turbines were fully or partly visible from adjacent properties or not visible at all.

After reviewing the assessments of properties close to industrial wind turbines (IWTs), the study concluded the properties are “equitably assessed.”

It went further, saying: “MPAC’s findings also concluded that there is no statistically significant impact on sale prices of residential properties in these market areas resulting from proximity to an IWT, when analyzing sale prices.”

The study includes a separate analysis by an Arizona-based firm. That analysis concluded that the presence of a wind farm has a “statistically significant but minor” impact on property value.

Properties within one kilometre of a turbine suffer a 4-per-cent drop in value, it said.

The MPAC study is unlikely to settle the controversy over wind turbines. Jane Wilson, who heads Wind Concerns Ontario, told the Star the research is flawed.

Wilson said the study used questionable mathematical modelling and excluded properties that simply didn’t sell or were withdrawn from the market because they’re too close to turbines.

“Honestly, if you have a home, and someone puts up a thing that’s equivalent to a 30- or 40-storey tower, that does make noise, that does have flashing red lights — it’s really not a big jump to say that’s going to have some effect on values,” she said.

Wilson pointed to an appendix in the MPAC report containing bar charts showing the relationship between property values and proximity to wind turbines.

She said the charts show that properties five kilometres or more from wind turbines generally have higher sale prices and assessments than those within five kilometres of turbines.

Read the full story and comments here.

Niagara turbines to be near 1,000-year-old historic trail

Ancient Trail Threatens Turbines
SMITHVILLE, ON – April 27, 2014
A local amateur historian may have stopped the imminent start-up of a Niagara wind farm by simply highlighting the importance of a thousand year old trail on the very doorstep of the turbines. And while largely
forgotten by locals and historians alike, Neil Switzer contends that this 35 km trail that stretches from the Grand River to the Forty (Grimsby) is a major legacy trail to both native and Canadian cultures alike which
upon further study should qualify as a cultural heritage landscape of major Provincial significance under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Unfortunately for the wind power developer Vineland Power Inc., their heritage assessment consultant missed this historically significant feature and making matters worse the Ministry of the Environment failed to forward Mr. Switzer’s comments back to the heritage consultant or the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport for appropriate review. The trail comments were formally submitted to the MOE’s Environmental Registry as part of the Green Energy Act’s public consultation process but that Act does not supersede the Ontario Heritage Act and all projects must have clearance from the MTCS before approvals are granted.
This convenient oversight previously allowed the MOE to expeditiously grant approval to the wind project but now, owing to property line setback violations of 4 of the 5 turbines, an amendment must be approved prior
to final project start-up. This time however Mr. Switzer is making sure the MOE cannot cover-up such an important heritage asset. And in order to ensure that the MOE follows due process this time he has submitted
a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office detailing how the MOE will effectively be in contravention of the of Ontario Heritage Act if it proceeds with the amendment prior to the completion of a full trail heritage
assessment.
Mr. Switzer stated “the depth, richness and importance of Niagara’s native and pre-confederation history is unparalleled in Ontario and MOE’s disregard for this significant historic trail is a major insult to all Canadian
and First Nation’s people alike”.
Examples given of the cultural significance of this trail as submitted to the MOE included:
• One of only three major north/south Iroquoian/ Neutral Indian trails connecting the Grand River to
Lake Ontario with major archaeological resources along its 35 km route (i.e., Grimsby Neutral ossuary of 373 burials)
• Gateway trail influencing earliest settlement pattern of the United Empire Loyalist after the American Revolution including many officers and soldiers of the famous Butler’s Rangers and Indian Department
(i.e. Captain Robert Nelles, friend of the British and Chief Joseph Brant, homesteading land grants at both ends of the trail and frequented the trail so often that it became known as the Nelles Trail).
• Trail played major role in war of 1812 which not only transported local members of the 4th Lincoln Militia to battle but significantly it was the influx of Grand River native warriors arriving along this trail
to attack the retreating Americans after the Battle of Stoney Creek together with Sir James Yeo’s naval bombardment that sent the Yanks running back to Fort George. Without this native attack the Americans outnumbering the British 5 to 1 and with further reinforcements on
their way could easily have regrouped and overwhelmed the British at Burlington Heights and today we’d be under an American flag.
• Captain John Norton the famed native leader of the Grand River warriors lived at the southern terminus of this trail and regularly frequented this route on his way to battle or rendezvous with the British at the Forty.
• Chief Mesquacosy, an Ojibwa warrior who fought beside General Brock and Tecumseh in several battles had a son born in 1811 on the banks of the Forty Mile Creek named Maungwudaus who become one of North America’s most famous Indian in the 1840s and 50’s. Capitalizing on his native heritage he formed a troupe of native performers who toured the United States and Europe performing and lecturing before huge cheering audiences as well as having private audiences with the US President and French. Belgium and English royalty.
• Historically this trail symbolizes one of the best physical and literal representations of that formative nation building era when the ties between two of Canada’s three founding nations were strongest as
having been forged “as brothers in arms” during the American Revolutionary War and when natives and UEL settlers respected and depended on each other as equals.

Mr. Switzer admits this is a last ditch attempt to stall the turbine start-up until the upcoming Provincial election where if the PC’s win, Hudak has said he’ll cancel the costly $20 billion subsidy to wind and would hold wind developers accountable to comply with all setback requirements. Otherwise the future for anti-wind protesters appears extremely bleak so long as the Liberals remain in power and continue to approve hundreds more turbines every week in spite of electrical surpluses and spiraling energy costs.
While all Ontario homeowners, businessmen and industries are suffering from the highest electricity rates in North America due to the Liberal/NDP Green Energy Act, the real victims are the immediate neighbours.
Experience elsewhere has shown they stand to lose 20 to 40% of their property value as well as sleepless nights and the resultant health problems from turbine noise and low frequency infrasound.

One of the neighbours whose property will be directly impacted by an MOE amendment to legitimize the setback infractions stated in their comments to the MOE that she and her husband had fled their homeland in Yugoslavia 40 years ago in an attempt to escape a communist government who always put their own interests above the people and the community. Unfortunately, the way this issue has been handled by the
MOE has made them question whether life in Canada is really much different from our previous life under a communist regime halfway around the world.
Not so says Neil: “We may have strayed from our Canadian roots of “peace, fairness and good government” but it’s not too late to set things right and a little history lesson might be a good place to start.

Neil Switzer Chair, WLGWAG
www.wlwag.com

 

Parker Gallant: the Energy Minister’s announcements

The Liberals’ promise of ‘significant relief’ on power bills: a closer look

The April 2014 Liberal event calendar has had a minimum of an event a day, including the Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s delivering a message on how the government plans to help small and medium Ontario business deal with electricity bills. The event was held at Giant Tiger’s HO in Ottawa.

Energy
Bob Chiarelli and friends: did they look at the numbers, really?

These daily announcements are leading up to the budget presentation on May 1st which is widely expected to trigger an election.

Not once in the 27-minute podcast did the Minister mention “Timmies” coffee in the context of either what it would cost ratepayers or how much it would reduce hydro bills for those small and medium sized companies. But what he did was to spin the bad news electricity story: first they rob Peter and Paul to pay wind and solar developers, and when Paul becomes vocal you rob more from Peter to pay Paul. As soon as Peter laments, you tell him you have a plan to give him a break and you simply stick Paul with higher rates. Then, while you are telling Peter he will soon get a break, you rob the company that employs him so they can no longer afford to hire Paul. Shortly after that the company laments that they may have to lay Peter off so you rob even more from Peter and Paul, so that they will be able to keep Peter on staff and may even be able to afford to hire Paul.

Should you decide to watch Chiarelli’s podcast you’ll see he doesn’t make it quite that simple. Instead, he talks about “pillars,” points and electricity acronyms like “IEI” (Industrial Electricity Incentive) or “ICI” (Industrial Conservation Initiative) programs. Like the other promises of prosperity coming daily from the government, the benefits are all in the future. Only one of his suggestions came with a specified time (2015). That was one that will instruct your local distribution company (LDC) to become a lending institution! They will be told to provide financing for “up-front capital costs” associated with “conservation programs.” Needless to say this and the other programs will be financed by other ratepayers via the Global Adjustment (GA).

The day before, the announcement was about ending the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC) at the end of 2015, and was clearly aimed at residential ratepayers (people who vote). Premier Wynne said it would bring “significant rate relief.” The DRC will continue to be collected until 2018 from those to whom Minister Chiarelli promised relief too, from his perch at Giant Tiger. By the end of December 2015 we will have paid $15.5 billion to retire the original $7.8 billion of “Residual Stranded Debt” but they want more, so they will take about $1 billion from most commercial and industrial clients before they will finally declare it paid—evidence of the Liberal trick of robbing Peter to pay Paul!

“Significant relief”?

Let’s look at Wynne’s “significant rate relief” claim. Just one year ago the Ontario Energy Board announced a rate increase that cost the “average” ratepayer $3.63 a month or $44 annually, and followed that with another increase in November raising rates by $4.00 a month or $48 annually. The more recent increase of April 14, 2014 saw another increase of $2.83 a month or $34 annually, and those announcements didn’t include rate increases for the “delivery” or “regulatory” lines on our bills, which also increased. So, in just one year the electricity rates jumped $126 annually and Wynne’s announced rate relief won’t happen until the end of 2015. That’s the year the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB) ends. The OECB reduces the average bill by $13.30 per month or $160 annually. The “average” bill (electricity only) at the start of 2016 will be $286 higher on an annual basis than it was as of April 30, 2013. Adding the HST brings the increase to $323.
We should also expect additional increases from the OEB’s scheduled rate setting on December 1, 2014, May 1, 2015 and December 1, 2015; those add a minimum of $100/120 to our electricity line.

In other words, the average bill will have jumped by approximately $425/$450 by which time Wynne’s “significant rate relief” will become insignificant. Just as the annual DRC charge of $67 falls away, another scheduled charge from the Wednesday announcement (aimed at reducing energy poverty) of $11 will be added, so we may see a measly $56 decrease at that time.

25% increase in two years
The “average” ratepayer will have experienced an increase of over 25% in electricity prices in slightly more than 2 years by the time the December 31, 2015 date arrives. At that time our electricity costs will be charged out at over 21 cents per kilowatt (kWh). That only gets worse as more contracted wind and solar enter the grid. The price will rise further should OPG prove successful in their “significant” rate increase request now before the OEB. Add in increases expected in the “delivery” and “regulatory” lines, tack on HST and all-in costs will be in the neighbourhood of 30 cents a kWh! That average $133 monthly bill will suddenly be $240 and Ontario residents will be challenging Germany and Denmark for the privilege of having the most expensive rates in the industrialized world.

It seems the Liberal Ontario government has apparently abandoned the “Chiarelli” math (units are based on the price of a Tim Horton’s coffee) and have now moved on to a shell game. They tell us their management of the energy portfolio is constantly saving us money—you just have to look for the pea under the right shill, oops, I meant shell!

©Parker Gallant,
April 26, 2014

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.