Ontario citizens pawns in government power game

Ontario government: playing with your future
Ontario government: playing with your future

Talk about adding insult to injury: the Ontario government’s poorly thought-out energy policy–done completely without any cost-benefit analysis–has resulted in job losses, higher power prices for consumers and small business, exports of surplus power that cost ratepayers millions every month, lost property values in the millions and lost human productivity due to the invasion of huge wind power plants … and the government thinks it is all a laugh-riot GAME.

This isn’t new but the Ontario Liberal government is once again promoting its little Power Play game. “Imagine you are an energy planner…” it begins.

Yes, imagine.

Doubtless a 13-year-old experienced gamer would know better than to wreak havoc on his entire environment.

Write to the Ministry of Energy to say you object to being a pawn in the government’s energy game.

By email: http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/contact-us/

By mail: Ministry of Energy
900 Bay Street, 4th Floor
Hearst Block
Toronto ON M7A 2E1
Canada

 

Subsidies and grants for green entrepreneurs

ONE can be a lonely number, especially on Valentine’s Day, but not in Ontario where ONE, according to their website, is the “Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.” That’s their current name anyway: “In June 2009, the Ontario Government introduced the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) –Ontario’s revitalized, client-focused, province-wide innovation network. In May 2013, the ONE was re-branded to the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.”

Sounds impressive; even more impressive are some of the claims they make about their network of 90 branches throughout the province and their funding sources such as MaRS and provincial agencies including the three regional Development Funds.   ONE will be hosting the “Discovery” Conference April 27, 2015 and says this about their efforts to entice attendees and sponsors:  “Discovery is a showcase of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research from sectors such as health, manufacturing, digital media and cleantech, including energy, environment and water.”

Now let’s look at some of their claims:

What we should ask about the government’s definition of “entrepreneurs”

Why would you call a network (90 offices) of government programs administered by bureaucrats, an network “entrepreneurs”?

Why would 20 colleges and several not-for-profit foundations dependent on government grants be considered an “entrepreneurial network”?

Why would ONE claim they have created or retained 192,000 jobs in a document released January 1, 2014 but show only two examples of those “jobs”? (The document included two examples with one of them named “Desire2Learn” which received a $4.25 million grant from the Ontario government. As recently disclosed one of those Desire2Learn jobs might represent ONE job for our former Premier, Dalton McGuinty now registered as their lobbyist in the Ontario Lobbyist Registry.)

Why is the Liberal Government showing investments in “clean tech” via the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation or OCGC of $74 million (as of March 31, 2012) which represented 18% of the total investments of OCGC, when MaRS and other Liberal government creations are handing out our tax dollars in the same market to the same parties?

The March 31, 2014 Financial Statements under “Revenues” for OCGC indicate they received $15 million directly from the province, $50 million from the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund or OETF 1. and $1 million from Northleaf Venture Capitalist Fund (NVCF) 2..  They claim they generated $13 million in “Realized gains on sale of investment funds” but the latter is not even mentioned in the auditor’s notes.

OCGF  in their March 31, 2014 annual statement under “Assets” claim they invested $59 million in OETF and $44 million in OVCF 3.and $2.6 million in NVCF; their “Investing Activities” show them buying and selling OETF investments, selling investments in OVCF and obtaining a “Return of capital from OVCF” as well as a “Purchase of Investments in NVCF”.

So exactly what is happening between these various investment funds that the Liberals created? Is someone actually auditing the success or failure of these entities?  Are the bureaucrats using our tax dollars to pick any “winners” or are they trading assets to make it look like they are creating value?

Perhaps this is another area that the Auditor General should tick off as an area for future review, as well as the power system in Ontario under review for 2015.

©Parker Gallant

February 14, 2015

 

1. Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund (OETF)

OETF was launched in July 2009 with a commitment from the Province of Ontario to provide funding of $250 million. OETF, as a direct co-investment fund, makes investments into innovative high potential companies alongside other qualified investors with a proven track record of success. Investments are in three strategic sectors: (a) clean technology; (b) digital media and information and communication technologies; and (c) life sciences and advanced health technologies.

2. Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund (NVCF) is a joint initiative between major Canadian institutional investors and the Governments of Canada and Ontario to invest in Canada-based venture capital and growth equity funds and direct investments that support innovative, high growth companies.

3. Ontario Venture Capital Fund LP (OVCF)In June 2008, the OVCF was established with an investment commitment from the Province of Ontario of $90 million. OVCF is a $205 million joint initiative of the Government of Ontario and private institutional investors,formed to invest primarily in Ontario-based and Ontario-focused venture capital and growth equity funds  that support innovative, high potential companies.

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

Ontario “charities”: giving to other “charities”

Rick Smith's 2009 book; next, The Slow Death of the Ontario Taxpayer?
Rick Smith’s 2009 book; next, The Slow Death of the Ontario Taxpayer?

What we should know about Liberal government-created charities

My previous article on Green Energy subsidies focused on those that grew directly out of the Ontario Ministry of Energy but in the quest to find further information on how the taxpayers are involved (beyond the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit) I was led to Liberal government-created charities.

This is just one of those that we taxpayers should question as to its purpose in life.   The first annual report of Friends of the Greenbelt contained the following message: 

“The physical area of the Greenbelt is enormous and the challenges inherent in pursuing our mission are significant. As such, we need to concentrate our resources over a short time period in order to achieve our ambitious goals and we intend to gift the $25 million endowment over a period of five years.”

Details follow on the success of gifting:

Why has the Ontario Liberal Government created charities focused on anthropogenic global warming or AGW?  One example isthe aforementioned “Friends of the Greenbelt” (FOG), created in 2005, funded almost entirely by the Ministry of the Environment and, now, Climate ChangeDalton McGuinty‘s 2003 Speech from the Throne included the following:  “It will keep its commitment to introduce legislation that will establish a permanent greenbelt across the Golden Horseshoe, and a new commission to protect it.”

Why has FOG used the $45 million in taxpayer dollars to hand out money to the likes of other charities such as: Environmental Defence (5),NB: David Suzuki Foundation (3), Sierra Club (5), Toronto Environmental Alliance (5),  Pembina, Tides, etc.

NB:  Brackets ( ) indicate the number of grants those charities received.  Also one should note Rick Smith, formerly Executive Director of Environmental Defence, is a Board Member of FOG.

Why has FOG doled out tax dollars to the likes of Ecojustice (2), University of Toronto (2), TV Ontario, Corporate Knights, OSEA and another charity that the Liberal Party have supplied with over $150 million of tax dollars as grants and recently bailed out at a cost of $300 million?  I am referring of course to the MaRS Discovery District.

Why does FOG even have “charity” status, having raised only $5,779 in charitable donations in their last reported year-end of March 31, 2014?

Why did FOG’s staff compensation in 2014 ($1.1 million) exceed annual grants ($1 million) and represent over 50% of their expenses?

I am sure the likes of Environmental Defence, David Suzuki Foundation, the Sierra Club, and the others loved the fact that fund raising was made so much easier by having an entity focused on doling out $25 million of taxpayers’ money, and to see it replaced with another $20 million as soon as the first “endowment” was gone.

©Parker Gallant

February 12, 2015

Federal government funds study of “large penetration” of wind power development

Industry association “lead proponent” in Natural Resources Canada study

Last week, in researching his series on the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s campaign to influence Ontario citizen attitudes toward wind power, and recommendations for the lobby group’s “Ontario campaign,” Parker Gallant discovered via the Ontario Lobbyist Registry that CanWEA disclosed publicly it has received funding  of $663,000 from the federal government.

The funding is presumably for CanWEA’s role as lead proponent of a $1.7-million Natural Resources Canada project called the Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study,  “that will evaluate how large penetration of wind energy could be integrated on the provincially run Canadian electric grid and show the challenges and opportunities in doing so. “

In the first paragraph of the NRCan page on this study, which names CanWEA as the lead proponent, is a significant error. CanWEA’s mandate is most decidedly NOT “to promote the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy in Canada.” CanWEA itself says its mission is “to ensure Canada fully realizes its abundant wind energy potential on behalf of its members.”

In other words, as any specialized industry group does, CanWEA’s goal is to represent and promote the interests of its members.

It is not an environmental organization.

Why, we ask, is an industry group, with some very well-financed members, that states outright its goal is to act in the best interests of its members, receiving government financing to further its members’ fortunes?

A question for your Member of Parliament. And the Minister of Natural Resources, and the Minister of Finance (Joe.Oliver@fin.gc.ca ).

Ontario’s big wind bonanza: subsidies for a few rich developers

The sad (and very expensive) truth
Rural Ontario communities had it right

Everyone losing on renewable energy in Ontario

FP Comment, Financial Post, February 4, 2015

by Brady Yauch, executive director Consumer Policy Institute

When the Ontario government launched its Green Energy Act (GEA) in 2009, it promised “new green economy jobs” and a “wide range of ecpnomic opportunities.” Then Minister of Energy George Smitherman argued that the GEA would be a boon to Ontarians of all stripes: “We see opportunities in our rural communities for farmers, not just to lease their land for big companies that are the proponents of wind farms, but indeed for clusters of farmers to see themselves as investors in projects … the emergence of thousands of smaller green energy projects–micro-generation–in urban as well as rural areas.”

Yes, everyone would need to pay a little more for renewable power, the public was told, but the benefits would be widely shared, for the ultimate benefit of all.

As it turned out, power rates didn’t go up a little–they soared. And the subsidies weren’t widely shared among the folk–a handful of billion-dollar companies pocketed most of them, most outside the province.

According to an analysis by the Consumer Policy Institute and Energy Probe, 90 per cent of the wind subsidies went to just 11 companies,  80 percent of the subsidies went to companies with revenues over $1 billion, 60 per cent of the subsidies went to six companies with more than $10 billion in annual revenue. …

The damage to ratepayers for such policies has been significant. Since 2009 ratepayers have seen the commodity cost on their energy bills climb dramatically… just over 9 per cent annually–more than five times the rate of inflation, making electricity price increases worse in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada.

To make matters worse, the high rates being pushed onto ratepayers has lowered demand for electricity across the province in recent years. That means Ontario now has a significant surplus of power* which it exports to neighbouring jurisdictions at a loss. Ontario ratepayers are now subsidizing the energy consumption in America and other provinces.

Nearly everyone is losing when it comes to renewable energy in Ontario–except for those few companies that planted industrial wind turbines across the province and are receiving billions in subsidies for their effort.

 

*Note: Wind Concerns Ontario issued a statement Monday to the effect that Ontario does not need more wind power and that the IESO should not reopen the contracting/subsidy process for new wind power contracts.

Wind farm procurement process not needed says Wind Concerns Ontario

Ontario's wind power program has never undergone a cost-benefit analysis, and has contributed significantly to increasing electricity bills. Not needed.
Ontario’s wind power program has never undergone a cost-benefit analysis, and has contributed significantly to increasing electricity bills. Not needed.

February 2, 2015

The Independent Electricity Systems Operator of IESO has delayed the start of its new Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process, which was originally scheduled to begin today.

The delay is to work out more details stemming from comments filed during the public comment period, said renewables manager Adam Butterfield during a recent presentation, in which he also said the IESO’s goal is to have a “robust product that meets industry needs.”

Wind Concerns Ontario believes procurement of further wind power generation is not needed in Ontario, and here’s why:

  • The Ontario government has achieved its core objective of closing the power plants using coal as fuel.
  • Ontario has a surplus of power; no increase in demand is predicted. Ontario exported enough power during September-November 2014 to power 584,000 homes. There is no reason to add more capacity at this time.
  • The Ontario government is enacting a program to encourage conservation of power use.
  • While a decrease in nuclear power is expected due to refurbishment of one or more facilities, wind power cannot replace the baseload power provided by nuclear.
  • Renewable sources of electricity such as wind are expensive, and have been responsible in large part for the increase in electricity bills to consumers; this situation is already causing hardship for people on low or fixed incomes.

Given all these circumstances, it is our view that the IESO needs to step back and undertake a full needs assessment and independent cost-benefit analysis. Two successive Auditors General have pointed out (2012 and 2014) that NO cost-benefit analysis has ever been done for Ontario’s renewables program. The current Auditor General has also announced that her office will be reviewing how the power system is planned, throughout 2015.

We would further suggest a review of current contracts for wind power generation facilities not connected to the grid; these contracts have expired—terminating them and the cost of that action would be preferable to imposing a greater burden on Ontario ratepayers for the next 20 years.

Public opposition to the high-impact, low-benefit installation of utility-scale wind power facilities will continue and will intensify through legal proceedings.

We request that a moratorium be placed on further wind power generation, and that a full financial analysis of Ontario’s electricity rates is completed.

Contact us at windconcerns@gmail.com

 

Three ways CanWEA plans to “persuade” you that wind is good

 

Use kids to "humanize" your message, CanWEA is advised. In 2014, Environmental Defence used "Penelope" to exhort voters to vote for kids' future, i.e., Liberal
Use kids to “humanize” your message, CanWEA is advised. In 2011, Environmental Defence used “Penelope” to exhort voters to vote for kids’ future, i.e., Liberal

The Nanos Research survey conducted for CanWEA was meant to lay the foundation for the Ontario Campaign and for the messaging meant to persuade the general public and the government(s) that wind power is wonderful.

In fact, Nanos Research suggests three steps.

Step One:

“Refine all messaging to be positive and forward-thinking. Continue to refocus public debate from wind energy’s economic proposition today to one of investing in a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future for our kids (Track 1 Narrative) while focusing on cost competitiveness in the narrative targeted to provincial governments (Track 2 Narrative).”

It is clear that the messaging to the general population in respect to this step is to focus on the survey’s high marks for wind being seen as “environmentally friendly” while ignoring its effect on the cost of electricity.   Appealing to the “sustainable future for our kids” message is meant to strike a chord with young families, while ignoring the negatives related to the health effects on people due to noise and infrasound, shadow flicker, the killing of birds (including endangered species) and bats (more endangered species).  Sweep the bad news under the carpet.

At the same time as those electricity bills rise higher and higher, caused by past and future additions of renewable energy to the grid, industrial wind production appears competitive if one ignores the need to back it up with fossil fuel (natural gas) plants.  Likewise, the intermittent nature of wind causing it to present power when not needed is also ignored, meaning the costs of exporting power below cost is not something that will be messaged.  A recent quote from CanWEA’s Ontario regional director, Brandy Giannetta tells the story on their relationship with the Ontario Liberal Party; she says “There is more political stability with a majority government that supports our industry and has a commitment to renewables development and capacity”.

In other words, lobby group CanWEA is delighted the Liberals were re-elected because Ontario communities will remain without the democratic right to refuse industrial wind projects.

The second step recommended by Nanos Research plays to people’s fondness for celebrity.

Step Two:

Humanize the industry: Shift the overall communications strategy from a relatively autonomous wind industry talking to Canadians to an effort to engage Canadians and celebrities in dialogue on wind energy issues.

The fall issue of CanWEA’s magazine Windsight featured a “celebrity” Olympian who endorsed wind energy.  The process of engaging celebrities has already been successful so expect other endorsements from the likes of David Suzuki, Neil Young, etc., to follow.

How can the approach be “humanized” one wonders when the industry, as seen in the Nanos survey, views adverse health complaints as a non-issue. On page 75, noted as a “Consideration”: “Linking positive emotions to wind can be a powerful means to manage perceptions (e.g. focus on the well-being of families and children). Fear is the dominant weapon of those opposed to specific wind-energy projects – alleged detrimental effects on health, property values, wildlife, and utility costs. Framing wind as forward-thinking infers those opposed are backward and out of touch.

Nanos Research has completely ignored reports and studies that have confirmed the detrimental effects on health, property values, wildlife and utility costs.

Interestingly enough, the survey under another heading of “situational analysis” does note: “Several wind-related issues such as perceived health effects of turbines are locked in a virtual stalemate of conflicting expert opinions.”

So those “backward” and “out of touch” people actually do have “expert opinions” at odds with the wind industry narrative.

Step Three:

Make children and young families the face and voice of the wind industry – they represent the future and are already the strongest supporters of renewables.”

This one has already commenced as a visit to CanWEA’s website will attest.  The first thing hitting your eyes is a very young girl holding up a tablet that says:  “Wind energy.  It’s a bright idea.”

Further down the page claims wind energy is “cost-competitive,” has a “stabilizing effect on electricity rates,” and the fuel turning the blades is “free.”   Needless to say the ratepayers in Ontario are becoming aware that none of those claims have any truth in them.

Conversely, CanWEA doesn’t explain that 80% of the time the power they produce is not needed,  or because of production out of phase with demand, we export over 10% of Ontario’s generation at a huge loss. They also don’t explain that wind is backed up by fossil fuels, or that wind generation has played a major role in the doubling of our electricity rates.

The concept of using children as the face of the future in which utility-scale wind power generation is in direct opposition to the fact that a cost benefit analysis (never done) would reveal wind turbines to be a dated and worthless source of electricity except for remote communities without access to a grid.  How futuristic would wind power seem if people knew it is technology that traces back to the late 1800s and is actually older than the diesel engine.

The final look at the Nanos survey will explore the other two “Steps” recommended and touch on the costs to our electricity bills in the province, the damage to the economy, and the reason why knowledgeable people get the message that wind turbines deliver expensive, unreliable, intermittent power.

©Parker Gallant

January 2015

October 2014: breaking Ontario’s record for electricity costs

October 2014: Ontario’s breath-taking, record-breaking month for electricity bills

Wind power significant in surplus power sell-off

Special report by Parker Gallant and Scott Luft

Summary:

New figures reveal that in October, the Ontario government paid $1 billion more for electricity than the electricity market value of that power.  Numbers released by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)  show the Global Adjustment for the month of October topped $1.0 billion for the first time ever.  This estimate exceeds the September estimate by more than $200 million.

The record-breaking month will eventually affect all electricity users, but the immediate direct impact is on any electricity user holding a retail contract.  In November, they will be charged an additional 10.1 cents per kWh on top of their contracted price, likely in the range of 4 – 6 cents per kWh.  For an average household using 800 kWh per month, this would mean an extra charge of $80.  For industrial or agricultural users, the added cost would be much higher.

The situation has developed as a result of Ontario’s rush to incorporate renewable energy in the form of wind, solar and biomass into the grid without proper planning on how this new capacity would align with demand.  The result is that during the spring and fall seasons, when demand is lower, IESO has a surplus supply capacity of over 100% during many hours of the day.  Through the Global Adjustment fund, Ontario’s electricity consumers pay contracted generators to idle or curtail generation  of thousands of megawatts .

In October, wind power generators produced almost 600,000 MWh of electricity at a cost of $81 million and additionally were paid for another $11 million for 100,000 MWh that they could have produced, but were asked not to add to the grid. Due to the glut of power in October, Ontario sold this power to neighbouring jurisdictions at an average of 4.31 per MWh or $2.6 million, meaning a loss of almost $90 million for Ontario electricity users.

This estimate does not include the amounts paid to Bruce Nuclear for 400,000 MWh of “steamed off” nuclear production.  As wind power is guaranteed priority access to the grid under the Green Energy Act, other sources of production must be reduced in the event of surplus wind and solar power generation.

Despite this situation, Ontario continues to push for an expansion of unreliable wind power capacity.  Currently there are over 700 megawatts of capacity under construction, in the approval process, or the subject of various appeal procedures.  In each of these cases, the Ontario government has options to do the sensible thing and end these projects, saving Ontario electricity consumers from a 20-year commitment to the green energy folly. Instead, the Ontario Power Authority has plans to issue an RFP for an additional 300 MW of on-shore wind capacity in early 2015.

Parker Gallant and Scott Luft

See the full paper Gallant-LuftRecord-breakingOctoberNov5

Wind isn’t green: Canadian Nuclear Association

Wind's dirty little secret: fossil fuel backup essential
Wind’s dirty little secret: fossil fuel backup essential

JOHN MINER | QMI AGENCY

October 13, 9:52 PM

Canadian Nuclear Association blasts wind energy green claim

LONDON, Ont. — I’m green, you’re not.

The battle to be embraced as the best environmental choice for Ontario’s power supply is getting down and dirty.

Fed up with the wind-farm sector enjoying what it considers an undeserved reputation as a pristine energy supplier, Canada’s nuclear industry — it generates the lion’s share of electricity in Ontario — has launched a public relations assault against wind.

Both nuclear and wind are major players in the power mix of Southwestern Ontario, home to one of the world’s largest nuclear plants — Bruce Power, near Kincardine — and many of Ontario’s biggest wind farms.

“Wind power isn’t as clean as its supporters have claimed. It performs unreliably and needs backup from gas, which emits far more greenhouse gas than either wind or nuclear power,” said Dr. John Barrett, president and chief executive of the Canadian Nuclear Association, in an e-mail to QMI Agency.

The Canadian Nuclear Association hired Toronto-based Hatch Ltd., a global consulting and engineering firm, to compare wind farm and nuclear energy.

Hatch reviewed 246 studies, mostly from North America and Europe. Its 91-page report concludes wind energy over the lifetime of an installation produces slightly less greenhouse gas — implicated in climate change — than nuclear and both produce a lot less than gas-fired generating plants.

But Hatch says it’s an entirely different picture when wind energy’s reliance on other generating sources is considered.

The engineering firm calculates wind turbines only generate 20% of their electrical capacity because of down time when no wind blows.

When gas-fired generating stations are added into the equation to pick up the slack, nuclear produces much less greenhouse gases, the Hatch study concludes.

Its analysis is that for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, nuclear power emits 18.5 grams of greenhouse gases. Wind backed by natural gas produces more than 20 times more — 385 grams per kilowatt hour.

The nuclear industry attack on wind might not be a welcome message for the Ontario Liberal government that has justified its multibillion-dollar investment in Southwestern Ontario wind farms on the basis it’s providing green energy.

But its a position that resonates with Ontario’s anti-wind farm movement.

“We share their concerns on this issue and have been speaking about this for years. We have taken advice from engineers in the power industry, who say that wind power cannot fulfill any of the environmental benefit promises made for it, because it needs fossil-fuel backup.,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

On the other side of the debate, the Canadian Wind Energy Association said it has had an opportunity to review the Hatch study.

It said there’s no surprise that when wind and natural gas generation are paired that the mix creates more greenhouse gases than nuclear. But when wind is paired with other potential electricity suppliers, the results are different.

“Unfortunately, by choosing to focus on only one scenario, the study failed to consider a broad range of equally or more plausible scenarios for the evolution of Canada’s electricity grid,” the Canadian Wind Energy Association said.
WHERE ONTARIO’S POWER COMES FROM

For the year 2013:
Nuclear: 59.2%
Hydro: 23.4%
Gas: 11.1%
Wind: 3.4%
Coal: 2.1%
Other: 0.8%

For one minute in time:
(Oct. 13, 2014, 8 a.m.)
Nuclear: 65.8%
Hydro: 24.6%
Wind: 5.9%
Gas: 2.7%”

Source: Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator