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.