Goldstein: Ontario making energy policy ‘on the fly’
Here from Sunmedia columnist Lorrie Goldstein, an analysis of Ontario’s completely daft energy policy, or lack of same…
Ontario’s Liberal government is making up its energy policy on the fly, for its own political ends
By Lorrie Goldstein ,Toronto Sun
In explaining why Ontario’s Liberal government scrapped its previous intention to build two new nuclear reactors, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli offered up that the province now has a “comfortable surplus” of electricity.
That’s a strange way of describing the decimation of Ontario’s manufacturing sector — in part due to the uber-high electricity rates the Liberals have contributed to with their insane rush into expensive and unreliable wind and solar power.
Indeed, the main reason Ontario now has a “comfortable surplus” of electricity — whereas a mere decade ago we were worried about shortages and rolling brownouts — is not because our supply is better but because our economy is worse.
Simply put, when there are fewer manufacturers producing fewer goods, electricity demand goes down.
If and when our manufacturing sector recovers, electricity demand will rise again, and that’s when we’ll need adequate sources of it if we’re not to return to the dire situation of just 10 years ago when Ontario was routinely described as “power starved” by energy experts.
That’s what makes the decision of Premier Kathleen Wynne to reverse the policy of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, on the issue of nuclear power inexplicable, at least if we’re talking about common sense versus politics.
Simply put, nuclear power is the backbone of Ontario’s electricity sector and has been for more than four decades.
Last year, nuclear power supplied 56% of Ontario’s electricity needs. Every time you turn on a light switch in this province, chances are better than one out of two the reason your light goes on is nuclear.
As I’m writing this article on Friday afternoon, nuclear power is providing 69% of Ontario’s electricity needs, or 10,709 megawatts out of a total system demand of 15,595 megawatts.
By comparison, the Liberals’ heavily subsidized and unreliable darling, wind power, is providing 4% (630 megawatts). Solar contributes so little power to the grid it’s not even worth mentioning.
Contrary to what the Wynne government would like you to believe, nuclear power isn’t an unpleasant afterthought when it comes to meeting our energy needs.
It’s the workhorse and if it isn’t properly looked after and maintained, the whole system will come crashing down on our heads when we need electricity the most.
Further, nuclear power doesn’t emit pollution or greenhouses gases. If 69% of Ontario’s electricity needs were being met by coal today instead of nuclear, Toronto would like Beijing on many days.
The McGuinty-Wynne Liberals, who in 2003 promised to phase out Ontario’s coal use by 2007, now promise to do it by 2014.
But, contrary to their absurd propaganda, they aren’t replacing coal with wind.
Wind power can’t replace coal because it can’t provide base-load power to the grid on demand, and, ironically has to be backed up by natural gas power in Ontario.
What the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals are actually doing is replacing coal power with natural gas which emits less pollution and greenhouse gases.
McGuinty let that Liberal secret out of the bag, when, in defending his decision to cancel the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants prior to the 2011 election he said, “We got 17 gas plants more or less right, but we got two very, very wrong.” In other words, the Liberals have been building gas plants like stink to replace coal, except in Mississauga and Oakville, where it would have cost them five Liberal seats.
So there, they cancelled them, at a public cost of up to $1.1 billion. Meanwhile they imposed expensive and unreliable wind turbines on rural Ontario, despite widespread community opposition.
If you’re getting the idea this is no way to run an electricity system, and that the Liberals are making their decisions on the fly and for their own political benefit, rather than on the basis of logic or common sense, then you understand their energy policies perfectly.
Chiarelli says the Liberals will unveil a long-term energy plan later this year which will include the refurbishment of a couple of existing nuclear reactors, but which will de-emphasize nuclear power.
In so doing, the Liberals will again be ignoring the advice of their own experts, who have told them to maintain and expand nuclear power as the backbone of Ontario’s electricity system.
Instead, the Liberals have thrown in their lot with radical greens, many of them leftovers from the 1960s, who still associate nuclear power with nuclear war and who wax hysterical about Fukushima and Chernobyl, which have nothing to do with the safety record of nuclear power in Ontario.
And we’ll be paying for their mistakes for generations to come.