Minister Chiarelli: words of wisdom
In the approximately one and a half years that Bob Chiarelli has been Energy Minister, he has made many observations about the electricity sector in Ontario. I thought it might be amusing to see a collection of them, altogether.
- When Minster Chiarelli announced the end of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (January 1, 2015) he said: “The provincial government is trying to rejig hydro bills to ensure that customers aren’t hit with a sharp increase when the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit is phased out.” And, “The plan was to also eliminate the debt retirement charge on hydro bills at the same time.” The announcement of those simultaneous actions raised the average ratepayer bill by $100 annually but in Mr. Chiarelli’s wisdom that wasn’t a “sharp increase”!
- Minister Chiarelli announced that “wind turbine developers” would be “paid to not produce power” and bragged it would save ratepayers $200 million annually! He didn’t promise that rates would fall as a result of the savings, however, and he also failed to note that the money paid “to not produce power” would raise the per kWh cost of the actual power produced!
- The Minister announced that the Samsung contract had been revised and would “save ratepayers money,” $3.7 billion over the 20-year term. Once again, no promise of rates falling, just that they wouldn’t increase as much as previously anticipated.
- Minister Chiarelli told us that “over the next 20 years, rates would increase 3.4 % per year” (after the Samsung announcement) but this writer’s bill increased 9.1% in only one year, as have most ratepayers bills. We are all looking forward to the 3.4% increase after 10 years of 10% increases.
- Minister Chiarelli holds the record of the nine Liberal Ministers of Energy for issuing 22 “directives” to the OPA, surpassing Brad Duguid, the previous record holder at 19. Apparently Liberal Energy Ministers know more than the “experts” running the electricity system!
- The first directive issued by Minister Chiarelli on June 23, 2023 instructed the OPA to expand FIT and MicroFIT contracts; that was superseded by his most recent directive of August 29, 2014 telling them to scale back, even though they hadn’t achieved his original target.
- Minister Chiarelli has been consistent in telling all Ontario ratepayers to “conserve” but he recently issued a new directive instructing the OPA to create a new program so large industrial companies would “consume more” at rates at a third of what the rest of us pay.
- Minister Chiarelli referred to the cost of the gas plant move from Oakville as the “price of a Timmie’s coffee” and uses that analogy often when talking about increasing electricity rates. Is this a new currency he plans on bringing in if he is appointed Finance Minister for the Province?
- Minister Chiarelli in his “Minister’s Message” in his long-term energy plan, “Achieving Balance” says, “Ontario has adopted a policy of Conservation First,” and a chart in the plan “Forecast Energy Production (TWh) 2032” claims it will contribute 30 TWh of energy efficiency by then. I presume he noticed that 30 TWh of nothing won’t toast your bread!
- The same Minister’s Message also says, “We will work with our agencies and the province’s local distribution companies to ensure they operate more efficiently and produce savings that will benefit Ontario’s ratepayers.” Meanwhile, the largest and most costly large distributor in the province, Hydro One (owned by the province)is being investigated by Ontario’s Ombudsman for a billing system causing havoc for its 1.1 million ratepayers. Ironically, the recent budget from Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, talks about maximizing profits from it to increase revenues to help reduce the budget deficit. That puts Minister Chiarelli in conflict with Minister Sousa! Wonder who will win?
- Minister Chiarelli wants us all to conserve but his “Achieving Balance” plan comes up short as it will actually increase emissions according to the Power Workers Union and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. The Power Workers, “the plan is short-sighted in its thinking, will leave the province vulnerable to supply shortages and will reverse the decline in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to the successful restart of units 1 and 2 at Bruce Power by relying significantly more on natural gas generation when the Pickering Nuclear Station closes.”
- Minister Chiarelli in an interview had this to say about engagement with municipalities: “Our government wants to ensure that future renewable energy projects will be built in the right place at the right time.” So, municipalities can have their “say,” they just can’t say “no.”
- Minister Chiarelli in the same interview was asked a question about the possibility of a moratorium on wind projects until the federal health study was complete. He said, “Dr. Arlene King [former Chief Medical Officer of Health] undertook a review of the potential health effects of wind turbines. Her 2010 report stated that there is no scientific evidence to date to support claims that wind turbine noise cause adverse health effects.” We know Dr. King’s report was nothing more than a “literature review,” is contentious and outdated, but our Energy Minister pretends it is the last word.
This is a quick review of Minister Chiarelli’s management of the Ontario electricity sector, highlighting his contradictory views, his conflicts, his approach to the addition of wind turbines to Ontario’s energy sector and their mediocre potential to contribute to Ontario’s electricity needs. A deeper review of Chiarelli’s performance and that of his predecessors would have turn up more results and more of egregious statements.
What stands out is that the Ontario Liberal government has contrived to make Ontario the most expensive market for electricity in North America, a major factor in Ontario’s mediocre economic performance.
September 29, 2014
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.