Ontario’s green energy policy disaster: you should be worried

Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources has “more enthusiasm than knowledge” says the Globe and Mail.

Murray in charge of environment file: Ontarians should be worried
Murray in charge of environment file: Ontarians should be worried

WEEKEND READING

Globe and Mail EDITORIAL: Coming soon-Ontario’s green energy fiasco, the sequel

Late last year, Ontario’s Auditor-General put out a report detailing the extent of the provincial government’s mismanagement of the electricity system. According to Bonnie Lysyk, thanks to a misguided government policy of artificially pumping up the cost of producing power in the province, Ontarians had overpaid for electricity to the tune of $37-billion between 2006 and 2014, and will continue to be overcharged by another $133-billion by 2032.

The scale of the waste is so large as to be almost incomprehensible, which may explain why Ms. Lysyk’s report was a one-day news wonder when it landed last December. Once the count gets into the hundreds of billions, the mind goes numb. If the province announced construction of the Burning Money Biomass Plant, fuelled by bales of five and 10-dollar bills, it probably wouldn’t be capable of destroying $170-billion.

The size of the disaster in the province’s electricity system is hard to get your head around. But voters, consumers, businesses and especially the Liberal government should be rereading Ms. Lysyk’s report. Because a document leaked to The Globe and Mail this week suggests that the Liberals, who a decade ago broke the electricity system through a fatal combination of good intentions and a willful disregard of both expertise and experience, may be preparing to repeat the exercise with their next greenhouse gas reduction plan.

The thing is, Ontario needs a greenhouse gas reduction strategy. So does every province, and so does the federal government. To meet our international commitments, and to bend the curve on global warming, those carbon-reduction goals have to be ambitious. Ontario’s proposed Climate Change Mitigation and Low Carbon Economy Act aims to reduce the province’s 1990 emissions by 15 per cent by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050. The province is committing itself to substantial carbon reduction in the next decade, and a near-zero carbon economy in a generation.

Those are not impossible ideals. They’re doable – using the right tools. Dramatically reducing carbon emissions is not a crazy idea, but the way Ontario is proposing to get to a low-carbon economy almost certainly is.

A decade ago, the government of Ontario started driving up electricity costs with a simple objective in mind: It wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity. This was the right objective. But the way it went about it was all wrong. Instead of encouraging the electricity sector to be as efficient as possible, the government essentially ordered it to become costly, inefficient and irrational. Some of this was motivated by fantasies of industrial policy – look, Ma, we’re subsidizing the Green Jobs Of the Future! – and some of it was driven by an insistence on ignoring basic economic advice, much of it coming from the government’s own experts.

The result is that the cost of generating electricity in Ontario has exploded, even as power costs plummeted elsewhere. Between 2004 and 2014, power generation costs in Ontario increased by 74 per cent, according to the auditor. This benefits no one. The higher prices don’t come from carbon taxes; they come from higher electricity production costs. And that imposes a heavy cost on the economy.

However, because prices were rising, Ontarians started using less energy. Power use dropped by 7 per cent between 2006 and 2014. But at the same time, thanks to subsidies to encourage greater power production from green sources, the province’s generation capacity grew by 19 per cent. As a result, the province is now a major exporter of electricity – sold at prices far below the cost of production. The more power the province exports, the more taxpayers and ratepayers lose.

Ontario could have chosen a different route. Instead of politicians completely remaking the electricity sector on a whim, introducing inefficiencies by deciding what power technologies to back and how much to subsidize them, Ontario could have done the opposite. It could have set a carbon-reduction goal, imposed carbon taxes on carbon-generating fuels – and left it to producers and consumers to figure out how to most efficiently respond by reducing their own costs and emissions. It should have taxed dirty power and let the market figure out the cheapest way to get to lower emissions levels.

Nearly a decade later, this week’s leaked document on its upcoming greenhouse-gas strategy suggests Kathleen Wynne’s government has not learned from her predecessor Dalton McGuinty’s mistakes. Glen Murray, a minister with more enthusiasm than knowledge, is in charge of the environmental file; last time around, George Smitherman was the designated enthusiast.

Ontarians should be worried. …

Read the full article here.

 

Toronto Sun: Alberta determined to follow Ontario into green energy hell

Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Sun

April 30, 2016

It’s little secret Alberta’s NDP government intends to emulate the Ontario Liberals’ green-energy policies – namely shutter all of the province’s coal-fired power plants and invest heavily in (read: subsidize like crazy) alternative, eco-friendly energy such as wind and solar.

The problem with Ontario’s plan is that it has been an utter economic disaster. Meanwhile, it has produced little if any environmental benefit.

There is no reason to believe the outcome will be better in Alberta.

During the 13 years that the provincial Liberals have run Ontario, the heartland province has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs. Where once 16% of Ontario’s workers had well-paying, stable jobs making cars, locomotives, industrial parts, even breakfast cereal, now just over 10% do.

As the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto has pointed out, some of this loss has been due to automation of factories (more robots, fewer workers), trade deals that have lowered or eliminated tariff barriers, a higher Canadian dollar until recently and the failure of Canadian manufacturers and unions to invest in better productivity.

But as a report in the U.S. business magazine Forbes stated last week, perhaps the biggest factor has been Ontario’s sky-high electricity rates brought on by the provincial Liberals’ “green” obsession.

According to University of Montreal energy economist Pierre-Olivier Pineau, quoted by Forbes, “Ontario is probably the worst electricity market in the world” and all because of government attempts to force into existence an alternative energy future.

That effort is responsible for at least two-thirds of the manufacturing job losses. And as Ontario’s auditor general pointed out before Christmas, the attempt has cost taxpayers and consumers nearly $40 billion with “negligible environmental benefits.” Ontario has no more smog-free days, for instance, than before all the billions were spent.

Ontario is not alone. Green energy efforts by governments around the industrialized world are failing. …

Read the full article here.

Comments

Gord Schneider
Reply

I’m not surprised. There’s an election coming and we know what we have to do……BUT will the provincial PC’s (heirs apparent to this disaster) have the political will to turn things around? I’m not so sure.

John Foreman
Reply

Gord….I can understand your pessimism! What I forsee is a drastic need to get the province out of debt and back on track to some hint of sanity after the Liberals are done with us and when the population at large finally catches on to what’s been done to them. The provincial P.Cs will inherit a mess that will require deep cost-cutting measures to get us out of this hole we now find ourselves in. People will only take so much and then we’ll be again subjected to the “tax & spend Liberals” because the cuts just hurt too much. It’s human nature to want the hurt to stop! People will tend for forget who it was that initiated the hurt in the first place!

Parker Gallant
Reply

Check out the interview with Murray at the UN Climate Conference in Peru in 2014 to get a view on his knowledge level. He is off in dreamland.

Sommer
Reply

This is truly frightening. The ramifications of the decisions he’s making are very serious. These sorts of decisions need to be made by a team of experts who thoroughly understand the effects on others.

This has to be stopped!

Barbara
Reply

UNEP Finance Initiative

Regional Activities – North America

“The Task Force is working to incorporate the principles of sustainable development as normal business practice throughout the North American financial sector.”

List of Canadian members at:
http://www.unepfi.org/regional-activities/north-america

Sommer
Reply

“But what Mr. Murray is working on sounds like a Leap Manifesto. It’s not a plan to dramatically lower emissions while screwing up the economy as little as possible. It reads more like a blueprint to meddle as much as possible, to get government’s hands on as many levers and in as many pockets as possible, with climate change as a pretext.”
Minister Murray needs to be taken to the film ‘Climate Hustle’ tomorrow evening, (Monday, May 2nd) at the Cineplex Cinema at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto. He is woefully out of touch with reality.

Barbara
Reply

Greenpeace, USA, Jan.11,2016

More than 20 Organizations Ask Presidential Candidates to Sign a “Fix Democracy” Pledge

Signers include: 350.org, Bill McKibben and Gus Speth

http://www.greenpeace.org/news/20-organizations-ask-presidential-candidates-sign-fix-democracy-pledge

Wikipedia: James Gustave Speth

Natural Resources Defense Council, Co-founder
World Resources Institute, Founder
350.org, U.S.Advisory Council

Check out the Leap Manifesto connections to 350.org and Greenpeace Canada.

Barbara
Reply

WRI/World Resouces Institute

Board includes:

Frances Beinecke
Felipe Calderon
Daniel Doctoroff
Caio Koch-Weser
Michael Polsky
Bill Richardson
James Gustave Speth

Also has short biographies of the Board members.

http://www.wri.org/about/board

Barbara
Reply

THE LEAP THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

Has information on the Leap Manifesto

Also check the About & Authors Sections.

Authors include:

Avi Lewis
Gus Speth, 350.org
Maude Barlow
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, 350.org and Greenpeace Canada
Naomi Klein, 350.org

http://theleap.thischangeseverything.org

Ron Hartlen
Reply

Finally a Main Stream Media voice tells it like it is.
Hopefully it will also see fit to state the point that Ontario’s Wind Power contributed essentially nothing to getting Ontario off coal.

Pat Cusack
Reply

Google Fossil Fuels: The Greenest Energy Interesting, Bernie

Lynda
Reply

The only gas emissions we should worry about are coming from Wynne and they stink to high heaven. Global warming is a hoax to give more power to politicians over peons. There are just as many ‘scientists’ who are expounding on warming being a hoax as there are those who are perpetuating the hoax. Follow Joe Bastardi…at least he has evidence of which he speaks as opposed to the fables without facts being spewed by world leaders. It’s criminal.

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