On April 2, 2013 the OPA released their December 31, 2012 annual report and in that report they conveyed the following message to Ontario’s Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli;
“We continued to enter into new contracts with existing hydroelectric facilities under our Hydroelectric Contract Initiative. We also continued to manage procurements for other clean energy projects, such as natural gas-fired generation. And we worked to procure energy supply from other sources, including energy-from-waste projects and conversion of coal-fired facilities to biomass.”
The fact that the OPA sent their annual report to the Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli and proclaimed to him that they reference “clean energy projects, such as gas-fired generation” demonstrates how far the bureaucracy appointed by the Ontario Liberals will go to stretch the truth when it comes to the Green Energy Act (ACT)! Even David Suzuki’s Foundation, Dalton McGuinty’s not so secret admirer, had this to say about gas-fired electricity generation:
“Natural gas-fired power plants do emit lower levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides than coal-fired plants, but these emissions still contribute to acid rain and ground-level ozone, both of which can damage forests and agricultural crops.
Ground-level ozone (commonly called smog) has also been linked to a range of respiratory illnesses. More recently, ground-level ozone has been linked to the development of childhood asthma, the “most common chronic disease” among children.
Possibly more troubling are the emissions of fine particulates from gas-fired power plants. Though particulate emissions are about ten per cent of those produced by coal power, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 77 per cent of particulates from natural gas plants are dangerously small. These fine particulates have the greatest impact on human health because they by-pass our bodies’ natural respiratory filters and end up deep in the lungs. In fact, many studies have found no safe limit for exposure to these substances.”
Minister Chiarelli, in the media conference (as reported in the Sarnia Observer) related to the press release on the tweak to the FIT program, went on to say; “We expect that within three or four years, the rate base will start coming down.” The issue in Sarnia relates to a potential new Nova Chemicals polyethylene plant valued at $1 billion that may wind up being built in the US Gulf Coast versus “Chemical Valley” and one of the principal factors on Nova’s decision will be Ontario’s high electricity costs. Nova’s decision may well cost jobs to the Sarnia region!
The irony of Minister Chiarelli’s foregoing remark is not lost on this writer! To table (and thereby endorse) a report that claims “gas-fired generation” is “clean” goes as the now retired former Energy Minister and former Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan stated when recently referencing the current Mayor of Toronto! “Beyond the pale” certainly captures the “clean” associated with gas-fired generation that Minister Chiarelli endorsed by tabling the OPA’s annual report. So if I read Minister Chiarelli correctly he defends moving the gas plants, but endorses gas plants as “clean” energy! If that is the case why did the Liberal Party agree to move them knowing full well that the costs of the moves would drive up electricity costs and result in losing Ontario jobs? Why agree to move “clean” energy?
What does “clean” really mean to the Ontario Liberals?
Now if one looks to the other part of the above quote from the OPA where they speak of; “conversion of coal-fired facilities to biomass.” another ironic message occurs. The fact that Canada and the US are exporting millions of tons of wood pellets to Europe to satisfy their demand for biomass electricity generation cannot be ignored. Destroying trees to create wood pellets is not something the “biomass” industry would admit to but many who claim that biomass wood conversion is CO2 neutral are not regarded as entirely truthful when they claim minor savings of CO2 from production of electricity from biomass. The reason is amplified as;
“Although the trees burned in these boilers may eventually grow back, it takes many decades, if not a century, to “renew” the forest resource and “neutralize” the substantial and immediate pulse of carbon injected into the atmosphere when they are burned.”
The Power Workers’ Union (PWU) recently stepped up to take out full page ads in major newspapers as they push for conversion of the remaining Ontario coal generation plants to biomass. If one reads “between the lines” the issue behind the PWU push is that it is not so much about renewable energy as it is about job retention. Their ads cite Denmark as the poster child for biomass and state it is widely used as a fuel along with coal and natural gas. To this writer it smacks of something akin to “pick your poison” as Denmark is also the Ontario poster child for industrial wind turbines and rural Ontario are suffering from the effects of IWTs in a big way; despite the recent diatribe from the Energy Minister.
When will the current government give Ontarians the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
June 2, 2013