Power policies in Ontario: sacrificing the most vulnerable
Ontario’s current Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli is not afraid of issuing directives to his underlings. On October 23, 2014 he directed the OPA to initiate a CDM (conservation and demand management) program to reduce demand by 7 TWh (terawatt hours) between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2020. The budget to produce those results is $2.4 billion or $400 million annually.
Conservation directives date to Donna Cansfield’s time in the Energy Minister’s chair and her February 10, 2006 NB: one; when she told the newly formed OPA “I hereby direct the OPA to assume, effective as of the date of this letter of direction, responsibility for seeking up to 300 MW demand side management and/or demand response initiatives in the Toronto area by 2010. In recognition of Toronto Hydro’s existing and planned conservation initiative funded through to September 2007, it is expected that the OPA will work cooperatively with Toronto Hydro and the community in the Toronto area”.
The “Conservation First” theme was recently echoed by IESO’s VP, Market and Resource Development in a speech at the Ontario Power Summit. A quote from the speech: “Conservation and demand response are providing clean, cost-effective alternatives to generation, and technological advances are leading to new possibilities through energy management tools, low-cost solar panels and energy storage.”
The billions spent and the billions to be spent on conservation programs get dumped into the Global Adjustment pot, added to the cost of electricity, and has been a factor in its continuing rise. The revenue lost through conservation is simply replaced by a rise in the commodity and delivery charges—that is felt by the most vulnerable. A recent story in the Toronto Star related to a Toronto Community Housing complex highlighted the effects of all that spending: “Tenants in a downtown Toronto Community Housing development are struggling to cope after being slapped with unexpectedly high hydro bills this winter. In some cases the bills were hundreds of dollars more than their rent, and several residents say having to make the payments left them without money for other essentials such as food.” Foregone medication was mentioned by others.
There was more: “Toronto Hydro spokesperson Tori Gass wouldn’t comment on whether the bills were excessive, but said the agency was expecting an increase in power consumption this winter because of the unusually cold weather.” That comment was the opposite of what Hydro One reported in their first quarter release as they noted transmission revenue was down due to “milder weather in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014”.
The two biggest local distribution companies in the province can’t even agree on recent weather events!
So, let’s get this straight: conservation spending, coupled with adding thousands of megawatts of subsidized renewable energy from wind and solar, has put many of Ontario’s most vulnerable in a position where they must choose between “heat or eat.”
This is a legacy the Ontario Liberal government should be ashamed of.
May 25, 2015
NB: The directive is dated “2005” at the top but “2006” at the bottom.