Parker Gallant looks at recent promises made by the Energy Minister and Premier and still has a question: where did the money actually go?
Last September 13, Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault issued a press release announcing the Ontario Liberal government would reduce electricity bills for five million families, farms and small businesses. The relief granted was equivalent to the 8% provincial portion of the HST. The press release also claimed Ontario had “invested more than $35 billion” in new and refurbished generation.
Fast forward to March 2, 2017 and that $35 billion jumped to $50 billion in a press conference the Premier jointly held with Minister Thibeault. An increase of $15 billion in six months!
The press conference was to inform us the 8% relief announced by Minister Thibeault would be added to, with a further 17% reduction. A Toronto Star op-ed Premier Wynne wrote March 7, 2017 reaffirmed the $50 billion investment claim made the previous week, and further claimed: “By delivering the biggest rate cut in Ontario’s history and holding rate increases to inflation for at least four years, this plan provides an overdue solution.”
That made history alright, but not the way she meant. What the Premier forgot to say was that her government had brought us the biggest rate increases in Ontario’s history. In March 2011 the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) website shows the average electricity rate was 6.84 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and on May 1, 2016 it had increased to 11.1cents/kWh. In just over five years, the price of the commodity — electricity — increased 62%, a multiple of the inflation rate during that five years, which added about $400 to the average consumer bill.
Electricity price goes down, your bills go UP
From 2010 to 2015 Ontario demand fell by 5 TWh (terawatt hours) to 137 TWh.* That is enough to provide electricity to 550,000 “average” Ontario households for a year, yet the price for residential consumers increased 62%. The increase was not driven by the trading value via the hourly Ontario electricity price (HOEP) market. In fact, the market treated Ontario generated electricity badly as it fell from an average of 3.79 cents/kWh in 2010 to 1.66 cents/kWh in value for 2016 — a 56.2% drop.
As to how they were achieving this “relief,” Wynne and Thibeault told us they were pushing the payback period for the 20-year contracts (wind and solar) out another 10 years. Those generation sources are the principal cause of the increase in electricity prices. (For further proof of that, read Scott Luft’s recent analysis on the costs of “other” generation in 2016 which confirms its effect on our rising electricity rates.)
Where did the money go?
What the Wynne/Thibeault announcement means is, ratepayers will pay for the intermittent and unreliable power for their 20-year contracted term(s), and continue to pay for the same contracts which, by that time use equipment that will be heading for, or already in the scrap yard.
It is time for Minister Thibeault to disclose what is behind his claim of $35 billion invested and for Premier Wynne to disclose the details of the $50 billion she says went to “necessary renovations” to rebuild “the system.”
Time to come clean.
(C) Parker Gallant
* Ontario consumption remained at 137 TWh in 2016.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent policy on Wind Concerns Ontario
Editor’s Note: The Ontario government has $5 billion in new wind power contracts that have not yet been added to consumers’ electricity bills.