IESO recommendations a step back to mistakes of the Green Energy Act: WCO

As far as the eye can see: the IESO wants more wind power–lots more wind power– and admits it will need as much land as the GTA if its pathway to more renewables goes ahead. [Shutterstock image]

January 31, 2023

The Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO released a document a few weeks ago titled Pathways to Decarbonization.

The document was in response to a request from the Ontario Minister of Energy that the IESO “evaluate a moratorium on the procurement of new natural gas generating stations in this decade (reliability, cost, environmental considerations) and develop an achievable pathway to phase out natural gas generation and achieve zero emissions in the electricity sector that considers: Reliability; Cost/affordability; Timeline; Impact on broader electrification of the economy; Low emission fuels for thermal generation; Storage combined with non-emitting resources; and New technologies.”

It’s a disappointment, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

A big one.

Repeating Green Energy mistake says WCO

One of the “pathways” prescribed by the IESO is a greater reliance on wind power, which is a shock, given Ontario’s experience already with expensive, intermittent wind, which tends to be generated out of phase with demand.

“Wind power costs a lot of money and it doesn’t work,” says WCO president Jane Wilson. “In our view, the ‘pathway’ suggested by the IESO is very similar to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in Ontario, which was a disaster in every way that matters: promised economic benefits did not materialize; electricity bills multiplied by a factor of more than two, introducing the term ‘energy poverty’ to Ontario; and wind power has not contributed significantly either to climate change mitigation nor to a stable, affordable power supply.”

The IESO report acknowledges that Ontario’s current power grid is clean and mostly emissions-free; but then the new document goes on to propose a scenario in which wind and solar are more prominent, and nuclear less so.

The IESO here says “New large…nuclear facilities were not selected due to lead times that extended beyond the horizon of this scenario.” This statement does not seem to align with the recently announced completion of the first Small Nuclear Reactor at Darlington in 2028 or consider the potential for earlier completion of a refurbishment of the Pickering station, comments WCO.

The IESO selected an artificial timeline of 2035, and then purposely left nuclear off the table in its analysis, says WCO.

Although the IESO was requested to look at cost-effectiveness, WCO believes they didn’t do that.

The apparent preference for certain power generation technology is worrying, and is at odds with statements by the current and previous energy ministers that the best course of action is to be “technology agnostic” and instead to focus on building a reliable, cost-effective grid.

Weather-dependent wind a mistake

Wind Concerns Ontario is not alone in criticism of the report: the Ontario Power Workers Union has also commented, referring to an expert panel that called for a mix of energy sources, but still relying on the “nuclear backbone.”

Wind Concerns Ontario has written a letter to the Hon. Todd Smith, Minister of Energy, with its comments.

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, families and individuals concerned about the negative impacts of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines on the economy, the environment and human health.

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