The Ontario government’s ‘bogus’ benefits: higher costs for citizens

Energy Minister Chiarelli: building Ontario UP with higher costs--works for me
Energy Minister Chiarelli: building Ontario UP with higher costs–works for me

Minister Chiarelli’s bogus benefits

Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Energy, made another  announcement about the energy sector and the Municipal Energy Plans or MEP.  Launched a year ago, the MEP has had five municipalities take the money from the Ministry to do Municipal Energy Planning. The relaunch offers $90,000 towards development of a plan, as did the last one.

The press release stated:  “These plans complement regional energy planning and help municipalities by focusing on unique community needs and goals.

There are 440 municipalities in Ontario and  yet, fewer than 1% of them jumped on Bob’s program, demonstrating meagre support for the ministry’s attempt to convince municipalities it has fixed their complaint about the Green Energy Act and the loss of local land-use planning. In fact, as we know, 85 municipalities have chosen to declare themselves Not A Willing Host to large-scale wind power generation projects — in other words, the “unwilling” outnumber the “willing” by a factor of 16:1! Most politicians would see this as some kind of message from the people, but not the Wynne-led Liberals!

Acceptance by those five municipalities of the grants cost ratepayers $450,000 but this pales next to the billions cost us from the other ideas crafted by ministers Duguid, Smitherman, Duncan, and Chiarelli and the guiding outsiders like Rick Smith (former ED of Environmental Defence), Kris Stevens (OSEA), Bruce Lourie (Ivey Foundation), to name a few.  Ratepayer money is shovelled into the pockets of mainly foreign wind and solar developers, while Ontario loses jobs and “energy poverty” grows rapidly.

Let’s compare what support goes towards the Liberal supporters, and who has had their support cut by Hydro One, PowerStream, Toronto Hydro, etc.

Where ratepayers and taxpayer money flows for the electricity sector:

$1.1 billion annually!  The minimum amount of money required to pay the salaries of the 10,800 employees at Hydro One and OPG that were on the 2014 “Sunshine List”

$483.4 million!  The money budgeted by the Ontario Power Authority for “Conservation” initiatives in 2014 to get us to install CFL bulbs, pick up that old fridge, etc.

$2.8 million!  Earnings of the top 5 executives at H1 for the year ended December 31, 2012

$2 million!  The average pension benefit for one of the 10,800 Hydro One or OPG employees on the “Sunshine List” if they retire when they are 55 and live to 84 years old

$6.9 million!  What we are paying to erect meteorological stations to measure how much electricity wind turbines and solar panels might have produced so we can pay them for not producing

$3.5 billion!  What Ontario’s ratepayers are on the hook for to pay wind and solar developers for each year over the next 20 years to produce intermittent, unreliable power

$10 million!  What the Trillium Foundation handed out in grants in 2012 to environmental groups

$1.1 billion!  What ratepayers and taxpayers paid to move those two gas plants

$1 billion annually!  What ratepayers subsidize to export excess electricity

$6 million!  An estimate of what taxpayers and ratepayers have paid for the legal teams that the Ministry of the Environment use to defend their Renewable Energy Approvals

$5 billion!  What taxpayers will have paid to get the 10% reduction on electricity bills referred to as the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit to the end of 2015

$480 million annually!  What ratepayers paid in 2012 towards retirement plans for employees of OPG, H1, IESO and ESA according to the pension report that the Liberals hid until after the election

$1.6 billion!  What it cost to put “Big Becky” under Niagara Falls for marginal electricity

$2.6 billion!  What it will cost to build the Lower Mattagami expansion, that will deliver marginal electricity!

$400 million!  The approximate annual cost  “residential” ratepayers pick up in their electricity bills to provide a supplement to “large industrial user,” referred to as Class A customers.

This doesn’t include Ontario’s taxpayer and ratepayer contributions to the obscene waste that the Liberals have created in this portfolio, but if one totes up the annual costs it comes to  $9 to10 billion.  That money has achieved a very small increase in the province’s ability to generate electricity.  The wind and solar push should be recognized as the biggest waste in the above list — delivering marginal intermittent power at the wrong time of the day and year.  The model adopted by the Liberal government in Ontario has driven up electricity rates making Ontario  number 1 for electricity costs”.

The “fair society”?

The recently approved Budget had a section titled,   “Fostering a Fair Society” in which there was a subsection headed  “Cutting Electricity Costs”. The Budget brags about “Removing the Debt Retirement Charge from Residential Bills” but says nothing about eliminating the “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit,”   which increases the average electricity bill by over $115 annually and does nothing to foster a “fair society.”

If fairness means alleviating energy poverty, what has the government done? Well, it established the LEAP (low-income energy assistance program) which in 2012 handed out $3.9 million — money from ratepayers, actually, to assist low-income ratepayers whose power has been cut off by their local distribution companies! The Liberal government took almost $10 billion dollars from all Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers and returned $3.9 to help about 8,500 people.

On the other side of the balance sheet in the energy portfolio, ratepayer and taxpayer dollars made a lot of insiders in the wind and solar power industry very happy with huge subsidies for giant power projects: little benefit for great cost.

Parker Gallant

August 4, 2014

The opinions are those of the author.

Comments

Pat Cusack
Reply

Unbelievable. Really unbelievable.

Tony
Reply

Why should we get exited about some Hydro One and OPG employees earning $100,000 per yr.Most if not all of them will have university degrees or at least tradesman qualifications. Many will work shifts for their whole career which creates hell for their family life and shortens their life expectancy. Others such as linesmen often work long hours in terrible and dangerous conditions to keep your lights on etc – would you like to be called out at 3am when the temp is -20degrees and is snowing like hell -seems to me they are underpaid -I certainly would not want their job at any price.
As for the two million pension – well yes If one was to retire today at 55
after 35yrs (not likely)and to live to be 84 (again not likely) it may well add up to 2 million by 2050 -in the meantime for those of us who are already retired you could probably average half that figure.
Incidently I don’t recall any major or minor pension benefit improvements
for the employees in the past 40+ yrs and it was never a problem in the past nor was it a major part of your hydro bill,

Steve
Reply

We get excited because that’s public money that pays their salaries.

Bob Lyman
Reply

Mr. Gallant’s comments as usual add valuable information for the public and ratepayers. Sadly, much of this was known prior to the last election, and yet it seems to have had little influence on the outcome. The challenge faced by people who oppose the mismanagement of Ontario electricity policy and programs is to find a way to make the adverse effects of these policies and programs more apparent for the urban residents who overwhelmingly voted to continue supporting the Liberals and their political cousins in the NDP during the last election. This article offers a suggestion as to one way to do so – by focusing on the impact of these policies on the poor and disadvantaged. If Ontario residents can’t be persuaded by evidence of massive costs and mismanagement, perhaps they can be persuaded by appeals to the heart.

Betty Konc
Reply

I think the idea around the pensions is not so much about those great people out there during storms to ensure we have hydro, but rather the fat cats at the top that do very little for their pay to begin with and then sit comfortably during their golden years.
My father worked as a linesman for over 30 years and yes did retire at the age of 55 to help make room for the next generation of linesmen. Both he and my mother enjoyed his retirement package which is/was envied by many. My dad earned every cent of that great pension, I am not so sure those at the top who will get these gold plated pensions who can’t even figure out how to get our hydro bills figured out and what to do with our lovely smart meters deserve theirs……just sayin

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