Four Years Later and I Repeat: “If I were Ontario’s new Minister of Energy …”
Back on May 30, 2018 an article I penned, just prior to the last provincial election, listed ways in which the incoming ruling party could reduce electricity costs by $2 billion annually. Electricity costs had more than doubled in Ontario under the reign of the McGuinty/Wynne led Liberals due to their enactment of the GEA (Green Energy Act) when George Smitherman was the Minister of Energy.
Ontario’s voters were expected to respond when casting their vote in early June 2018 and they did! The ruling OLP (Ontario Liberal Party) were decimated turning them into what many referred to as the “mini-van party”.
My prior advocacy work had focused on the “electricity sector” and the cost of wind and solar generation. My efforts included frequent dialogue with the Conservative appointed “energy critics” so, at that time, I and many Ontario ratepayers in rural and urban communities had hopes the Doug Ford led Ontario Conservative Party would deal with the mess the Liberals had created. Potentially the savings would have amounted to around $8 billion over the past four years.
The Ford led government based on a recent report from the Ontario Financial Accountability Office seems to have simply transferred $6.9 billion in electricity costs for the 2021-2022 year and $118 billion to taxpayers over 20 years, even though taxpayers are also ratepayers! In quickly reviewing recently released platforms for the OLP, the NDP and the recent OPCP budget it sure appears they all have plans aimed at “global warming” and want to spend billions continuing the push to jump on board with “The Great Reset” advocated by the WEF and our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
The only dissenting voice amongst the political parties seems to be the newly formed “New Blue Party” whose “BLUEPRINT” states they will take “down wind turbines to reduce electricity costs”!
Following are the recommendations put forward in the article four years ago and I will leave it to the reader to pontificate as to whether or not, any of them were acted on!
“Green Energy Act
Immediately start work on cancelling the Green Energy Act
Knowing Ontario has a large surplus of generation we export for 10/15 per cent of its cost I would immediately cancel planned conservation spending. This would save ratepayers over $433 million annually
Wind and solar contracts
I would immediately cancel any contracts that are outstanding but haven’t been started but may be in the process of a challenge via either the ERT (environmental review tribunal) or the court system. This would save ratepayers an estimated $200 million annually
Wind turbine noise and environmental non-compliance
Work with the MOECC Minister to insure they effect compliance by industrial wind developers both for exceeding noise level standards and operations during bird and bat migration periods. Failure to comply would elicit large fines. This would save ratepayers an estimated $200/400 million annually
Change the “baseload” designation of generation for wind and solar developments
Both wind and solar generation is unreliable and intermittent, dependent on weather, and as such should not be granted “first to the grid rights”. They are backed up by gas or hydro generation with both paid, for either spilling water or idling when the wind blows or the sun shines. The cost is phenomenal. As an example, wind turbines annually generate at approximately 30 per cent of rated capacity but 65 per cent of the time its generation is at the wrong time and not needed. The estimated annual ratepayer savings if wind generation was replaced by hydro would be $400 million and if replaced by gas in excess of $600 million
Charge a fee (tax) for out of phase/need generation for wind and solar
Should the foregoing “baseload” re-designation be impossible based on legal issues I would direct the IESO to institute a fee that would apply to wind and solar generation delivered during mid-peak and off-peak times. A higher fee would also apply when wind is curtailed and would suggest a fee of $10/per MWh delivered during off-peak and mid-peak hours and a $20/per MWh for curtailed generation. The estimated annual revenue generated would be a minimum of $150 million
Increase LEAP contributions from LDC’s to 1 per cent of distribution revenues
The OEB would be instructed to institute an increase in the LDC (local distribution companies) LEAP (low-income assistance program) from 0.12 per cent to 1 per cent and reduce the allowed ROI (return on investment) by the difference. This would deliver an estimated $60/80 million annually reducing the revenue requirement for the OESP (Ontario electricity support program) currently funded by taxpayers
Close unutilized OPG generation plants
OPG currently has two power plants that are only very, very, occasionally called on to generate electricity yet ratepayers pick up the costs for OMA (operations, maintenance and administration). One of these is the Thunder Bay, former coal plant, converted to high-end biomass with a capacity of 165 MW which would produce power at a reported cost of $1.50/kWh (Auditor General’s report) and the other unused plant is the Lennox oil/gas plant in Napanee/Bath with a capacity of 2,200 MW that is never used. The estimated annual savings from the closing of these two plants would be in the $200 million range.
Rejig time-of-use (TOU) pricing to allow opt-in or opt-out
TOU pricing is focused on flattening demand by reducing usage during “peak hours” without any consideration of households or businesses. Allow households and small businesses a choice to either agree to TOU pricing or the average price (currently 8.21 cents/kWh after the 17% Fair Hydro Act reduction) over a week. This would benefit households with shift workers, seniors, people with disabilities utilizing equipment drawing power and small businesses and would likely increase demand and reduce surplus exports thereby reducing our costs associated with those exports. The estimated annual savings could easily be in the range of $200/400 million annually
Niagara water rights
I would conduct an investigation into why our Niagara Beck plants have not increased generation since the $1.5 Billion spent on “Big Becky” (150 MW capacity) which was touted to produce enough additional power to provide electricity to 160,000 homes or over 1.4 million MWh. Are we constrained by water rights with the US or is it a lack of transmission capabilities to get the power to where demand resides?
MPAC’s wind turbine assessments
One of the previous Ministers of Finance instructed MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp,) to assess industrial wind turbines (IWT) at a maximum of $40,000 per MW of capacity despite their value of $1.5/2 million each. I would request whomever is appointed by the new Premier to the Finance Ministry portfolio to recall those instructions and allow MPAC to reassess IWT at their current values over the terms of their contracts. This would immediately benefit municipalities (via higher realty taxes) that originally had no ability to accept or reject IWT.
If one does a quick addition of the foregoing one will see the benefit to the ratepayers of the province would amount to in excess of $2 billion dollars which co-incidentally is approximately even more than the previous government provided via the Fair Hydro Act.
Hmm, perhaps we didn’t need to push those costs off to the future for our children and grandchildren to pay!
Now that I have formulated a plan to reduce electricity costs by over $2 billion per annum I can relax, confident that I can indeed handle the portfolio handed to me by the new Premier of the province.”