BY LORNE GUNTER , EDMONTON SUN
Call it whatever you like — “green” or alternate or renewable energy. Wherever governments interfere in power markets to reduce greenhouse emissions, the results are always higher taxes and skyrocketing power bills, with few environmental benefits.
The latest proof came Thursday when Ontario’s provincial Tories released secret documents showing that despite efforts by the governing Liberals to bring down Ontarians’ electricity bills this summer, Premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet already know that after next year’s election, power bills will have to go up – way up – until they almost double by 2028.
In their obsession with closing coal-fired power plants and replacing the electricity produced at them with wind, solar and biomass (a blind fixation shared by Alberta’s NDP), Ontario’s Liberals have made a series of awful deals with wind turbine operators and solar farm owners.
They have signed numerous long-term contracts to buy “green” power at well over the market value. And they often dump excess electricity at deep discounts into neighbouring states, losses they then pass on to Ontario homeowners and businesses on their power bills.
Perhaps the dumbest of these deals was the Liberals’ decision to convert a coal-fired plant in Thunder Bay to burn wood chips. They made the deal before they checked whether plentiful Northern Ontario chips were suitable to fire the furnaces they had bought.
They weren’t. So instead of using local chips, Norwegian chips must be shipped in. Power from the Thunder Bay plant costs $1,600 per megawatt-hour – 25 times more than other Ontario wood chip power plants and nearly 100 times more than coal.
The same is beginning to happen in Alberta where the NDP government is paying big-time to shut down useful coal plants and ban construction of new ones.
To help cover the cost, the government of Premier Rachel Notley has implemented a $3-billion-a-year carbon tax that has added over a third to the cost of natural gas used to heat homes during long, cold prairie winters.
It miscalculated the cost of cancelled long-term power contracts with large-scale electricity users by about $2 billion. And it will be paying billions in subsidies to utilities over the next decade and a half to cover the cost of shutting generators early. There will also be payouts to coal towns losing mining jobs and businesses.
Alberta isn’t up near the $40 billion Ontario has wasted, but give us a few years.
The documents uncovered by the Ontario Tories on Thursday show that while the Wynne government may be able to bring power bills down now by 25% (through restructuring the long-term costs of “green” power), it won’t be able to avoid fiscal reality for long.
While average monthly power bills in Ontario may come down to around $123 a month this summer, by 2028 they will have spiked again to $215.
Another issue is that all this suffering and sacrifice (rising power costs will eliminate tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs) is doing nothing environmentally.
All these billions are being spent to eliminate about 7 megawatts of “installed capacity” in Ontario and about 6.5 megawatts of coal in Alberta.
That sounds like a lot, but consider that China has installed coal-fired capacity of 940,000 megawatts according to its National Energy Agency. And by 2030, that amount will have risen to 1.3 million megawatts.
It’s true China has recently announced it will scale back its coal-plant building plans, but it will still be adding over 500 megawatts a week for the next 13 years, while Ontario and Alberta are beggaring their economies and future generations over a mere 13.5 megawatts.
Does anyone, other than environmentalists (and Liberal and NDP premiers), think all that money and pain will save the planet?