There are two things everyone pretty much agrees on. One is that climate change is real, and is not going away. The second is that at some point it will cost taxpayers more money; an admission which will happen after a period of grousing, and complaining about it.
Part of managing climate change has to be dealing with energy. Questions about where to get it, how much it should be, what are the more stable forms of renewable energy; how can they be delivered to consumers in a safe, affordable way.
The Liberal government’s approach has been at times too much action and not enough thought to it. Shutting coal-fire power plants saved over 30 mega tonnes of Greenhouse gas emissions; a laudable achievement. Were there questions asked about how to replace the power being transmitted by these plants? If the answer was nuclear then shouldn’t the retrofits, and maintainence to the plants have be done first? “Unit two” at Darlington is set to come offline for a three-year refurbishment this year. Was any thought given to keeping one or two coal-fire plants open on clean-burning technology while repairs went on at the nuclear reactors?
The Green Energy Act has been a disaster. 2013 estimates the cost at: $1100/household per year. Remember the Samsung deal? They bought a 33.3% stake in a 270 MW K2 wind farm. They sold it last month to a group of investors including the Alberta Teachers’ Fund, and Axium infrastructure Inc. It’s unclear why, and the price they sold it for.
Hydro One brings $750 million/ year in revenue for the Ontario government. In the fall of 2015, the provincial government announced its intentions to sell of 60% of Hydro one in order to pay for infrastructure. When it’s complete that will be $450 million in revenue/ year gone off the books. How many schools/hospitals will that build? Or how many roads would that repair, and transit lines it would contribute to? That kind of revenue isn’t a drop in the bucket. It needs to be replaced somehow.
There is an argument that we’re actually paying closer to market prices for power. At best it might only be partially true. This summer, the provincial government has actually paid other jurisdictions to take power from us in periods of low-demand. You can’t get an accurate read on what power is worth if one party is affecting its value like that. It’s more revenue wasted.
Both Liberals, and Progressive Conservatives (P.C.’s) have some kind of Carbon tax policy in their platforms. The major difference is the P.C.’s is revenue neutral with a plan to offset the tax with credits.
The Liberals have gone for Cap & Trade. The policy caps emissions for the higher polluters, and allows companies to trade credits among themselves for a pre-determined market value. The policy is effective on January 1, 2017. It’ll add 4.3 cents/ litre onto gasoline, and raise heating oil prices by $5/ month. If we’re honest it’s going to affect the value of nearly everything including hydro. The province will be charging HST in with the delivery charge on the hydro bill.
We’re paying for years of bad planning with these higher hydro prices. The excuses of retrofitting nuclear reactors, and inflation are wearing thin. Some argue that bills are actually going up faster than inflation, which is easy to believe.
People are ranting on social media about their hydro bills, and how high they are. We try our best to conserve by keeping the a/c at a higher temperature, only running laundry machines/dishwashers at night. And still the bills go up. Worse still utilities around the province apply for increases because their conservation programs are working.
Is there a way to stop this? Yes and no. Yes, you can oppose every attempt to hike prices in your area. The Ontario Energy board has a process in place for this. And no, because this a majority government. Unless the Premier resigns, or dissolves the Legislature there will be no election before 2018.
Background Reading: Jon W. Kieran– “Too Much of a Good Thing: How Ontario’s Liberals bungled the green Energy file”
Bloomberg News: Samsung Sells Stake in 270 Megawatt Ontario Wind Farm