Archive | March 18, 2013

The other side of the story

Last week, former security company CEO Stew Henry made a presentation to Hamilton Township Council predicting that the 20-year green-energy contracts being let by OPA, if the generation goal of 10,700 megawatts of green, renewable energy is reached, would cost taxpayers significantly more than the $58 billion he previously predicted based on an 80/20 split between wind and solar.

Given the state of the economy, this is an extra cost that could be reduced by going another route entirely, he said.

Henry urged that council petition Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to meet with her Quebec counterpart to negotiate an agreement to have Quebec use its hydro surplus to meet Ontario’s green needs, instead of letting more OPA contracts. He asked the local council not to support the provincial direction of the Act, and to demand the Ontario Auditor General review the existing contracts for expensive cancellation clauses, and if found, cancel them.

Council heard the presentation and, in conjunction with a report on wind turbines heard at its corporate services committee meeting of March 6, directed township staff to arrange a meeting to hear from both sides of the debate.

During the March 6 committee meeting, a recommendation was also made to hold a public meeting to see if township residents wanted to “be a host for large scale wind turbine/solar energy projects” and to possibly identify the municipality as an “unwilling host” for them.

No vote was taken about it at the committee of the whole level and presumably it will be discussed after the upcoming meeting at which a professional with the OPA and/or Green Energy Act will be present to provide the flip side of the green-energy story.

Nearly a month ago, during the Ontario Good Road Conference, Hamilton Township Deputy Mayor Isobel Hie and Councillor Donna Cole met with Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and 10 other municipal representatives to express concerns about the Act and contracts being let though the FIT Program.

She also raised concerns about the changes to the Act’s regulations whereby wind and solar proponents seek municipal letters of support to gain points on their applications.

In a written document presented to the energy minister, Cole stated that in their view “the Ontario government has not considered… Hydro Quebec’s excess generating capacity” as an alternative, green energy source for Ontario; the ” true cost of the FIT Program’s green energy”; the Dec. 2012 World Trade Organization ruling against Ontario’s requirement for specified Ontario content in alternative energy infrastructure; “the need for municipal involvement in the FIT Program Application”; as well as how wind turbines affect the health of Ontarians.

Chiarelli replied with a standard thank you letter but did not respond to the specific questions put to him, Cole said.

Meanwhile, shortly before Cole’s presentation to the energy minister, Guelph University professor Ross McKitrick wrote the Ontario Energy Board quoting the Ontario Auditor-General’s 2011 report which warned that “no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate the impacts of the billion-dollar commitment” of the province’s direction with the Green Energy Act.

At Page 89 in the 2011 report, wrote McKitrick, the Auditor-General stated that “wind and solar renewable power will add significant additional costs to ratepayers’ electricity bills. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are also not as reliable and require a backup from alternative energy-supply methods such as gas-fired generation…. A typical residential electricity bill would rise about 7.9% annually over the next five years, with 56% of the increase due to investments in renewable energy.”

McKitrick also noted in his correspondence that surplus wind power is generated when Ontario’s peak periods are over and then is “dumped into the export market” sometimes requiring taxpayers to pay some other jurisdiction to take the excess.