Monday, 22 April 2013

RE: Ontario's green energy future

The following is a copy of an email I received from Conservative MPP for Nipissing Vic Fedeli discussing his party's position on green energy. My biggest issue with this: The unwillingness of Ontario's Conservative Party to accept market influences in the costs of energy. While there is a certain nobility in wanting to subsidize energy costs across the board, this will only encourage Ontarians to ignore managing their consumption, thus putting on greater strain on our environmental sustainability.

Fedeli, Vic <>17 April 2013 12:40To: "Fedeli, Vic" <>
Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your support for renewable energy in Ontario.

As the Progressive Conservative Critic for Energy, I can tell you that our Party also supports renewable energy.  However, we would not go about transitioning to renewables in the way the current government has chosen.

I would like to share with you some information about wind power, in particular.

Wind power is unreliable.  Wind blows mostly at night when we don’t need power, creating a surplus Ontario then has to get rid of, often by paying Quebec and the United States to take it.  This cost us more than $500 million last year.  That’s on top of the $1.8 billion we lost between 2005 and 2011 due to surplus power exports (Auditor General of Ontario, 2011 annual report).  Also, wind developers are guaranteed 20 year contracts with subsidies at twice the cost of power to produce, whether the power is needed or not.  That cost difference is lumped into what’s called the Global Adjustment charge, which Ontario businesses bear the brunt of.  The Auditor says the Global Adjustment will skyrocket to $8.1 billion by next year, up from $700 million prior to the Green Energy Act.  Your hydro bill is forecast to increase 46% by 2015, with 56% of that due to new renewable generation (2010 Fall Economic Statement, Government of Ontario).  In fact, your hydro rates have now officially doubled since 2003.

Isn’t wind energy "green"?

There’s actually not much that is green about wind power.   Prior to the Green Energy Act, Ontario got 25% of its power from renewable energy – hydroelectricity; the cleanest, greenest, most reliable and most affordable power we have.  Today, renewables are still 25% with hydro at 22%, and wind at 3%.  The difference is we’ve added at least a billion dollars in annual costs to the system.  What’s worse is wind gets priority on the grid, which causes us to spill water unused at Niagara Falls when it does blow during the day – we lose $300 million a year doing that.  In extreme cases, we also have to shut down nuclear units and vent steam – we spent $80 million doing that last year.

What are the other problems with wind?

Health Canada is currently studying adverse health effects reported by many Ontarians who live in close proximity to industrial wind turbines.   As well, the Green Energy Act provides almost no ability to object to where these turbines are sited.  In recent months, we’ve seen bald eagles nests torn down to make way for turbines, and windmills sited near a Collingwood-area airport has prompted pilots to voice aviation safety concerns.

What will our caucus do differently?

We would:

-          Cancel the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) subsidies paid to wind developers
-          Implement an immediate moratorium on wind power development in Ontario
-          Give municipalities veto authority over wind projects in their communities

We support renewable energy, but it must meet the following criteria:

-          it must be at a price we can afford
-          there must be demand for the power
-          there must be a willing host community for the project
-          it must be easily connected to the transmission grid

Thank you again for taking the time to write.  I hope we can work together to build a clean, affordable energy future for Ontario.


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