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Earth Hour: cruel irony in Ontario where government policy is actually causing poverty and hardship
Earth Hour: cruel irony in Ontario where government policy is actually causing poverty and hardship

Earth Hour 2016 is tomorrow, March 19, 2016 from 8.30 PM to 9.30 PM when all the world is encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour of symbolic action. Specifically the goal is: “Earth Hour aims to encourage an interconnected global community to share the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world.”

This is an admirable objective – everyone wants to do their best for the environment – but the truth is, much depends on how sustainability is positioned by politicians.

In Ontario the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) noted in a 45 page report dated December 22, 2014:  “Using LIM1. as a measuring tool, and relying on Statistics Canada household data, Ontario has 713,300 low-income households. The OESP is estimated to reach 571,000. This estimate recognizes that not all low-income households in the province pay their electricity bills directly (i.e., utilities included in rent).” That report led to the introduction of the OESP or Ontario Electricity Support Program start-up on January 1, 2016, expected to cost between $175 and $225 million, paid for by those 3.9 million households who don’t qualify for the OESP.

So did the Ontario government simply not understand creation of the Green Energy & Green Economy Act (GEA) would result in so many low-income households? It is now apparent the advent of the GEA played a major role, by raising the cost of the production of electricity by well over 70% since its enactment. The push for renewables in the form of industrial wind turbines, solar panels, etc., which require back-up from gas plants due to the intermittent and unreliable nature of renewables, added billions in costs. The transmission builds to bring wind and solar power to the grid added billions more and, coupled with the other billions spent trying to convince us to conserve, added even more costs.

The addition of almost 10,000 MW (so far) of renewable generation at prices over market impacted disposable income for all Ontarians living at, or close to, minimum wage and for many others living on fixed incomes. The other result of adding renewable power is that Ontario is now in the position of having surplus power generated at the wrong time of the year and night when demand is low. This surplus must be either sold off (exported), curtailed (wind and solar) or steamed-off (nuclear). Additionally, ratepayers and taxpayers are charged for the ideasNB: related to conservation such as paying for grants for electric vehicles and their charging stations.

March 13, 2016 is an example: it was a day when the sun shone and the wind was blowing. Ontario demand was low reaching only 320,000 megawatt hours (MWh) while generation, coupled with curtailed wind, idling gas plants, spilled hydro and even curtailed solar along with all of the distribution connected (Dx) power (principally wind and solar) was about 463,000 Mwh2.. Ontario’s ratepayers needed only 68% of that 463,000 MWh, so the other 32% was either exported or curtailed (to avoid blackouts) while being billed to Ontario ratepayers. Production costs (without the other items tossed into the “Global Adjustment pot) were over $100/per MWh, meaning the 143,000 MWh surplus picked ratepayers’ pockets for more than $14 million or $2.85 per ratepayer for just one day. (Bob Chiarelli, our Minister of Energy, would probably say that was just the cost of a “Timmies”!)

In 2015, Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, said Earth Hour “Every passing year it becomes more infectious. It’s actually really doing what it intended to do, which is to get into the popular culture.”

Minister Murray should note we have turned off the lights, not because we want to but because we can’t afford to “keep them on.”

It appears to this Ontario ratepayer that what is really “infectious” is the Ontario government’s ability to create “energy poverty” for hundreds of thousands of Ontario’s households and, instead of promoting sustainability, it has instead driven many to a situation where they now have to decide whether to “heat or eat”.

Hardly the lofty goal that Earth Hour aspires to, and clearly not what well-meaning citizens wanted to happen.

©Parker Gallant,

March 17, 2016

NB: Note to Minister’s Chiarelli and Duguid: If you can afford a $100,000 Tesla automobile you can afford a charging station!

  1. LIM stands for “Low-Income Measure” per Statistics Canada.
  2. Big hat tip to Scott Luft for his great “daily reports” which go well beyond what IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) provide.

Re-posted from Wind Concerns Ontario

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the policies of Wind Concerns Ontario.