Ontario gas plants and One-eyed Jacks: the real face of “green” energy

Ontario’s premier admitted the day after her party lost three out of five electoral districts in provincial byelections that the poor showing had a lot to do with what has become known as the Gas Plant Fiasco. No doubt she is right. What went unmentioned was the policy that underlay the Gas Plant strategy in the first place: so-called green energy. The gas plants, which run on methane, CH4, a highly flammable and explosive carbon-heavy fossil fuel better known by its trade name natural gas, are the real aim of those who professionally push green energy. Yes, professional pushers of green energy are really selling natural gas. Many are paid, by natural gas companies, to do so.

The One-Eyed Jack is staring off at something out of the panel. What is he looking at? In Ontario, the One-Eyed Jacks pushing “green” energy are really looking at their financial prize: natural gas. They are being paid to sell natural gas, and their sales pitch has worked on at least one Ontario premier. That premier paid the price for falling for the “green” sales pitch, by being forced to resign after racking up an enormous public bill for cancelling two gas plants in order to save electoral districts. Let’s hope his successor gets a good look at the real face of “green” energy and stops the gasification of Ontario’s electricity sector.

The current premier’s predecessor appears to have initially believed that green energy—narrowly defined by its pushers as wind and solar—could provide enough electricity to run Ontario’s auto manufacturing plants, nickel smelters, petroleum refineries, and cities. So he pushed hard, beginning in his first term (which began in 2003) for lots of new wind turbines and solar panels.

But by the middle of his second term, he had realized this was a chimera: that there was simply no possible way that wind and solar could shoulder such a responsibility. So he scrambled to add power generators that could shoulder it. And, following very bad advice from the pushers of green energy who were actually working for gas companies, he decided the quickest way to do that was to build new gas plants. Hence the hurried siting of plants all over the province, including in Oakville, King township, and Mississauga, among other places.

Well, we know how that worked out. Residents in those communities did not take well to the idea of industrial-scale plants piping enormous amounts of methane into their neighborhoods: what would happen if there were an accident? Everybody is familiar with the all-too-frequent evacuations that occur when there is a residential gas leak: I personally remember my father frantically rousting me, my brothers, and mother in the middle of the night after catching the telltale sulfurous whiff of raw gas in our home.

So the residents rallied against the plants. The then-premier ignored the residents who lobbied against the King gas plant—that was in an opposition-held district. So the gas plant planned for that district was built. But he could not ignore the Oakville and Mississauga opponents: his own party held the affected districts. So, as everyone knows, he famously cancelled those two plants, one (Mississauga) immediately prior to the October 2011 general election. Those cancellations will cost Ontario taxpayers upwards of half a billion dollars.

And why was he so anxious to hold onto the districts in and around Oakville and Mississauga? Because he knew he was about to lose a number of rural districts, because his government had forced wind turbines into them and the residents in those rural districts were furious over it.

Wind turbines were part of the former premier’s “green” energy strategy. It was really a gas strategy. And that former premier’s successor just got her first real whiff of how the gas strategy is playing out electorally.

I hope she is seeing the other side of the face of the One-Eyed Jack that is “green” energy.

3 comments for “Ontario gas plants and One-eyed Jacks: the real face of “green” energy

  1. August 14, 2013 at 06:04

    Hi Steve

    I posted this on the Save Vermont Yankee FB page and tweeted about it.My title was “As Ontario goes…so goes Vermont.”

    What we have in Vermont is a great push for wind turbines, followed by a great push for a natural gas pipeline. All over Vermont, people are pushing back against both.

    Though I think the gas pipeline is probably a good idea to give homeowners fuel choices in the winter. It is encountering tons of opposition, however. Which doesn’t look good for building gas plants in this state.

    As Ontario goes…

    Great post, Steve!

    Meredith

  2. August 14, 2013 at 18:14

    They’re a few eights short of a straight!

  3. Peter
    August 15, 2013 at 18:46

    As this battle for market share plays out, we will all end up as collateral damage. It will take decades to repair the damage done to Ontario’s supply plan and economy.

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