The politics of green energy: Ontario, 2018

“Green energy is a scam.” So said Doug Ford, many times, en route to winning a massive majority government in Ontario on June 7. That statement, the sheer veracity of the content of which Kathleen Wynne, the soon-to-be-former premier, couldn’t acknowledge and Andrea Horvath, Ford’s number one competitor for Wynne’s job, wouldn’t admit, was remarkable. Not only was it true, as mentioned—it was also extremely rare. It represents, I believe (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), the first time in Canada that a winning candidate has said it. This is significant.

How much did the election result turn on that statement? It will be interesting to see what pollsters have to say about it, but we can expect that those who support this… well, scam… will downplay its importance in driving the election result (who wants to admit that something they supported caused the ignominious downfall of their governmental benefactors). People like me might tend to play it up. But I assure you that other governments across this country, including and especially the one headquartered in Ottawa, are paying attention. Those that think they are being refreshingly brave by implementing a climate change policy that is made artificially popular by the enthusiastic support of certain media types and industry proponents ought to, if for no other reason than their own political survival, rethink their allegiance to this artificially popular climate change mitigation policy. They ought to really think hard about what specific climate change policy they intend to implement on the public dime.

Though renewable energy proponents and their media cheerleaders point to Germany as an example of progressive climate policy, Mother Nature sees only the increased CO2 coming out of German power plants.

The Liberals chose two major bullet points straight out of the standard green playbook, points utterly devoid of imagination and critical thinking but deemed the way to go by the aforementioned media types and industry proponents:

  1. “Renewable” energy, and
  2. Cap and trade.

Empirically, neither of these has ever proven to reduce CO2. In fact, jurisdictions that have implemented both have increased CO2 emissions from the targeted sector, electricity generation. Germany is my favourite example. Though renewable energy proponents and their media cheerleaders point to Germany as an example of progressive climate policy, Mother Nature sees only the increased CO2 coming out of German power plants. Increased CO2 emissions, according to even renewable energy proponents and their media cheerleaders, are destabilizing the global atmosphere. Why they would then applaud the efforts of a country that has failed, over twenty years of hard and public and enthusiastically popular effort, to reduce CO2 to any degree is a bit of a mystery to me.

But regardless. The Liberals went that route, and today they lack official party status in the legislature. This is not because Conservatives or their voters are climate change deniers. It is because the Liberal approach to climate policy is outrageously expensive — so expensive that it has driven people in rural areas off the electrical grid and onto the minimum wage wood grid.1 This ugly reality is poohpoohed by both Liberals and their urban NDP fellow travellers, which may be part of the reason the NDP Orange Crush wave fizzled into a cheap, stale 7/11 slurpee. I attended a meet-and-greet with an urban NDP candidate in early April, before the election campaign had officially begun. He told me Germany is the way to go with climate change. He unfortunately won, like many other urban NDPers, who took the “progressive” vote from the Liberals.

But in this election, it did not matter that most of downtown Toronto, and some pockets of Ottawa and London, stayed orange/red. The rest of Ontario, especially the part that got ravaged by wind power — and that got stuck with paying the lion’s share of the cost of wind power — finally woke up.

Did Ford’s “green energy is a scam” slogan wake them up? Well, it didn’t hurt.

Alberta NDP: heed this result.

Federal Liberal government: ditto.

BC NDP, BC Greens, BC Liberals: double ditto.

  1. The fact that it has also proven outrageously ineffective is likely secondary, but who knows.

5 comments for “The politics of green energy: Ontario, 2018

  1. June 8, 2018 at 18:03

    The popularity of “green” energy is not hard to see; anyone who’ll rob Peter to pay Paul is going to be all right with Paul.

  2. Tracy Brason
    June 8, 2018 at 20:56

    The price of wind energy has dropped by 50% and solar 90% over past 6 years. Only issue in Ontario is they stopped using a competitive approach to procuring renewables. Early stage wind farms built in 2006 actually receive 50% less compensation that farms built in 2012 or later where prices were 13 cents per
    Kwhr.
    Wind and soon solar is cheaper to build than any thermal facility or nucelur plant. It’s free energy that you can now connect a battery as well to shift the output time delivery.

    Ontario should have went slower and used a pilot program approach, however an example of where wind is going there is now 90,000mw installed in the USA or capacity enough to supply all of Canada. Texas has now 60% capacity delivered by wind.

    Yes variability will be an issue but geographic diversity and reaming up with hydro and ant gas facilities it can’t be deployed very efficiently.

    • June 9, 2018 at 00:50

      Lots of natural-gas company talking points (and clueless mis-spellings) here:

      Wind and soon solar is cheaper to build than any thermal facility or nucelur plant.

      And the wind plants and solar plants are GAS plants because whenever they fall short, natural gas has to be there to catch them.

      It’s free energy that you can now connect a battery as well to shift the output time delivery.

      A year’s production of battery packs from a Tesla Gigafactory will support the N. American grid for maybe 6 minutes of average load.  It would take 240 plants working for a year to make enough batteries to hold up the grid for a full day, and they’d have to do it all over again every 7-10 years.

      Texas has now 60% capacity delivered by wind.

      This error of terminology betrays total cluelessness at best (or a practiced propagandist).  In the 12 months ending 10/31/2016, wind power only supplied 12.63% of Texas electric consumption.  Almost all the rest came from fossil fuels.  By “capacity”, I’m assuming you mean nameplate rating of the generators.  “Renewable” generators only produce at their rated output a fraction of the time, well under 50% for wind and under 20% for PV.

      Yes variability will be an issue but geographic diversity and reaming up with hydro and ant gas facilities it can’t be deployed very efficiently.

      “Geographic diversity” means building long distance lines through LOTS of people’s back yards.

      “Reaming up”?  Yeah, lots of people will get reamed in the process.  They will NOT be happy about losing the use of their land so a power line can go across it.

      “hydro and ant gas”?  If it was only ants passing gas that we needed to worry about (termites are actually a major global source of methane)…

      Hydro and natural gas are BOTH environmentally damaging.  Natural gas especially must be reduced, quickly, because it leaks and is a very powerful GHG in its own right.  If your “environment” plan relies on lots of natural gas, you are no environmentalist; you are a gas-company shill.

    • June 9, 2018 at 11:32

      Despite press claims that wind and solar electricity is cheaper than nuclear, these low numbers always exclude complex subsidies, preferences, and cost shifting. Examples are government-guaranteed green bond interest discounts, property tax exemptions, 30% (US) income tax savings, state income tax rebates, production tax credits, accelerated depreciation, etc. Meter reversing rooftop solar transfers costs to other ratepayers. Worse is the mandated REC regime that awards one REC for each kWh generated. Utilities are required to buy them if then don’t generate enough mandated wind/solar generated electricity within their jurisdiction. Solar RECs sell for ~20 cents/kWh in Mass and NJ.

      The way to avoid extremely complex analysis to unravel all this is to look at the capital invested. It’s usually well-disguised, but if you can find the cost of building the wind farm or solar farm there’s a simple way to compute the cost per kWh to recover the capital. Simply divide the capital cost by the lifetime number of kWh generated.

      That’s for interest-free loans. If you’re an MBA you can figure out the effect, but a quick and dirty way is to remember that for a 20 year lifetime payback at 8% the cost/kWh is doubled.

      Tarfaya in Morocco generates 301 MW, cost $500 million, 30% capacity factor, thus 6.2 cents/kWh before any operations costs. [MBAs calculation is 6.3 cents]

      And don’t forget the add the cost of the methane plant to back it up.

    • Tom
      June 14, 2018 at 10:00

      Dream on Tracy

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