Seniors and poor people on fixed incomes to pay mining company power rates in northern Ontario: how the Green Act shakes down in the real world

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. wants to dig chromite, an ingredient in stainless steel, out of northern Ontario. The company wants to make money doing so, otherwise why would it be in business. To run its proposed operation in Ontario, Cliffs needs electricity. To make a profit, the company needs electricity that is cheap and reliable. That immediately rules out wind power, which fetches a whopping 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour—more than twice the going rate for nuclear—and operates according to its own inscrutable schedule.

So, to draw Cliffs to Ontario, the Ontario government is bargaining with Cliffs over the price of electricity. Is the government trying to persuade Cliffs to pay 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for unreliable wind power? Of course not. Cliffs wants cheap power or it won’t start an operation in northern Ontario.

Cliffs’ desire for cheap power is no different from that of anyone else. Who would willingly pay exorbitant rates for an unreliable commodity, when there is a perfectly good reliable alternative that costs half as much?

Unfortunately, no residential ratepayer in Ontario gets this kind of deal. In order to please a small group of rich environmentalists who want to get richer selling wind power to the province, Ontario forces residential rate payers to pay through the nose for expensive, unreliable wind power. If wind did not fetch 13.5 cents per kWh, no wind turbines would go up. Their owners could not stay in business.

So residential ratepayers, who include seniors on fixed incomes who live in urban high rises and who are totally dependent on electricity, have to pay the exorbitant rates demanded by the owners of wind turbines.

If only poor seniors on fixed incomes could get the chance to bargain with the government over their electricity rates. Then we would see the “wind is green” argument finally get the exposure it deserves.

The government, in its negotiations with Cliffs Natural Resources, is certainly not trotting out that argument. Cliffs doesn’t know how lucky it is.

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