The gas plant fiasco in Ontario is the direct outcome of the Green Energy Act (GEA). Natural gas is portrayed as “clean” by those who sell it, even though between midnight and nine a.m. this morning provincial gas plants had dumped more than 15,000 metric tons of pollution into our air (see Table 2 on the left for a running total of the pollution emitted by fuel type in Ontario). The total for that day, February 28, ended up being over 43,500 tons. “Clean” natural gas is the Greeks inside the Trojan Horse of wind. Drive around the province of Ontario, and you will see hundreds of enormous wind turbines. These hundreds of turbines are the Trojan Horse that was used by the natural gas lobby and its paid mouthpieces like the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and its allies in the self-styled “green” movement to fool Ontario into thinking that coal could be replaced by wind.
Well, that myth has now been exposed in the glare of the gas plant fiasco. Wind cannot power the province; it is too inefficient and unreliable (see article). So, to keep Ontario running, the government needed generators that actually work when you turn them on. Because it was so welded electorally to the “green” movement, the government could not go with nuclear, which powers most of the province and has proven over four decades of smooth operation to be the cleanest and cheapest non-hydro source we have. Therefore, to the delight of the OCAA and its gas-industry clients, the government put gas inside the Trojan Horse of wind.
That has proved to be a total disaster. The government had no choice but to build new gas plants, and fast. It tried to force them into communities. In some cases, such as on the Holland Marsh, it succeeded—with the help of “green” allies like Environmental Defence—in browbeating unwilling locals into accepting a pollution-belching gas plant. But in at least three cases—Woodbridge, Oakville and Mississauga—it failed. And failed spectacularly, in the cases of Oakville and Mississauga.
The Green Energy Act is why Ontario’s current political situation is what it is. Wind power cost the governing Liberals their majority government in the October 2011 election. The gas plants fiasco forced the then-premier, Dalton McGuinty, to prorogue the legislature and resign. A formidable and once-admired public servant, McGuinty is now gone and his name is about to be dragged through the mud of the gas fiasco.
There is strong evidence that the current premier, Kathleen Wynne, realizes the sheer size and weight of the albatross that is the GEA. The IESO, which runs Ontario’s grid, was recently reported as wanting to change the grid rules which give wind power pride of place in dispatch order. The premier has acknowledged that the GEA rules which force wind into unwilling rural communities is flawed. She also acknowledged that the entire issue of siting energy infrastructure is fraught with peril.
Oh, how she must pine for a friendly community in which to site much-needed new energy infrastructure. If she would only gaze eastward along Lake Ontario, she would see Clarington, home of the mighty Darlington nuclear station. And if she would for a moment close her ear to the noise coming from the self-interested phony green crowd, she might hear the the quiet approval of the silent majority in and around Clarington for the needed upgrade to Darlington, which will reach its mid-life in 2015. That upgrade would create thousands of high paid jobs.
And she would also hear the quiet, well informed approval for new nuclear reactors in all of Ontario’s current nuclear host communities.
There is a qualitative difference between this approval and the noisy hyperbole that emanates from the opponents of nuclear. The current premier’s government heeded the noisy opponents, and it got the gas plants fiasco. It would not hurt to at least listen to the quiet supporters.
These supporters are intelligent and articulate, in every nuclear host community. Meredith Angwin, publisher of the excellent Yes Vermont Yankee, has written many articles featuring the supporters of Vermont’s only nuclear plant. They are worth reading. As I said, there is a qualitative difference in the rhetoric of pro-nuclear people and opponents. Meredith and her husband George have published an e-book that compiles Meredith’s accounts of Yankee supporters. She writes about it in today’s ANS Nuclear Cafe; have a read.