Shocked and appalled

There’s been a lot of quite appropriate wailing and caterwauling about the Ontario Liberal government’s cancellation of two gas-fired generating plants. The move was calculated to save a couple of seats in the 2011 provincial election. The costs of getting out of the contracts were initially low-balled and could end up reaching almost $600 million. But as Gwyn Morgan wrote in an eye-opening column in The Globe and Mail recently, those costs are chicken-feed compared with the Dalton McGuinty government’s misguided green policy.

So desperate was the McGuinty government to look as if it were moving into the modern era of alternate energy that it gave incentives for producers of wind and solar power that meant electricity fed into the grid from those sources would receive exorbitant payments. According to a report by the Fraser Institute, those “green” rates will ding residential users about $6 billion more and business users about $12 billion more than they otherwise would be paying. That not only means money out of our pockets, it means companies comparing jursidictions for possible expansion could take Ontario off the list because of power costs.

But that’s not all. Two different people with knowledge of these matters I’ve spoken to in recent days say that the whole system is topsy-turvy. When the wind blows, Ontario has to take that wind power first over cheaper sources. There was one Sunday in May when the wind blew and, because demand was low, output had to be reduced at Niagara Falls and at the nuclear plants. Even then, there was still too much power available so the excess had to be sold to Michigan at a loss. It was, says my source, a $10-million day. And that amount – along with other losing days – goes onto the hydro debt and gets added onto our bill in that line that says “debt retirement charge.”

If it’s possible, the story gets worse. Ontario is not only selling power at a loss, there are times when we’re actually paying places like Michigan to take our power. There’s no way of storing electricity so it’s like The Bay running out of warehouse space and paying consumers to come into their stores and take anything they want off the shelves.

And all this was done on the strength of a minister’s signature. The members of the McGuinty government who put in place such an ludicrous process should be arrested, charged with theft from the public, and then sentenced to life on treadmills to produce electricity for the grid. At no charge.

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