Power hikes will zap jobs

by Chris Vander Doelen, Windsor Star

There seems to be no end to the creative ways Ontario’s Liberal government can find to shoot itself in the foot.

The latest: Not only are hydro rates going to double again over the next 20 years — after nearly doubling over the past seven — you’re going to like it, the province announced Tuesday as it unveiled its long-term energy plans.

The higher rates are needed to pay for the $87 billion they’re going to shovel into nuclear power generation and “green” energy from solar and wind generation.The Liberals say the investment will create 50,000 new jobs, many of them temporary, many of them in Windsor.

They were mum on how many permanent manufacturing jobs will likely disappear due to the higher cost of producing steel and building cars in Ontario.

Bizarrely, they seemed to rub consumers’ noses in the coming pain. Not only are you going to like the next round of hikes, you are even “willing to fight” for the right to pay higher rates, Energy Minister Brad Duguid said in a sound clip that will probably come back to haunt the party in the election next fall.

Who told them Ontarians are willing to “fight” for higher hydro rates? Probably a bunch of well-heeled and high-minded activists plucked off the streets of downtown Toronto for focus groups they tested the message on.

Anybody in Windsor or London or Cambridge or the other high unemployment cities could have told them it was a bad idea to essentially taunt consumers about the rate pain to come.

But it is doubtful this tone-deaf government would have listened or even understood the nature of the public mood even if they had heard.

I’ve always been of the mind that it’s a good idea to pay top public officials well, to get good help in government.

But this is one of the downsides of paying a cabinet minister $165,851.04 per year, not including expenses or the cost of the chauffeured limo.

It probably isn’t a big deal to the $165K club to hear the family hydro bill is going to double. So they don’t think the rest of us will mind, either. Wrong.

It’s a safe bet that Duguid and the rest of the Dalton McGuinty government are about to find out just how depressing that spectre is to the Ontario outside the sycophantic bubble surrounding Queen’s Park.

Three groups are going to go nuts on them in the weeks to come, starting with the one million or more citizens who live in households crippled by unemployment.

Next will be the millions more living from paycheque to paycheque.

And finally, they’re probably going to hear an angry word or two about the rate hikes from the still-bruised survivors of the manufacturing industries. So says Pete Mateja, co-director of the Office of Automotive and Vehicle Research at the University of Windsor.

“It’s bad enough right now with the exchange rate -manufacturers are getting hammered,” Mateja, a veteran of the automotive and steel industries, said Wednesday.

“Anybody in steel or aluminum or plastic injection moulding -anything with a furnace or a press running -is going to hurt” from higher hydro rates, says Mateja. “It’s going to be really tough for them to compete.”

Ontario’s steel industry could be devastated by the hikes, along with auto parts producers which consume energy, says Mateja, who was once a vice-president of Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie.

“It’s just staggering what even a small increase of one per cent does to their bottom lines,” he said. “It’s just another thing that’s going to make us less competitive. It’s going to have an impact on jobs” -both existing jobs, and the new ones we hope to create. “If you were looking to invest in North America, would you come to Ontario now?”

What’s left of our shrinking middle class is going to hurt more, too. You may have heard some of the moaning in recent weeks about summer hydro bills topping $500 per month for the first time, either because of the cost of air conditioning or running a swimming pool.

You know what’s going to happen to those luxuries once the bills hit $1,000 -not to mention the burgeoning electric car industry. Why buy one if gasoline is cheaper?

The better question is why the McGuinty government thinks voters want to create a relative handful of green jobs if the cost of doing so is losing their own.

13 thoughts on “Power hikes will zap jobs

  1. Looks like a lot of our industry in Ontario will be moving to Quebec to get at their lower hydro rates….Wonder if employees currently living in ontario will start taking French courses so that they can keep their jobs….Although the Ontario Liberals have hired over 215,000 public service jobs since 2003, this will not likely continue…It appears that Dalton McGuinty support the old philosphies of Pierre Elliot Trudeau designed to destroy Ontario…

  2. Every single word uttered lately from DooGood and Dunkin and McFibby were directed NOT at the Citizens but for the ears of their “Green Investors” that are getting very very nervous that their “Golden Goose” (subsidies) may be be ushered off to slaughter!

    Sussex Strategy wrote the script which is being followed to the letter by these 3 “malcontents.”

    They would’nt be able to come up with a single original comment without some “wordsmith” writing down the message beforehand.

    WE the Taxpayers and “bosses” of these “leaders” are being “beaten like rented mules” and have basically had our rights to prosecute this behaviour made “irrelevant”.

    Now Hudak has had the challenge thrown at him by Dunkin to come up with an answer for “his idea” for a Power Plan”.

    This shouldn’t take Hudak more than 30 seconds for a straight forward answer, yet all I hear from the PC side is SILENCE! What are they waiting for?…….another group like Sussex to come up with a script? Even I, with a limited education could give this answer right off the top of my head:

    Throw out the Green Energy Act:
    STOP all development of Solar and Wind Generation Immediately:
    Refurbish the existing Coal Fired Generating Plants with new scrubbing systems:
    Cancel the “debt repayment” charge on all Hydro Bills:
    Cancel all new Transmission Line Construction and repair the existing transmission infrastructure:
    Dissolve the OPA and OPG and reduce the administration levels of hires within Hydro One back to a reasonable level:
    Reduce the costs of Electrical to every household back to 2003 levels:
    Once all this has been accomplished then form a task force of retired engineers and electrical workers who “know” our Electrical System inside and out to come up with a realistic Energy Plan for the next 20 years that would actually work!

    One last thing: NO POLITICIAN should be allowed inside this task force OR any single person aligned with CANWEA, Pembina or any Green NGO!

    Simple eh?

  3. I had a conversation with my wife last night, well; not really, I turned the tables on her and started by saying “I don’t want you to comment, I just want you to listen”. You know; the same thing our wives say to us regularly. (That’ll get a few females commenting no doubt)…

    Anyway, here is the gist of that conversation:

    As we are all painfully aware, the result of egregious financial greed and mismanagement on the part of the industrialized world’s un-regulated banks, the global financial system suffered a major melt-down in 2008 from which it has yet to recover. On top of that, many of the governments of the major players were also in full embrace of the nearest tree, dolling out “green” they never had to feed the insatiable tide of green energy insanity gripping much of the industrialized world.

    As we have all discovered the hard way, an inescapable fact completely lost on our governments, industrial green energy, rather then stimulating economic growth, devastates economies.

    As democracy has for all intents an purposes vanished, these very same democratically elected governments that in large part created this disaster choose NOT to hold those directly responsible to account but incredibly, dumped the full measure of it solely on the backs of the industrialized world’s taxpayers.

    More alarmingly, sovereign nations that could, notably the US, are actively devaluing their currency by “throwing money from helicopters” (printing money) in a futile attempt to pay down debt by making the US dollar worth less against its globally traded counterparts and making US goods more attractive to outside investment. If the US dollar was NOT the reserve currency of the world, this may actually work. In actuality, it only serves to make everything that can be traded more expensive. To remain competitive, other nations that can are actively devaluing their currencies as well. The obvious net result: Less of everything is purchased further exacerbating an already untenable economic situation and inflations runs unchecked further increasing the prices of everything.

    A self-fulfilling prophecy! A “perfect storm!”

    Although China is a tad peeved at the intentional devaluation of US dollars of which she holds trillions, she uses them to purchase resources which can’t be printed. Thusly, China is effectively immune from the negative economic effects and will be well placed to increase her already globally dominating economic and thus controlling position one this fire abates.

    The obvious problem(s) with this (at least to anyone with a working brain) is the fact that as a result of economic devastation rot by both the financial meltdown and the foolish embrace of industrial green energy, there are far fewer taxpayers then existed before this manufactured disaster unfolded. This number is actually getting smaller by the minute. Those of us still employed find ourselves with far less discretionary income and many like my family and I have switched from living to surviving.

    Who then will ultimately pay these massive debts!

    As out -of control governments are obviously continuing down the same failed path, most of the industrialized world is now in a “race to the bottom”!

    I cannot see how this will end well for anyone outside of China!

    When I was finished, my 9 year old daughter said: “Mommy, you don’t need to pay back that ten dollars you borrowed.”

    If that doesn’t tear your heart out your’re not HUMAN!

    VERY troubled times ahead!


  4. Spot On! BBW………….when a country doesn’t produce goods for consumption by it’s own citizens and exports their Manufacturing “out of country” then that Country has basically ceased to exist as a an Industrial Power.

    Instead, it appears our Province in particular now is trying to “export” our young minds!……………not to mention our Natural Resources, so that in itself is a troubling sign………….what will be left?……….NOTHING!

    And we all KNOW who is driving this downward spiral don’t we?…………..apart from the Greed merchants in the Global Community just picture our local fella in your head when you have to turn the thermostat down to 50 degrees at night…..MCGUINTY!

  5. Minister Duguid, you’ve as much as said, “Let them eat cake.” There’s nothing left for you but to fall on your sword. May you be hounded day and night till you’re run out of office in the nexy election.

    Ontario was once a place to stand and a place to grow. The McGuinty Government has made it a place to run from.

  6. Obviously, my nine year old daughter understands the ramifications of my rant.

    What does that say about the intellect or integrity of those in government?

    Pretty sad!


  7. David:

    The most useful resource that actually does real world measurements is the US EPA.

    CO2 per passenger vehicle/year (2005) is 5.2 tons: http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate/420f05004.htm#step6

    CO2 from coal is 2.249 tons/MW:

    I believe you have ready access to the hourly output of Ontario’s coal plants so you can do the math.

    Another way to put it, 1 kg of coal produces 1.83 kg of CO2 and 1 US gallon of gasoline produces 2.42 kg of CO2:


    I have tried but am unable to locate a source of information for Ontario’s total, yearly coal and gasoline consumption. OPG has been “greened” and all references to her coal assets are with regard to biofuels??!!

    As for a reference that empirically states the CO2 output in automobile equivalents… I got nuthin!

    Good luck with that…


  8. BBW:

    You’re not a researcher. I can see that.

    What grade of coal? (Anthracite? Lignite?)Was it a mix? What was the source. Where are the calculations? What is the margin of error. What was the vehicle mix? What are all the assumptions that lead to the calculation methodology? Who checked the facts and figures? Was the study peer-reviewed or pal-reviewed?


    Under the “New Leadership” the EPA is an advocacy organization. The numbers cannot be trusted. Even if they were not an advocacy organization I would have the same questions. Point me to the document with the calculations. I don’t even care if it is peer reviewed — if the calculations and assumptions are clear.

    If you believed the cr@p on that site — you were conned. It is not better than the information from the other green advocacy groups. I am surprised. I thought you were more cynical.

    Don’t believe me? Track down a few Lisa Jackson interviews. Tell me that she is interested in reality.

  9. “The most useful resource that actually does real world measurements is the US EPA.”

    I have had more time to review the links on the car figures (as opposed to coal)…

    They are calculations with no error estimates. i.e. models… How successful have models been in the climate world?


    I could find no empirical verification of the models. That is: No supporting data or measurements. Maybe the manufacturers have that data.

    So yes the car figure has somewhat more validity than the numbers supplied by the other green advocacy organizations. But only marginally. Validating that model on a number of cars is tedious — but not impossible. Indeed the data may exist. I suspect the data certainly exists — so why is it not used to validate the model? Any thoughts?

    As for the coal plants: I would trust the numbers from the engineers who run the coal plants long before I trusted numbers form the EPA. Lisa Jackson may have no problems with losing the money of the average US citizen. The engineer has a license to lose.

    As for the car numbers: I would trust the car manufacturers with their “real world” data long before I would trust the EPA — same argument as above. If an engineer signs off on the estimates — he is signing off against his license to practice. Case closed.

    In both cases since there is no way to estimate the validity of the model (The error) the numbers have to be taken on blind faith. People are betting the value of the US economy on blind faith.

    Canadians take those number and then apply them to Canada. Our climate is much worse for fuel economy of cars. It’s cold out there. The Otto Cycle engine runs best in a hot climate. If anything the numbers are likely worse than the USA on a mileage and time basis. On the other hand, our actual economy is likely better due to a newer fleet of vehicles. Salt damage takes cars off the road very quickly here. In much of the USA and Mexico it is possible to use 30-40 year old cars as your primary vehicle due to the dry warm climate. That is unlikely here.

    That being said. That type of calculation is what should have been referenced by the Canadian groups. It was not. Even better would have been real world empirical data with error estimates..

  10. BBW:

    I think the party that makes the claims should justify them.

    I was trying to track back their exact quote. It ended at an unsubstantiated claim.

    That’s why the crack at not being a researcher. When you do research for a living, you get tired of people making a “blah-blah” claim.

    Sure — I can do some work to prove their claim –maybe… But how did THEY get there???? I can find some numbers sorta kinda close, but I think they did “CO2 equivalents” — and that means gyrating the numbers and guessing how they got where they did.

    That is what is at issue — the inability to justify.

    Which means that we cannot audit or verify the claim.

    Case closed.

  11. The “Ring of Fire” companies will be trying to get as much ore as possible out of Ontario destined for areas with cheaper electricity. It is not just current industries being lost due to higher electricity rates but future industries as well.

  12. Research for a living? How do I get a living like that?

    Most days I wish I never left the farm! Mother nature though fickle, is one heluva lot easier to deal with then really bad engineering! Mechanical, electrical, civil and

    I concur fully with your assertions. Were this the case we both know what would become of industrial green energy!

    Keep it up!

    And STOP mincing your words already! 😉


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