A McGuinty speech that could energize rural Ontario

by Michael Den Tandt, Toronto Sun

Here’s something Premier Dalton McGuinty could do if he wanted to mitigate the destruction of his party in every corner of rural Ontario, come October.

He could appear on TV and say something like this: I’m sorry. I messed up. The Green Energy Act, our entire approach to energy, is wrong. We need to scrap it and start over. And we will.

Starting today, we put the interests of people first.

When we launched our wind energy program, we had the best of intentions. We believed wind turbines offered a relatively cheap, clean source of energy that could help wean Ontario off coal. We thought it would provide rural people with additional income. We thought it was a win-win.

Politically it was a no-brainer, because a clear majority of Ontarians were enthusiastic about wind power and green energy generally. It seemed like a pragmatic way to move us away from our reliance on fossil fuels. And there was a clear social consensus that man-made global warming was a very serious problem with an obvious solution.

Since then, a great deal has changed. The numbers of people reporting health problems as a result of proximity to wind turbines, has multiplied. Nobody wants to live next to them or own property next to them. There are anti-wind protest movements in every corner of Ontario.

The science of man-made global warming has come under new scrutiny. It turns out there is no clear scientific consensus on the causes of global warming, or on whether any future climate change can be predicted with accuracy. As a result, the international movement to “fight” climate change has stalled.

In Ontario the social consensus around wind power has dissolved. This has happened gradually. Our government failed to recognize this change. So we’re now stuck defending a policy that is no longer popular. We make our arguments about the great benefits of wind power to Ontarians, but nobody believes us.

We still think alternative energy is the way to go. But we’re reinventing our approach. From today onward, we’re going small — family-sized, in fact.

If re-elected this October, we’ll put serious money into developing compact, integrated alternative energy systems that can provide families with all the clean, sustainable energy they need — with perhaps a little extra to sell back to the grid. Small, modern, quiet windmills will play a part. But so will solar. So will geothermal. So will micro-hydro.

Focusing on small

We’ll offer incentives to industry and to universities who lead applied research in this area, focusing on the small. Our goal is to foster an Ontario industry that produces, for example, roofing tiles that store solar energy. We’d like to see an Ontario company develop and mass-market small, lightweight, very strong wind turbines, no taller than a telephone pole. We’ll help farmers buy them.

If Ontarians have a flowing river or a creek on their property we’ll help them acquire the micro-hydro technology they need to harness that energy in a small way.

We will not allow big multi-national companies to trample on the rights of Ontario landowners. We will send them packing. We will restore the power of municipalities, led by local citizens, to determine the scale of energy project they are comfortable with, if any.

No one has a right to do things that materially devalues a neighbour’s property or harms their health. That is a sacred principle in Ontario and we are restoring its pride of place.

15 thoughts on “A McGuinty speech that could energize rural Ontario

  1. I don’t think Dalton has ever eaten crow. We have some birds which have been prepared by wind turbines. Come on over for dinner, Dalton.

  2. The sad part about this is he still has a stronghold in urban Ontario, they love him in Socialist Toronto and Ottawa. This might be enough to keep him around for another term. Rural Ontario has to organize and make him a failure in the next election. Otherwise you’ll get four more years of him.

    • I think you are right, Klem. I also fear that the urbanites will still vote Liberal on Oct. 6 – although, who would have thought that the Federal Conservatives would get so many GTA seats on May 2? Maybe there is a glimmer of hope afterall.

  3. Focusing on small still requires heavy gov’t subsidies for people to afford renewable technologies. They simply do not pay in reduce electricity costs or revenue that these could possibly generate. Small does not ignore the laws of thermodynamics. Conversion factors are still very low making these systems still inefficient and still require some form of backup. Trying to find the compromise because there are so many who want this visceral satisfaction that they are doing something for the environment, is not working with reality. Wind and solar just cannot cut it!

    • I agree, Mr Grubby. The part about how McGuinty never admits his mistakes was spot on, but the discussion about “small” power sources is nonsensical. Maybe the reporter was low on his word count, so he made it up.

  4. McGuinty may be leaving politics but he is not walking away from this.
    It is following hime every where he goes…..no more BS

  5. My hat goes off to den Tandt — but not because he is right… he is sorta right right some of the time…

    Most of the ideas presented by Michael den Tandt simply won’t work generally in Ontario — but he has one thing right. It takes study to determine what will work. This type of work is like logging and reforestation — it is site specific. There are general rules and ideas — but in a given site some work — and some done.

    For example: How many people have a small river on their property that has sufficient flow year-round to support even a single house and rural farm or business? Even if you combine all these ideas onto one property you still have intermittent power that requires battery backup beyond today’s technology — for any significant amount of power.

    So why do I congratulate him? Because he presented the ideas and asked for study and input. These ideas will work some of the time and in some places — but not in general. That does not mean that they should be rejected everywhere. It means that we should take his suggestions — look at the ideas and study where specifically they will work.

    Most people who study engineering solutions realize that the difference between science and engineering is practicality. An engineer studies where the science will work and how it must be implemented to achieve a desirable (to some) result. They recognize that the same idea does not work everywhere and that the ideas must be modified to specific real-world conditions.

    The topic he raised is worth a book — or a set of volumes — feel free to expand on the ideas and recognize that you cannot express these ideas in a few paragraphs.

    • I agree that the author raises interesting points. Keep in mind, however, that the point of view of this article is; “Here’s something Premier Dalton McGuinty could do…”

      It mentions, “incentives to industry and universities..” and “help (land-owners) acquire micro-hydro technology.” In my opinion, this represents more government invervention and spending (of our tax dollars), which leads to more waste and expansion of government.

      It is this approach that gave us The Green Energy Act and wind industry fiasco in the first place – which are fine examples of how inept the government is at picking winning technologies and industries. Something they’re really good at is destroying wealth and wasting our money.

      I prefer to rely on the innovation and ingenuity of individuals – including the engineers you mention, David. If there are more cost-effective ways to generate power, then someone with much more expertise than this author or some bureaucrat will figure it out!

    • Bob:

      I agree — especially with the word “could” — he did not say “must do” or “shall do” — but presented a possibility.

      So I agree with you too…. And that is the point — den Tandt asked for civil discussion and intelligent assessment. Something all too foreign to climate “science” and environmental “science”. You asked for the same. That is the point!

      Done the way de Tandt suggested it should lead to exactly your conclusions — i.e. — no place for many of these Green Energy disasters.

      There is nothing wrong with NRC funding research and letting the chips fall where they may… I have taken a few of their silver pieces myself. I quit before it got to 30.

    • While people may have a small stream or river running through or next to their property they do no own the water but may own some or all of the land under the water.

      So the use of the water is restricted if it interferes with other peoples’ rights to the same water.

  6. Yes, the Liberals should disband the GEA, although I disagree that we should finance any alternative source of electricity. We should, rather, use the best available economic technologies available and let our society do what it has always done…. find a better way unfettered by government incentives and regulations.

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