National Post editorial board: McGuinty’s green energy disaster

National Post
We have long argued that the Ontario government’s headlong rush to convert Canada’s industrial heartland to “green” energy would turn out to be nothing but a colossal waste of money. Since most alternative energies remain commercially impractical (that’s why they’re still alternative and not mainstream), the blind rush by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government to substitute wind, solar and bio energy for coal and oil was never likely to produce much new energy, just higher power rates for residential and industrial consumers. But even we underestimated the extent to which the Ontario Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act had failed in just over two-year’s time.

In one of the most scathing indictments of government mismanagement we have ever witnessed, Ontario Auditor-General Jim McCarter reported Monday that Mr. McGuinty’s green dream has rapidly become an $8-billion nightmare for Ontario taxpayers and electricity users. Almost no new net power will be generated by all the green-energy projects hastily funded since the bill was passed, but the average residential consumer will see more than $400 a year added to his power bill for a decade to pay for all the bad contracts with and subsidies to eco-friendly power suppliers.

Over the past year, the McGuinty Liberals have been forced to conduct a series of embarrassing climbdowns from their grand promises about the benefits that would flow from the switch from carbon fuels to renewables.

Last spring, the provincial government announced it would no longer push for the building of wind-power turbines in the Great Lakes or any other freshwater sites around the province. The technology, it suddenly claimed, was unproven. The decision was purely scientific, Energy Minister Brad Duguid insisted. It had nothing whatever to do with the turbines’ unpopularity with landowners who would also be voters in October’s provincial election. “There isn’t a lot of science on freshwater offshore wind,” Mr. Duguid admitted. “We need some time to review the science and we don’t have it today.”

Perhaps the Liberals should have realized that before they earmarked over $1-billion for the initiative.

But as Auditor-General McCarter pointed out several times in his annual report, this leap-before-you-look approach was typical of the McGuinty government’s haste to approve and fund environmental projects. For instance, hundreds of millions have been paid — and hundreds of millions more will have to be paid in the coming decade — to landowners who agreed to put up small-scale solar-energy farms on their property. Only after scores of these projects had been approved and paid for, though, did the Ontario government realize there was no economical way to connect all them to the provincial power grid, so little of this expensive electricity is reaching homes or factories.

Guidelines for ensuring public grants were going to worthy projects were ignored. Financial regulations were violated. Few cost-benefit analyses were performed nor business plans produced. Lower-cost alternatives were ignored, despite warnings from civil servants, and the whole scheme was largely designed by environmentalists and green-industry lobbyists — “stakeholders” in the government’s euphemistic rhetoric. “Normal due diligence for an expenditure of this magnitude had not been followed,” Mr. McCarter concluded.

If the same reckless approach were taken with shareholders’ money in a private company, securities regulators would almost surely recommend charges be laid against those behind such a scheme.

Heads should roll in this case, too. The trouble is, as Mr. McCarter also identified, much of the final decision-making was tightly controlled by Premier McGuinty himself. And we suspect Mr. McGuinty is unlikely to fire himself from Cabinet. Though re-elected with only a minority government in October’s vote, the Liberals are only two votes shy of a majority, and neither opposition Progressive Conservatives or provincial NDP are likely to topple Mr. McGuinty so soon after an election. The people of Ontario are likely stuck with him for the time being — as they are certainly stuck with the high costs of his green dreams.

While it’s too late for Ontario to avoid these costly mistakes, other provinces can still learn from them. Other provincial governments may be tempted to consider similar green-energy programs, either for environmental reasons or in the hopes of establishing a productive, lucrative and morally pure industry by the magic of government fiat and wishful thinking. Let Mr. McCarter’s findings be a warning for them: Don’t copy the McGuinty example. It is good for neither the environment nor for consumers.

National Post

26 thoughts on “National Post editorial board: McGuinty’s green energy disaster

  1. back up. It’s not too late to stop now. We do not need to go forward. Bring on the moratorium. Take a deep breath. Do the health studies and come up with safe and practical ideas on truly green energy. That means energy that will benefit all. That will not hurt people or wildlife. That means sustainable plans. We all lose by going ahead!

    • As the number of IWTs increases in Ontario the trouble in rural Ontario will increase as well. 7,000 – 10,000 IWTs installed may well bring civil disobence in rural Ontario. Sorry to have to say this but nobody but a fool could think otherwise given what is already taking place. Hope this will not come to be the case.

    • well said Pat, I hope that man comes to his senses…why is McGuinty hellbent on ruining rural Ontario, and all of Ontarians for that matter??!!

    • That’s right it’s never too late!
      Take a step back assess the situation… there must be loopholes in those contracts…what self respecting politician would forget to use them?
      Just because the contract money is already promised doesn’t mean we have to throw more good after bad. One way or another we will be forced to “Suck up the cost” so we really don’t need to install anymore!
      The last thing Ontario needs is more innocent communities made to suffer the Adverse Health Effects!
      My family already pays $400/ month on Hydro and only a small portion of that is in usage, so I’m not looking forward to the new bills!
      I am not politically educated but is there not some way of forming a non-confidence vote and sending Mr. McGuinty packing? It worked in Star Wars! : ) It’s a thought I’m sure many people out there are pondering. Sadly this feels very much like a “B” Science Fiction Movie with a huge productions costs and bad acting! This is one 3D movie I’d like to see over because I’m tired of being on the edge of my seat and I feel like throwing up!

  2. [excerpt] ‘If the same reckless approach were taken with shareholders’ money in a private company, securities regulators would almost surely recommend charges be laid against those behind such a scheme.

    Heads should roll in this case, too. The trouble is, as Mr. McCarter also identified, much of the final decision-making was tightly controlled by Premier McGuinty himself. And we suspect Mr. McGuinty is unlikely to fire himself from Cabinet. Though re-elected with only a minority government in October’s vote, the Liberals are only two votes shy of a majority, and neither opposition Progressive Conservatives or provincial NDP are likely to topple Mr. McGuinty so soon after an election. The people of Ontario are likely stuck with him for the time being — as they are certainly stuck with the high costs of his green dreams.’

    How true!
    But, time is a wonderful thing too.
    By the time McGuinty leaves office, he’ll be too ashamed to shout –
    He was the Premiere on Ontario!

    • Oops!
      but – not really.
      What I was thinking when I wrote – on Ontario – was the word –
      ‘squatting’ – if ya know what I mean.

      • Were there not 5 known cabinet members in attendance at a last week of June 2008 meeting in Kingston where the plans for the Green Energy Act were hatched? No cabinet members knew what was going on?

    • The Ombusdman is not doing his job. He has acquired reams of information, in all forms in the past 2 1/2 years and all they do is say Arlene King says things are fine and the research chair will research…..The research chair has 5 years to let Mcguinty put up all the wind turbines he can before their report is due.
      It’s all a big scam and the Ombudman should NOT be supporting the government by referring to King’s pathetic literature review and the reearch chair appointment.
      The Ombudsmans office needs to be investigated also. Who is watching the watch dog?
      Everything has been corrupted by the green agenda.

  3. Corrupt politicians will never admit they did anything wrong in supporting the fraud of wind power,
    People confronted with these useless, destructive, divisive projects are resorting to civil disobedience.
    Protestors have been arrested at projects in Maine and Vermont.
    See pictures and videos of Gaz Metro’s version of mountaintop removal on Lowell Mtn VT:
    http://lowellmountainsnews.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/dscn00801.jpg

    Mountain Talk
    lowellmountainsnews.wordpress.com

    Use Less

    • Things could get 10 times worse in rural Ontario if government thinks they can install 10 times more IWTs than there are now.

  4. I’m following the comment threads in two Toronto dailes. There has been considerable input by people who oppose IWT for a lot of different reasons. Today a Star columnist said:
    “While the media have been distracted by all the sound and fury from anti-wind protesters — people who object on esthetic grounds, worry about declining property values, or claim unproven health problems — there are larger eonomic issues at play,” No comments are allowed.
    It appears they want to shut us up. Congratulations to all involved.

    • We’ve been harping on the economic issues since 2008. The media chose to ignore that. The Toronto media paints us how they want to see us, as usual.

    • Thanks, this is an important area that needs daily attention in the IWT battle. Keep us posted.

  5. For argument and commentary sake, the number of working turbines in Ont. now is?
    Would you know a site to go to for information.
    Thank-you

    • Current total wind ~ 1,325 MW. Per-turbine capacity ~ 2 MW.

    • Martin, go to this link, http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/genEnergy.asp click on a recent date, near the bottom of the page find total wind capability.
      About 1700Mw (mega watt – 1 000 000 watt) wind farms less than 20Mw don’t show up here so add another 200Mw? 1900 total divide by a little less than 2.
      Equals about 1000 turbines

      • Thanks. From the CanWEA site I add up approx 915. in Ont. So a rough figure of 1000 seems to be in right ball park. This jives with some recent news reports; other reports are still quoting 800, which is a bit low.

      • Some VoIWTS EXIST surrounded by those wind “farms” of less than 20 MW.

        In fact, Mike Crawley of AIM Power Gen/IPC/IPR – GDF Suez/Plateau Wind pulled a really fast boondoggle by submitting 3 proposals which APPEARED to be community based by naming them for historical hamlets within the county eg. Clear Creek, Cultus and Frogmore. This was REALLY only ONE project of 18 IWTs and by the time McGoo and co. realized what had happened, and such projects were never again permitted in Ontario, it was TOO LATE for the VoIWTs here. The effect of 18 IWTs all jammed in within a 3 km radius surrounding ~ 140 houses is excruciatingly painful to many even though NOT to all.

        Nevertheless, real people still try to exist here and suffer the assaults of the IWTs every night as they try to get the adequate sleep every human needs to maintain a strong immune system. Most of the VoIWTs spend as many daytime hours away from IWTs as possible. NOT MUCH of an EXISTANCE eh!

  6. For a while now, I’ve wondered how popular these turbines would be in cottage country? Would the health and noise issues would find a voice if there were hundreds of the turbines dotting that landscape??

    • Cottage Country: generally not enough wind, many well-healed / influencial property owners, too many trees and a lot of rock.

      This may not stop the greedy wind proponents if the subsidies are generous enough.

      • There are some very cynical Victims of Industrial Wind Turbines who are hoping that “Cottage Country” WILL be TOTALLY INUNDATED with IWTs so that the presently suffering VoIWTs will at least have company in their misery.

      • Das Schadenfreude in Muskoka, eh Jutta Splettstoesser.

  7. In Australia they are seeing similar problems and fouling the grid as well…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/carbon-plan/rooftop-solar-panels-overloading-electricity-grid/story-fn99tjf2-1226165360822

    THE runaway take-up of rooftop solar panels is undermining the quality of electricity supplies, feeding so much power back into the network that it is stressing the system and causing voltage rises that could damage household devices such as computers and televisions.

    Power distribution lines and home wiring were designed for electricity to flow from power stations to appliances, but households with solar panels do the reverse of this.

    No surprises there…

    • When you let nit-wits and eco-nuts run power systems this is where you end up!!!

  8. The whole “green” renewable energy scam did not happen by accident. It was well planned.

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