Questions Arising from the Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives

Questions Arising from the Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives   Compiled by Keith Stelling, MA, MNIMH, Dip Phyt, MCPP
With comprehensive and detailed evidence gathered independently from inside the Ministry of Energy– much of it previously unavailable to the public– the Auditor General’s Report unambiguously challenges both the rationale and implementation of the Green Energy Act.

The Act has been promoted as a mechanism for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, increasing job opportunities, and creating a competitive business environment. However the Auditor General’s investigators found little evidence that these objectives have been or would be realized. Instead it suggests that the escalating electricity costs resulting from the addition of solar and wind power to the grid with their extravagant feed-in-tariffs are having the opposite effect.

The report emphasizes “that wind and solar renewable power will add significant additional costs to ratepayers’ electricity bills”. (89) However there will be additional costs because “wind and solar are not as reliable and require backup from alternative energy-supply methods such as gas-fired generation”. (89) Nevertheless, the public was led to believe increased costs would be minimal (1%). Surveys indicated that people were willing to pay only up to 5% more for renewable electricity.

The report indicates that the escalating increase of electricity prices will continue to gain momentum as rising costs for backup, connection of renewable energy projects, spilling hydro and nuclear, and payments to renewable energy producers not to produce electricity increase. The negative implications of increased electricity costs on employment and the economy in general further challenge the practicality of the Green Energy Act. The Auditor questions whether the estimate of the number of jobs that the government claims have been created by the Act is accurate and asks why those that are being lost are not being accounted for.

However the report goes beyond assessing the financial liability of imprudent expenses and overly generous feed-in-tariffs offered to energy producers. “No comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate the impacts of the billion-dollar commitment. Such an evaluation would typically include assessing the prospective economic and environmental effects of such a massive investment in renew¬able energy on future electricity prices, direct and indirect job creation or losses, greenhouse gas emissions, and other variables”. (89) Alarmingly, decisions continue to be made piecemeal without overall cost and effectiveness evaluation. The investigators found that “the ministry’s internal audit service team . . . had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives”. (88)

The government’s adamant contention that there are no adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines is also questioned by the Auditor General who notes that the report by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health “was questioned by environmental groups, physicians, engineers, and other professionals, who noted that it was merely a literature review that presented no original research and did not reflect the situation in Ontario”. (119-120)

Even more worrying, is the lack of appropriate oversight and transparency. Decisions have been made by ministerial directive and directions, relying largely on the opinion of a single inexperienced minister, while circumventing both the recommendations regarding feasibility by expert energy professionals in the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and frustrating the responsibility for oversight by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to ensure that renewable energy resources are obtained in a cost-effective manner.

4 thoughts on “Questions Arising from the Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives

  1. I guess this explains why the auditor generals` report seems to have been quickly tucked away, out of the spotlight, by McGuiltys` Lying Liberals. We sure haven`t heard much more about it, since it was first revealed.
    It`s pretty obvious that the NDP don`t want to rock the boat, re the GEA either.
    No wonder McGuinty is carrying on, like he has a majority again, because basically he does. Some wear the Liberal band and some wear the NDP band, but they are one and the same when it comes to destroying rural Ontario with dirty, useless IWTs.
    Neither Liberals nor NDP give a rats arse about our fragile environment.
    Only the Conservatives really seem to care, about Ontarios & Ontarions` future, economically and environmentally. Exactly the opposite, of what they are regularily accused of. Lefties are soooo incredibly gullible or stupid?.

      • Now that the NDP shot its wad with one vote,how does the NDP propose to get the confidence of rural ontario back?

  2. Philosophically the Ont NDP probably is very similar to the federal party with respect to wind energy development. This would include some of the ideas expressed by Megan Leslie. Judging by her remarks I think it unlikely that the NDP has any sympathy for IWT resistance. Peggy Nash former CAW executive is a candidate for federal leader, we know clearly that union’s position on the subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *