Ontario’s current temporary electricity generation surplus is creating the false comfort that the planned expansion of more expensive wind, solar and natural gas generation will be flexible enough to address any increases in electricity demand. Ontarians should remember that it was only eight years ago that our province faced significant power shortages.
A recent analysis by Strategy Policy Economics compared two supply mix scenarios for Ontario. One scenario assumed the development of wind generation as outlined in the LTEP and the other assumed the refurbishment of all of Ontario’s nuclear reactors and the building of two new reactors as outlined in the LTEP.
The analysis indicated that proceeding with the nuclear scenario while curtailing wind investments would:
Deliver $56 billion in direct benefits to Ontario’s economy through $27 billion in savings to ratepayers and $29 billion in direct Ontario investment. Compared to the wind scenario, the net incremental benefit of proceeding with the nuclear investments is $60 billion;
Provide $9 billion more in direct income benefits (the primary factor driving secondary economic impacts) as well as creating over 100,000 more person years of employment compared to the wind investments; and,
Reduce incremental greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after 2023 by 108 million tonnes more than continuing to build additional intermittent wind generation with natural gas backup, 80 percent less GHG emissions.
In 2011, the Auditor General of Ontario reported that “billions of dollars of new wind and solar power projects were approved without many of the usual planning, regulatory and over sight processes.”
Ontario’s investments in wind and solar generation have been heavily subsidized by ratepayers contributing to rising electricity prices, now on the way to being among the highest in North America.
Consumers face further price increases as a result of billions of dollars in hidden costs for the integration and management of intermittent wind and solar generation as well as for backup from natural gas generation when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.
Natural gas generation is replacing coal generation for peak needs but it is also providing backup for intermittent wind and solar generation, which is needed over 70 percent of the time.
Ontario’s growing dependency on imported gas, including environmentally questionable U.S shale gas means higher greenhouse gas emissions.
The 50,000 green jobs promised by the Green Energy and Green Economy Act have failed to materialize. The Auditor General’s 2011 Report expected that most of the jobs would be short-term construction jobs.
The Green Energy and Green Economy Act required wind and solar projects to use minimum domestic labour and goods in support of achieving a green jobs economy. This provision ran afoul of international trade rules and Ontario was forced to drop it.
The government renegotiated an untendered $7 billion contract to build wind and solar generation with Samsung and now claims that this action will save consumer’s money on their monthly electricity bills.
Billions of dollars in ratepayer-supported subsidies to big multinational wind and solar and natural gas generation developers are flowing out of Ontario instead of creating jobs here.
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