The untold cost of wind and solar experiments

By MPP Toby Barrett

The wind tower debate has heated up in recent weeks – both in the media and at public meetings in Port Rowan, Port Dover and Hagersville. As well, Dalton McGuinty sent brochures to homes in Haldimand-Norfolk – and the ridings of Opposition Leader Tim Hudak, MPPs Hardeman, and Klees – suggesting we’re green job killers.

But also last week, the esteemed CD Howe Institute endorsed what we’ve been saying all along: expensive energy experiments are the wrong way to go. Despite McGuinty claims of thousands of jobs created by his forced green energy plans, CD Howe reported, “Ontario’s policies do not provide cost-effective approaches to meeting the government’s goals of creating jobs.”

Former CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, Jan Carr – now with CD Howe – notes that government green energy subsidies amount to $179,000 per job per year for the next 20 years! Carr states the McGuinty job estimates fail to take into account that many employed in construction would have had jobs anyway and higher green electricity rates raise business costs, resulting in fewer jobs.

The CD Howe findings are backed up by experience in other jurisdictions. Governments around the world that had offered subsidies to energy developers – a la McGuinty – are now walking away because they’ve realized the practice actually kills jobs. Texas, Spain and Italy, for example, found that for every green job created, as many as seven jobs were lost.
Case in point, the Long Term Energy Plan released by the McGuinty government last November includes the shutdown of OPG Nanticoke units, and the attendant jobs, before the end of 2011.

Even McGuinty, after first promising green electricity hikes of only 1 per cent, now admits that bills will rise by a further 46 percent over the next four years. And according to C.D. Howe families will see a $310 a year hike in their hydro bills.

This is understandable, considering the unaffordable green energy rates McGuinty committed us to under his Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program – in some cases close to 20 times the going rate. You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out that paying 80.2 cents per kwh in a 5 cents per kwh market, will drive already sky-high electricity rates into the stratosphere.

And, when wind creates more power than we require, we pay neighbouring states and provinces to take the surplus – once again sticking Ontario families with the bill.
All this unaffordable cost makes little sense when you consider questions surrounding sustainability and effectiveness of McGuinty’s chosen power producers. Dependent on the weather, with an inability to store power once produced, I’ve long felt you can’t run a steel mill on solar, nor a refinery on wind.

That said, there is no doubt that in our climate-change focussed world, green energy has a role to play, but only at affordable, competitive rates.

At last count 80 municipalities – including Norfolk and Haldimand – have passed resolutions objecting to industrial wind turbines and/or Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act.

It’s my hope that our Opposition commitments to reinstate municipal decision-making, cancel FIT and the secret Samsung deal, as well as eliminating the HST and Debt Retirement Charge from electricity bills will restore stability, and affordability to our energy future.