Energy Policy and Canada
Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell recently had a tête-à-tête to discuss how B.C. could assist California in dealing with its energy crisis. At the same time, the California Utilities Commission gave Pacific Gas and Electric US$14 million to explore renewable energy sources in B.C. and the feasibility of a new transmission corridor stretching from B.C. to the Golden State.
Conspicuously absent from the self-congratulatory press releases about co-operation between the jurisdictions in pursuing a "green" agenda was the most important issue: Who will own - and benefit from - the development of B.C.'s renewable energy?
A closer look at the B.C. government's wind energy policies reveals an enormous giveaway of literally billions of dollars in wind farm assets and future public revenues to private power developers. Yet there has been virtually no public discussion of the scope and cost of the government's wind energy policies.
For years, Premier Dalton McGuinty has made an art of dividing rural Ontarians from urban. Now he's gone one better, seeking to split the wealthiest rural landowners, those with lakefront property, from the rest of us. It's a breathtaking display of cynicism and a move that, in pure political terms, is clever.
When Ontario's auditor general looked at the Liberals' renewable energy policies in 2011, he found they (a) rushed into the field without knowing what they were doing (b) failed to develop a business plan (c) did no internal audit work ...(f) grossly over-estimated the number of jobs they would create.
As a result they have added billions of dollars to the cost of electricity Ontarians will be paying for years to come.
The Ontario government's rush into renewable energy, and industrial wind turbine-generated electricity in particular, is likely to reveal the law of unintended consequences. The government needs to rigorously re-evaluate this precipitous policy before committing billions more in subsidies to it.
First, as to the cost of wind-generated electricity, the feed-in tariff for on-shore wind turbines in Ontario provided for under the Green Energy Act is 13.5¢ per kWh (and higher for smaller projects).
ATI, along with the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimated the cost to the economy of forcing renewable energy mandates. They estimate in addition to the extra cost of energy to consumers, the cost to business would be passed along in reduced income or layoffs.
Here in Huron County we have municipalities struggling with how to regulate proposed wind farms. Those opposed to the turbines point to the potential of the health risks some have claimed are possible by living close to turbines. Others don't like the noise from the turbines. Others just don't like what they look like.
Whatever the reason, it's clear the issue of wind farms is a controversy that won't go away soon.