The 340 lost jobs at the Siemens Canada wind turbine plant in Tillsonburg announced Tuesday are the tip of the iceberg.
That’s because Ontario’s renewable energy industry, including wind, is built on a house of cards of massive public subsidies that was always only going to last as long as the subsidies kept coming.
Because of the incompetence of the Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty Liberal governments, Ontarians are now facing a perfect storm of multiple energy crises.
They’re paying the highest electricity rates in Canada - which the Liberals say they’re going to fix by plunging us even deeper into debt - while billions of locked-in public dollars are being wasted on unneeded, unreliable and expensive green energy, combined with the first of what could be thousands of layoffs in the sector.
The closure of this plant - one of four set up under the province’s multi-billion dollar green energy deal with South Korea’s Samsung corporation arising out of 2009’s disastrous Green Energy Act - was in the cards ever since Premier Wynne announced in September, 2016 that the government was cancelling all future wind megaprojects because of an energy surplus.
An energy surplus created in part by the skyrocketing prices of green energy, where Ontarians now pay, according to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, twice the U.S. average for wind power and 3.5 times the average for solar.
The first visible indication the industry was in trouble occurred in 2013, when the Liberals downsized their $9.3-billion deal with Samsung by more than one-third.
As independent energy analyst Tom Adams told our sister paper, the London Free Press, Tuesday, future layoffs are likely in Ontario’s wind industry unless it can drum up new business outside Ontario, where the market is saturated.
“I think it was always pretty obvious that whatever jobs were going to arise from the Green Energy Act were all temporary or almost all temporary” Adams said, noting that once the subsidies dry up, wind developers leave.
It’s not as if the Liberals weren’t warned.
In 2011, then auditor general Jim McCarter told the then McGuinty government its claims of creating 50,000 new green energy jobs by 2012 through its 2009 Green Energy Act, were a mirage.
McCarter found 30,000 of those jobs were in construction, lasting only one to three years, and the government had failed to take into account studies in other jurisdictions showing that for each job created through renewable energy, two to four were lost in other sectors of the economy, because of higher electricity prices.
And yet through all this, including a finding by Lysyk in 2015 that the Liberals could have saved $9.2 billion if they had simply listened to the advice of their own experts on how to price green energy projects, the Liberals blundered on.
They doubled down, basking themselves in the praise of Al Gore, who kept coming to Ontario to tell them how wonderful their leadership on green energy was.
The ultimate absurdity is that the Liberals didn’t replace Ontario’s coal-fired electricity with wind and solar power as they suggest.
They replaced it with nuclear power and natural gas.
Wind and solar were always a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle.
Sadly it’s honest workers and hydro consumers who are now paying the price of Liberal blunders.