Dammed Heritage, Damned Consumers

Next week, a company called Swift River Energy Limited will start ripping up the landscape to dam the waterfalls at the heart of the town of Bala, Ontario. The 4.5 MW project, located where Lake Muskoka issues into the Moon River, would produce a trivial amount of useful power. Most of the output will be delivered when Ontario and neighbouring utilities are already over-supplied. Ontario consumers will pay far above market rates for every drop of its juice — up to 17.685 cents/kWh. For the foreseeable future, the consumers benefiting from this project will be in Michigan and New York. They will pay pennies on the dollar for the exported power.

Lost will be an ancient portage route travelled for centuries by aboriginal people, explorers, fur traders, and more recently by recreational paddlers. Where there is today a public park with free parking and a place for folks to picnic, view the falls, swim and fish, in its place will be a concrete impoundment and powerhouse, probably surrounded with a barbed wire fence.

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Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 118: Yet Another Award for Toronto Hydro’s CEO

Last night, the Ontario Energy Association conferred its “Leader of the Year” award upon Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro. Over the course of this series I have documented many events and actions where the actual performance of Mr. Haines contrasts starkly against his many awards and other special recognitions. The number and prominence of his awards and special recognitions is substantial. Continue reading ‘Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 118: Yet Another Award for Toronto Hydro’s CEO’ »

Suzuki-land Campaigns for Higher Ontario Electricity Rates

Over the last while, CBC’s flagship Toronto show, “Metro Morning with Matt Galloway”, has featured commentaries by business columnists Michael Hlinka and Armine Yalnizyan on Ontario’s electricity sector. Although both have positioned their reports as measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to stop climate change, in both cases the columnists’
recommendations were more directly focused on increasing costs for consumers than on achieving any particular environmental objective. Continue reading ‘Suzuki-land Campaigns for Higher Ontario Electricity Rates’ »

Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 117: Circular Lobbying

The Ontario Energy Board regulates and approves the rates that Toronto Hydro charges its customers. According to the Ontario government’s Lobbyist Registry one of the activities those rates fund is an in-house lobbyist currently lobbying a list of Ontario government departments and agencies. The Registry indicates that one of the agencies that Toronto Hydro lobbies is the Ontario Energy Board. Continue reading ‘Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 117: Circular Lobbying’ »

Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 116: Toronto Hydro’s Latest Attempt to Jack Up Rates

Under CEO Anthony Haines, Toronto Hydro has dedicated itself to the proposition that power users in the city are paying way too little for electricity. Particularly since 2011, the utility has presented a wide variety of schemes to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to secure approval for higher rates. The latest scheme is now officially under review by the OEB.

Under the new plan, residential consumers would see the core distribution portion of their bills rise 21% in 2015, while rates for small and medium – sized businesses would rise 19 – 22%. Continue reading ‘Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 116: Toronto Hydro’s Latest Attempt to Jack Up Rates’ »

Guest Post “Dismantling the Ontario Energy Board” by Jay Shepherd, (originally posted September 2, 2014)

The following guest post is authored by Toronto-based energy law expert Jay Shepherd. In it, Jay addresses trends in energy regulation in Ontario. Jay is a major figure in energy law in Ontario, having practiced before the Ontario Energy Board since 1985. Over the course of his career, he has represented a wide range of interests including renewable energy producers and consumer groups. Since 2003, Jay has represented the energy regulation interests of all 5000 of Ontario’s public and secondary schools. He also has a background in tech start-ups, banking, and tax.
Continue reading ‘Guest Post “Dismantling the Ontario Energy Board” by Jay Shepherd, (originally posted September 2, 2014)’ »

Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 115A: Toronto Hydro’s Near Miss (Report Attachment)

HONI rpt on THESL-caused April 15 Blackout is the Hydro One report referred to in Part 115, posted on August 6th, of this series identifying Toronto Hydro’s unsafe construction of a power line on Union Street as the cause of the April 2014 blackout in west Toronto. Continue reading ‘Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 115A: Toronto Hydro’s Near Miss (Report Attachment)’ »

Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 115: Toronto Hydro’s Near Miss

A report, “Toronto Hydro Electric System Customer Briefing”, authored by technical staff within Hydro One, provides the first detailed technical explanation now available of the events surrounding the April 15 blackout that left about one quarter of Toronto Hydro’s customers in the dark. Dated May 1, 2014, the report clearly sets out the risk of electrocution that Toronto Hydro exposed workers to in constructing the misconceived infrastructure upgrade project that caused the blacked out. Continue reading ‘Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 115: Toronto Hydro’s Near Miss’ »

Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 114: How Toronto Hydro Screws Small and Medium-sized Businesses

Notwithstanding its natural advantages due to economies of scale and service territory density, Toronto Hydro currently charges 28% more for distribution service than the average of the distribution rates charged by the province’s other large urban distributors. Toronto Hydro’s record on rates charged to small and medium-sized business is much worse. Continue reading ‘Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 114: How Toronto Hydro Screws Small and Medium-sized Businesses’ »