Corrupt Electricity Reporting Part 1

Here is a time line to help readers understand the background behind some of the Toronto Star’s reporting of Ontario electricity news.

November 23, 2010: In an email exchange Ben Chin, Ontario Power Authority VP, former Ontario Liberal candidate, and also former senior media advisor to then Premier Dalton McGuinty discusses with senior communications staffer, Alicia Johnston, employed in the Ontario Minister of Energy’s office. Johnston complains about negative reporting by Tom Adams and proposes that “We’ve got to get him (Tyler Hamilton) out as an ‘expert’ commentator.” Chin replies, “We need to throw him (Tyler Hamilton) some work.”

Ben Chin has presented himself as an authority on politics and journalistic ethics, including this interview soon after he left his then prominent career in broadcast journalism.

May 3, 2011: The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), closely supervised by the Ontario government, released a report on “Smart Grid” development in the province. The Corporate Partners Committee participating in the report included a Who’s Who of international energy technology firms selling Smart Grid concepts around the world. The Ontario government’s electricity policies heavily emphasize promoting Smart Grid. In a footnote, the report thanks Tyler Hamilton for his assistance in preparing this report.

Here are two examples of Toronto Star Business Section articles that subsequently appeared on the subject of Smart Grid authored by Tyler Hamilton. Both news reports omit mention of Hamilton’s IESO funding:

May 11, 2012: The smarter the grid, the less you notice it

June 29, 2012: Smart Grid, Delayed Delivery

Here is the complete response of the IESO, issued earlier today, when I sought details on how much Tyler Hamilton got paid for his work on the Smart Grid report:

Tyler Hamilton was the successful respondent to a competitive procurement process for the delivery of this report.

The IESO uses competitive procurement processes, such as RFQs or RFPs, to evaluate proposals according to a pre-determined set of criteria – including costs and experience. As with standard procurement practice, all bids submitted through this process are subject to non-disclosure agreements.

On Twitter, I have been asking Tyler Hamilton to disclose how much the Ontario government and agents have paid him and his associates like Corporate Knights. As of this posting, no response from Hamilton has been forthcoming.

The evidence presented here indicates that Tyler Hamilton’s electricity reporting in the Toronto Star has been corrupted by a conflict of interest. I have previously reported on evidence of similar politicization developing within the Ontario public service. The Ontario public service has contributed to a cover-up of the gas scandal that includes responding to inquiries from the Information and Privacy Commissioner with information she has identified as “inaccurate and incomplete”.

Given the importance of an independent press and a professional public service in protecting the public interest, the corrupting effects of Ontario’s ongoing electricity policy challenges appears to represent a substantial threat to the province’s future.

Post Script (August 29, 8:21) Please help research this issue. After the OPA’s Ben Chin recommended grea$ing Tyler Hamilton in November 2010, was it only the IESO that started funnelling cash to Hamilton?

23 Comments

  1. The experience I have had dealing with wind pushers, and speaking to people all over the world who also have had to deal with windpushers, is that they share alot of things in common, no matter where they are. It is like they read from the pages of their World-Wide, Wind-Weasels Handbook.

    They are all extremely allergic to the truth.
    They never do business without “gag clauses”.
    Although they will tell you turbines are whisper quiet, and harmless, not ONE of those people lives anywhere near a wind turbine.
    And last but not least, invariably you will find, supporters of wind, are supported by wind! (and they’re not making minimum wage)
    The sooner we end this fiasco, the sooner we can get on with damage control, and that is the mode we need to be in after the Liberals have had their way with this province.

  2. We need to stop this fiasco before we bankrupt Ontario supporting wind turbines. Wind turbines are dependent on wind. If the wind is not blowing at peak time, to capture the electricity, we have to dump the electricity; as there is no means to save it for future use. The health issues that these monsters are linked to should tell people we don’t need these unproductive machines. Wind turbines are expensive monsters destroying our rural landscape; killing off our bird life. It is very disheartening to see how many people are ignoring this issue; although our electricity bills are soon going to reflect the cost of this boondoggle; for years to come. Please people, do some homework on this topic and discover for yourself that the host farmer and the wind turbine manufacturers are the ones gaining making the money. We will be paying for 20 years for this mistake. Let’s put the brakes on this mess NOW!

    • I sympathize with the intentions behind this comment, although I would point out that the logic is loose in the statement “If the wind is not blowing at peak time, to capture the electricity, we have to dump the electricity; as there is no means to save it for future use.” Technically, it would be possible to increase Ontario’s capacity to store electricity. However, adding the cost of storage to the cost of already expensive intermittent wind power translates into a punishing cost for consumers.

      • The fact that OPG will buy electricity from suppliers even when it is not needed provides no impetus to develop technologies that can more usefully utilise intermittent generation.

        Those kinds of technologies would likely be in much demand in a lot of places in the developing world. (But maybe not so much in Ontario itself. So they could be export or knowledge-based industries.)

        Wind energy is (not suprisingly) going to where the bucks are, rather than where it is most needed. And the technology is being sidetracked from the path where it might do the most good for humanity.

        We’ve got so little from the investment in the green-energy act. We could have got a lot more. Policy should be changed.

      • Tom, excellent point on electrical storage – and along with storage comes demand management, fuel substitution, efficiency – bags of it – and a diversity of renewable sources to balance their load profiles. Also excellent point on punishing costs – the hidden costs of fossil fuels will give us the ultimate punishment. How do we – within a decade or two – get off fossil fuels?

  3. Your digging deep into the “black hole” called “Renewable Energy is the answer to saving the world” Club!
    It is a “an Old Boys Club”, plain and simple made up of a “gang green” that basically controls all aspects of our failing energy sector.
    The same names keep cropping up within all the energy agencies and lobby groups that have basically engineered Ontario’s Energy Disaster!
    Nothing short of a Public Inquiry is warranted at this point into possible “corruption and fraudulent practices” by these people!!!

  4. There is no safe distance for wind Turbines, NOT GREEN , NOT CHEAP , NOT RELIABLE , and come with a very BAD side EFFECT to People and the ENVIRONMENT. there is Nothing GREEN about TURBINES. SAY NO TO WIND TURBINES .

  5. Tom, this post is totally beyond the pale. The IESO is not the OPA and getting work in “preparing a report” (i.e. being contracted to act as a committee secretary/writer) is not the same as being a spokesman for the government. I see the connection you’re trying to make between getting the work and being corrupted by the government, but Tyler was an energy reporter and was very familiar with the subject before authoring the report or subsequent articles. Oh, and notice in his second article (published in June of 2012!) he criticizes the government of being slow on rolling out SG grants….doesn’t sound like a reporter that has completely drank the Liberal kool-aid to me. Lastly, there’s nothing that connects Tyler to trying to divert anyone’s attention from the issue of power plant cancellations, being a spokesman for the government or even using his job at the Star to attack your positions in the media….so why do you conclude that the government was successful in co-opting him and why are you trying to slander him and his journalistic integrity?

    If anything, it shows me that as far back as 2010/2011, aside from being Ben Chin’s friend, the Liberals and Tyler had no real connection at all…funny for a government that had been in power for 7 YEARS and had clearly yet to reel in the fish that you claim is corrupt.

    • I think you are missing the point. Government employees wanting favorable news coverage to support their dubious agenda conspired to use Tyler Hamilton and the Star by offering him paid work and flattery. It’s not clear to me whether he is completely corrupt or just too stupid to see that he’s being used. But in any case he has a conflict of interest and ethically should not be allowed to report on the government’s electricity agenda, period. Tom is on solid ground here.

      • There isn’t a shadow of doubt about Alicia Johnston or Ben Chin lacking any ethical foundation. The fact that these two characters occupied senior positions in McGuinty’s government helps us see the ethical vacuum that existed there.

  6. One would have to wonder just how far reaching this propoganda reporting is by the Main Stream media to push the provincial Liberal Green Energy Act agenda or non reporting to allow it to happen.

    Our province is in trouble when the politicians control the media.

    One just has to view the gas plant scandal hearings currently ongoing from the cancelled Oakville and Mississauga plants where the generation is needed to see the depth of spin that is fed to the unsuspecting public.

    All for a political agenda and provincial election seats that will cost the taxpayers and rate payers up to over a billion dollars for these plants alone. Not to mention the improperly sited and unneccesary highly subsidized wind and solar projects that do not create the jobs forecasted.

    This is a dangerous path for democracy and truthful reporting in the interest of the people.

    The media should not bow to political pressure and those that are on the take should be held accountable as well as their employer.

  7. There are not many who understand that they are dealing here, by and large, with a cabal interested in enriching themselves at the expense of Ontario electric consumers.
    It dosen’t matter whether or not renewable energy works. All that counts is the money to made from renewable energy projects.

  8. He Everyone,

    Please everyone calm down and don’t distress yourselfs for nothing, it is what it is and nothing will ever change ontil or unless all these Power Companies and Hydro’s/Utilities start being sold off and Private sector and Investors have full control of the day to day operating and rules and policy that the ministry of energy federally and provenances MOE set

    Media will always be paid off and to keep hush hush on anything negative that goes down in the energy sector cuz its a multi Billion cash cow and with these 2 facts very well pointed out by my comments there is nothing more tightly strapped in red tape then the power sector within Ontario and Toronto

    Get used to getting screwed through your Hydro bill wait till Y2015 tolls in and a 25% to 30% increase rolls into affect cuz the entire grid is aged and maintenance and upgrades have been required over the last 15 to 20 years and not much has really been done or looked at cuz $Money Money Money is and has been very tight for the very last 10 years or so and these costs are in the 15Billion to 25Billion range and this estimate is for maintainability of current HV and LV circuits with Ontario and no upgrades or new generation

    Reports from experts and folks on Bay Street give it another 2 to 5 years and the National Canadian power sector will face lots of trouble in keeping the lights on if nothing is done and if things remain the same

    Quebec and BC have a sound and upgraded grid and solid all types of generation these two provinces have been working hard and have been invisting in their grid and generation for the last 25 years and more with private partnerships and investments

    Summery folks Ontario government will need to start selling off these power companies like OPG Hydro One, cities also need to sell their utilities Hydro, example Toronto Hydro will return the city of Toronto 5 to 7 billion on a cash strapped city like Toronto with the same of Toronto Hydro the suggested 5 to 7 billion would lesson the $ pressures the city has been facing and feeling for the last 20 years

    Folks don’t expect nothing new if the government doesn’t start selling off services like the power sector and other sectors you can only expect higher Hydro bills and lights off and on in a few years from now and the media being paid off to keep away from the power sector subject…

    • Hey Santers
      Sounds like you’re an advocate for a P3 ………………now there’s a recipe for disaster!
      Allow a corrupt Government to set up a Public Utility to fail and then offer the only way out of a complete financial disaster: let some Private Company borrow a huge amount of money (guaranteed by tax-payers without their consent) for a very long time, to re-invest in the Infrastructure and saddle the Public with mortgage payments for the next 40 years with no controls over the monthly price!
      Yepper…………………..ever heard of ORNGE????

      • Hi Mister thebiggreenlie,

        The Power Sector cant and never will be like Orange as you suggest…

        Going full Private through out Ontario will solve must of these current and foolish Mistakes of operating and running the Electrical Grid, and Generation in Ontario the sooner the better for the rate payers and tax payers in Ontario…

        The Old Ways of Running Hydro’s and Generation, in this Provence don’t cut it, and it will only get worse and worse and that will also include lights out for many hours to days in the very near future and higher Hydro Bills to top it off and half assed service…

    • There is no way Tony’s Hydro (Toronto Hydro) would give the City of Toronto the $5 billion you think it would. The earnings (after PIL) of Toronto Hydro in 2012 were $22.8 million. Valuing those at 10 times earning would generate $228 million. Add that to the net capital of $1.1 billion and the City would be lucky to get $1.4 billion. Most private utilities in the US trade at multiples of 7 to 8 times earnings so that puts the value of Toronto Hydro somewhere slightly north of $1..5 billion, a far cry from the suggested $5 to $7 billion you suggest.

      • Hi Parker,

        Toronto Hydro has at least 2 Billion Dollars sitting and wasting on Properties all around the Toronto area, like old de-commissioned sub stations…

        14 Carlton Street, Head Office for Toronto Hydro is currently worth at least 350 Million

        and the Call Centre and Call Centre is worth another 300 Million to 400 Million, Toronto Hydro has lots of sitting assets beside their Operation…

  9. Hi Everyone,

    The current and old ways don’t cut it in these times of how the Power Sector in Ontario is currently managed and operated…( It has been a travesty and lots of VP’s and CEO’s and Union Members getting very rich on the tax payer and Hydro Bill Payers right across Ontario for the last 20 years)

    Its Criminal!

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