The National Post published an insider’s view of Ontario’s electricity situation back on September 2nd.
Here was a board member of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, Jon Kieran, explaining the consumer impact of Wynne government’s ongoing practice of procuring even more costly wind and solar generation at a time when supply already vastly exceeds declining demand. He specifically fingered the government’s massive 1300 MW Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program as avoidable, unjustified consumer pain. The Liberals have timed contract awards from the next round of the LRP to be six weeks before the next Ontario election — perfect for political fundraising.
The article attracted a lot of attention on the National Post site and on social media. I was asked on Tom McConnell’s radio show to comment on article (podcast here around minute 25:00)
Jon Kieran’s National Post column was followed by another insider piece arguing against interest on how to contain soaring power rates, this time from the distribution utility Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro.
Jon Kieran has generously agreed to contribute his thoughts in the following guest post. I could fairly be described as a “nattering nabob of negativism” with respect to Ontario’s electricity situation, so Jon’s encouraging piece resonates with me. I hope his guest post encourages vigorous discussion and debate.
An economist by training, Jon Kieran has led origination, development, due diligence and transaction efforts in the commercialization of more than $1 billion of renewable energy projects in Canada. He is a Toronto-based renewable energy consultant with Integrus Consulting Inc., and who advocates for ethical, sensible and sustainable prosperity. You can follow him on Twitter @JonWKieran and find him on LinkedIn here.
PROACTIVE PURVEYORS OF POSITIVITY
By Jon Kieran
In the decaying years of President Nixon’s first administration, circa 1970/71, American media and Democrat political opponents unleashed an unwavering criticism of the prevailing problems – racism, war, urban strife – befalling the United States. Mixed in with this message of grief and frustration was the accusation that the administration had no ability to fix things.
As Nixon geared up for re-election, it fell to Vice President Spiro Agnew, mouthing the words of speechwriter and journalist, William Safire, to remind Americans that the “nattering nabobs of negativism” would never resonate with America’s optimistic spirit. Nixon and Agnew belittled the pessimism of opponents during the 1972 election and won in a landslide, taking 49 of 50 states.
Almost 50 years later, the battleground between upbeat and downcast has moved northward. Here in Ontario, people have a lot to say these days about energy and electricity. Most of it is wildly negative. And with good reason. The crises befalling Ontario’s power system today are costly, self-inflicted and without any immediate solutions.
Liberal government critics slide easily into a apoplectic rage as they enumerate the myriad failures of energy policies and programs during the past decade: rampaging hydro bills that are multiples the cost of living; a fumbled and gold-plated implementation of time-of-use meters; over-market procurement of unneeded large renewable capacity; ubiquitous wind turbines in south western Ontario and the local communities they’ve fractured apart; costly demand response programs at a time when peak demand is falling; politically expedient but expensive cancellations of Liberal riding gas plants in the GTA; an “Access-to Ministers” fund raising effort that enabled industry insiders to buy $5,000 dinners with the Premier; taxpayer support for Tesla millionaires; the emerging cap and trade fund fiasco; continued large renewable procurement amidst one of the largest (and costliest) power surpluses in Ontario history. The list goes on, and is buttressed by related scandals in e-health, MaRs, Ornge, Pan Am games executive compensation, the (momentary) Ontario pension plan, after-hours deletion of public service Emails by the boyfriend of a deputy chief of staff – the depth and breadth of material is jaw dropping in its cynicism!
Which raises an interesting challenge for those who are relentless in their criticism of the Liberal record. Don’t be a nattering nabob of negativity! Focus on solutions. Offer an alternative. Sketch out a path for Ontario that will address the historic failures of Liberal government – but will invite citizens and voters to embrace real/progressive change. I (humbly) call it, “Proactive Purveyors of Positivity”.
Pretty sure the phrase has no copyright protection so go ahead and use it. The next time you find yourself frothing at the mouth as you rant about the terminal incompetence of the Liberal government, keep in mind they will be entering their 16thgoverning year by the time of the next election. Their message resonates with a segment of the Ontario public. The challenge for critics is to help that segment and other undecided voters understand why Liberal energy policies are on a trajectory to failure, while also getting them to appreciate a superior and more responsible alternative.
The task at hand is to get people excited about an Ontario that could emerge as soon as 2018 – better governed, confronting its problems, fixing them optimistically. I am determined to be a proactive purveyor of this positive alternative.
My next post: what are these positive energy and electricity policy directions, and how would they put Ontario on the right path?