Apparently to the surprise of the groups feeding off the Ontario government’s subsidies for renewable energy, the Wynne government announced September 27 a dramatic policy reversal. Ontario has immediately suspended the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II) process and the Energy-from-Waste Standard Offer Program, halting procurement of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and energy from waste projects.
The announcement is meaningful as a change in direction, but it is pain relief in the way that not hitting your head against the wall is a good way to reduce headaches.
The by-election loss is clearly on the Wynne governments’ minds.
The electricity cost tax trick they presented in the Speech from the Throne flew like a lead balloon. It seems that not that many people, except Toronto Hydro, think shifting cost from ratepayers to taxpayers and the deficit while underlying costs keep rising is such a groovy idea.
The Libs have been very slow learners on this file. As more and more people became aware of Ontario increasing need to give away power to neighboring utilities mostly in Michigan and New York, and paying generators large (but undisclosed) amounts to not generate, it became increasingly difficult to justify buying more useless junk power.
I wonder how much coming changes in political fundraising rules made ramping back renewables easier for the Libs to accept. We know that renewables special interest groups were participants in the $5K a plate steak dinners with the Energy Minister. If cabinet ministers can’t do that anymore, then what’s the point of continuing to sign more contracts?
The interest groups feeding off the renewable subsidies have cranked up their lobbying engines so fast, they are putting the tobacco guys worried about plain packaging laws to shame. Here are a few comments issued on the day of the announcement:
Key points from Environmental Dufus include: ‘don’t back away, double down’, don’t believe the Auditor General on the cost of renewable subsidies
Key points from the Canadian Wind Energy Asses: ‘shocked and extremely disappointed’, how will we charge up all the millions of electric cars we’ll have next week, Ontario won’t be saved from Global Warming
Nothing yet from the Environmental Complainer of Ontario but a press conference at Queen’s Park by Dianne Saxe can’t be far behind.
Here are podcasts of some of the interviews I did on the policy reversal:
– Appearance on the Tom McConnell Show
– Appearance on Libby Znaimer’s show, including several rounds of call-in Q&A
– Appearance on Brian Lilley’s show on CFRA in Ottawa, (September 27th, 18:30-28:20)
– Appearance on Devon Peacock’s show on 980 AM in London, (September 28th, 1:30-
Scott Luft has a wonderful post here on the government suspending renewables procurement that includes a survey of some of the prominent press coverage. Scott’s analysis of the contribution of renewables to rising power rates is particularly helpful. One additional press clipping that I recommend is this thoughtful piece by Jim Merriam at the London Free Press.