Wynne’s Version of the Ernie Eves Electricity Rate Freeze

Down in the polls, embattled over hydro rates, and about to face the voters, two Ontario premiers in recent years opted for panic-inspired electricity sector interventions that resulted in long-term harm. Just before the 2003 election, Premier Eves imposed a rate freeze that destroyed the electricity market and rang up the deficit by about a billion dollars a year for several years. Just before the 2011 election, Premier McGuilty introduced a financial shell game called the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit that ended up adding over $5 billion to the province’s debt.

Ontario appears to be repeating that history now.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is right now trying to figure out what her government might do to appear to be freezing power rates. One modern twist on the old story is that now the Premier has her new slush fund — cap and trade — to play with.

Given the masterful communications capabilities of the Wynne government, her soon-to-be-announced electricity relief program is sure to have a catchy title to be emblazoned on bills. Folks are invited to suggest suitable marketing slogans in the comments below.

Here are three podcasts from recent radio interviews discussing the strategies she is probably considering and the implications for consumers and taxpayers. Continue reading ‘Wynne’s Version of the Ernie Eves Electricity Rate Freeze’ »

Cap and Tirade

The Ontario governing party with five criminal investigations ongoing including several related to document destruction, the party of pay-for-access policy-for-hire fundraisers, the party that dismisses the Auditor General as confused about many things to do with energy, that is the party that is right now concocting a carbon market in Ontario out of government decrees.

Here is my column in the Toronto Sun Jan. 15 looking at the cost implications of cap and trade for Ontario consumers and the similarities this new program has with the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009 and also the provincial government’s continued program of subsidized energy conservation programs. (The text of that column is also archived at the end of this post.)

Cap and trade is merely the Ontario government’s new all-fuels tax dressed in a cloak of green. Continue reading ‘Cap and Tirade’ »

Guest Post by Bernard Lahey on Muskrat Falls

Retired senior finance executive, Bernard Lahey, and I have been in conversation around issues raised in my recent interviews on VOCM radio in Newfoundland and Labrador about the implications of Muskrat Falls for NL’s sovereignty. Bernard has graciously provided comments for publication here as a guest post. Continue reading ‘Guest Post by Bernard Lahey on Muskrat Falls’ »

Debating Sovereignty Implications of Muskrat Madness

On Friday, Jan 13, I was a guest on VOCM radio’s “Open Line with Paddy Daly” in Newfoundland and Labrador

Paddy Daly’s style of talk radio assumes that his listeners are following the details of a wide array of complex stories on public policy and that Paddy can attract their attention to his show by testing his guests against his own views. Paddy is among the most well-informed independent authorities in Canada on the topic of Muskrat Falls.

He and I have spoken with each other frequently enough that he is very familiar with my weakest arguments. Quite properly, he focuses on those. Because of the expectation that his listeners are familiar with the background, Paddy will sometimes skip some details, although the intention behind his question is almost always clear. Particularly to assist those who might be new to the Muskrat story, I have added background notes for some of the comments in my exchange with Paddy. Continue reading ‘Debating Sovereignty Implications of Muskrat Madness’ »

Muskrat Madness Will Undermine Sovereignty of Newfoundland and Labrador

I was a guest on VOCM Radio “Back Talk” with host Pete Soucy on January 11 discussing the implications of Muskrat Falls for the sovereignty of NL. That interview is available here. What follows is a summary of that discussion with time stamps. Continue reading ‘Muskrat Madness Will Undermine Sovereignty of Newfoundland and Labrador’ »

Rethink Muskrat Madness

As construction spending on Canada’s largest green energy project — the 824 MW Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project in Labrador undertaken by the provincial government’s energy agency Nalcor — continues, the profoundly harmful character of the project is becoming increasingly obvious. Here are four recent sources updating different aspects of the project that help to explain the scope of the crisis at Muskrat Madness:

– a survey of recent construction developments authored by Des Sullivan, AKA the inestimable Uncle Gnarley, (here)
– a follow-up post by Cabot Martin, a lawyer and former public servant with an investment background in geology and author of the monograph “Muskrat Madness” (here)
– a historical review of the 1969 contract between Hydro-Quebec and Newfoundland with a plea for cooperation and understanding between the provinces and a particular plea for a comprehensive review of whether to finish Muskrat Falls authored by retired Hydro-Quebec financial expert Bernard Lahey (link), and
– an analysis of the implications for power system reliability in Newfoundland arising from the August 8, 2016 Quebec Superior Court decision on the Upper Churchill contract authored sustainable energy consultant Philip Raphals (here with a slightly updated version available below).

These new documents suggest that the current official $11.7 billion cost estimate as reported by the Globe and Mail today has been overtaken by events, that the project potentially poses a risk to the downstream public and worker safety, that the dependable generation capacity likely from Muskrat is far less than official claims, and NL’s necessary partner to make Muskrat physically deliver reliable capacity — Hydro-Quebec — has a long list of reasons to prefer to not be involved. Continue reading ‘Rethink Muskrat Madness’ »

Promoting Energy Illiteracy

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) says it is “committed to increasing energy literacy and providing consumers with reliable information.” As part of this commitment, it has published a rate comparison report here. The OEB’s report appears to be a reply to my power rates comparison analysis available here and published three days before the OEB’s.

There are five problems with the OEB’s version, all of which have the effect of understating the power rate problems most Ontario consumers face. Continue reading ‘Promoting Energy Illiteracy’ »