Open Letter to Jim Harris (former leader of the Green Party of Canada):

On Tuesday September 6 on the TVO show “The Agenda With Steve Paikin” you made the following statement at around minute 15 of the segment “The Debate: Intro to the Ontario Election”:

“Solar right now is 0.1% of the total energy mix. So for the conservatives ““ Tom Adams and Hudak ““ to go around saying that it is driving up electricity prices is a blatant untruth.”

In all my public statements on Ontario power prices, I have made every effort to accurately portray the contributions of the constituent rate components, including the relatively small contribution to current power rates of the microFIT program.

While I have attacked the FIT and microFIT programs as abusive of consumers, I do not believe that I have incorrectly stated the current rate impacts of FIT, microFIT or solar power.

It is possible that one of my statements has been quoted by the press inaccurately. Please point to where I have made statements regarding the impact of solar and electricity prices in Ontario that you believe to be untrue. If you cannot document your accusation against me, I would ask that you correct the record in an appropriate fashion with a public posting on this site and a notice on your own web site

Tom Adams


    • The Ottawa Citizen news story referenced by Mr. Harris is an accurate reflection of my views, although the details of the immediate rate outlook have slightly changed with the passage of time.

      Mr. Harris does not appear to understand the import of the article he references.

      Defenders of the Green Energy Act, including Mr. Harris, point to the small impact of the microFIT program on your current bill in arguing that the opponents of the Green Energy Act, including myself, are exaggerating or even dishonest, as Mr. Harris alleges of me.

      There are two obvious problems with this specious line of argument. The Green Energy Act passed very recently relative to utility spending cycles, so the impact today on your bill is not a safe indicator of where the impact is going to be in the near future. Second, argument relies on the theory that dilution is the solution for value loss. The FIT and microFIT programs will impact your bill to a much greater extent than they will contribute to your power supply. The more FIT we get, the worse off consumers are.

      A more subtle problem with the assurance ‘not to worry about the Green Energy Act, the solar impact is now small’, is that the assurance ignores the devastating impact on consumers of the aspects of the Green Energy Act ancillary to the FIT programs. I urge any Ontario ratepayer interested in the back story to your rising power bill to review the spending plans of the utility that distributes power to you. Have a look at the impact of the Green Energy Act on the capital budget of the utility. The utility serving you is planning is probably projecting to spend twice as much on capital each year out into the future as it was planning before the Green Energy Act passed. I also urge you to look at how the costs of serving industrial consumers are being shifted onto smaller consumers, particularly small businesses, after the Green Energy Act was passed.

  1. Tom

    A few things:

    1) The cost of nuclear is increasing — historically the price of new nuclear rose significantly following Chernobyl. The same will occur following the Fukushima. So the price of nuclear is rising.

    2) By contrast the cost of solar is falling. Every doubling of capacity globally yields an 18% decline in cost. Leading US Sec. of Energy Chu (also a Nobel laureate) to say solar will fall 75% in cost by 2020. Many analysts predict solar to be at grid parity by 2020.

    3) As solar falls in cost, so will the FIT and micro FIT. This has been the experience in Germany. So you can’t project forward the same current rates for the FIT for future contracts. So as the percentage of solar increases in the Ontario power sources the price will fall.

    4) With peak oil as the price of energy in general will rise, while by contrast the energy from the sun is free.

    I look forward to your reply.


  2. First you claim solar isn’t much of the mix so it can’t be what is driving up you bill …
    and then you say the cost of nuclear’s price is increasing – which is likely true for new builds, in the west, but is definitely nonsense regarding increases to bills in Ontario during the past 6 years.

  3. Jim:

    Solar works best between 30 degrees North and South longitude. Canada starts at 45 degees so the suns angle depletes the value of solar considerably in Canada. It is totally inappropriate to cite Chu or Dole as Nobel lauretes when you actually examine what they have contributed to the issue of Energy. The US is in a mess financially as is most of the Europeon countries yet here you and the others on your side point to them as leaders in renewable energy. Germany has closed 8 of their nuclear facilities and are now importing NUCLEAR generated electricity from France. Do you honestly believe when they close all of their nuclear generating facilities in 2022 that they will replace that with solar power? How many arable acres of farm land will that require and what will that do to German food supplies? And where will they store that power to use when they actually need it? Why didn’t you cite Portugal or Spain as your example-perhaps because the folly created by their push to be leaders in renewable energy has put them on the brink of insolvency and in danger of defaulting on their debt. And who picks up the cost of those defaults? If you look closely you will discover it is the taxpayers! Riots in Greece will be followed by riots in Portugal and Spain! But the EU will expect Germany to put up the remants but by that time Germany too will be unable to sustain the rest.

    The Germans will be building coal generation to replace the nuclear plants they are closing unless they have completely lost their minds or will build gas plants and have to depend on the delivery of Russian gas! As an alternative they might look to France to supply them with nuclear generated electricity. The experience in Germany has more to do with the fact that the German households subsidize the industrial users by a fairly significant factor and because of that the typical German household has been FORCED to use less energy if they wish to put food on their tables. The UK is heading in that direction and Ontario is not far behind. Denmark has the capacity to produce in excess of 20% of their electricity needs from wind but until the typical Danish household fires up their appliances in the middle of the night they will continue to export their excess production to Sweden and Germany at a cheap price while the poor Danish homeowner pays 46 cents a kWh because during the day they import expensive power from Germany and Sweden. Ontario is already there on that one!

    In your personal case I assume your wife is by now a “tenured” professor at U of T and earns a wonderfull salary that provides for all your needs. She will no doubt have a secure pension that will carry a cost of living clause so you and your family need not worry about how you will survive throughout your life. That secure life is provided for by the taxpayers of this province and without the taxpayer to pick the tab up life would not be so great. I would simply remind you that there are many (myself included) that are retired and living on a fixed income that does not change! At some point we on fixed incomes may have to choose-pay the electricity bill or cut down on food consumption!

  4. What has not been mentioned so far by Tom, Scott or Parker is that solar power is the “perfect peak-power producer.” The time when electricity demand peaks is 1) during the summer 2) on the hottest days 3) when the high voltage lines are carrying the highest load. This is the time that we experience the highest percentage of line loss due to transmission.

    By contrast solar power in the microFit program is distributed meaning there’s no line loss.

    By building distributed solar power we avoid the billions of dollars in expenditure required for centralized nuclear power generation.

    The second thing that none of them have mentioned, since Parker is interested in subsidies, is the billions of dollars of subsidies the nuclear industry receives in Ontario.

    In Ontario the liability of the industry is limited to $75 million. The Chernobyl accident cost the Ukraine and USSR more than $235 Billion to date. Fukishima is more than $12 Billion by some estimates and counting. Meanwhile back in Ontario if we had an accident the industry would pay less than 0.0001% of these scale of accidents and we the taxpayers would be left paying for everything.

    With solar there is no huge liability due to accident. Tom, Parker and Scott conveniently overlook this.

    Business knows the true story. No for profit company will build nuclear plants without the following forms of subsidies:

    Let’s get honest with true nuclear costs. Nuclear subsidies are HUGE: 1) millions a year of subsidies federally to AECL; 2) Construction cost over runs in the retrofitting and building of nuclear plants are borne by the taxpayer (remember Darlington went 4X over budget); 3) Federal loan guarantees for exporting CANDU overseas; 4) Liability subsidy mentioned above; 5) We haven’t even discussed the true cost of sheilding deadly radioactive waste from all life forms for 250,000 years.

    No insurance firm or re-insurance firm will insure unlimited nuclear liability.

    Subsidies to solar power are pennies on the dollar compared to nuclear.

  5. Mr. Harris,

    None of your replies have substantiated your original defamatory charge that I am guilty of a “blatant untruth” with respect to electricity prices.

    Tom Adams

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