Hydro Quebec to the Rescue? (podcasts)

Linked here are a couple of podcasts discussing the deal announced on Thursday, October 20 between the Ontario and Quebec governments on electricity exchanges.

Here is Energy Minister Glen Thibeault trying to skate away from questions from CFRA radio’s Kristy Cameron on the savings he is claiming households will get from the deal. If the government’s claim of $10 million in annual savings is to be believed, consider that Ontario’s 4.7 million residential consumers constitute about a third of the total demand, implying a savings of about 6 cents per month per household.

My interview with Bill Kelly of AM900 CHML is available here. Select October 21, 10-11am. Rough notes of the interview’s contents with time stamps follows.


What does the deal mean?

If we believe the government’s claim of $10 million savings per year meaning savings of less than 0.05%. Based on our experience with other government claims about power cost issues — such as the cost of the gas scandal, the profits power exports, and the cost effectiveness of conservation — there is every reason to be skeptical of the official savings claim in this case.

There has been a lot of loose talk for many years about how Quebec could rescue Ontario from our electricity misery. Several factors suggest skepticism about these claims. For example, when Quebec has surplus power, Ontario also often has surplus. Hydro Quebec has been tight for capacity in winter in recent years.

Who wins in this new deal with Quebec? Why the deal? Hasn’t Hydro Quebec already been trading with us? Doesn’t Ontario already have a surplus of power?

Ontario’s power surplus is already a punishing problem for Ontario consumers. Ontario has always traded power with Quebec. Ontario announced a power capacity trading arrangement with Quebec a few years ago. The impact seems to have been minor.

Maybe the benefit is reduced emissions?

Ontario’s carbon intensity of power production is very low by comparison with all but a cherry-picked few jurisdictions. Ontario consumers are already paying a massive hidden carbon tax. Hydro Quebec’s use of Ontario’s grid for wheeling through power transactions makes it difficult to figure out what incremental benefit might arise. Verifying the government’s claims would require something like an Auditor General investigation.

Doesn’t the government usually dismiss the Auditor General’s findings?

You can go through all the AG’s reports. Decide for yourself. I think the AG is doing a great job and hope she continues to investigate more aspects of the government’s power bill rip-off. We do have some public servants working for the public, which is great because we need the help.

What about electric cars?

Electric cars get a lot of junk PR but little scrutiny. Hydro Quebec has been trying to promote electric cars for about 20 years. The Ontario government’s electric car subsidy program was such a failure that they recently increased the subsidy per car up to a high point of $14,000 per vehicle. The electric car is still stuck in the ditch.

What will it take to cut bills?

The Ontario government is about to stick us with yet another 150 MW of junk solar generation at a cost up to 31 cents/kWh through a program called FIT 5. The government is still digging the hole deeper. The existing longterm contracts for unneeded power shackle us far into the future.

Is our existing generation being used efficiently?

Ontario is throwing away massive amounts of Niagara hydro-power, Bruce nuclear power, and wind generation. Ontario consumers are on the hook for a massive and increasing but undisclosed amounts every year to pay generators to not produce power.

One Comment

  1. Focusing on the storage part of that HQ deal, consider this painful outlook for Ontario electricity ratepayers confronting “energy poverty” who might still believe their future bills would be lowered by subsituting the current LIB with a PC gov’t come the next provincial election.

    Check out this Oct 12 local media story about PCPO leader Patrick Brown’s whistle-stop in Quinte West accompanied by local PC MPP Todd Smith:

    Having decried energy costs in Ontario and pushed a “revenue neutral” tax on CO2 like BC’s, Brown praised Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith, calling him “one of the greatest assets we have at Queen’s Park.”

    But by Oct 21 Smith had re-confirmed, in a local media story about the HQ deal he referred to as “great”, his intention to continue performing more like one of Northland Power’s greatest assets:

    Excerpt: “MPP Smith expressed he would like to see the province draw from the proposed Marmora Pump Storage Power Project after the seven year contract with Quebec is up.”

    At having reinforced his solidarity with the fray of municipal-level politicians, “economic development” staff, hired consultants and organizations like the EOWC who have repeatedly played the role of publicly-funded resellers on Northland Power’s behalf since 2011, he additionally re-joined their ongoing advocacy for pumping up future electricity bills across Ontario.

    Recent local fray addition LIB MP Mike Bossio (publicly initiated at having provided Marmora and Lake with a Letter of Support that looks a lot like Smith’s) may also welcome Smith’s renewed role and backing.

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