“Wind farms don’t live up to the hype that they are an environmental saviour and a serious alternate energy source, and the effects they can have on their neighbours are so serious it means they should not be allowed to get away with the exaggerated claims. Their claims are fraudulent.” —Peter McGauran, Australian Senate
In tough economic times the public is interested in close scrutiny of the ways in which our tax dollars are spent. The Ontario Auditor General’s 2011 report enumerates the myriad ways our tax dollars have been misspent, and proper regulatory oversight ignored by the Liberal government. Despite the dispassionate language typical of those who deal in the hard realities of balance sheets and factual constraints, this report is a scathing indictment of the electricity sector.
There was a lot of heavy lifting to do, “We did not rely on the Ministry’s internal audit service team to reduce the extent of our audit work because it had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.”
Since the Ministry’s original estimate of 1% annual increase to ratepayers is now is more likely be 7.9% a year for the next five years who would trust them to get the numbers right anyway!
Electricity Sector-Renewable Energy Initiatives (Chapter 3 Section 3.03 of the Auditor’s Report) is a worthwhile read for those interested in the machinations of power and unflattering truths revealed.
While the Electricity Restructuring Act in December 2004 created the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to ensure the adequacy and reliability of
Ontario’s electricity supply through planning and procurement the Minister essentially had the authority to direct the OPA. By doing so the Ministry dodged the requirement for analysis of different policy options and an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of alternative approaches. The OPA, though tasked with the statutory responsibility to develop an Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) and procurement processes for electricity representing the Province’s 20-year energy goals and submission of the IPSP every three years to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for cost/benefit approval, has been so assailed with policy changes that it has yet to have their first IPSP approved.
In November 2010, the Ministry released the Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) that specified Ontario’s energy goals and supply-mix to 2030 along with a February 2011 supply-mix directive which were supposed to adequately guide the OPA in planning and developing a revised IPSP. One would reasonably conclude that the OPA has only limited authority as an energy planner and that the Ministry bears the responsibility for the mad travesty which has resulted.
The Auditor found:
Although the Ministry consulted with stakeholders in developing the supply-mix directives, the LTEP, and the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a comprehensive business-case analysis. Specifically, the OPA, the OEB, and the IESO acknowledged that:
• no independent, objective, expert investigation had been done to examine the potential effects of renewable-energy policies on prices, job creation, and greenhouse gas emissions; and
• no thorough and professional cost/benefit analysis had been conducted to identify potentially cleaner, more economically productive, and cost-effective alternatives to renewable energy, such as energy imports and increased conservation.
This, at last, is the answer to the question posed by Lake Superior Action Research Conservation members who attended the Soo Sustainable Electricity Workshop this summer…WHERE, IS THE COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS UPON WHICH THE RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY IS BASED? Short answer: There is none!
Neither is there a complete environmental valuation to justify the destruction of minimally impacted ecosystems such as the ecologically vital transition forest of Lake Superior’s watershed.