POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MARGARET WENTE IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
There are not many matters over which I could agree with Ms. Wente, but this, by and large, is one of them.
McGuinty's energy policy is little short of madness.
He decided, quite arbitrarily, to close Ontario’s coal-fired stations. The fact is that Ontario’s coal-fired plants are among the more efficient of those in the central continent, a crucially important fact generally ignored in discussions.
The problem with air pollution from such plants – and I mean the problem in Ontario – is the dozens of inefficient plants in the U.S. Midwest: the prevailing winds bring their heavy pollution here.
When you close a relatively efficient plant and then experience a surge in demand, as for summer air-conditioning, Ontario buys power from the U.S., often from the very plants which are the genuine problem. So you close an efficient plant and buy from an inefficient plant, creating a net effect of increased pollution.
None of the renewable energy sources, and certainly not wind power, is capable of coming even close to replacing what is called base-load power, the power ready to be called upon twenty-four hours a day.
Wind turbines can go for days in some locations producing nothing or close to nothing. They are also a visual blight on the landscape, a serious source of noise pollution, a threat to migrating birds, and the electricity they generate is very costly.
Wind power was embraced in Northern Europe in large part owing to the fact that people already lived in a high-cost energy regime, gasoline going for far greater prices than people in Ontario have ever seen. If all energy is already high-cost, it is less noticeable to add slices of still higher-cost energy to the mix.
But even then, there has been a good deal of disappointment in Europe with the actual performance of wind turbines. They appear, under conditions of mass use, to be even more inefficient and costly than we thought.
Now, Ontario is very concerned about jobs and its manufacturing base. What do you think will be the effect on luring industries to Ontario of high-cost electricity?
Either the industries will go elsewhere, or McGuinty will allow them to be subsidized at the household consumer’s expense. Not only will households pay for their own higher-cost electricity, but they will pay for industry’s higher-cost electricity.
And, as a further thoughtful gift from McGuinty, we’ll pay HST on the whole big increase.
Investmants in further upgrades to the coal stations would have been an infinitely better choice.
McGuinty wants to play the eco-hero, but he has made the wrong call on every aspect of energy policy, threatening the future competitiveness of Ontario.
Maybe us “Eastern bastards” will indeed end up “freezing in the dark.”