October 16, 2014

Enough excuses – it’s time for Premier Wynne to take the bull by the horns

Ontario cannot import low-cost water power from Quebec to replace more costly power from a re-built Darlington Nuclear Station if Darlington continues to operate.  That is the bizarre conclusion of a report issued Tuesday by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).

Rather than actually address whether it was feasible to use Quebec power instead of re-building Darlington, the two agencies simply assumed that the province would proceed with the Darlington Re-Build no matter what.  They then found that with Darlington fully operational, there would not be enough capacity on the provincial electricity grid to import more than a fraction of the power needed to replace Darlington.  Not really following the logic?  Neither are we.

And it only gets stranger from there.  The agencies then insist that power from Quebec will cost 7 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) or more.  This will come as a surprise to our American neighbours who paid an average price of 4.7 cents per kWh for electricity imports from Quebec last year.   And it will also come as a surprise to Quebec’s Energy Commission that reported that the province will be exporting the bulk of its power at about three cents a kWh for the foreseeable future.
 
According to the IESO-OPA, Quebec would need to build new water power facilities to export base-load electricity to Ontario.   Again this will likely puzzle the Quebec Energy Commission which was established to consider what to do with the province’s growing electricity surplus!
 
That the report also predicts that electricity demand in the Ottawa region is going to skyrocket (and therefore restrict grid capacity) over the next six years is yet another head scratcher.  We don’t know if everyone in Ottawa is planning to buy an electric car in the next six years or if Ottawa residents are simply going to leave the lights on for the next 72 months, but this conclusion once again flies in the face of reality.  Electricity demand has been dropping in Ontario since 2005. Last year we used 10% less electricity province-wide than in 2005.
 
It’s all very Alice in Wonderland and certainly not the kind of clear and honest analysis Premier Wynne has promised from her government.  Apparently, in the IESO-OPA view, made-in-Ontario electricity is so much better than the imported stuff that we should be happy to pay twice as much for it. 
 
Clearly, we need a more objective and honest approach to striking a deal with Quebec.  It is time for Premier Wynne to appoint an unbiased, independent special negotiator to pursue a deal with Quebec.  Please send a letter to the Premier right now urging her to take control of this issue and put the wheels in motion to strike a deal with Quebec.