A good history of Ontario’s electricity policies over a decade:
No one is more responsible for the ongoing electricity disaster in Ontario than former premier Dalton McGuinty.
So it’s surprising he would try to defend his record in a Globe and Mail column Monday titled, “Being clean and green comes with a cost.”
In Yiddish, we call this chutzpah, meaning shameless gall, as in murdering your parents and asking the court for mercy because you’re an orphan.
Considering McGuinty literally ran out of town — resigning as premier just before the full force of the $1.1 billion cancelled gas plants scandal he was responsible for hit, let’s examine his actual record.
McGuinty’s plea for mercy is that Ontario’s hydro system was a neglected mess when he came to power in 2003 and still reliant for 25% of its electricity on dirty coal, which was sickening people and causing premature deaths.
It’s true McGuinty inherited a neglected system, that upgrades were necessary and that hydro rates were going to rise no matter who won the 2003 election.
But in that election, McGuinty promised to close Ontario’s coal-fired electricity plants by 2007.
It took until 2014. During all that time, McGuinty’s government refused to retrofit coal plants with modern scrubbers that would have reduced their air pollution.
So his argument he replaced coal to improve the health of Ontarians should be taken with that grain of salt.
However, it’s the way McGuinty replaced coal that threw Ontario’s electricity system into chaos — hiking hydro prices to consumers and small businesses by an astronomical 80% between 2004 and 2014 alone, with no end in sight.
That happened because McGuinty drank the Al Gore Kool-Aid, gambled on wind and solar power, and lost. Rather, we lost.
At this point, it needs to be explained McGuinty actually replaced coal with non-emitting nuclear energy and low-emitting natural gas, which burns at half the carbon intensity of coal.
In other words, the biggest fiasco of McGuinty’s career, wasting, according to the Ontario auditor general, $9.2 billion of the public’s money on his blind leap of faith into wind and solar power, wasn’t necessary to replace coal.
We know that because today, after years of massive public subsidies, wind and solar account for 4% of Ontario’s electricity production.
Even using McGuinty math, you can’t replace 25% of the system (coal in 2003) with 4% (wind and solar in 2015).
But it gets worse.
Even though wind and solar power weren’t needed to replace coal, the way McGuinty financed them was a disaster.
As two Ontario auditors general have reported (Jim McCarter in 2011, Bonnie Lysyk earlier this month), McGuinty’s government simply ignored the advice of its energy experts that it didn’t need to subsidize green energy at the astronomical levels it was doing it.
Instead, without even developing a business plan, McGuinty and Co. literally threw public money at wind and solar developers with the result that today, Ontario pays twice as much for wind power as the U.S. average, 3.5 times as much for solar.
The irony is that the cancelled gas plants scandal that effectively ended McGuinty’s career was due to his green energy policy.
You see, the plants were needed in the first place to back up wind and solar power, which aren’t reliable enough to operate on their own.