Power Workers’ Union spreading misinformation to protect its fiefdom

The Power Workers’ Union, representing the well-compensated workers at Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation, have run yet another full-page advertisement in the Toronto Star in an attempt to scare the public with talk of “big multi-nationals”  and foreign “Trojan Horses” threatening in “stealth” to chip away at Hydro One’s iron grip on Ontario’s electricity system. Can we say paranoid?

You see, Hydro One and its union are complaining they can’t keep up with the demands of homeowners and farmers who want to connect their solar rooftop systems to the grid. Industry, in response, is wondering what gives? If Hydro One can’t do it — and many justifiably accuse the utility of intentionally dragging its feet — then let’s let other players come into the market that can do it. Of course, Hydro One doesn’t want that because it threatens its hegemony over the Ontario grid. Hydro One has had two years or more to prepare for the increased connection requests that were expected to come through the feed-in tariff program, yet it is acting now as a deer in the headlights that couldn’t possibly accommodate the influx without sacrificing grid reliability. It leads one to believe whether top officials and union leaders at this utility — which earns generous incomes through Ontario ratepayers (they seem to forget about this) — are intentionally delaying action in hopes that a Progressive Conservative government will be elected, after which they can continue with the status quo: nuclear and fossil fuel generation.

What gets me is the misinformation they’re prepared to spread through these full-page advertisements. Here’s one: “So far, the tens of billions Ontario has spent on intermittent wind and solar energy is not delivering the promised benefits to the environment or the economy.” Wha? Would be nice to see something backing up that claim. I mean, Ontario ratepayers only pay for the renewable energy they receive, and two, any capital costs have come from the private sector, not ratepayers, and these investments have created thousands of jobs — non-unionized jobs, which is what is ruffling the PWO’s feathers.

PWO is pro-nuclear, pro-centralized generation, and pro-big transmission at a time when the global electricity market is moving to become more decentralized and less carbon-intensive. It is a throwback to an earlier era, and it’s struggling to protect what it has and it won’t let the truth get in the way.

That’s the real threat to the future of Ontario’s electricity system, not green energy.

8 thoughts on “Power Workers’ Union spreading misinformation to protect its fiefdom”

  1. It’s funny you say that Tyler. I thought there may have been some ministerial interference behind the Hydro One delays. Rural farmers typically vote Conservative. Unfortunately, if they vote conservative in this election their heavily invested arrays become glorified lawn ornaments after the Right shuts down FIT. The only way to salvage their projects is to vote McGuinty in for another term.

    If the delays are coming from Hydro One they may actually be counter productive to their own cause for the very same reasons mentioned above. On the other hand, if Hydro One alleviates the delays the economic benefits from the renewable industry might be too hard for the Right to ignore, should they get elected. In the end whatever they do could just be prolonging the inevitable shift towards renewables.


  2. The cost of the ‘renewable energy’ ratepayers receive has little to do with the price of the MW they receive, or even when it is generated. The value of the output would be the commodity rate (HOEP plus GA) if not for the contracts.
    What has value are the contracts.
    And the the value of those contracts is there because of the committed liability.
    Strikes me as spending.

  3. Solar rooftops connect to the local utility distribution grid, rarely Hydro One. Most have adapted to the new role, but Hydro One seems to be having the most trouble. The fact that the union feels a need to use politics to slow down distributed green energy lends credence to the belief that connection delays were intentional.

  4. PWU won’t let the truth get in the way?

    I don’t think you can blame a single entity for holding up the process and blocking a windfall of benefits from green energy initiatives, when in fact the poorly conceived and hurried approach to the “green revolution” is the real reason for the problems.

    If you take the time to plough through some stuff on the OEB’s website you’ll see that Hydro One had been pointing out the connection issues for sometime. Besides the government underestimated the demand their lucrative FIT tariffs would generate. And guess who can squeeze Hydro One’s financial resources to make it even more difficult to comply–the government. It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone that we’re in the current mess.

    As far as job creation, in a press release sent out by Samsung (a rebuttal to Hudak and co. – http://www.samsungrenewableenergy.ca/response-to-ont-pc-party-release) just a few weeks ago, they admitted that most of the 16,000 jobs they and the government promised to deliver don’t even exist yet.

    And all this stuff about Green Energy not having driven up electricity bills–come on! Ontario has spent billions on new gas plants. Why? Wind and solar farms don’t work without them. They require back-up from natural gas 70% of the time. Down the road we will all have to pay for the “enabling transmission”, smart grid stuff that must be added to the system to make them work and the unfunded decommissioning of the wind and solar farms when they’re maxed out.

    All this stuff about private versus public is a bit rich too. Do you really think that the big American, French and Spanish players want into Ontario’s transmission game for altruistic reasons? Do you know what’s in the contracts of these private developers and what they’re are getting for all this new “greener” generation and transmission? Do you think they’ll be here in 15 to 20 years when the wind and solar stuff needs to be replaced.

    Private developers are quite open about their key motivator–go where the best return is. Without rich incentives they’ll move on. We need someone who will protect the cookie jar for us all and make sure we all get one.

  5. I understand the issue a little differently – albeit installing a domestic hot water solar device on my roof top via a local entrepreneur from Burlington in 1982 built by Phillips. It worked wonderfully and heating the residential hot water often blowing the boiled off value on a 40 gallon tank, causing me to retrofit the collection system to capture 140 gallons of hot water for a 2 1/2 bath 2000 square foot home with a dishwasher, washing machine – 3 kids and usual normal use. The $ 3,000 investment at the time was subsidized $ 1,200 by the province.

    The payback was so good that the Union Gas demanded to check the home inside and at the meter to determine if I by-passed the meter as there was virtually no gas use in the non-heating season.

    The point being the installation it was an individual one off solution in a suburban area . . . continued

  6. The issue with the hydro is there are people trying to earn an income by being an energy supplier to the grid when I think these green energy solutions are off the mark. In my opinion we do not need additional lower level suppliers that cannot add bandwidth to the power supply or to augment the power supply as electricity is a upon demand service delivery system and/or need.

    What we need is 2 fold; Turn back the clock and see how farmers used to pump water from their own wells on their properties to self-sufficient circa post World War I – by utilizing their own windmills. With technology today each farmer and for that matter each residential homeowner could have a combination solar panels and windmill electrical renewable energy eco-system wherein they could generate enough electricity to deplete the demand draw on the current grid. Fact as most home appliances take in 120 volts and convert them into DC current to operate. Therefore it follows by producing . . . continued

  7. . . . your own green energy at your own matrimonial domicile – each property owner would diminish the demand on the existing grid substantially enough to lessen the need for new power plants and the monthly bill the rate payer receives is circa 1990’s when the deregulation of utilities occurred wherein a minimum monthly fee was introduced just to pay for the infrastructure that was installed to deliver the commodity and for any extra commodity that a property owner might require over and above their own unit’s efficiencies or upon demand.

    Further it makes complete sense that ever new property being built or acquired – that property be required to have installed it’s own natural gas fueled generator that would develop it’s own electricity to meet the needs of their own property thereby diminishing the need for additional privately own micro-generating station to be hooked up to the grid – which is a very labour intensive activity requiring several team members, trucks, equipment and various safety protocols not to mention fuel, benefits and the ancillary costs incurred (the is a device that allows the electricity to be reversed or to be fed back onto the grid – but in most cases the hardware that currently is in place is 40 years old on average and the existing hardware needs to be up-graded at every location where there is a micro-generator wanting to feed into the existing network) and to randomly send out a crew to simply hook up a micro-generating body at random is like a ping ball machine to the grid to accommodate 1 small time producer of electricity to me is simply not commercially economically viable (that’s why local electric companies change street lights in a community all at the same time as oppose to waiting for each bulb to burn out).

    To the benefit of who?

    The 12 people – that may receive this green energy that it may help – to me this whole strategy is not well thought out. To me the cost of using natural gas is a solution as in many cases this infrastructure is already coming to the property to heat a home and to have a self-housed generator that runs on natural gas to produce enough electricity to service the needs of one home – even if not the best efficiency as opposed to a giant natural gas or hydro-electric generating station – at least these can be set up to only turn on to handle the peak needs of a property – like a stove, electric dryer, dishwasher, hot tub, hot tub etc. – in other words where there is a demand the generator kicks in where a solar collection or generating device cannot handle the load requests.

    It can be argued that the associated costs of installing a self-starting natural gas generator in a primary residence or property is far simpler – in terms of installation upon demand – by competent local unionized electricians as opposed to waiting for the provincially run operation to connect a micro-supplier to the grid. Plus you do not have the issues of paying out revenues to privatized micro-suppliers that are looking to cash-in on an self-interest opportunity.

    It’s all about conservation and preservation – not continued build out of infrastructure.

  8. what is my offer of contract for microfit worth alongside my offer to connect from hydro one… i received extension til sept 2012 from OPA @ 80.2 and by co-incidence have til Oct. 5(day b-4 ont election) to pay the Hydro Un fee for offer to connect… gives me 6 mo. (Apr. 5th) to complete 10 kw microfit ground mount … SOME I KNOW HAVE SPECULATED THAT OPA’s OFFER OF CONTRACT IS JUST THAT… NOT A CONTRACT AND THEREFORE NOT BINDING SHOULD hudak get either a majority or minority… ANY ONE FEEL INCLINED TO ADVISE / DISCUSS?

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