From the horse’s mouth: the Ontario PC plan to abandon green and go nuclear

mcnaughtonNot that this comes as a surprise, but in case you thought the PCs plan to be gentle on the green energy file if elected, think again. Below are comments made on Dec. 19 by Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton, representing Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. McNaughton was speaking at a municipal council meeting, during which he outlined how his party, if elected this year, plans to obliterate the province’s feed-in-tariff program, including reneging on thousands of projects in the queue. It seems the PCs don’t just want to get rid of the FIT program, but are hostile to wind and solar power altogether and plan to alter course dramatically, starting with a moratorium on all green energy development. This would include a big commitment to build new nuclear reactors at a time when there is nothing but controversy around the high cost and long-term dangers of the nuclear option. In other words, the PCs would bring Ontario’s grid back to the dark ages with a false promise that doing so would cause electricity prices to fall, which couldn’t be further from the truth. As usual, McNaughton spews mistruths about the high cost of wind and fails to mention the much higher cost of going nuclear.
But you can read for yourself where the PCs stand by reading excerpts of his comments below:


On PC plans to get out of FIT contracts…

…we realize that when we make the commitment, we’re not going to build them, if they’re not built. So scrap the 50,000 projects that are in the queue.  We realize that there is going to be a cost, our lawyers have told us that there are opt-out clauses and we sure as hell are going to pay those out because it’s going to be cheaper to pay them out than to honour contracts for 20 years. So we’ve been clear that we will not going ahead with however many projects are left, if we’re fortunate enough to form the next government after the next election. But clearly there will be a cost associated with that, but it will be cheaper to buy them out than to honour them for 20 years.

Secondly, I guess we’re not going to know the entire extent of all of these contracts signed until if we form government, until we actually get in and take office. That’s why we’ve been clear that in the 24 hours after the election, we’re going to call for a moratorium. But we are going to call for a moratorium almost immediately so we can figure where the hell things are at and how deep a hole energy has gotten us into.

We have been extremely clear that we are are going to end the wind & solar projects across this province. We’re going in a completely new direction. We’re not going to continue abiding by the special interests that are at Queens Park every single day of this government. We’re taking Ontario down a completely new path and we’re not going to continue what’s been going on the last 10 years. We’ve been crystal clear about it. We’re going to really explore Hydro. We’re going to expand nuclear … which isn’t that popular in a lot of corners. But we are going in a different direction including part of our energy supply is going to be buying energy from other jurisdictions.

25 thoughts on “From the horse’s mouth: the Ontario PC plan to abandon green and go nuclear”

  1. This is a classic example of the PCs throwing the baby (public interest) out with the bath water (the Liberal party’s energy policy) in a transparent attempt to win votes by exaggerating the difference between the PC and Liberal platforms. Admittedly there is much to criticize about the Ontario governments energy policy and abandoning green energy in favor of nuclear will indeed take us in a different direction. Unfortunately it is one that makes no sense and will exchange a flawed energy strategy for one that is much worse. It will drain the public coffers, drastically slow down or negate efforts to reduce CO2 emissions while exacerbating already unacceptable risks posed by nuclear reactors to public safety. The changed direction that is really needed is better planned and targeted investment in green renewable energy instead of blank cheques to cover predictable massive cost over-runs for nuclear, i.e., the opposite of what the PCs are proposing.

  2. Wow, way to go maybe we can try and find a few tar sands prospects or coal mining areas in the province.

  3. I don’t live in Canada but this is a global issue. Either these guys have lost their minds or are being sponsored by nuclear interests (or both). One step, two steps back isn’t likely to lead to lower electrical costs for Canadians or a safer world for all of us. I trust that cooler heads will not be voting for these guys.

  4. I wish people would pay more attention to such things as the numbers published in The Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller’s blog; such as these from back in 2011, when talking on the subject of electricity pricing:
    “Not mentioned (by the government or opposition) are the subsidies paid to our private natural gas generators, or those paid to Bruce Power, when the market price doesn’t meet their guaranteed price (which is almost all the time). The latter subsidies involve 70% of the global adjustment monies paid out, simply because they pay for the delivery of much more power. In fact, the Ontario Power Authority paid out $1.35 billion in 2010 to meet gas and nuclear power purchase agreements.”
    “In 2010, the Ontario Power Authority paid electricity resource costs of $317 million for conservation programs, and $269 million for renewables. That is a lot of money – but you must realize that it is recovered over a total Ontario consumption in 2010 of 142 terawatt hours (that’s 142,000,000,000 kWh), which amounts to 0.4 cents per kWh (split roughly equally between conservation and renewable subsidies). So the cost of conservation and all the renewable subsidies in 2010 amounted to 0.4 cents of the 13 cents we paid for a kWh in our homes. A significant amount, perhaps, but hardly the bogeyman that it is so often made out to be.”

    It really gets my goat that the Provincial Government, OPA, OPG, IESO, OEB, HydroOne and OEFC all hide the true cost of power as delivered to our homes. Whichever party is in charge of Queen’s Park seems to become complicit in this overall deception; it has carried on for so long that the ‘political embarrassment’ of exposing it would be tantamount to electorl suicide.
    Of course the Conservatives are going to side with ‘big business’ against renewables. Big business can not own the fuel sources for wind and solar, and it is doubtful that many renewable energy companies can offer sweet-heart board-of-director positions to their party-politico friends as the likes of Bruce Power, TransAlta and Enbridge!

  5. All this happens when politicians primarily goal shifts from “doing the right thing” to “winning the next election” and following its special interest groups agenda. Its a general problem in politics around the world and a weakness in democracy.

    In Ontario we need to let the people know their future options. One is the nuclear option and the other the combination of many different renewable energy sources. We have to have easy to understand information where each of this two option will take our community, our province, our nation, and our world in lets say 10, 20, and 30 years. Tyler Hamilton is doing that through the channels he has and I think we all do our part in engaging our neighbours, co-workers, family members and friends in an conversation about the options we have.

  6. No energy source is costing us, or could cost us more than nuclear. Such a dependance on base load power is the primary driver of negative pricing events. $20m not to operate, guaranteed rates on GW of power below wholesale, inflexible generation, what a mess.

    A core component of PC energy plan is hydrogen which was “10 years away”, 15 years ago and is now only “5 years away”.

    We will really benefit from more hydro electric generation, and by we, I mean “Timmins”. Energy is a complicated issue and it needs to be de-politicized (all colours), not hyper-politicized driven by blue lobbyists.

    I for one am looking forward to an energy election, but am terrified by the energy platforms from the major parties.

  7. FIT deserves to be stopped in its tracks. Solar price degression, originally planned for 9% decrease per 100 MW of solar installed, would have stopped solar at ~ 500 MW. Instead we’re on target to have about 2,500 MW. That’ll result in bills being $ 1 billion higher than they would be otherwise.

    PM, agree, there’s little/nothing to like about major party energy platforms but let’s not blame nuclear for all the ills you list in your first paragraph. In all cases, wind is a much worse transgressor.

  8. Nuclear MUST be made to satisfy the economic test first, including decommissioning. Much of the development, the cost of nuclear accidents and decommissioning costs are all on the public purse.
    Secondly, nuclear must be competitive with solar and wind in terms of health and environmental impact.
    Third, we must deal with the actual scarcity of nuclear fuel. There is a very small amount, compared to the energy of the sun and the wind.

    A lousy deal for 20, 30 or more years is exactly the kind of deal that is signed by governments who support coal and nuclear developments. And mega-project hydro, for that matter.

    A lousy deal on solar and wind is just that. If the feed-in tariff is not working, fix it.
    If the policy is building jobs and the renewable energy capacity of the province, and the country, then it works, so leave it the heck alone.

    It is a misguided tactic to ban solar and wind – like Rob Ford trying to get rid of fees on plastic bags, when what was needed was a ban on single use plastic bags.

    What is needed is a recognition of how severely we have affected the climate, and how little fossil fuel that we can afford to burn, starting today, in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

    In this context, a fourth requirement for nuclear is to be competitive with wind and solar in terms of the massive amount of materials, the concrete, highly machined metals, and the massive amount of fuel that must be burned to create a nuclear plant that meets even minimal safety standards. There is considerable doubt that nuclear can be developed without the very profligate use of cheap fossil fuels that we can no longer afford. Nuclear is not an option for a sustainable future.

  9. And:
    The age of cheap energy is done.

    Any energy technology that we depend on must be sustainable, and that means that they must pass an economic, ecological and social test.

    Cheap energy developed without regard for human health, for the true costs of environmental impact, and for ecological health is not energy that we can afford.

    Jobs, growth and prosperity built on polluting industries with huge boom/bust cycles provide fewer jobs, negative real growth, and prosperity marred by huge unpaid bills for ill health, both human and environmental.

    Wind and solar pass on social and economic benefits – jobs, prosperity and low impact. They are much better on ecological impact, though of course there are costs.

    They are highly competitive economically. The more you build, and the longer you run the systems, the cheaper they get. Structured correctly, they also benefit individual Ontarioites much more, putting the profit right back in the pockets of the people who own the land under the systems.

    Wind and solar distributes wealth. Mega projects concentrate wealth very quickly, and those who are not touched by the boom are left to pay the bust.

  10. And:

    Correctly developed, with care to minimize access roads and other land impacts, both wind and solar allow agricultural operations and urban growth to surround them.

    Nuclear, coal and all other mega-projects, including hydro, eat and despoil huge swaths of productive land as a part of normal operations, and the costs resulting are left to the taxpayer and citizen to pay.

  11. No energy source is cheap.

    “That’s why, Howell says, comparing the spot price of electricity generated by today’s solar to yesterday’s coal-fired plants (a common habit for critics of solar) makes no logical sense. ‘It would be like saying that 30 years ago I bought a $6,000 Toyota Tercel, and now that it’s all worn out, I want to go and buy another $6,000 Tercel. But will I be able to buy a $6,000 brand new car? No. Now they cost $20,000.’ ”

  12. Let’s not forget how renewable power has a few advantages over nuclear:

    – More jobs per dollar invested, or per MW generated.
    – Distributed power stabilizes the electricity grid. Rooftop solar, in particular, requires negligible transmission costs.
    – Free fuel for the life of the equipment.
    – Non-polluting fuel, compared to nuclear’s lethal waste and weapons proliferation.
    – Construction times of renewables are a small fraction of that for nuclear power.

  13. Wind is a huge issue for rural Ontario families but no one seems to want to hear about it. The Liberal Green Energy Act has created many problems and denies any issues. People have had to abandon their homes and property values have tanked. We need to find a better way – the FIT program is a huge fail.

  14. People don’t appear to understand that, when the wind does not blow and it’s cloudy, you cannot rely on wind or solar! We need base load energy production such as nuclear or hydro. OPG is not stupid and we’re not in Germany – who now burn fossil fuel for base load energy. OPG knows what needs to be done to provide energy and they are driving the political decisions. It’s the ignorant that wave the green non-nuclear flags that send us into conflict. How about “let’s make nuclear as safe as possible?” and live with it. It’s cheap, reliable, and manageable. All the nuclear waste in the country fits into 1 soccar field (2m high).

  15. @Bruce Sharp…I don’t see how you can claim that wind is a worse transgressor than nuclear? Are you concerned that so many of the un-founded “Wind turbine syndrome’ ailments will affect future generations worse than the well-documented carry-on effects of waste and debt management caused by nuclear?

    I work in the renewables industry. I am not a “Tree-Hugger” or a paid up member of “The Bikenstock Brigade”. I AM a concerned member of the public. I AM a parent. I do think about the legacy our generation will leave for the future. I AM a taxpayer who is sick to death of having whichever party is in power basically toady to an “old boys network” when itcomes to the province’s power supply.

    We have just had our sector shut down for an entire year by the Liberal Government and the OPA…(Don’t you DARE tell me that they are as behind the program as you might think they are, or the 200+ companies I deal with that went out of business over that time would still be in operation!)

    We have just seen the tariff rates reduce: Residential rooftop solar (Only a small fraction of the program) from 80.2¢ down to 54.9¢ -32%, Megawatt sized commercial solar rates have dropped 22% from 44.3¢ to 34.7¢ and wind rates are now as low as 11.5¢ reflecting a nearly 15% reduction.

    The renewable sector has created thousands of direct and indirect jobs since 2009. It has produced literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in immediate economic stimulus, ALL USING PRIVATE SECTOR CAPITAL. The costs of the equipment and the power is automatically ‘amortized’ over the 20 year contract period to the public (Unlike the cost of a nuclear plant where the debt costs simply balloon over the subsequent generations, putting us in the mess we are in now with the costs of Bruce, Darlington and Pickering).

    A privately owned solar panel or wind turbine facility does not require seven or eight “sweet-deal” public service employees/union members due to demarcation or work duplication to operate and maintain it, when only one or two private sector employees can perform the same tasks (at a lower cost too I would likey guess).

    I can continue….but I think I have begun to make a point.

  16. So their is no difference between the current Liberal policy on nuclear build/refurbishment and the PC plan. The big difference is that the PCs would kill new wind and solar. “vive la difference” as the current GEA policy has been a disaster. The rest of the World (US being the exception as they head for their debt mountain) is running away from it too as it consistently presents itself when we don’t need it.

  17. The biggest issues seem to have to do with contracting and visibility of rates and not just technology.

    Of course nuclear, wind, and hydro are not interchangeable, in part because of technical characteristics that affect their availability and in part because of contracts that say whether they have to be paid for electricity that is too expensive to use at that time. People get hung up on the HOEP price, but really relatively little electricity is produced at that price. Most nuclear has a guaranteed floor price, and is resistant to most economic dispatching, meaning sometimes you would like them to produce less even if you pay them for it but they won’t. Wind is increasingly dispatchable and most wind is pre-FIT and therefore 8-9 cents. Coal plants get paid not to produce, and some gas plants. Some hydro also has resistance to dispatching. Among the rest, many of them are willing to accept a zero or negative price which makes us look bad in times of surplus baseload. Consumers, unaware that they too are getting that electricity for free, believe that they must be paying the difference and there is a small accidental grain of truth behind that misunderstanding.

    The myth of the low price of nuclear comes from a misunderstanding of the contracts. You can get it at that price but not when you want it, and you will have high fixed costs. The contracts will drive technology to allow new nuclear to follow load better. Expanding Hydro is also a misunderstanding. Remote hydro sounds cheap but the line losses from northern Ontario are about 30-35%. You pay them 10 cents but it costs you 14 by the time it gets to you. Most of the cheap hydro is already in use.

    You can’t have a decent election question on energy. Very few people know what is the impact of different technologies on price or reliability. We have had decisions based on health and environment objectives and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those were achievable and were by and large achieved. It would be economically more efficient to embody those health and environment decisions within a carbon price and let the market deliver them but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that there is a market in electricity. Maybe the next step would be to create a market by eliminating most of the price negotiations in contracts, whether nuclear or FIT and let the market take care of minimizing the price. Maybe the first step would be to cap & prorate the Global Adjustment.

  18. The long-term dangers of nuclear accidents we’ve so far had have proven to be small. And they pale utterly to the dangers of climate change. They pale to the dangers of fossil-fuel derived generation. I don’t think Hudak is capable of forming good plans for Ontario’s power generation mix, and his radicalism against wind energy is dismaying, but you playing people’s irrational fears will only help play Ontario into his hands.

  19. The special interest groups re. energy in ontario come from all directions, nuclear, gas, oil, they are called “businesses” how McNaughton doesn’t get that, i don’t understand. We know the costs of renewable forms of energy, and we know the costs of energy consrvation and demand management, I challenge any nuclear power advocate to show me the LCOE for electricty with a degree of certainty that does not require a government to back that cost.

    I also ask the advocates of nuclear power to ask themsleves what they would want as compensation if they were one of the 100,000 people in Japan who will not go back to their homes for a generation or more. What possible reason is there to go nuclear, when wind, solar, natural gas, hydro, and energy conservation offer a future without waste disposal, cost over runs or risk of accident.

    I have written a couple of times to the Provincial government suggesting we need an open consult with the power sector providers to develop various renewable and nuclear scenarios for Ontario and have extended public consultation on what the people of Ontario want. I know what I want, but I do not beleive the bulk of people in Ontario have seen realistic options, they have just heard noise without supporting data.

    Nuclear power as an alternative to renewable energy fits the conservative mindset well, in that it is the antithesis of progress.


  20. Conservation makes businesses more competitive, productive, and profitable. It is alot cheaper than any form of energy. I would take on Hudak or Harper any day and get them to debate these facts. This is where the environment and the economy run in a positive parallel and any conservative that makes you believe otherwise is not looking at the facts. They only represent special lobbys and not best interests of Ontarians.

  21. The direction that the PCs are taking makes no sense to me- in light of the cost and concerns surrounding nuclear power production and toxic waste when it makes so much more sense to go green- with solar and wind. It seemed like they were forging ahead by supporting green energy projects that would benefit the future but now are ditching that to return to the same old ways of generating power that have been proven to be problematic for a long time now. Makes me wonder why they have done a 360 degree turnaround- someone must be benefitting from this but it is certainly not us!!

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