When will provincial energy policies start making sense? • From the Editor
July 11, 2016 - The Province of Ontario’s energy policy seems to work like this: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again... then try again. And again... to the point where you hope no one even cares any more.
Back in February, Ontario’s auditor general Bonnie Lysyk called out the provincial government after discovering the latter had a process in the Electricity Act and regulations for drafting and approving a long-term technical plan for Ontario’s electricity system, but they didn’t bother following it!
But they were called out on it so, clearly, something had to be done.
And so Ontario recently passed new legislation (Energy Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015) to establish a long-term energy planning framework “that is efficient, supported by robust community engagement and responsive to emerging technologies in the energy sector”.
But how is this any different from what Ontario has seen before?
“We found that the planning process had essentially broken down over the past decade, and Ontario’s electricity power system did not have an overall technical plan in place for the last 10 years that was reviewed by the [Ontario Energy Board], as required by legislation,” said Lysyk in her 2015 Annual Report.
Yet Ontario feels this new act will be different, saying it will ensure long-term energy plans in the province that “balance the principles of cost effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community and Indigenous engagement, as well as conservation and demand management”.
Hmm, conservation, eh? Despite having an oversupply of electricity, Lysyk says the province spent about $2.3 billion on conservation programs to 2014, and is committed to spending another $2.6 billion over the next six years. That doesn’t sound cost-effective.
Over in Alberta, meantime, ENMAX is terminating its Keephills power purchase arrangement under the PPA’s Change in Law provision citing a change in law that makes the agreement unprofitable or more unprofitable.
Keephills burns coal, and the provincial government there, as in Ontario, has declared war on the stuff. No wonder ENMAX is pulling out.
A plan is a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something, but I question whether anyone in government is actually planning anything. Instead it seems they are just recklessly careening from one half-cooked energy experiment to another. For their own long-term planning, ratepayers and businesses want energy stability—which is becoming increasingly hard to find in Canada, as our politicians are too busy posturing to do any planning.
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