BY JIM McPHERSON, SPECIAL TO THE SUN
To many Ontarians, the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is clearly not truly “independent.”
Not when its political masters won’t allow it to make electricity more affordable for Ontario ratepayers.
Rather than serving the citizens of Ontario, the IESO appears to be serving the political interests of Ontario’s Liberal government and multinational corporations.
Consider these controversies:
The IESO’s “Demand Response” program needlessly forked over $100 million to a small group of large energy consumers, as reported in the Financial Post on Aug. 15.
The IESO’s lack of oversight allowed a Japan-funded private gas plant in Brampton to inappropriately bill Ontario’s electricity system for another $100 million, according to the Ontario Energy Board, as reported by CBC News on Dec. 5.
According to Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s annual report, released Dec. 6: “The IESO has not implemented some important recommendations made by the Ontario Energy Board’s Market Surveillance Panel over the last 15 years that could have saved Ontarians millions of dollars on their hydro bills.”
Overall, Lysysk found, as reported by the Toronto Sun, that between 2006 and 2015, the IESO paid out up to $260 million in ineligible expenses to natural gas and coal power generators of which only $168 million has been recovered.
Progressive Conservative Energy Critic Todd Smith has asked the Ontario Provincial Police to probe the circumstances surrounding these inappropriate billings although the police have not specified whether they will do so.
On its website, the IESO says it manages Ontario’s electricity system to make it more efficient and cost-effective.
Really? A more efficient and cost-effective electricity marketplace presided over by the Liberals’ wasteful, inefficient and dictatorial 2009 Green Energy Act, the government’s administration of which has been repeatedly criticized by two Ontario auditors general?
For example, the truth is Ontario does not need any more high-cost, inefficient and intermittent wind energy, because we have a huge energy surplus.
Nevertheless, the IESO has not welcomed opportunities to avoid long-term commitments to more expensive and unreliable wind energy, which frequently displaces cheaper and carbon-free hydroelectric power and nuclear energy.
Why, for example, won’t the IESO simply cancel a 20-year contract with wpd Canada in Prince Edward Country after a provincial Environmental Review Tribunal downsized its 29-turbine White Pines project to a mere nine turbines last spring, because of its potential impact on local wildlife?
Why are the IESO and Wynne government continuing to commit Ontario electricity ratepayers and taxpayers to paying for expensive wind power we don’t need?
Unlike its scandalous gas plant cancellations in Oakville and Mississauga, which the auditor general has estimated will cost the people of Ontario up to $1.1 billion over 20 years, termination of the White Pines contract would be fiscally prudent.
It might even boost the Liberal government’s credibility, which has been sorely damaged by the Green Energy Act and its handling of the entire renewable energy file.
Wind factories are not wanted by many local residents and local governments across Ontario.
The Liberals’ answer to that was to take away the planning powers of local municipalities under the Green Energy Act.
Two auditor generals have reported Ontario’s Liberal government failed to conduct proper cost-benefit analyses, or draw up proper business plans for its renewable energy program, including industrial wind farms.
Scores of rural municipalities have declared their unwillingness to host them.
Encumbered by the Liberal legislation that severely limits local planning rights and grounds for appeals, one citizen’s group has now asked for a judicial review of the entire process in federal court.
It challenges the constitutionality of processes by which the Liberal government has forced wind factories upon rural residents and alleges serious violations of civil rights.
For now, the Wynne government and the IESO should terminate the White Pines deal.
Let Prince Edward County be the final battleground in the war against Ontario’s wasteful and unneeded wind energy.