Nothing like an election on the horizon, with the two frontrunning parties tied in the polls, to make a government see the light.
Or, in this case, the wind.
The McGuinty government has finally acknowledged what critics have long been saying.
Offshore wind farms really blow.
Quietly last week, the Liberals dropped plans to push ahead with off-shore wind farms, mostly planned for Lake Ontario and Lake Huron.
I’ve always thought the idea was more window-dressing – build massive, unsightly wind farms in the middle of the lake in the hope voters will actually believe their government is going green.
Except, as any sailor will tell you, there simply isn’t enough wind – especially in Lake Ontario – to make the plan worthwhile.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid said in an interview Monday there isn’t enough science to push ahead with the projects.
“There is a need to develop the science before the ministry of the environment approves fresh water wind turbines,” he said.
While there are saltwater windfarms, there aren’t enough turbines in freshwater to study the environmental impact.
For example, freshwater is more likely to freeze. How will that affect the turbine?
Duguid said the government will still be able to reach its goal of bringing 10,700 MW of renewable power on-line by 2018.
Only one contract out of 1,300 contracts was offshore.
“We are very confident we will meet all our objectives in building the renewable energy we need to build to replace coal and maintain our position as a green energy leader with onshore projects.
“The decision on offshore will not have any noticeable effect on our objectives,” he said.
The government has pledged to shut the province’s coal-fired generating plants by 2014.
Duguid expects to make more announcements soon on new, “feed-in-tariff,” (FIT) renewable energy projects.
Wind and other renewable energy programs are largely responsible for soaring energy costs.
The “global adjustment,” or “provincial benefit” consumers who are signed up to energy retailers pay has pushed many homeowners’ bills into the stratosphere.
That money is going to pay for renewable projects.
It’s now worth about $4.2 billion a year, and growing.
When electricity prices were high, the global adjustment was a negative amount.
Now electricity is cheaper – and the global adjustment is soaring.
It was largely the FIT program that led to the situation on New Year’s Day, where we had to pay other jurisdictions to take our excess electricity off our hands.
January 1 was warm and windy. The wind turbines were turning – but industry was mostly shut down.
Ontario Power Generation had to spill water at Niagara – wasting the cheapest, greenest energy on the planet – because FIT contracts require the province to buy wind energy first.
All of which could zap the Liberals in the upcoming election.
Premier Dalton McGuinty is touring the province with his travelling road show, trying to explain away the soaring hydro bills.
The Liberals are also trying to soften the blow of rapidly increasing prices by introducing a 10% credit on your hydro bills.
Still, they’re adding $1 billion to the debt to do that, so you’ll pay one way or another.
They can add it to your hydro bill. Or you can pay it on your income taxes. Or you can pass the bill along to generations yet unborn.
Which is what we’ve done in the past.
With windmills, what goes around comes around.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
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