It’s one thing for Ontario’s wind turbine owners to be paid extravagantly for the electricity they produce, but it’s quite another for them to be paid not to produce electricity.
But that’s what’s happening. As of Wednesday, Ontario has been paying its wind generators not to produce electricity. The government says the deal will actually save money, because the turbine operators will halt production when the province’s electricity system is in surplus.
Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says turbine operators will be paid reduced rates not to produce electricity, a deal that should save about $200 million a year.
It sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but the problem is electricity generated at these volumes can’t be stored.
Ontario has sold excess electricity to neighbouring jurisdictions such as New York state.
Sometimes the province has paid Quebec or New York to take its excess electricity. It doesn’t sound like a good business plan, but it’s not that unusual.
For those who oppose Ontario’s Green Energy Act, enacted in 2009, this latest twist must strike them as ridiculous.
But it’s the same type of deal that’s extended to the nuclear industry.
The biggest political critics of the Green Energy legislation are members of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party.
On Wednesday, a spokesman said paying wind power producers with 20-year contracts to not generate electricity shows that the Liberals’ green energy policy is “a failed social experiment.”
Perhaps it’s not a failed social experiment, but it certainly appears to be failing on the financial side.
Not only have wind turbine companies been handed generous contracts to generate electricity, contracts that are arguably unsustainable, now they’re going to be paid not to produce power.
The deal also calls into question an oft-mentioned criticism: That the wind-energy industry isn’t dependable within a peak demand period.
Yet it actually sounds as though the industry might be too dependable.
What’s certain is we shouldn’t be paying any company or contractor not to provide the service or commodity they were contracted to provide.
Only government would think this is a good deal.
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