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Wind and solar power are providing less than 4% of Ontario’s power but account for 20% of what Ontarians pay, according to a study released Thursday by the Fraser Institute.
And costs will only continue to rise unless the province takes action, the report’s authors say.
“That’s a good deal for wind and solar producers but a raw deal for consumers,” said Tom Adams, an energy analyst and study co-author.
Adams said their analysis also found that new hydroelectric projects have not been beneficial for electricity consumers in Ontario.
“We are not just picking on wind and solar,” Adams told The Free Press.
The report by the right-leaning think tank suggests the Ontario government could prevent further electricity rate increase by halting all new hydroelectric, wind and solar projects. To reduce rates, the province could terminate, where possible, existing contracts between renewable energy companies and the Ontario Power Authority.
In what is certain to be a controversial recommendation, the report says Ontario could reopen four of its 12 coal-fired power units at Lambton and Nanticoke that have been outfitted with advanced air pollution control equipment prior to closure. It could also refurbish its nuclear power plants, the Fraser Institute report said.
To provide electricity while the nuclear power plants are being refurbished and coal-fired plants brought back on line, Ontario could import electricity from Quebec.
“Many European countries made costly commitments to renewable energy but are now winding back these commitments. If Ontario wants to provide residents and businesses with relief from rising power costs, it should reconsider costly commitments made to renewable energy companies,” said Ross McKitrick, a Fraser Institute senior fellow and economist at the University of Guelph.
While Ontario electricity prices have been steadily rising because of the green energy projects, Adams said prices have been falling in the United States.This is creating a serious competitive problem for the province.
“The renewable energy project has not been well considered,” he said.
A spokesperson fro Ontario’s Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said renewable power generation is only one of several factors impacting hydro bills.
The spokesperson, Jennifer Beaudry also had a different estimate for the cost of green energy, not including hydro, for electricity customers. In 2013, it was 8% of an average electricity bill.
“Ontario can be proud of what it has accomplished in energy over the last decade. Ontario’s clean energy initiatives have been a success, creating 42,000 jobs as of the end of 2013,” she said
A spokesperson for the Canadian Wind Energy Association said they would have a response to the Fraser Institute study later Thursday or on Friday.
The president of Wind Concerns Ontario, Jane Wilson, said her organization agreed with the concerns raised by the Fraser Institute over Ontario’s ever-rising cost of electricity for consumers.
“Just last weekend the government lost $20 million because it had to sell off surplus Ontario power cheap. That comes straight out of electricity customers’ pockets,” Wilson wrote in an email.
“Ontario doesn’t need any more power, and we don’t need power that is expensive, unreliable, and produced out-of-phase with demand. Ontario should stop approving wind power projects now and not contract for more,” she said.
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