Green Energy, or a Spare Cup of Coffee in Every Household?

by AsimSayMo on October 7, 2016 - 9:11pm

Article Title: Ontario government scraps plan for $3.8 billion in renewable energy projects

Ever since the sale of Hydro One was commenced by the Liberal government in Ontario, household electricity bills have skyrocketed. But are we, the residents of the province of Ontario, really that unlucky? Premier Kathleen Wynne’s actions have been the subject of much criticism in recent months. In an effort to make Ontario play its part in fighting climate change, the Government of Ontario has also expressed support for the Federal Government’s carbon pricing plan. This did not sit well with many residents in the province. With already increasing power costs, it’s hard to imagine anyone would be in favour of adding another cost to their monthly bills. After so much pressure from the people of Ontario, the Liberal Party, as reported by Rob Ferguson to the Toronto Star, has decided that green energy is not viable for Ontario’s future. The move, which would scrap a $3.8 billion investment in renewable energy, will prevent Ontario households from adding an underwhelming $2.45 per month on their bills. In other words, Ontario has decided to scrap its plans to move into the future so that households across the province won’t spend the price of an extra cup of coffee every month. Of course, every penny counts, however what isn’t accounted for in terms of energy production are the costs of land contamination, water pollutants, and of course the roughly 3,000 people that are hospitalized every year due to air pollution, in just Toronto itself. All this to keep residents happy by slowing down the increasing costs of electricity, but does Ontario even pay that much?

I read a survey of major cities across Canada and the United States showing that homes in Toronto don’t even pay the highest bills in Canada, and certainly not North America, despite many claims from the politically right-winged. The 2015 report by Hydro-Québec shows that Torontonians pay roughly $0.1431 per kWh, similarly to Regina, Saskatchewan ($0.1437), and Nashville, Tennessee ($0.1445). This becomes even more startling when looking at cities with even higher costs, such as New York City, New York at $0.2890/kWh, Halifax, Nova Scotia at $0.1603/kWh, Chicago, Illinois (often compared to Toronto as an American twin) at $0.1679/kWh, San Francisco, California at $0.2769/kWh, and Boston, Massachusetts at a staggering $0.3003/kWh. In fact, the report even shows that Ontario cities pay less than some small towns in other provinces in Canada, with Ottawa and Toronto paying less than Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. This is clear evidence of a cognitive conflict, it seems to me Ontario’s bills are hyped up.

I criticize the government for poor management of the energy sector. Unsurprisingly, the public isn’t very satisfied with this plan to prevent rising costs, as it does little to help. Decisions appear to be made in a rushed manner simply to gather votes. Wynne is falling short in the polls, and Patrick Brown, the current Conservative candidate, has been taking every opportunity to find the flaws in the current government’s management. But I also criticize Ontarians. We need to stop pretending that we’re going to remain an affordable province. The media is fueling this cognitive conflict, one of statistical misunderstandings, by misleading the public about our monthly bills. With growth comes rising costs. Ontario hosts over a third of all Canadians, and Toronto is now the fourth largest city in North America with one of the most expensive housing markets, beating out New York and Los Angeles, yet the numbers show we aren’t even in the top ten for electricity costs. Nevertheless, the green energy plans are being scrapped, so what will Ontarians do with their spare $2.45?  

 

References:

(2015). Comparison of electricity prices in major North American cities. Hydro Quebec. Retrieved from http://www.hydroquebec.com/publications/en/docs/comparaison-electricity-prices/comp_2015_en.pdf

Ferguson. R. (2016). Ontario government scraps plan for $3.8 billion in renewable energy projects. Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/09/27/ontario-liberals-scrap-plans-for-38-billion-in-renewable-energy-projects.html

Gower. S., Macfarlane. R., Belmont. M., Bassil. K., Campbell. M. (2014). Path to healthier air: Toronto air pollution burden of illness update. Toronto Public Health.

Comments

I just came from a cycling trip around the Dufferin County and there are wind turbines everywhere. Personally I was pretty excited to see all the green energy in the area. While I was on the trip I skimmed a local newspaper about a few people trying to decline the construction of a few more in the area because of airspace issues. They won, was about the depth I read the paper. So when I saw your post about green energy I got pretty excited.

I really like that you compared Ontario power bills to other cities in Canada and USA and that you criticized Wynne, and the government for picking certain strategies just for the popular vote. I liked that you mentioned media's role in this and how they are fuelling cognitive conflict and misleading the truth about power prices. Communication and honesty is so key when comes to any issues and the truth can be construed so easily by manipulations of words, data etc. It has become increasingly hard to believe anything anyone says.

I think the main point which you mentioned why people are upset is that their bills are increasing. I think people are starting to exhibit some behavioural conflict. There is less and less trust in the government. I talk to my parents and their friends about household bills, taxes etc to have an understanding on how people are struggling. As a student who's only concern for money is rent, tuition and groceries, it doesn't extend into, mortgage, property tax, federal income tax, water, gas and electric bills, car payments, insurance etc... and now the government wants to throw on another tax to stress citizens even further. I can understand peoples frustration from another tax and a form of tax that is new to them. I read another article from earlier this year commenting on the government plans for green energy. It states that it would cost $13 a month on everyones bills to fund the governments green energy plans. An extra coffee may not be much for some families but an extra meal may be a lot for a family. And also what does this say about our predicting systems? Some people say this and others say this. No wonder people don't trust the government. What if in reality this cost would be $100 month on people bills? And where do these numbers come from? Both yours and my articles are not specific were their numbers came from. Your article doesn't even mention where this number was fabricated from and my article said from an internal report. So why believe these numbers? I urge you to consider where information is coming from and how accurate this information is. It is important that the government, corporations, and media to be transparent when giving out information.

Benzie, R. & Chief, Q. (2016). Curbing climate change in Ontario will cost you $13 a month: report | Toronto Star. thestar.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016, from https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/05/17/curbing-climate-chang...

Fantastic summary! Good use of sources to back up all of your info, and especially to compare various areas. Seeing prices from all over America and the rest of Canada shows just how privileged we are. Yes the government has seen a lot of backlash, especially with recent Hydro One controversies, but that should not stop us from embracing change for the better. The statistics that show environmental related illness in Toronto also illustrates how much this is needed! I think your comment about remaining an affordable province is interesting. In what other ways? It's a great comment that allows for more explanation on where we should be headed or what else may be rising.

Hi AsimSayMo,

Really interesting read! I was intrigued by your catchy title, which definitely was a key feature of your post. After reading your post I too agree that this situation does not sit well with me. It makes me upset to hear that the Ontario Government was so influenced by the public over a price increase of $2.45 a month, especially when they had a great opportunity to create a provide wide change in the right “green” direction. Your post was very well written, it had good flow between ideas and facts presented. You used your facts to support your argument and opinion in regards to this matter, and this made your post very interesting to read. I also like your question at the end of your post. It tied everything back in together and it drove your point home and left the readers, well at least myself, to think about the issue presented in the article.

My question for you and others would be, do you think the Government should of not followed the outrage from the public and went ahead and make the "right" decision by increasing energy prices and making a shift towards green energy over nonrenewable energy?

One point of constructive criticism for your post would be that you reference a fair amount of energy prices for different provinces and states. I feel that you could have made your point by referencing one or two of the high and low prices for comparison to Ontario energy prices. I found there was too many prices and got a bit lost in all the facts that were stated back to back.

Really great post,

Logan Mecier