Climate. CHANGE! The Totalitarian Temptation

Contributed by Drieu Godefridi, Ph.D., lawyer  ©September 2016

English version of “La tentation totalitaire de l’écologie”

In 2010 I published a modest essay in epistemology (IPCC: A Scientific Body? ) characterizing the IPCC – UN study group on climate – as a political organization (and not a scientific one).


At the time, I was virtually alone in supporting this thesis. Talk television at the time denied me a platform, seeing me as some kind of denier of science, or a shill for Big Oil.  Shortly thereafter, I was joined in this critical view by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise (“IPCC: The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”), and many others, until this thesis was also adopted by the US Republican Party in its latest version, and today Nicolas Sarkozy (BBC, September 14, 2016). Does this mean that reason has triumphed? Does this mean that the IPCC reports will now be recognized for what they are, that is to say, political documents – and not scientific reports- making them the most disheveled liaison vehicle of environmentalist ideology? It is too early to tell. For, according to a conventional intellectual schema, as they are discredited, the proponents of the dominant thesis tend to become more radical.
Thus the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which is the largest organization of Economic Research of the United States, has just published a study on how the US economy should adapt to climate change. This study has been largely picked up by the American press under the theme of: “the US Economy in WWII as a Model for Coping with Climate Change” (NBER Working Paper, September 2016). To fight climate change, the effects of which are compared to the bombs dropped on Europe by the Nazis (sic, page 4), this report suggests that to succeed in the fight against climate change one must transform the US economy into a ‘climate war’ economy. This implies, among other things, the limitless growth of government spending (“gold rush economics”), government control of the means of production, administrative control over economic factors (prices, rates, rents) and of course, rationing. A package which indeed defines the economy of a country at war. Considering that war is a situation analogous to the “ecological disaster” that we know, the author of the report shows how, in 1941, the American economy was converted into a war economy, how many new infrastructure projects were built by the government (including pipelines), how many new materials were invented such as synthetic rubber, and how new aluminum deposits were exploited.

Rationing of metals, privileges for the arms industry: this is the picture of a war economy. The best example, according to the author of the report, of what a government can do in a time of war, is the “Manhattan Project” that is to say the development of the nuclear bomb. Funding was provided by taxes and by borrowing.

The author continues to wonder why, with the success of the administered economy, why this “war socialism” (sic) was rejected after the war. The author’s conclusion? It was mainly due to communication problems because we let strikes settle and spread corporate propaganda for the “free market”. In that author’s view, there is, therefore no structural obstacle to the establishment of a planned economy in peacetime.
This planned economy would differ from previous as its objective, which would not be producing as needed, but to limit human production of greenhouse gases. The idea is that by assigning everyone a rightful place, the government would have the means to reduce CO2 emissions and to manage the consequences of extreme weather events (supposed to multiply, p. 3).
Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek showed that the control of economic activity involves the control of the life of every individual in all its aspects, not only in the economic aspects. The one who decides what can be produced, by whom and where; what can be consumed, by whom and in what quantities, this one does not only control the lives of citizens but is also the one that sets the scale of values. All at once the omniscient demon of Laplace, the Hobbesian Leviathan, and Big Brother, the master planner becomes the master of souls.

Moreover, the report of the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests, as an aperitif, the rapid, mandatory, displacement of the population (p. 5 and 17) and the prohibition of strikes (p. 35). This will pose no difficulty since the government will be freed of all financial and legal constraints (p. 15). This grand ‘climate change war plan’ will obliterate the basic freedoms of the public very effectively, since the intended enemy — “climate change” – is unlikely to be defeated.

Such delusional projects as this one, which is in line with the recommendations of the IPCC’s Malthusian view, are the mark of a debate that was believed to have been based on science, whereas it was rooted in ideology.

If we are to go ‘to war’ on these grounds, would it not be appropriate that following the American parliamentary majority, European politicians hold public hearings on the politicization of climate science?


Drieu Godefridi

Ph.D., lawyer



A Tale of Two Places – Denmark + Alberta

Researcher/writer William Kay, of the blog Ecofascism, wrote a research trilogy last year (2015) on the geopolitics of climate change.  Part three – “A Tale of Two Places” is instructive for Albertans and Canadians at this time as there is a push to incorporate renewables and be ‘green like Denmark.’  But is Denmark ‘green’?  If so, why are they still using so much coal?  And if Denmark has Alberta’s wealth of high-quality coal, would they be building wind farms at sea?

Download “A Tale of Two Places” via the link below :


In a Calgary Herald report of Sept. 14, 2016, Alberta’s NDP government claims it will have “30 percent renewable power by 2030” – but despite Denmark’s massive offshore wind resources, it had only managed to get 17% power from wind, and then only because it has a unique power grid configuration that is split in half, with one-half connected to Norway’s hydro and the other half connected to Sweden’s nuclear – both of which can handle the ebb, flow, and spill of wind power.  Conventional grids backed up with natural gas could not.

Though Denmark effectively generates more power from wind than the 17% or so that it uses, it usually has to spill this highly subsidized power offshore to Sweden and Norway which are pretty much ‘carbon neutral’ anyway.

World Nuclear Association has some interesting discussion on the power mix in Denmark and may include some more up-to-date figures than “A Tale of Two Places” – but in principle, the fact remains that Alberta does not have equivalent wind resources to Denmark, and Alberta does have lots of very affordable coal.

Wind power is an erratic and unpredictable force that must be backed up 24/7 by equivalent fossil fuel (or hydro) resources and ‘peaking’ gas powered plants must be at the ready to ramp up or down power production to fill the sudden drops in power.  This natural gas back-up was found by Ontario Professional Engineers to actually increase carbon dioxide emissions (Ontario has nuclear back-up and hydro).


Data Source: AESO – graph shows erratic nature of wind power in the 3rd quarter of 2012 

Geopolitics are a key factor in the climate change game, as noted by Prof. Dr. Istvan Marko in numerous blog pieces on this weblog.  Albertans should think carefully before going down an expensive path that does not result in a more reliable or affordable power system. Let’s learn the Lessons Learned in Germany.

A review of some of the wind energy challenges can be seen in this presentation to Alberta School Boards.wind-power3

“Mike, we are a green energy company, but the green stands for money.”

Jeffery Skilling, President, Enron


Swindle Final Outfront




Contributed by Robert Lyman @2016

Governments of the Group of 20 (G20) countries have declared their intention to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to address the alleged threat of human-induced catastrophic climate change. With the enormous government and media attention to this issue, it is perhaps easy to lose sight of the actual changes occurring and whether they are making a significant difference in terms of the proclaimed goal of achieving a carbon-free world.


Roger Andrews, a retired geophysicist who writes extensively on climate and related issues on his blog “Energy Matters”, has examined the actual emissions reductions in the G20 over the period 1985 to 2915, using data drawn from the 2016 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. On September 18 2016, he posted an article entitled, “Electricity and Energy in the G29”.


Andrews starts by noting that the G20 governments have fixated on first reducing emissions in the electricity sector and generally have ignored or under-emphasized how to reduce them in the non-electricity sectors. One reason for this is that in most G20 countries, electrical energy is produced and transmitted by government –owned and regulated firms and it has been comparatively easy to legislate changes in this sub-sector, but far more difficult to do so in the non-electricity sectors where there are far more actors and decisions to influence. Further, the generation technologies needed to reduce emissions (nuclear, hydro, wind, solar) already exist in electricity generation, whereas many of the technologies that would be needed to significantly reduce GHG emissions in the non-electricity sectors either do not yet exist or are commercially unproven. Further, many of the energy demand changes governments and environmentalists seek can only occur with the wholehearted participation of the public, much of which remains unconvinced of the need and resists the higher prices and costs involved. Green non-governmental organizations fixate on electricity, which is why the public is “bombarded” with reports of a new solar generation record in Germany or a new wind generation record in Scotland, etc.


Andrews makes a number of distinctions that are often not made in the media – between electricity and total energy consumption, between electricity generation by non-carbon sources and electricity generation by renewable energy sources, and between percentage changes in renewable energy generation and percentage changes in the share of total generation represented by renewable energy. He also offers some innovative approaches to inter-country comparisons. Here are some highlights of his analysis.


  • The best measure of “progress” in reducing the carbon-intensity of electricity generation is not the increase in the production or share of renewables; it is the share held by all non-carbon sources. In this regard, France is the world leader, with 93% of its generation from non-carbon (mainly nuclear) sources. Canada is in second place, with 83% and Brazil in third, with 77%. All other countries are far behind. This point seems lost on most of the Canadian media.
  • If one asks, “How much progress have the G20 countries made towards decarbonizing their electricity sectors since 1985?” the answer is “none”. The low-carbon generation percentage in 1985 was 26.8% and in 1995 it peaked at 28.8%. Since then, the share has declined, with a percentage of 26.5% – 0.3% lower than the 1985 share – in 2015. What has happened has been that low-carbon nuclear has been replaced by wind and solar, which of course does nothing on a net basis to reduce emissions.
  • In 2015, electricity supplied only 41.5% of total energy consumption in the G20 countries. If one could totally decarbonize electricity generation, it would not even halve carbon emissions.
  • If one examines electricity generation by source as a percentage of total energy consumption in individual G20 countries, France takes first place, with electricity generation accounting for 50% of all energy consumption. Canada again is second, with 36% and Brazil third with 34%. In most G20 countries, generation accounts for less than 20% of total energy consumption.
  • Viewed over the period 1985 to 2015, low-carbon energy consumption has increased from 11.2% to 14.4% of total energy consumption in the G20, almost all caused by growth in renewable energy generation. At this rate of growth, total decarbonization of G20 energy will not be achieved until 2250 or thereabouts.


Someone better tell the environmentalists.


Roger Andrews’s article can be read here:


Contributed by Robert Lyman @ Sept. 2016

By now, the Ontario public may have become numb to the shock effects of yet another story about how the McGuinty and Wynne governments have so mismanaged the electricity generation and sales system in the province that it has cost consumers billions of dollars per year in extra costs for little if any benefits. Perhaps one more example may be like water off a duck’s back.

However, the Liberals’ conversion of the former Thunder Bay and Atikokan coal-burning power plants to biomass-burning plants resembles a Keystone-cops tale of colossal errors that would be comedies if the results were not so tragic for Ontario electricity ratepayers.

Here are the highlights:

  • In August, 2010, the Minister of Energy directed that the Ontario Power Authority negotiate with Ontario Power Generation (two electricity Crown corporations that no longer exist) to convert the Atikokan coal-burning power plant to a peaking plant (i.e. a power plant that supplies energy only when adequate supplies are not available from other plants) burning biomass fuel. No one evaluated the cost-effectiveness of this conversion in advance.
  • The conversion proceeded. The plant is expected to operate the equivalent of 29 full-capacity days per year, while employing 64 full-time staff. At best, it will generate 140,000 megawatt hours (MWh) for $74 million per year, putting the cost of electricity at this facility at $528/MWh – about eight times higher that the cost of producing electricity from existing biomass plants in Ontario, and ten times more than the cost of power from natural gas peaking plants.
  • In December 2013, the Minister of Energy directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to convert a coal-burning power plant at Thunder Bay to a biomass peaking plant, in spite of an OPA study that found this would not be cost-effective. This was justified as a way to “facilitate growth and job creation in the Ontario forest industry and in the Thunder Bay region”.
  • The conversion proceeded. The plant is expected to operate the equivalent of five full-capacity days in a year while employing 60 full-time staff. At best, it will generate about 15,000 MWh a year at a cost of $40 million per year. This puts the cost of the electricity of this plant, at best, at around $1,600 per MWh – 25 times higher than the average cost of existing biomass energy from other facilities in Ontario.
  • Wet biomass catches on fire. Or explodes. So, Ontario Power Generation decided to use “advanced biomass pellets” treated to withstand exposure to rain at the Thunder Bay plant. OPG has to buy the wood pellets from Norway. As the Ontario Auditor General drily observed in her 2015 report, “we are concerned this might not be able to facilitate the volume of job growth in Ontario’s forestry industry as the Ministry intends”.
  • Parker Gallant, the retired banker who monitors and comments on the financial performance of Ontario’s electricity-related Crown Corporations, has commented that “collectively, both of these conversions will produce almost no power but will add approximately $65 million annually (i.e. $650 million per decade) to ratepayers’ bills.”
  • Wait. It gets worse. It turns out that the total carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the production, transportation to the power plant and combustion of coal average 295 pounds per million BTUs of output, but the comparable figure for advanced biomass pellets moved from Norway to Canada is 1,010 pounds, more than three times as much.

So try to figure out the logic of killing Norwegian forests and then shipping the wood pellets by vessel and train to Ontario to burn in a resurrected coal power plant at 25 times the cost of alternative sources.

Only in Ontario!


Confusion, muddle, obfuscation and racism

As Obama, UN and EPA seek to dictate our lives and livelihoods, the real issue is green racism  

Guest Contribution by Paul Driessen

Winston Churchill called Russia a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. We could say Obama’s energy and climate policy is confusion wrapped in muddled thinking inside obfuscation – and driven by autocratic diktats that bring job-killing, economy-strangling, racist and deadly outcomes.

President Obama was recently in China, where his vainglorious arrival turned into an inglorious snub, when he had to use Air Force 1’s rear exit. He was there mostly to join Chinese President Xi Jinping and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, to formally sign the Paris climate treaty that Mr. Obama insists is not a treaty (and thus does not require Senate “advice and consent” under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution) because it is not binding – yet.

However, once it has been “signed and delivered” by 55 nations representing 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it will be hailed as binding. China and the US alone represent 38% of total emissions, so adding a few more big nations (Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan and Germany, eg) would reach the emission threshold. Adding a bunch of countries that merely want their “fair share” of the billions of dollars in annual climate “adaptation, mitigation and reparation” cash would hit the country minimum.

Few if any developing nations will reduce their oil, natural gas or coal use anytime soon. That would be economic and political suicide. In fact, China and India plan to build some 1,600 new coal-fired power plants by 2030, Japan 43, Turkey 80, Poland a dozen, and the list goes on and on, around the globe.

Meanwhile, the United States is shutting down its coal-fueled units. Under Obama’s treaty, the USA will be required to go even further, slashing its carbon dioxide emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. That will unleash energy, economic and environmental impacts far beyond what the Administration’s endless, baseless climate decrees are already imposing.

Federal agencies constantly harp on wildly exaggerated and fabricated “social costs of carbon” – but completely and deliberately ignore the incredible benefits of carbon-based energy.

The battle is now shifting to natural gas – methane. Hillary Clinton and Democrats promise to regulate drilling and fracking into oblivion on federal lands. California regulators are targeting cow flatulence!

EPA continues to expand ethanol requirements, even though this fuel additive reduces mileage, damages small engines, uses acreage equivalent to Iowa, requires enormous amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline, methane and diesel fuel – and releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it removes.

Wind turbines, photovoltaic solar arrays and their interminable transmission lines already blanket millions of acres of farmland and wildlife habitats. They kill millions of birds and bats (but are exempt from endangered species laws), to provide expensive, subsidized, unreliable electricity. Expanding wind, solar and biofuel programs to reach the 28% CO2 reduction target would increase these impacts exponentially.

But all this is necessary, we’re told, to prevent climate cataclysms, like an Arctic meltdown. “Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone,” the Washington Post reported. Icebergs are becoming scarcer, in some places seals are finding the water too hot, and within a few years rising seas “will make most coastal cities uninhabitable.” The situation could hardly be more dire. Oh, wait. My mistake.

That was in November 1922! Recent warming and cooling episodes are not so unprecedented, after all.

However, all this climate confusion, obfuscation, fabrication and prevarication are merely prelude, a sideshow. The real issues here are eco-imperialism, racism and racially disparate impacts.

Not the kind of racism the Washington Post alludes to by putting a front-page story about Donald Trump going to a black church in Detroit next to a piece about a black soldier being horrifically lynched at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1941. Nor absurd claims by Detroit Free Press writer Stephen Henderson that Trump is racist for daring to go to that church to “boost his stock among white middle-class voters,” when he has “no interest” in addressing inner city problems.

This racism is the sneaky, subtle, green variety: of government policies that inflict their worst impacts on the poorest among us, huge numbers of them minorities – while insisting that the gravest risks those families face are from climate change or barely detectable pollutants in their air and water.

In the Real World, soaring energy prices mean poor families cannot afford adequate heating and air conditioning, cannot save or afford proper nutrition, and must rely on schools, hospitals and businesses whose energy costs are also climbing – bringing higher prices, reduced services and lost jobs.

Workers who are laid off, dumped on welfare rolls or forced to take multiple lower-paying part-time jobs face greater stress and depression, reduced nutrition, sleep deprivation, greater alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, and higher suicide, stroke, heart attack and cancer rates. That means every life supposedly saved by anti-fossil fuel policies is offset by real lives lost due to government actions.

Unemployment among minorities, especially black teens, is already far higher than for the population at large. Crime and other inner city problems are far worse than elsewhere. Policies that further cripple economic growth, job creation and revenue generation will make their situation infinitely worse.

Of course, legislators, regulators, lobbyists, eco-activists, crony capitalists, judges and celebrities are rarely affected. Their communities are far from those that bear the brunt of their edicts, so they’re shielded from most impacts of policies they impose. They know what is happening, but are almost never held accountable for actions that are racist in their outcomes, if not in their supposed “good intentions.”

To them, a planet free from inflated, hypothetical dangers from modern technologies is more important than lives improved or saved by those technologies. In Earth’s poorest countries, the outcomes are lethal on a daily basis. There, billions live on a few dollars a day, rarely or never have electricity, and are wracked by joblessness, malnutrition, disease and despair. Millions die every year from malaria, lung infections, malnutrition, severe diarrhea, and countless other diseases of poverty and eco-imperialism.

And yet, President Obama, the UN, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and myriad environmental pressure groups tell impoverished dark-skinned people they should rely on “clean energy strategies” to improve their lives, but not “too much,” since anything more would not be “sustainable.”

“If everybody has got a car and air conditioning and a big house,” Mr. Obama told South Africans, “the planet will boil over.” He can jet, live and golf all over the planet, but they must limit their aspirations.

Thus his Overseas Private Investment Corporation refused to support a gas-fired power plant in Ghana, and the United States “abstained” from supporting a World Bank loan for South Africa’s state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant. Meanwhile, radical environmentalist campaigns limit the ability of African and other nations to use DDT and insecticides to control malaria, dengue fever and Zika – or GMO seeds and even hybrid seeds and modern fertilizers to improve crop yields and nutrition.

No wonder Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said his country will not ratify the Paris climate treaty. “Now that we’re developing, you will impose a limit? That’s absurd,” he snorted. He’s absolutely right.

These anti-technology campaigns are akin to denying chemotherapy to cancer patients. They result in racist eco-manslaughter and must no longer be tolerated – no matter how “caring” and “well-intended” supposed “climate cataclysm prevention” policies might be.

If we’re going to discuss race, racism, disparate impacts, black and all lives mattering, and protecting people and planet from manmade risks, let’s make sure all these topics become part of that discussion.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and other books on the environment.

Climate: the show must go on.

István E. Markó *

En francais: 2016/09/05/264875- ratification-de-cop21-grand- barnum

The climate agreement drafted during the COP21 meeting is dying. In what looks like a desperate attempt to save it, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Barack Obama have announced this Friday, September 2nd, their joint decision to ratify the climate treaty drawn in Paris and acclaimed by all. This news has been proclaimed with great fanfare before the G20 meeting to be held two days later in Hangzhou.


There was a grand ceremony, at the extent of the event, with vigorous handshakes, brilliant smiles, signatures relayed by all televisions advertising a historic day in our long journey towards saving the planet (that does not need it, really) and endless congratulations.


But don’t be fooled. This show for the media has only one goal: trying to influence some countries, especially Western and English-speaking nations, and persuade them to ratify the Paris treaty that is, for the time being, a resounding failure. Indeed, only twenty-three small countries, eager to receive the subsidies associated with this contract, have endorsed the agreement. The amount of CO2 produced by all these nations is in the order of 1.1% of all the anthropogenic CO2 (0.04% of the total CO2). Recall that this treaty will become binding only if 55% of the countries sign the agreement. In addition, it also requires that the quantity of CO2 generated by the signatory parties be equal to 55% of the CO2 emitted by humans. As you can see, we are far, far away from such a binding perspective.


Therefore, it is imperative to impress and try to convince other countries, especially those who imitate and follow the US. Likewise, it is important – though not too difficult – to convince the countries of the European Union, who will be all too happy to sacrifice their economy and the welfare of their citizens on the altar of the environmentalist ideology. For trying to save the world from a hypothetical global warming due to human activity would cost a huge amount of money. Neither China nor the US will pay. As for the poor countries, they obviously want to receive money, not give it away.


This is the real crunch of the matter: money and political power. Climate and CO2 are just scarecrows intended to divert public attention from the real aims pursued. To be successful in this gruesome endeavor, the UN and its minions did not hesitate to propose ineffective, but terribly expensive solutions to solve a non-existent problem.


The ratification by China and the US has no value and is not binding in any way. Indeed, China continues to invest heavily in coal and nuclear power. It has no intention whatsoever of slowing down this expansion before 2030, when its population is expected to reach a plateau and stabilize. Xi Jinping does not care one bit about CO2 (China produces four times more CO2 than the West) and his signature is essentially a gimmick. Indeed, future signatory countries will see their competitiveness vis-à-vis China seriously compromised. To maximize energy efficiency, China, which already benefits from carbon credits, will pursue relentlessly its installation of coal power plants. With nuclear and hydropower, these energy sources generate about 97% of China’s total energy; the “renewable” painstakingly filling up the gap.


The stamp of Obama is not even worth the paper on which it is affixed. Without approval by the Congress – who will not ratify this treaty because it will harm the economy and the competitiveness of the United States – this document is null and void. While Obama might attempt to sneak this agreement through, in the form of guidelines promulgated by the EPA (Agency for Environmental Protection), a government organization that has been shaped entirely to his will, there’s a good chance that nothing will happen before he is leaving the White House. The Trump phenomenon, in turn, creates a huge discomfort among climate alarmists and their minions since Trump clearly declared its willingness to cut all funds dedicated to UN agencies involved in one way or another with the climate, including the IPCC.


As for the Green Fund, which was to receive $ 100 billion annually to help countries fight against global warming, it has been endowed so far by just over $ 550 million (0.55%). Despite promises loudly voiced in Paris, the politicians finally realized the enormity of the amount requested and are simply ignoring the supplications of the UN. The Green Fund is such a blatant failure that its President has recently resigned.


Whilst China and the US will try to convince us, Citizens of the so-called “rich countries” (for how long?) to open our wallets and simultaneously scuttle our economy, India has already indicated that it will not sign the agreement within a foreseeable future, if ever. One of the reasons is the stubborn refusal of China to allow India to join the Nuclear Producer Group. Moreover, Prime Minister Modi wants to raise his country out of poverty and give everyone access to cheap and reliable energy, which will be impossible if he signs the agreement of the COP21. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in a similar manner and recently announced that he will not honor the promises made in Paris. As for Russia and Brazil, they are patiently waiting and analyzing the extent of the juicy profits they could make if they sign this treaty.


As always, these international agreements are never going to “save” our climate – climate has indeed no need of them and is doing fine, thank you – but will result, as usual, in increased CO2 emissions, industries relocating to Asia where the leaders are more rational.

* The article expresses the Author’s personal opinion

Interview with Prof. Dr. Marko en francais – Professeur Istvan Marko explique que COP21 résulte en rien que l’accord est non contraignant.


Interview with Prof. Dr. Marko:


Contributed by Robert Lyman @September 2016

Parker Gallant is a retired banker who does a public service by regularly analyzing and reporting on the financial performance of the Crown Corporations responsible for managing Ontario’s electricity system. In August 2016, he published two informative articles in which he assessed the results of actions taken by the Ontario government to transform electricity generation over the period 2011 to 2015. The government’s announced intention in 2011 was to eliminate the four coal-fired generating plants that then operated in Lambton, Nanticoke, Atikokan and Thunder Bay, allegedly to improve air quality and achieve the related health benefits.


In 2011, the coal plants’ maximum generating capacity (i.e. ability to produce electricity) was 4,484 megawatts (MW). However, the plants operated only occasionally, producing 4.1 terawatt hours (TWh) of power – just 10.5% of their capacity. The 4.1 TWH cost electricity ratepayers $135 million (3.3 cents per kWh) in 2011. The government never disclosed how much it would cost to end coal-fired power generation.


Gallant shows that the Ontario government did three different things:

  • It added significant additional generating capacity from nuclear, hydro, natural gas, wind and solar power sources;
  • It converted two of the coal plants (at Atikokan and Thunder Bay) to burn biomass (wood chips) instead; and
  • It spent, and continues to spend, a large amount of money on programs to reduce electricity consumption.


The nuclear power added was 1,532 MW at Bruce Nuclear, which can operate at a capacity factor of 90% to supply 12.08 TWh. This alone easily covered the loss of the 4.1 TWH of coal-fired capacity and added an additional 8.7 TWH for new demand growth. The electricity produced by the Bruce Nuclear alone cost ratepayers $800 million per year.


New industrial wind turbines added 2,580 MW of capacity. Wind turbines usually operate, on average, at a capacity factor of 30%, because the wind does not blow all the time. New solar power capacity added 2,078 MW of capacity, which also runs at low capacity rates because the sun does not shine all the time. Wind and solar thus are “intermittent” energy sources, and they operate out-of-phase with the times when electricity is most needed. However, the Province gave wind and solar priority in the form of “first-to-the-grid” rights over other, cheaper energy sources. Consequently, the province needs additional power generation from “peaking’ plants, mostly natural gas, to provide the power sometimes needed when demand is high and the power produced by wind and solar is not enough. Wind produced 10.2 TWh of electricity in 2015 and solar produced 3.04 TWH, for a combined cost of $2.7 billion a year.


The new natural gas peaking plants added 602 MW of capacity to the 9,549 MW that was available in 2011 to reach a 2015 generation capacity of 10,151 MW. In 2015, the average capacity factor of the gas plants was only 17.5%. This added $100 million annually to ratepayers’ costs.


The 754 MW of hydropower capacity added since 2011 came mainly from the modifications to the Niagara tunnel (150 MW) and the Mattagami run-of-river project (438 MW). These were hugely expensive, costing $4.1 billion in capital costs alone, not counting interest or operating costs. Without counting operating costs, these additions now cost ratepayers about $200 million per year.


In a move that has received virtually no media attention, the Government brought the historical hydro generation from Ontario Power Generation out from “unregulated” (i.e. subject to market rates) to “regulated” rates, thus adding $474 million annually to ratepayers’ bills.


The conversion of coal plants to biomass generation was also enormously costly; if they operate at all, they will add about $65 million to ratepayers’ bills.


When electricity production from all generation sources exceeds provincial demand, the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) acts to cut back (“curtail”) production from natural gas, hydro and nuclear power sources. The curtailment costs were about $400 million in 2015. When even that is not enough, IESO must dump power at depressed rates on export markets.


Currently, the government requires IESO to allocate about $433 million annually to local distribution companies like HydroOttawa to promote reduced electricity use. If the distribution utilities lose sales as a result, they can apply to the Ontario Energy Board to be reimbursed through higher rates charged to consumers. Thus, when consumers as a group reduce electricity use, the rates go up.


In total, nominally to replace 4,484 MW of coal-generating capacity costing $135 million per year, the province has added 8,037 MW of new, mostly wind and solar generating capacity, thus increasing ratepayers’ bills by more than $4 billion annually. That does not include any losses on export sales nor the costs of cancelling two natural gas plants during the 2011 election campaign.


$4 billion a year spent otherwise would have bought a lot of improvement to health care.


billions coal Shutterstock outfront final