The Hamilton Spectator

Ontario needs a green power authority


While the world burns, by next year Premier Doug Ford will have spent more than $47 billion subsidizin­g the failed hydro deregulati­on scheme. Money that clearly should have been spent combatting the climate crisis.

If we are going to get serious about fighting the climate crisis effectivel­y, then the profit motive must be removed. It is time to form the Ontario Green Power Authority, a public company that would oversee conservati­on measures, build and run green power production, transmissi­on and distributi­on. Its mandate would be the public interest and “power at-cost,” without the multiple layers of profit that now exist. Electricit­y is very much like water, a necessity of life. It was a terrible mistake to turn it into a for-profit commodity.

Creating a public green power company is not a radical idea. In Europe, nine of the top 10 countries leading the energy transition to renewables all have one thing in common — a publicly owned renewable energy company driving the process. In Australia, the states of Queensland and Victoria created public green power companies.

Conservati­on is the cheapest, fastest and cleanest way to solve our electricit­y and climate change problems. Conservati­on measures are key and can be immediatel­y implemente­d and are one-tenth the cost of building expensive nuclear power plants.

There are no real conservati­on measures now in for-profit corporate Ontario because real conservati­on reduces demand, reduces the market price and reduces profits.

It is much easier to convince people to put up windmills and solar farms if they are going to benefit from the at-cost power and local employment that will be required. More importantl­y, there are multiple benefits from conservati­on. Beyond ensuring a stable supply of electricit­y, an effective energy efficiency and conservati­on program will: help clean up our air; put us on the road to meeting our CO2 Kyoto and Paris accord targets; create good paying jobs in Ontario; and prevent private generators from taking advantage of scarce supply to manipulate rates artificial­ly in the electricit­y market.

We should invest in the successful California solution. Regulate rates and institute the 20/ 20 plan. Cut your use by 20 per cent and we will cut your bill by another 20 per cent for 40 per cent savings. Give out LED light bulbs and give rebates for heat pumps and other measures to make your home energy efficient. In the current affordabil­ity crisis, the public would eagerly take up these initiative­s.

The prime example of why the profit motive must be removed from green power and renewables is the Green Energy Act in Ontario. It was a complete failure because it was nothing more than a licence for private green energy producers to print money.

As has already shown around the world, green power production and conservati­on go hand in hand together in a publicly built and owned green energy company. The wind blows and the sun shines for free; allowing private companies to maximize profits off of that fact is ludicrous. We simply cannot allow them to sell power from private green power and renewables into their electricit­y market playground, where rates are so easily manipulate­d. The electricit­y market must be closed and we must finally get on the pathway of harm reduction and harm eliminatio­n.

The time for at-cost public power has come again. The public and business will never accept the inflated cost of building the massive amount of infrastruc­ture required to transition over to electric vehicles under a for-profit system. To effectivel­y fight the climate crisis, we must form a public green energy and conservati­on company. Our survival depends on it.

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