Sunday, July 14, 2013

Conversation as cover: electricity siting consultation in Ontario

The Premier has directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to "invite Ontarians to join the conversation and share their views about Ontario’s regional energy planning and siting processes."

This strikes me as pretending the distasteful electricity sector scandals have something to do with inadequate conversation between government professionals and whoever wishes to speak at them.

As much of Toronto suffered blackouts due to inclement weather last week (combined with a known lack of redundancy), the Minister of Energy issued a statement including:
Provincial energy agencies will conduct a review to determine how our energy infrastructure performed and how personnel responded. This process ensures that best practices are in place to learn from every outage, and to minimize future system issues. It's an opportunity to determine causes, learn what worked and ensure we can deliver the best service for families and businesses.
Perhaps some honest background would have been a helpful conversation starter.

In the instance of the cancelled Mississauga plant a call went out for generation (in 2004) and one of the proponents that was awarded a contract was for the Greenfield South project.  That proponent was required to get all approvals - which they did only by going to the Ontario Municipal Board to overrule the will of the city.
If it was in the wrong place, the review should be of the OMB's role is electricity generation siting.

In Oakville some claim the project would have died in its attempts to acquire local approvals  - as the contract required the proponent to do.

In wind turbine project siting, controversy is acknowledged but the Wynne government continues to award renewable energy approvals despite massive surpluses in electricity supply already in service - in fact these REA approvals have accelerated since Kathleen Wynne became Premier.

While I am appalled at the use of consultation as a charade to avoid responsibility for the damage done by crass political interference and undue political meddling in our electricity system, the outcome of the consultation need not be simply to provide cover for the incompetence that lead to it.

Link: OPA questionnaire

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