Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ontario Energy Minister Previews Long-Term Energy Plan Themes

"I've really come to respect the enormous complexity of the energy and electricity system in Ontario."

Ontario's rookie Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, is now confident enough of his grasp of the province's energy system that he unveiled themes for an upcoming Long-Term Energy Plan in a speech to the Empire Club:
  1. Nature and style of procurement should be technology agnostic
  2. Ontario's electricity market renewal/reform to provide better value
  3. Empowerment of consumers
These are ambitious themes. Unfortunately Minister Thibeault didn't display an understanding of the institutional barriers to change, and he's going to need to confront the demons of the sector before meaningfully advancing any of these goals.

He seems to expect the barriers to deliver change.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

something about electricity rates: the Premier's mistake

Premier Kathleen Wynne is calling high electricity prices her “mistake,” begins a report on her speech at the Ontario Liberal Party's annual general meeting. The statement would appear sincere if accompanied by an explanation of exactly what she thought her mistake was. As a political tactic, as I think it is, it's a good move in positioning the Liberal party for the election coming in 2018.
...a contrite Wynne told 850 Liberal delegates at the party’s annual general meeting here that her “government made a mistake” by allowing rates to soar.
“It was my mistake and I’m going to do my best to fix it,” she said...
Tactically, I think the move is based on two things:
  • the political rule that the electorate's anger is not sustainable
  • most expensive electricity contracts have now entered service and, combined with OPG's poor rate application, upward pressure on rates was, and is, planned to be less severe over the next couple of years.
These realities may allow the Premier to now position herself as responsive to people concerns. Adrian Morrow's report shows how she'd like to end up positioned for the 2018 campaign:
“I will do my very best to listen, to respond, to lead, and to serve you and the people of Ontario better,” she said. “I will be right there with you: As premier, as leader, I’ll be there with you as Kathleen, a proud mother and grandmother.”
These are the factors that put some wind in the sails of Wynne's Liberal ship. An article by Robert Benzie notes some of the content presented to the assembled Liberals by master strategist and Liberal campaign chief David Herle:
Even though [opposition leader] Brown publicly broke with social conservatives in August — saying he supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and the modernized health lesson plan — Herle’s findings suggest the Liberals plan to paint him as one.
Simply put, the Ontario Liberal Party is positioning the party for a culture war - with a caring grandmother running against a jerk.

It's a promising but risky tactic.