Thursday, October 28, 2021

ignore those promoting a death date for natural gas in Ontario's Electricity System

The last contracting of a new and significant natural gas-fired generating station in Ontario happened 12 years ago.

It's been 7 months since my previous post. Among the reasons for my blogging hiatus is the prominence of the future of natural gas as discussed in the mainstream media, at municipal councils, and at the province’s electricity system operator (IESO). This has put me in the uncomfortable position of advocating for Ontario’s natural gas generating capacity, which I do unenthusiastically, but responsibly must in advocating for consumers. My previous post was titled ‘Ontario’s electricity system has not yet passed gas.’ This post will provide background on the building of natural gas-fueled generating in Ontario with the intent of altering the popular perception of expertise on environmentalism and electricity.

11 years ago I began communicating that the extremely generous feed-in tariff contracts (FITs) being awarded had to result in steep increases in electricity rates. I demonstrated what must, and consequently did, happen in writing driven by my research and data work. Today most ‘experts’ say there were obvious flaws in the procurement of electricity supply in Ontario a decade ago that any idiot could see, but I assure you few idiots, and only a tiny minority of allegedly ‘expert’ ones, did at the time. My target market in writing was primarily the people working in government who had to sit around a table listening to spectacularly poor direction from a Minister or Premier to arm them with better information than the politicians and lobbyists in the hopes of allowing public servants the weaponry to resist those people and actually serve the public. Today the situation is considerably different: the IESO has produced a solid report in response to calls, from lobbyists and politicians, for natural gas to be phased out by 2030.

It’s been several years since direction from the provincial government was obnoxiously poor.

The problems today are elsewhere.

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), led by Jack Gibbons, has seized the opportunity to return to the limelight in Ontario’s energy discourse in calling for “a complete gas plant phase-out by 2030,” an idea it’s actively working to get municipal councils to endorse and commit to desiring. The campaign has had some success as municipalities join on, but phasing out gas has long been a desire of the provincial legislature. Want is not the issue.

Here’s how the OCAA began its response to the system operator’s report:
Yesterday the so-called “Independent” Electricity System Operator (IESO), under the helm of climate denier Joe Oliver, released a report that seems more like a pre-Halloween prank than a serious analysis of how Ontario can lower its climate pollution by phasing out gas-fired electricity generation.
Jack Gibbons is not one who should be talking about emissions in anything but an apologetic manner - as is true of many people the press considers both environmentalists and experts in Ontario electricity policy.