Kristopher Stevens, Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, deserves full marks for courage, even if his arguments are found wanting. In a recent post on this blog, he waded into the debate in the comment section:

Lynn. Shall we run the world on coal dust and nuclear waste? How about tactics of misinformation, unsubstantiated statements and fear? Cynicism and bullying is unbecoming.

What do we call our electricity bill again in Ontario…. Oh right hydro… Because a province built on renewables is not a figment of my imagination. Wind will be part of our future as will be biomass, biogas, solar, geo-exchange, hydro, etc. Oh and don’t forget conservation. Use less and pay less even if prices go up to reflect the real price (or should I say cost) of electricity.

The province will be run on the power we produce. Call it fairy dust if you wish. Empowering every Ontarian does seem a bit magical, democratic and great!


What is the cost and benefit of upgrading our Tx, Dx and new generation in the province whatever the source of generation that MUST occur since our system is incredibly antiquated?

What is the cost of the thousands of deaths from coal that the spot market doesn’t measure?

What is the cost of putting all of our money into the pockets of Bruce Nuclear rather than average Ontarians (like you) pockets?

How can solar be the cause of Ontario’s decline when the first FIT contract and micro-FIT contract haven’t even been issued?

As to the issue of price what is the price of a new or upgraded Tx line + new nuke generation (or coal) + the nuke waste (or particulate) + the carbon, when compared to a 2 kilowatt system on someones home that shaves a portion of peak power and provides power and needed supply rather than requiring new build else where? Add on the benefit to the local economy and the empowerment fact too.

You remind me of an IBM mainframe sales person trying to keep the internet and net worked office at bay. Is there some upfront cost to the new system we are putting in place? Of course! Will prices drop overtime and the tariffs phase out as the playing field is levelled and the subsidies and entrenched interests representing fossil fuels and atomic energy are addressed? For sure.

Is the upgraded and evolved system going to pay off in the long term. For sure.

From my viewpoint I see new industries and opportunities. I see people being empowered becoming more than just rate paying consumers. I am unclear why this is a bad thing.

Here is my reply:

Oh Kris, you’re spouting talking points.

“tactics of misinformation, unsubstantiated statements and fear” — Yeah, like Al Gore, the IPCC, CRU and, don’t forget, Chicken Little.

“a province built on renewables” — Sure, nothing wrong with hydro, but let the rest of that stuff compete without massive subsidies.

“don’t forget conservation” — What choice do we have? As consumption goes down, rates will have to go up to offset all the fixed costs — a veritable Catch 22. Just imagine the typical consumer looking at his hydro bill under the pale, flickering light of a CFL exclaiming, “But I did everything David Suzuki told me to and my bill still went up!”

“Empowering every Ontarian” — Oh goodie, where’s my human-sized hamster wheel? Or do you mean I should put up solar PV panels on my roof and collect 14 times what it’s worth from my neighbours? I bet they will be thrilled with my empowerment.

“What is the cost and benefit of upgrading our Tx, Dx and new generation…?” — No doubt we will be paying for past mistakes, distrusting markets among them, but there are much less expensive ways to elicit new supply without redundancy (hello wind) and putting up new enabling lines that criss-cross the rural regions of the province.

“thousands of deaths from coal” — No one here is advocating more coal. Besides, most of the emissions come from across the border. By the way, how many solar PV installers do you think will die falling from our rooftops?

“putting all of our money into the pockets of Bruce Nuclear” — The cost of this deal, however badly negotiated, pales in comparison to the money that ratepayers will be forced to shovel to renewable generators. The risks associated with nuclear, though, do need to be more fairly distributed if it is to play a greater role in Ontario’s supply mix.

“How can solar be the cause of Ontario’s decline…?” — Where did I say that? Bad energy policy, of which the GEA is a particularly egregious example, is a key factor behind the decline of Ontario’s once proud manufacturing sector. With even higher energy prices on the horizon, investors are sure to look to other more hospitable locales.

I have no issues with the goal of using power more efficiently, as long as it doesn’t compromise our living standards. As a broad goal, it is about the only thing this province is doing right.

“You remind me of an IBM mainframe sales person” — I’ll admit I am not often on the bleeding edge of technology, though I have owned a personal computer since 1985. I’d rather wait until the price comes down to a point where it makes economic sense, unless, of course, I highly value the status of being a first mover. However, it would have been ludicrous for me to ask the government to subsidize my desire for a flat-screen plasma TV when they cost $5,000.

Similarly, why should the government subsidize your industry? If this “upgraded and evolved system [is] going to pay off in the long term” then raise your own capital, and keep your hands out of my pockets.

But that’s the thing. Despite all your public relations rhetoric, it is really about you and your members profiting at the expense of the rest of us. Sustainable “green jobs” do not depend on subsidies. They depend on companies making breakthroughs and developing products and services that can compete on their own, without subsidies. Can you not understand why some of us distrust you?