A sunny Ontario experiment gone wrong – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – August 4, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

That glare coming off selected southern Ontario farmlands these days is not the result of some secret state experiment with atomic vegetables. No, it’s the product of another form of state-sanctioned mad science that is costing Ontarians dearly without doing diddly to improve the environment.

After Germany and California, Ontario is “enjoying” its day in the sun as a global hot spot for solar power. Photovoltaic panels are carpeting fertile and fallow farmlands at a furious rate this summer as solar power promoters rush to complete projects before the subsidy gusher slows.

By the end of 2015, more than 2,000 megawatts of solar power will be connected to the Ontario grid as developers take advantage of the province’s feed-in-tariff, guaranteeing them a heady two-decade return on their investment, courtesy of the weary Ontario electricity consumer.

The newly re-elected Liberal government scaled down the FIT program last year, but not before a small group of savvy operators hit the sweet spot by locking into its risk-free cash flow. One 10MW solar farm under construction in eastern Ontario’s cottage country will get 44 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity it produces over 20 years.

Compare that to the average 8.55 cents per kWh that Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator says it cost to produce power in the province in 2013. The price includes a wholesale price of 2.65 cents (what the power was actually worth on the open market) and a so-called “global adjustment” of 5.9 cents to cover the sunk costs in existing nuclear, hydro and wind projects.

No other province has imitated Ontario’s folly. No wonder the solar lobby worked so hard to re-elect Premier Kathleen Wynne in the June election. The opposition Progressive Conservatives vowed to pull the plug on Liberal FIT contracts that will further burden the province’s already uncompetitive manufacturers and saddle consumers with a 50 per cent rate hike within a decade.

Solar power is not the only culprit. Far more FIT-contracted wind power will be added to the grid. Together, these contracts demonstrate the madness of Ontario’s so-called green energy policy. Not only will it cost more, it won’t remove much if any carbon from the atmosphere.

The biggest myth about wind and solar power is that they automatically displace carbon dioxide produced by coal- or gas-fired power plants. Solar power producers consistently make this claim without any proof to back it up. Quite often, the opposite is true.

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