By Alexander Campbell
Special to The Cheap Seats
…all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as a tragedy, the second time as farce.”
– Karl Marx
That may be the only time you will ever hear a Tory – be he ever so red – quote Karl Marx.
But, for once, Marx actually had a point. We joke now about how often history seems to repeat itself. We joke about it. That, in and of itself, proves that we treat the repetition of history as farce.
And we’ve really got to stop doing that.
Every time a provincial government treats the electricity grid as a social engineering experiment, it goes badly.
The electricity grid is a massive political confluence of the environment, infrastructure, natural resources, ratepayers, municipalities and economic development. This makes it an irresistible tool for any government that wants to impact any one of these particular areas.
This brings us to Prince Edward County.
Before anyone protests, I will pre-emptively agree that global warming is an issue and that, even though Ontario accounts for a pathetically small amount of global emissions, we should still do something about it.
That having been said, Ontario’s grid isn’t an emissions problem — and all my statistics that are about to follow are courtesy of the province’s independent electricity system operator.
On any given day, the province’s energy mix is between 50 and 60 percent nuclear power and between 20 and 30 percent hydroelectric. Meaning that between 70 and 90 percent of our grid is already totally emissions free.
When wind and solar aren’t producing, you know what’s making up the rest of the electricity mix? Natural gas.
Now, I know what most of you are thinking. We’re adding wind and solar to the grid to become less reliant on natural gas, right? Wrong.
We have natural gas because we can’t predict when wind and solar will produce or how much. So, if we need to meet peak power consumption on a cloudy day when the wind isn’t blowing, we fire up the gas generators.
Just because wind and solar aren’t producing, after all, doesn’t mean we don’t need the power.
By the way, most of the time when wind turbines and solar panels are producing at maximum capacity, we aren’t powering down gas plants, we’re also spilling water over dams. That means renewable energy is, in effect, replacing renewable energy on the grid.
Wind turbines and solar panels are, in no way, helping us fight climate change. But that’s not even the worst part.
Right now, this province has the ability to produce in excess of 29,000 Megawatts of electricity. The all-time record peak for this province was reached in August 2006 and was only 27,000 Megawatts.
That means that we currently have the ability to produce 2,000 Megawatts of electricity more than we have ever needed. And we haven’t needed that much in almost a decade.
As an example, in the six days prior to my writing this, three of which were the hottest days of the year to this point (which usually increases electricity demand), the peak was only 20,300 Megawatts.
This means that any time we are bringing any new wind turbines or solar panels online we are adding power to the grid that we absolutely do not need.
Now, those wishing to defend Green Energy might run over to the IESO site and find out that we are actually exporting about twice as much power as we’re importing.
This would be a good argument for producing more power than we need, except that we’re paying the producers more to generate the energy than we’re being paid by those we’re exporting it to.
So, it’s actually a money loser.
Here’s the final wrinkle, and why, as the second wind turbine project, the repetition of history has become farce.
Ontario is now negotiating deals with Quebec and Newfoundland to connect the grid and import power from two provinces that have massive hydroelectric resources.
The people of Prince Edward County have a legitimate gripe. Wind turbines are being forced on them over massive protest in the name of fighting climate change — which they aren’t doing — and for the purpose of generating power that we don’t need.
The fate of the Blanding’s Turtle provided the tragedy story for the first project. White Pines? It is the absolute definition of history repeating itself as farce.
Senator Alexander Campbell was campaign manager for Sir John A. Macdonald and the sixth lieutenant governor of Ontario. The actual author has asked that his name not be made public at this time and has chosen Alexander Campbell as a pseudonym in part to recognize Sir John’s 200th birthday