Provincial and federal governments ponder ruling against green energy content rules

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When Ontario Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, claims that green energy has "already created more than 31,000 jobs and leveraged billions of dollars in investment", he is, of course, ignoring the economic truth that these jobs, and this investment, because they rely on legislation rather than on economic fundamentals, are net-negative by the first principles of economics. Chiarelli is, for example, conveniently ignoring the definitionally more than 31,000 jobs lost, and even-greater billions in investment "un-leveraged" by companies laying off workers and investing, instead, in jurisdictions where electricity is cheaper. The problem is that Chiarelli's protectionist (and faulty) logic appeals to large numbers of farmers who are (think supply management and ethanol) protectionists by nature. The wryly-funny thing about this so-called "clean energy" is that it can't stand on its own strengths, but relies on the dirty politics and muddy economics of the people promoting it.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Studies show that the construction of wind turbines takes 20 yrs. of operation to be considered a environmental neutral span of a wind turbine is estimated at 25 yrs. Wind,solar and ethanol is fine if private business wants too fund it and sell it at "fair market prices' kg kimball

This solar energy is great. They are going to pay me 80.2 cents a kwh to produce green energy. This is a cash cow Steve. I was young and naive once, but I know what I,m doing now. Between my hog contract, small on farm business, and this solar panel (it's not up and running yet but soon will be when the lines can hold it, I just know it). I,ll be able to compete for farms in my area again. I already got the concrete base poured just waiting right now. I really dislike SM in its current form and those silly corn prices due to ethanol mandates, but this solar energy has got nothing to do with that!

Trying to counter the greed of supply managed farmers with greed created by green energy, is still net-negative for the economy and for society. It truly is a sad reflection on our greed, and our lack of consideration for anyone but ourselves, that the farm community has degenerated into this "everything for me, nothing for anyone else" state of mind. We're well on our way to go from being one of the most trusted segments of our society, to being one of the most-despised, and we have only ourselves, our single-minded greed, and our willingness to stab everyone else in the back in the process, to blame. One only has to look at the reader responses to any Globe and Mail article about supply management, to see how despised supply management is, but supply managed farmers just don't get it, nor, alas, will they.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

So it is in fact hypocritical to critique supply managed farmers while accepting green energy subsidies. Thank you for the clarification.

It is only hypocritical of me to criticize green energy, not supply management, because I applied for a microfit. By the way, I have never accepted a green energy subsidy and never will. Why don't you stop hiding behind your keyboard and let us know who you are? Raube Beuerman, Dublin, ON

According to Thompson, anyone who sold corn in the last few years has accepted a green energy subsidy.

Any increase in the price of corn, results in the amount of money I recieve in my hog contract to decrease, because it factors in a feed price formula, therefore negates your theory, at least in my case. Raube Beuerman, Dublin, ON

Ethanol and supply management are, in effect, a tax on food. Green energy is a tax on energy consumption. All three, supply management, ethanol, and green energy are driven by legislation, not economics, and all three are, to economists, a regressive tax system. The fact that farmers seem to love protectionism drives us to try to differentiate between one subsidy and another, when they're all equally-bad.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

If I accepted a grant to install a geothermal system. Is that also accepting a green energy subsidy?

If my understanding is correct, even with any sort of a geothermal grant, the economics of geothermal when compared to natural gas are such that anyone installing a geothermal unit would, as an investor, likely be somewhat daft or, more-likely, would be somebody who absolutely wants a geothermal unit regardless of the cost/benefit equation. The big problem with subsidies, and the governments behind them, is that they can't keep up with marketplace reality - for example, hydraulic fracturing has helped reduce the price of natural gas by some 70% in recent years, thereby rendering the base case for ethanol and for geothermal, irrelevant and moot - yet the ethanol lobby pretends to not notice.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

So, all this fracking aside, pray tell, when can most of rural Ontario get hooked up to natural gas for their house and buildings let alone cars and trucks? Also, when will it be safely practical or economical to install and fuel autos en mass with dangerous natural gas?

The point is that the base case for many things does change, and change quickly, and unfortunately, farmers, by tradition, by education, and by nature, seem to not be able to grasp that particular concept. That's all the more reason to avoid investing in those things which, like supply management, ethanol, and green energy, are driven completely by legislation, rather than by economic fundamentals. Or, in other words, farmers seem to have a particular affinity for white elephants.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Geothermal rely on electricity and the earth. The best available technology uses 1 unit of electrical energy to pump 4 additional units of energy from the earth, giving you 5 units of heat for the price of 1. Unfortunately, Ontario Hydro's electricity is less than 30% efficient, so when you multiply those two efficiencies together, the planet loses. A better alternative is wood heat + solar water heating. Solar water heating is about 75% efficient, as compared to Photovoltaic solar which is 14% efficient, but both of these solar collectors are about the same price to install. The wood fuel is equal or cheaper than bat. gas, and the solar fuel is free. Solar will heat exclusively from March to October, supplemented by firewood for the other 4 months.

Glenn Black
Pioneer Systems

You're ignoring the net-present value of cash flows (in, and out) of all of these options - for example, solar may be "free" but the systems to capture it are not.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Its one thing to attack ideas in nameless style, I don't care. If you want to attack me and expect an answer, take off your skirt and put your name on it. Raube Beuerman, Dublin, ON

Sign if you want it still doesn,t make you right if you do. Still reading the same thing over and over makes for a boring topic. We all know where the ones that sign their name stands so move on or try and do something. Its nice to hear or read from people that objects to something , but please move on and quit all the bitterness and name calling.

If you think for one second the issue of wind turbine division in rural Ontario is about to go away ...think again. Thousands of these new larger IWT are slated to start construction this year. As a result, lawsuits and legal challenges are on the increase. We already know we can't eliminate gas plants and nuclear with intermittent wind power, so why continue to sterilize rural Ontario with problematic wind power. The power isn't worth all the associated problems folks. There are much better alternatives.

Very well written short article at:

1. Wind does not provide reliable, predictable on demand electricity.

2. Wind Mills do not reduce CO2 emissions
& 3. Wind Mills do not reduce fossil fuel consumption.

4. Wind Mill industry does not create sustainable employment in Ontario.

5. Wind Mills are a burden on the consumer and a drain to the social economy.

6. Wind Mills affect the health of individuals.

7. Wind Mills negatively affects the wildlife and destroys the heritage of Canada.

Items (4) and (5) also apply to ethanol and supply management thereby creating, in agriculture, a bubble-like storm which farmers are all-too eager to embrace.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Full speed ahead, let the markets rule. Lets get governments worldwide, to eliminate all subsidies, mandates, tarriffs and supply management schemes in agriculture. And with record worldwide government debt why wouldn't they? Rick Santelli's famous words to government "stop spending, stop spending, stop spending". And with record consumer debt-destroy tarriffs and supply management. Which farmers would adapt? What do ya say? Who's in?

Governments everywhere are suckers for half-truths about job creation and economic activity, and not just that, they are undoubtably the biggest sinners when it comes to issuing these sorts of half-truths. It's also human nature to try to hide behind government when you're in a "sunset" industry - why else, for example, would government so-strongly protect 12,000 dairy farmers when there are likely just as many pizza outlets (including employees and suppliers) being disadvantaged by that protection? Why else, for example, would dairy farmers issue so-much propaganda about the jobs created, and the economic activity generated, by supply management, but completely ignore the definitionally always-greater amount of jobs and economic activity thwarted by that protectionism?

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Yes most political decisions are first born from economists.

Most political decisions are made in spite of the recommendations of economists - for example, the economics community was adamantly opposed to supply management at its inception, and is still opposed now. Eugene Whelan boasted that he didn't listen to economists, and it showed. Most economists are opposed to wind and solar energy, as well as ethanol, and all for the same reasons. In addition, the investment community almost always travels in parallel with the economics community, in that they are both opposed to anything which is dependent more on legislation for its success, than business and/or economic fundamentals. It's a telling statement about agriculture that so many farmers mirror the view about economics and economists espoused by Whelan - otherwise we wouldn't have created a land price bubble based on smoke and mirrors emanating from supply management, ethanol, and so-called green energy.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

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