A letter to the Ontario Minister of the Environment

  • Posted on: 25 November 2013
  • By: Allen Small
Regular News

Last week former US Vice President Al Gore gave a speech in Toronto commending the Ontario Liberal government for closing (soon) all OPG coal powered generation stations and banning the use of coal in Ontario. Ostensibly this was done to achieve health benefits and mitigate global warming.
On Nov. 25 the Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, issued a press release extolling the virtues of the coal plant closings.

The following is a letter (published Nov. 25, 2013) from a concerned citizen (and expert on Hydro matters) to Jim Bradley explaining his view on the press release and the plant closures:

The Honourable Jim Bradley:

Minister Bradley:

As a voter and citizen of this province I am dismayed when I regularly see the following quotation from various Ministers of our Provincial Parliament as I once again saw it in your press release today.

  • According to an independent study, Ontario’s coal-fired power plants cost the people of Ontario an estimated $4.4 billion per year in health, environmental, and financial damages.”

Once again I note that you have used the above as a “Fact” in today's announcement on your efforts to pass a law banning the use of coal for production of electricity.

One would assume that you have “personally” examined the “independent study” commissioned by your former Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan, in late 2004 or early 2005 (dated April 2005). The study; prepared for the Ministry of Energy, who set the criteria for the “independent study” as follows:

Four scenarios were identified by the Ministry of Energy, namely:

Scenario 1 – Base Case (the status quo, continue operating the coal-fired

generation facilities within the current regulatory regime),

Scenario 2 – All Gas (produce all of the replacement electricity through gas

generation facilities constructed for this purpose alone),

Scenario 3 – Nuclear/Gas (produce all of the replacement electricity through a

combination of refurbished nuclear and new gas generation facilities constructed

for this purpose alone), and

Scenario 4 – Stringent Controls (continue operating the coal-fired generation

facilities but install new emission control technology so that the best available

control technology is in place).

The $4.4 billion cost was attributed to Scenario 1 as noted by DSS Management Consultants Inc. and RWDI Air Inc in the study presented to the Minister in April 2005. 

As a reminder; in 2004 coal produced 26.8 terawatts (17% of demand) and for 2009 produced only 9.8 terawatts (7% of demand) yet that was the year (2009) the Liberal government passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act citing the $4.4 billion as the reason. In 2012 coal produced only 4.3 terawatts (2.8% of demand). So if 26.8 terawatts represented a cost of $4.4 billion in 2004 ($164 million per terawatt) it stands to reason that 4.3 terawatts would represent a cost of only $700 million in 2012 and would reflect itself in the declining costs of health care-----but it doesn't! Your claim should therefore represent the lower production of electricity from coal yet each and every time the various Liberal Ministers speak to this they use old information.

To remind you of that this is some of the information that I personally took from the 2005 report:

The annual average net benefits for each of the three scenarios are $1.8 billion for Scenario 2

(All Gas), $2.4 billion for Scenario 3 (Nuclear/Gas) and $1.6 billion for Scenario 4 (Stringent Controls). On the basis of estimated net benefit, Scenario 3 (Nuclear/Gas) is expected to yield the highest return of the four scenarios analyzed.”

Please note that there is absolutely no reference to either “wind turbines” or “solar panel” in any of the 4 scenarios yet estimates of numerous parties have placed the costs of those two energy sources to Ontario's citizens at over $5 billion per annum for the next 20 years!

Additional to the foregoing the report also stated: “Closing the existing coal-fired generation facilities is expected to improve overall air quality in Ontario, but other pollution sources (e.g., trans boundary air pollution, vehicle emissions) will continue to create hazardous air quality conditions.”

This rather telling comment from the parties that prepared the report is always ignored by any references that the Liberal Party uses but clearly demonstrates that the claims made are an unproven base: 

In actual fact, it is impossible to identify which specific deaths that occur over a given period of time are actually attributable to air pollution. Air pollution is a contributory factor in a multitude of deaths and is almost never the overriding or irrefutable single cause of death.

For the foregoing reasons I would encourage you and the other members of your party to ACTUALLY read the report before you issue press releases that present Ontario's taxpayers with lies! Your party has replaced a current estimated current annual cost of $700 million with a cost of in excess of $5 billion. 

It is time to revise your “Facts”!

Yours truly,

Parker Gallant,

One of many concerned citizens