Are you outraged about Premier Ford’s $8 billion Greenbelt giveaway? I am too.
How would you feel if I told you that the Ontario government is going to blow another $4 billion on another environmentally destructive and indefensible act?
A scandal in the making
Actually, how do you feel is a better question – because I’m not speaking hypothetically. Ontario is poised to unnecessarily spend over $4 billion on polluting gas plants that the federal government is in the process of phasing out. We don’t need these plants, and by the province’s own admission, they will rarely (if ever) be used. Four billion dollars, completely wasted.
Tell the province, no more gas!
Ontario wants to build 1500 megawatts (MW) of new gas plants. The province’s electricity operator, the IESO, has already started the process by offering contracts to two new gas plants – one in Windsor and one in St. Clair. Those two plants alone are going to cost us – ratepayers i.e. people who use electricity – just over $1.1 billion over 14 years from 2026 to 2040, which is the term of the contracts. How do we know? The government published the contract price: $1093.22/MW/business day.
Let’s do the math
$1093.22 per MW per business day x 295 MWs x 250 business days per year x 14 years = $1,128,749,650
And that’s just the beginning
The IESO is still looking for more gas, hoping to contract another 900 MW. If we assume the same price, but that these plants operate for 13 years (from 2027 to 2040), that’s another $3.2 billion for a total of $4.3 billion!
The most scandalous part? By the province’s own admission, these plants will rarely (if ever) be used.
Northland Power, a company that wants to build a plant in Thorold, near Niagara, says that the “ expectation [is] that it will act as a back-up resource to support and stabilize the regional energy grid, producing little energy and emissions.”
This one plant alone, with its contract for 198 MW, will cost $730 million.
All told, it will be $4 billion spent on a make-work project for power plant developers and the fossil fuel industry.
The government knows that these plants will have to close in 2035 when federal climate laws come into effect. So they told the IESO to structure the contracts so that gas plants still get paid for years after they have to shut down due to federal climate laws!
Why spend $4 billion on fossil fuel infrastructure that may or may not be used? This is a gift to the fossil fuel companies and big power plant developers – it’s like the Greenbelt giveaway, and it’s scandalous.
Ontario’s gas future
We cannot be certain how much these proposed plants will be used, but the ISEO projects that electricity sector emissions that were at all time lows just a few years ago will quadruple by 2030 and double again by 2040.
Meanwhile, solar power is the cheapest form of new electricity generation anywhere in the world, Ontario included. All this budget spent on gas plants will take away from the province’s ability to invest in renewable energy – the only path forward for a safe and healthy future for us and the planet.
We must tell Ontario to take its foot off the gas and go with renewable energy instead. Take action here.
Immediate action is needed
We can also stop projects from going forward by getting municipal councils to say no. The IESO has said that projects need municipal resolutions of support in order to get a contract. There’s a proposal for a 198 MW gas plant in Thorold going in front of Niagara Regional Council and Thorold City Council later this month. These councilors will care most about what their constituents have to say – so if you live there, get in touch with your elected representatives.
But they should care about what the rest of us think too – because they have the power to stop the beginnings of a $4 billion scandal in the making.