Government Generating Electricity—Expensive and Socially Wonderful—Just ask them

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    Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.

  Wherein we see what happens when a business is run by government. High costs, posturing, endless propaganda, inefficiency, and etc., the usual stuff. No one should try this at home.

National Post – (Latest Edition)
Financial Post pkuitenbrouwer@ national post. com Twitter. com/pkuitenbrouwer

OPG: Not as advertised

A brilliant, uplifting ad is in heavy rotation on television in Ontario. The scene: night. In a dark parking lot, a baseball player walks towards a field. A young woman enters her dark house. A heavyset young man sits in his dim bedroom, his face contorted in a frown. A teacher enters a dark lecture hall. Dark, dark, dark — you get the point.

“In 2014,” a narrator begins, “Ontario stopped using coal to make electricity.” Cue the lights. The young woman can now see her sweetheart in her backyard, under a trellis festooned with lights, bearing an engagement ring. Over at the park, the baseball diamond is suddenly aglow. The heavyset man mounts a well-lit treadmill and begins a workout. A projector illuminates the teacher’s face with an image of the galaxy. All is lightness.

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    Without the government, there is nothing. Electricity has been generated by non-government agencies in thousands of places. If you think that’s bad, see the next section.

“It was North America’s largest action to combat climate change,” the voice tells us. “And the power we now generate is 99.7 per cent free of smog and greenhouse gas emissions, creating cleaner air and a better environment,” the narrator’s voice continues. As promised, a very bright ad — if only it weren’t illuminating things artificially. But this feel-good TV commercial is, at best, misleading.

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      There is no Global Warming so there can be no greenhouse gases. This is like declaring war on leprechauns who pick pockets. There have been no pick pocketing leprechauns arrested in the last 20 years, so our program has been successful. So there.

Viewers might be naturally misled by who, exactly, is the “we” in this commercial. It sounds like it’s the whole province. It’s actually Ontario Power Generation, which isn’t mentioned until the end of the ad, and is obviously not the same thing.

Here is the truth. In 2005, OPG, a provincial Crown corporation, supplied about 70 per cent of Ontario’s power, and produced 30 per cent of its power from coal. That year, OPG shut the Lakeview Generating Station, a coal fired- plant in Toronto. Over the next few years OPG closed down its other coal stations: it decommissioned the Nanticoke and Lampton power plants; the Atikokan plant in northwestern Ontario now burns wood pellets, rather than coal; the power plant in Thunder Bay now burns what OPG calls “advanced biomass,” a kind of waterproof wood pellet that OPG imports from Norway. The 0.3 per cent of greenhouse gas that OPG refers to? That comes from its Lennox plant near Kingston, which burns oil and natural gas to create electricity.

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    Wood pellets from Norway? How expensive is that electricity?

But if it sounds like OPG’s $ 3- million ad is telling you that, other than that tiny amount, Ontario has freed its grid from fossil fuels. That’s just not true.

Why is a Crown corporation using public money to broadcast what a good job it’s doing?

First of all, OPG owns half of the Portlands Energy Centre in Toronto, which burns natural gas to make electricity. OPG omits that power plant from its greenhouse gas numbers, because “we are not the operators of that ( facility)” says spokesman Neal Kelly.

But OPG only supplies half of Ontario’s power, mainly with nuclear plants and hydro power. The other half ? That comes with plenty of emissions. The website of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) lists 47 gas- powered facilities ( of over 20 megawatts) in Ontario, most privately owned, providing about 10 per cent of the province’s electricity. OPG is saying it’s “99.7 per cent” free of greenhouse gas emissions simply because it has outsourced the pesky job of burning fossil fuels to others. Meanwhile, more than 10 per cent of Ontario’s power comes from burning fuels.

The Crown corporation insists the commercial isn’t misleading. “The ad is clearly OPG’s ad,” Kelly says. “Our logo is on it. Our name is on it. Throughout the ad, OPG is mentioned, so the ad is about us.”

But Don Bell, a retired engineer in Kanata, Ont., who first brought this ad to the Financial Post’s attention, sees it differently. “The ad is about those plants run by OPG, which so fortunately ( for comparison purposes) i ncluded coal t hen, but doesn’t include gas plants now,” he notes. “There’s no such thing as a ‘ no peeing’ section of the pool. They are trying to make Ontario look like a world leader in greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”

Why is a Crown corporation using public money to broadcast what a good job it’s doing, anyway? Electricity prices in Ontario are high enough as it is; surely ratepayers would prefer to have someone knock a few nickels off their hydro bills than spend $ 3 million to make people feel better when they turn on the lights.

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   A government agency advertising to demonstrate they’re essential. If they’re essential, shouldn’t that be obvious? This is primary socialism, public ownership and operation of the means of production, in action. Expensive, officious, unctuous and annoying. And that’s socialism for you.

Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “Power Teaching: How to Find Someone to Teach Your Child when the Education System has Failed.
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies

 

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