Saturday, May 21, 2022

Who Expected This Much Intrigue Over Electricity Storage?

Dear Editor,

I didn’t think we’d hear a Save Georgian Bay supporter mention the IESO again. And yet, there it was. One more time. In a Letter to the Editor April 28! Another reminder for us all that the IESO ran their numbers and tried – but failed – to halt another green energy initiative. In Meaford Ontario in this case. Quelle surprise.

If I was bound and determined to stop an important green energy project in Meaford, and one of my trusted high-profile supporters was accusing my new best friend, my main, now most frequently quoted and trusted source, of putting out a feasibility report that they knew was “highly misleading and skewed to present a frightening worst-case scenario” – in Canada’s National Newspaper no less – I sure wouldn’t be drawing the attention of the entire town of Meaford to it.

Hurt the cause doesn’t begin to describe that situation.

Imagine my shock and horror when I opened my Globe and Mail on April 15 to find a long article detailing the accusations the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) was making against the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). It seems the IESO was tasked with evaluating alternatives for shutting down the polluting natural gas generating plants in Ontario. After having to resort to filing a Freedom of Information request to get the draft, OCAA discovered the IESO had pretty much deleted any references to anything that could have led to some seemingly unwanted conclusions in their final report. From the article, If these scenarios had been published, then people would have said: Okay, well, we can achieve a gas power phase-out at a very low cost.” Also from the Globe article, “Mr. Gibbons said the IESO inflated its cost estimates for phasing out natural gas by selecting some of the most expensive alternatives, such as building a new nuclear power plant in the Toronto area.” And my personal favourite, “We believe there was political interference”. It appears the OCAA is trying to warn us that the IESO is biased against green energy alternatives. And that the IESO is prepared to “run the numbers” to make green energy choices look unappealing and like the inferior alternatives. That sure sounded like OCAA’s message to this reader.

Recently I have been told repeatedly to rely on the wisdom of the IESO by my advisors at Save Georgian Bay.

In the past I have been told to rely on the wisdom of the OCAA by my advisors at Save Georgian Bay.

Now OCAA is telling me IESO is full of …., well, bias against renewable choices if a fossil fuel option exists. And that the alternative that IESO originally considered – “replacing polluting gas power with a combination of renewable energy, storage and deeper efficiency efforts would actually reduce costs by 8%.” – was suppressed. Buried. They’re claiming the IESO deliberately picked alternatives that would make preserving natural gas burning plants look like the only feasible alternative we have in Ontario. I would personally never go so far as to describe Joe Oliver, the IESO Chair, as “a notorious climate denier appointed by the Ford government”. But OCAA sure did. It’s right on their website. As is everything else I’ve quoted so far.

Who expected this much intrigue in their electricity production?

This isn’t just me arguing. These are organizations Save Georgian Bay supporters have been telling me I need to rely on to inform myself on the proposed TC Energy Pumped Storage facility “debate” for quite some time. The IESO is the organization Save Georgian Bay now insists we must follow because they believe the IESO “ran their numbers” and found “insufficient value for the taxpayers” in the TC Energy proposal for Meaford. Quelle surprise?

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance website has the details. There is a link there to the original Globe and Mail story as well. I highly recommend reading them both if you currently consider IESO as a reliable source of analysis and information.

I suppose that if this is all a big misunderstanding and IESO knows that OCAA got it all wrong when they compared IESO’s own draft report to its own final report, then IESO will rush to clear it all up. Publicly. But it’s been over two weeks since the Globe and Mail article was published. I can’t find a follow up from IESO. No further explanations, no comment, no clarification, no denial, nothing.

I will feel fully entitled to ignore the IESO, anything they might have to say, and especially, anyone telling me that I need to listen to what the IESO has to say, until that follow up happens.

Bruce Mason, Meaford


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