By Brandy Harrison
TORONTO — Ontario inked too many renewable energy project deals too quickly at too high a price — with taxpayers picking up the tab, according to the annual report released by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk in early December.
The 20-year guaranteed price contracts signed under the Green Energy Act are double the world market price for wind and three and a half times higher for solar, with electricity consumers paying $9.2 billion more than they would have under the competitively-priced program in place prior to 2009, said the report. The fast buy-in to green energy is also one of the main causes of Ontario’s surplus power problem. From 2009 to 2014, Ontario lost $3.1 billion exporting power that cost more to make than buyers would pay.
Taken together, that’s $1,800 out-of-pocket loss for each of the 6.8 million Ontario taxpayers in 2014.
Here are some of the findings related to green energy in the Auditor General’s Dec. 2 report.
Despite reducing feed-in tariff prices in 2011 and 2014, Ontario still paid double for wind and three and a half times more for solar contracts compared to world market prices, which started declining in 2008 due to competition and technological advances. Under a competitive process, cost to consumers would have been much lower, the auditor general concluded.
Electricity consumers have had to pay $9.2 billion more for renewable energy over 20-year contracts under the 2009 Green Energy and Green Economy Act than they would have under the previous procurement program, which achieved targets in record time.
The province did not conduct a comprehensive business case analysis to evaluate the impact, trade-offs, and alternatives to increasing renewable energy, including evaluating the possibility of importing hydro power from Manitoba or Quebec.
The province did not always heed the technical expertise of the Ontario Power Authority in planning renewable procurement. The Green Energy Act allowed the Ministry of Energy to supersede the usually planning and regulatory oversight processes.
The green energy program is a main contributor to the surplus power problem, which has grown 85 per cent between 2011 and 2014. Exporting high-cost power isn’t profitable: Buyers paid the province $3.1 billion less than it cost to produce power from 2009 to 2014. The province also paid exporters $32.6 million to take power.