In my last blog post, I wrote how the Globe and Mail got their hands on a 57-page document outlining Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy, titled “Cabinet Confidential.” The goal was to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050. In that document, it outlined how Ontario would wean residents off of fossil fuel powered homes by 2030 (natural gas included). Taken directly from the article; “New building code rules will require all homes and small buildings built in 2030 or later to be heated without using fossil fuels, such as natural gas. This will be expanded to all buildings before 2050. Other building code changes will require major renovations to include energy-efficiency measures. All homes will also have to undergo an energy-efficiency audit before they are sold.” The code change costs do not include the $1.32 billion in incentives to phase out natural gas heating in homes. All one needs to do is type “Wynne Natural Gas” on Google and you would get page upon page of newspaper article backlash on the subject.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne insists that the province will not ban the use of natural gas to heat homes as part of its climate change action plan. (CODIE MCLACHLAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS) Watch video here.
However, last week the Liberals released a statement during a joint press conference with Rachel Notley and Enbridge CEO Al Monaco stating that “We are not banning natural gas and have no intention to force people off natural gas.” She stresses that they will work to extend natural gas lines to rural and northern communities in order to promote economic development. Her intention is completely opposite of what was reported by the Globe and Mail’s article last week.
This retraction or falsely reported climate change strategy will reduce the greenhouse gas reduction estimate, while also largely reducing Ontarian debt which would have resulted in the policy’s implementation. I wonder what new policy the Liberals will implement to counter the omittance of the natural gas switch and how it will affect Ontarians.
At the press conference, Al Monaco had warned the public that an investment to switch households from natural gas to electricity would cost Ontario $200 billion – or about $4,500 per Ontarian based on average use. It would also triple electricity costs, which currently are among the highest in the country. So much for the $7 billion climate change plan from last week, but hey, what’s an extra $193 billion underestimate? (Not particularly related to the story, but I was driving home from work this afternoon and a commercial came on the radio advertising Ontario bonds. Planning something big, Premier Wynne?)
To give you an idea of how much electricity prices are, I have provided a table below showing price by major Canadian city:
Average Price of Electricity by Major Canadian City (Hydro Quebec)
What is most peculiar about the statement by Premier Wynne is that she said “I want to directly address the critics who jumped on last week’s false media reports suggesting that our plan will ban natural gas in Ontario. That is not true.” However, the Climate Change strategy draft released by the Globe and Mail contains a preamble signed by Premier Wynne. I do also want to stress that the plan was still to be fine-tuned so they are well within their right to withdraw or add policies, however a $200 billion price tag is a gross miscalculation. The Oakville coal plant scandal comes to mind again.
The relevance of this press release by Premiers Notley and Wynne stretches farther than climate change and financial calculation. In my last post I also mentioned how there were tensions within the party. Assuming this plan was released by disagreeing party members, is this something that they wanted us to see?