Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tom Harris Deceives About Ontario Electricity

Tom Harris continues his Trail of Deceit with a letter to the editor of the Moab Sun Times. In this letter, Harris states the Ontario electric rate has gone up over 300% and implies this was due to the cancellation of coal generation. Neither statement is true. You can read the letter here. Or, read my submitted response below.

The author of the August 3 letter, “In praise of Pruitt,” is trying to deceive the readers. The letter implies that the electricity rate in Ontario rose by over 300% because coal generation was banned, but this isn’t true or accurate. Global News, in Toronto, investigated the rates and found that, over the last 10 years, rates have gone up 70% for peak, 85% for mid-peak and 150% for off peak rates.  The average household electric bill went from $40.03 to $83.18 between 2006 and 2016 (not including taxes and fees), an average of about 108%.

Importantly, this rate increase was not due to canceling coal generation. The increase is attributed to infrastructure upgrades, privatization of the hydroelectric dam, and long-term contracts to the private sector. Interestingly, part of the increase is attributed to the politically-motivated cancellation of two gas-fired power plants, which would’ve lowered the rates. And, that’s coal’s real problem – there are cleaner, cheaper alternatives.

The only way coal can be affordable as a power source is if someone else pays for the pollution. Mercury pollution, coal sludge, sulfur dioxide leading to acid rain which destroys wildlife and lakes and streams, particulate pollution that causes lung disease and other health issues, CO2 leading to climate change. These are all problems associated with burning coal. And, they want someone else to pay for the damage.

The International Climate Science Coalition is a fossil fuel advocacy group and is heavily associated with climate changer denier organizations. The writer has a long employment record of working as an advocate for the fossil fuel and tobacco industries. His job is to place pieces in the news media undermining climate science and promoting fossil fuels, especially coal.

I am a professor of physics and have conducted research in planetary geophysics, including climate science, for over 25 years.

Dr. Christopher Keating

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