Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sussex Affair: The Conspiracy to Hide Renewables Cost?

The Sussex Affair refers to a Canadian document leaked to the media a few weeks ago by some Canadian Conservative Party politicians, The document purports to be to be a strategic plan to support Renewable Feed in Tariffs in Ontario. The document states,
• A number of renewable energy developers have come together to form a lose coalition of interests, to promote renewable energy policy in Ontario and support the agenda set as part of the Green Energy and Economy Act and the Feed‐in‐Tariff program.
• This coalition will be joined by other groups, such as Environmental Defence and the GEA Alliance, as well as labour, economic development, health and environmental stakeholders, to develop common messaging, communications tools (ie. paid and earned media) and targeted local campaigns in areas where opposition to renewable power exists.
• The goal of this effort will be two‐fold:
1. Help support an expedited release of FIT contracts, including those associated with new Bruce‐Milton transmission capacity; and
2. Support the broader government plan for sustained contracting for wind and solar through the FIT Program, as part of the Supply Mix Directive and Long‐Term Energy Plan.
• As renewable energy is also anticipated to be a wedge issue in the election, with the PCs supporting a move away from renewables, this effort should consolidate industry and non‐industry stakeholders in rallying support for a continued focus on green power as important economic, social, and energy policy in Ontario.
The next goal, the one which has created something of a sensation in Canada, states,
• In this, it will be critical to “confuse” the issue in the political/public/media away from just price to include key value attributes such as jobs, clean air, farm income, etc. Renewables cannot be defined by price alone.
The document is marked,
So is this a working document of a deliberate conspiracy to confuse the public about renewable energy costs, or is it a right-wing hoax?

The Document was presented to the public last week by Ontario Conservative Party Opposition Leader Tim Hudak, who stated,
This deck contains evidence of an active push to form a special interest coalition intent on defending the McGuinty government’s costly energy experiments, including massive handouts to industry.
According to The Star story, the Sussex Group has
confirmed it pitched the proposal to a “broad group” — not just its clients — that included people involved in health and the environment to expand the debate about green energy. But it wouldn’t name names.
Sussex spokesperson, Brett James, acknowledged,
I think it was a poor choice of words, because the effort is actually to provide clarity to the debate that right now is only about price, and to make sure that the benefits of clean energy are reflected in the debate as well.
According to The Star story,
Sussex, which has offices in Toronto and Ottawa, has seven active lobbyists on the Ontario registry. Its client list includes the Electricity Distributors Association of Ontario and several renewable energy companies, such as FarmTech Energy, Recurrent Energy and Interwind Corp.
The Sussex document does appear to pull back the curtain on the weeding of "Green" ideological interests, and a seemingly unethical cabal of Renewable manufacturers, and investor rent seekers, who are using the "Greens" to promote subsidy and FIT driven profits at the expense of tax payers and rate payers, not just in Canada, but also in Europe and the United States. The document reveals plans for a well financed campaign intended to garner "Green" support for a FIT conspiracy, and channel that support into votes for the Ontario Liberal Party, which appears to be committed to raising ratepayers costs, in order to pay for local Feed in Tariffs.

The Sussex document is all about PR spin and lobbying, not about energy solutions. It probably reflects similar manipulative PR/lobbying campaigns in the United States. The watchword of the Greens is to
Confuse the public about renewable and nuclear energy costs.
Although the Sussex document does not mention nuclear power, the Sussex clients have no interest in public awareness of the relative cost of nuclear and renewable energy. While renewable advocates such as Amory Lovins, Mark Cooper, Joe Romm, and David Roberts, repeatedly tell the public that nuclear power costs too much, they always avoid offering a realistic comparison of nuclear and renewables costs. The question has to be if Lovins, Cooper, Romm, Roberts and others are being paid to confuse the public about nuclear costs. I don't know, but the reading the Sussex document certainly raises the possibility.

Greens are willingly duped by the pro-renewable spin, and are not inclined to ferrite out the real cost relationship between nuclear power and renewable generated electricity. Green voters believe that they are being virtuous because they are willing to play high prices for renewable generated electricity. Actually they are being nothing more than dupes of renewable business interests.

The last canard is the notion that support for renewable rent seeking, is somehow a Liberal/Left Wing cause. Renewable rent seeking is nothing more than a conspiracy to cheat the public through renewable tax subsidies, and Feed in Tariffs. There is nothing liberal about cheating the public to fill the coffers of rent seeking capitalists. There is nothing left-wing about spreading confusion about renewable and nuclear energy costs. The Sussex document suggested that renewables advocates should
Inventory potential economic/investment/jobs benefits. In other words, if we have 1000MW of new wind/solar contracts coming out, XX manufacturing facilities will be built,, employing XX direct and indirect jobs, with XX person years involved in the generation projects themselves.
Such benefit claims are likely to be full of baloney. In 2009 a west Texas Wind project was projected to receive $450 million in Federal stimulus money in addition to hundreds of millions more in Federal and State tax monies. Project investors lived in China, and the wind turbines were to be built in a Chinese factory, so money appropriated to help American workers and businesses, was actually going to create Chinese jobs and provide income for Chinese investors. Needless to say the pro-renewable, anti-nuclear spin merchants, Lovins, Cooper, Romm, and Roberts, do not tell that part of the story.


Soylent said...

"Such benefit claims are likely to be full of baloney."

They can be completely honest and still be meaningless.

The benefits are concentrated and immediately apparent. The costs are diffuse and unseen.

The costs may take expression in many ways or combinations of ways; such as a slight tax increase on income, on electricity, VAT, a reduction in quantity or quality of benefits citizens recieve from their government or an increase in debt(future taxes or inflation).

In either case there is an unseen loss that is not mentioned by the renewables proponents. If income tax is increased, consumers have less income to spend, businesses don't grow as fast, hiring less than they otherwise would or making cuts or laying people off where as they otherwise wouldn't have.

If FIT is payed for by taxes applied to electricity, all electricity consumers are harmed. The most electricity intensive industries, things like mining, paper and aluminium manufacture are forced into either a reduction of new hirings, layoffs or pay cuts.

These harms can be very subtle and renewable proponents make no attempt to quantify them. At best they say things like 'it will only increase cost to consumers by 50 cents per month, or the equivalent of a can of coke'.

This is very pernicious; each consumer has little incentive to fight this because it's "only the price of a coke can" and not worth the effort. Those on the recieving end get concentrated benefits that are the difference between wild profits and loss; it is entirely rational for them to fight tooth and nail.

Charles Barton said...

In the case of the West Texas project, the baloney was that a $450 million government investment was going to help United States workers and investors. In fact the bulk of the benefits would go to Chinese workers and investors.

Soylent said...

Even if that wasn't the case, and all $450 million went to american companies and american workers, they are still ignoring the harm of procuring that $450 million from other americans in order that the government shall be able to spend it.

Frank Kandrnal said...

Greens are not only willingly duped to pay more for renewable electricity, they are also willingly duped to help destroy the environment by continuous excessive fossil fuel burning. All their efforts to keep up with world energy consumption with wind and solar was loosing battle that so far always lead to more fossil fuel consumption. Coal companies love the Greens and their very limited intelligence.


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