Thursday, April 19, 2012

The OPA is not ORNGE

The Toronto Star ran an article by Martin Regg Cohn: ORNGE isn't the only secret society playing with public money
Readers of my blogs know I've spent some effort on Ontario's electricity system.  Over the time I have become increasingly appreciative of the extent to which the IESO is particular, but also the OPA, are transparent.
I wrote the following, and sent it off to Mr. Regg Cohn, as well as media contacts at the OPA, the IESO, and opposition energy critics:

Mr. Regg Cohn
Re: ORNGE isn’t the only secret society playing with public money

Your column today was erroneous in many ways.

The OPA was not a failed electricity experiment. In fact the Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) the OPA did produce in 2007 would have prevented many of the issues the sector is experiencing. We can only speculate, but the IPSP draft delivered to the Ministry of Electricity prior to last fall’s election may also have been very helpful. Unless the experiment you refer to is planning, in general, the failure is the government’s; it is managerial, not electrical.

I find it difficult to believe your problems include the “stifling secrecy” of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). The Bruce contracts have not only been the focus of a review by the Auditor General of Ontario, current estimates are included in the Regulated Price Plan report for Summer 2012 posted just today on the OEB’s site (Bruce A estimated at $73/MWh, and Bruce B $52/MWh).

Contracts signed before the OPA existed aren’t exemplary of the OPA’s operations. Brookfield figures requires some work to find, but looking through some annual reports I’d estimate Brookfield associated hydro contracts between $80 and $120/MWh. 

Putting the blame for hiding the cost of “those gas plants”, “that the Liberals cancelled” on the OPA’s ‘stifling secrecy’ is ridiculous.

The “secret” directives (60), from the various Ministers of Energy, to the OPA, are all posted on the OPA’s website.

It seems your column concentrated on the OPA, but I will include the IESO in responding, only to suggest it is the exemplary organization for making publicly paid for data available to the public.
I assume the point of your column was to put the blame for, in your words, “a failed electricity experiment” on a body that will be eliminated instead of putting it on the party your publication seems obligated to support.

I have no doubt you are doing what you are paid to do, but perhaps your case is poorly researched because your premise is too fantastical for even yourself to take seriously.

Scott Luft

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