Ford Out of Touch with Reality - Natural Gas Expansion Plans a Disaster in the Making

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 9th, 2021



“A global crisis has shocked the world. It is causing a tragic number of deaths, making people afraid to leave home, and leading to economic hardship not seen in many generations. Its effects are rippling across the world. ”

Obviously, I am talking about COVID-19. But in just a few decades, the same description will fit another global crisis: climate change. As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse.” (Bill Gates – Aug 2020)

Pipeline -Transmountain

Pipelines move natural gas.

So, why would any government anywhere want to expand the carbon footprint of its residents? But that is exactly what the press conference this morning by Premier Ford and his ministers was all about, They are moving onto the second phase of their gas pipeline expansion plan to some 43 communities in northern and rural Ontario.

In total some 28 pipeline projects including well over a hundred kilometers of pipeline will be buried in order that Alberta based Enbridge and EPCOR can supply currently low cost natural gas even further into homes and businesses in the province.

The Ontario government is spending $234 million so the Alberta gas companies can sell more of their product in Ontario. And customers will pay back a dollar a month for being connected to the new gas supply system.

But even over ten years that would take almost 2 million new gas customers to pay off the subsidy to the gas companies. And that is unlikely since Enbridge, which is Canada’s largest gas distribution company, has barely four million existing customers in the province.

And what about the carbon tax? Currently set at $40 per tonne or 7.83 cents per cubic metre, it is set to more than quadruple by 2030. The entire premise underlying this government’s push to have Ontario residents use more natural gas is that it will help reduce their costs of living and for their businesses.

heat homes

Natural gas is the major source for heating homes. Solar has a lot of growing to do.

But it seems Mr. Ford, having lost in the courts, has just decided to ignore that we really do have an ever increasing carbon tax in this country, and will, even if the federal government changes hands.

New gas furnaces last 15-20 years. We can only imagine where the carbon tax will be in twenty years and what that will do to the economics of having locked ourselves even more into natural gas. Investments in new capital infrastructure, like a new gas heating appliance, should include a risk analysis of the future operational costs as well as the gas price today.

Electricity is an alternative. Wind and solar are already the least costly ways of generating electricity today and they are becoming even less expensive. And advances in energy storage will make them more reliable into the future. Already, battery technology is bringing that to reality in places like Australia.

The press conference seemed well attended and there were a number of media questions, but nobody mentioned the carbon tax and its impact going forward. In fact nobody mentioned climate change and our carbon footprint and what this would mean for all of us and for those yet to come.

Doug Ford and Jason Kenney

BFF: Best friends forever. Doug Ford with Jason Kennedy.

This may have been partly about Mr. Ford helping out his fellow premier in Alberta by marketing his gas here. And Mr. Ford may have genuinely been trying to help more Ontario residents lower their heating costs. There was also talk of 5000 jobs, but we know any kind of energy project results in jobs. In fact US President Biden has made jobs the centre piece of his natural gas phase out plan. Yet while the US is phasing out, Ontario is embracing gas.

And that is the other problem with this provincial program. Natural gas was the wonder fuel of the sixties and seventies, when Mr. Ford was still a baby. Today burning natural gas is one the biggest problems facing humanity. And if Mr. Ford doesn’t get that he’s really out of touch with reality.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Bill Gates

Phase 2 Gas Expansion

Australia Energy Storage

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9 comments to Ford Out of Touch with Reality – Natural Gas Expansion Plans a Disaster in the Making

  • joe gaetan

    According to Futurism, “Hydrogen is the cleanest primary energy source we have on earth,” Texas Center for Superconductivity chief scientist Paul C. W. Chu told UH News. Now that these researchers have discovered a way to produce hydrogen cheaply with no carbon footprint, this may very well be the green energy source of tomorrow

  • Mike R

    Copied the table Philip reference below to show the details of the costs by type. Looking at this makes me reflect on what happened to the review of Samsung contract worth billions issues by McGuinty Liberals and details never exposed – which always means the taxpayer is getting a bad deal and/or side benefits are being accrued to government insiders. Transparency is what is needed in the Ontario venture into the ‘GREEN’ world – at the very least to understand the mistakes made so they are not made again. We need a practical path forward not a idealistic one promoted by Ray and the Trudeau team at a heavy cost they don’t have to pay for (their public pensions will continue to get indexed to the inflation that this will cause).

    Table 2: Total Electricity Supply Cost
    % of Total % of Total Total Unit Cost
    Supply GA (cents/kWh)
    Nuclear 55% 43% 8.0¢
    Hydro 25% 13% 6.3¢
    Gas 9% 12% 13.2¢
    Wind 8% 14% 14.8¢
    Solar 2% 13% 48.1¢
    Bioenergy 1% 2% 23.0¢

    Source: Power Advisory
    B: Percentage (%) of Total GA excludes CDM costs.

    • Hans Jacobs

      I don’t know what the nuclear price of electricity is based on but strongly suspect that it doesn’t include the cost of safe storage – if there is such a thing – for a very long time.

  • Dana

    Thanks for these articles about natural gas, Ray. I’ve learned a lot from them, especially the Canadian side of it. Admittedly very ignorant about it all!

  • Ed Dorr

    More misrepresentation from Ray Rivers. Falls into the category of fake news,for political purposes

  • perryb

    I’ve been around a long time, and have seen the basis of home heating swing from coal to oil furnaces to all-electric, back to oil, now to natural gas, and next probably electric again. All has to do with the cost of energy at the time. Strictly based on the cost of operating a single household. And to lesser degree the capital cost of the heating system, which is a twenty year commitment. Only recently have environmental issues become a factor.

    • Phillip Wooster

      The real key to understanding the government policies involved in the “climate crisis” is found in your very prescient observation “cost of operating and …the capital cost of the heating system”. In theory, carbon taxes are an incentive to switch to a “cheaper” alternative but the Trudeau government knows that people can’t instantly switch their home-heating systems and the vehicles they drive–this is what drives the inelastic demand for the fuels they use and makes carbon taxes (plus HST, of course) such great drivers of government revenues.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Ray, second time within 6 days that you have produced an anti-natural gas, anti-Ford diatribe. Could it be setting the anti-Ford agenda that will be showcased by the Liberals in the upcoming Federal election?

    You briefly mention the impact of the carbon tax–the Federal LIBERAL carbon tax on home heating. You should have been more pointed. And it’s true–while Trudeau promised not to raise the carbon tax beyond 2022 in the 2019 election (proven now to be a lie), Trudeau has almost quadrupled it. Are Ontarians aware that the Trudeau Carbon Tax will be costing them an additional $700 per year by 2029 to heat their homes and a tank of gas will cost an additional $24 at each fill-up?

    I also find your statement, “burning natural gas is one of the biggest problems facing humanity”, is a gross exaggeration. Canada contributes 1.6% to total global carbon emissions meanwhile the Chinese, that nation that Trudeau admires so much, not only contributes to nearly 30% of total carbon emissions but will increase them by 3 to 4 times Canada’s total by burning COAL–nearly 300 coal-fired stations will burn an additional 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2030. Isn’t this the real problem facing humanity in the area of climate change?

    And at another point in your diatribe, you state, “wind and solar are the least costly ways of generating electricity today”? Really–what is your source for this statement? I sure hope its not your pal, Angela Bischoff–the anti-nuclear activist whose real agenda is to end nuclear power generation. Her data as I previously noted seems highly inaccurate given the cost data presented by the OEB on April 17, 2019 on page 16; in case you missed it, I’ve copied it here:

  • mich kicz

    Ray Rivers might sound like a scam to you but gas is cheaper to run our heating system now and in the future, my sister moved into a house with electric heat and was paying $500 a month during the winter months she switched to gas and her heating bills went to $120 a month so ya theres a carbon tax , we also have lots of natural gas hydro plants and we’re paying a carbon tax on electricity , we’ve been talking about climate change since the early 70’s and things have improved. but solar power panels are only 20% efficient and lithium batteries aren’t that efficient either , so maybe you might want to switch to electric heating but i happy with my gas furnace @96%.