If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

...and Ontario, Canada puts off their Ban

(If this does not work, you may have Flash software issues.. try the YouTube source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N9ehXDdCsjk)

Following the Canada federal decision to delay to 2014 any ban on simple incandescents,
and the likely suspension of British Columbia to continue with such a ban,
now comes the expected decision by Ontario to put off their own planned ban.
This is not surprising for another reason, namely the proximity to the major Ontario population centres of the USA, Quebec and Manitoba, all (in practice) without such bans next year.

As covered by Antonella Artuso, Cnews Canoe December 21:
Ontario is delaying its ban of incandescent light bulbs for two years.
The 75- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs were set to be outlawed as of Jan. 1.
The 60- and 40-watts bulbs would have been gone as of the end of 2012.
The move coincides with a federal government decision to put off banning the import of regular light bulbs until 2014.

Rob Ferguson in the Toronto Star adds (extracts):
“Did it make sense for us to have a different approach from the federal government on this issue? No,” [Ontario Energy Minister] Bentley said.
“Our thinking is how do we make it easiest for consumers. It would be hard and confusing to do it differently.”
The two-year reprieve for the incandescents ban will give governments time to come up with a “better approach” for disposing of compact fluorescents, he added.

The Star first reported on Saturday that the Ontario promise, made by former energy minister Dwight Duncan in 2007, was in jeopardy because of the federal move.

Some interesting background information from the Freedom Party of Ontario.

Basically, coal-powered Ontario meant environmental reasons were used to justify a ban,
along with the usual supposed lowered energy usage:
But with any surplus of electricity production being sold to the USA anyway,
it would not have reduced the burning of coal in local power plants.
"The oversupply is so bad that Ontario sometimes has to pay American facilities to take our excess electricity"...

In 2003, [Ontario Premier] Dalton McGuinty had campaigned on closing all of Ontario's coal-powered electricity generation plants by 2007 for the purposes of improving air quality. By 2007, he was nowhere close to closing them. He could not do so, because Ontario did not reliably have enough power to meet its needs, and closing the coal plants would have worsened the crisis greatly.
Having failed for almost four years to increase the supply of electricity in the province, the McGuinty government decided to force people to consume less energy: to ration electricity.

Imposing a system of rationing is not a politically popular thing to do, but people generally do not blame politicians who impose rationing if there is a "need" to ration.
Luckily for McGuinty, Al Gore had provided him with the alleged "need" he was looking for. In 2006, Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", had caused wide-spread panic that human industrial activity was producing enough CO2 to cause catastrophic global warming. McGuinty capitalized on that fear. Rather than telling Ontarians that he was turning to electricity rationing because he had failed to increase the supply of electricity, McGuinty told Ontarians that "...Ontario has to start being a responsible global citizen", and that he was working on an "aggressive plan" to "deal with greenhouse gases".

Far from condemning the 2012 ban on incandescent light bulbs, the Progressive Conservatives wanted the ban to start sooner. Then Progressive Conservative party leader John Tory said the Progressive Conservatives wanted the ban to start "as soon as possible" and that the McGuinty government "should get on with it."

However, by that time, industrial and commercial businesses - which then consumed more than 70 percent of Ontario's electricity - were leaving Ontario for places like India and China, where labour costs are exceptionally lower. By 2010, Ontario's industrial sector had been gutted.
The result:
Ontario now has not too little electricity, but too much.
The oversupply is so bad that Ontario sometimes has to pay American facilities to take our excess electricity.

Each kind of bulb has its advantages and disadvantages.
Ontario now has surplus energy.
There is no need to ban incandescent light bulbs.

There is a parallell with this in the ever more connected EU or other international grids:
Any celebrated supposed local lowered energy use by power plants, for whatever reason,
may of course be negated by power plant cross border surplus export!
Politicians won't stop that for industrial political profit reasons.
One message for local environmentalists and consumers,
another message for power-hungry neigbor states waving crisp banknotes under the noses of
local utility owners and legislators.

The local Ontario light bulb ban story has interesting and amusing twists and turns
also for a general audience...

In February of 2006, radical environmentalist Matt Prescott launched a "ban the bulb" campaign to encourage governments to ban the incandescent light bulb and to subsidize fluorescent light bulbs. On April 18, 2007, the McGuinty government announced that it was banning incandescent bulbs starting in 2012. That ban was released as part of a misguided "Flick Off" campaign to discourage electricity use

Aimed at youth, the Flick Off campaign intentionally used a font designed to make the word "Flick" look light a four-letter expletive...

Then Liberal Environment Minister Laurel Broten
introduces Ontario's $500,000.00 contribution to the
"Flick Off" campaign (April 25, 2007). The campaign website's
homepage read: "We need you to FLICK OFF, and tell
everyone you know to FLICK OFF. The more you do it,
the cooler it gets. The planet, that is." The Liberals defended
their half-million dollar expenditure on the campaign:
"It's a suitable website for youth" said Broten.

(If above not work, you may have Flash issues, try original YouTube page, they seem more flexible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ig65TMTMQY)

"At the same time, the McGuinty government forked out taxpayer dollars for commercials in which TV personality David Suzuki is depicted fictionally snatching incandescent light bulbs from the homes of homeowners, and replacing them with fluorescent ones."

[A parody of this was made by cartoonist Niffiwan]

Finally, returning to the Freedom Party Campaign:

As seen, one campaign mainstay is that there is "no Ontario energy shortage that justifies a ban".
Of course the lighting switchover energy savings themselves are small anyway for society as a whole, which is obviously what should count as a society energy policy.
That is, less than 1% of overall energy use on US, EU and international statistics, or 1-2% of grid energy, as referenced here,
with all the described generation, grid, and other energy efficiency alternatives that will be familiar to regular readers of this blog.

Combining the quoted website source with this earlier policy outline on the issue,
Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever states several reasons why a ban is bad,
as also seen in the summaries and links from this blog.

Certainly, people are not "forced" to use CFLs:
But they are often the only practical alternative,
and regardless of any bans they are of course being pushed on consumers via government sponsored industry CFL programs, with all the handouts and subsidies that involves, in Canada as elsewhere.
CFLs are good in some situations, but not in all lamps in North American households with 40-odd lighting points...

Fluorescent light bulbs have some advantages over incandescent bulbs.
They do not give off as much heat, which is good during hot summer months.
It is claimed that they last longer than incandescent light bulbs.
They also require less electricity.

However, fluorescent light bulbs also have some drawbacks:

• some people have reported the explosion of fluorescent bulbs;
• fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which makes them difficult to dispose of in an environmental sound way;
• fluorescent light bulbs are not suitable for exterior use on Canada's freezing cold days of winter, of late fall, and of early spring;
• some people find fluorescent light to be hard on the eyes, especially when reading;
• fluorescent light bulbs do not provide the additional house-warming heat that incandescent light bulbs do for Ontario's cool or freezing days in Autumn, Winter, and Spring; and
• fluorescent light bulbs are much more expensive than incandescent bulbs.

Here are some sobering facts.

Banning 50 cent incandescent bulbs will relieve $4 fluorescent bulb manufacturers of price competition:
the price of flourescent bulbs will most certainly be higher than they would have been but for the ban on incandescents.

Banning incandescents will also relieve bulb manufacturers from competition on light quality: the currently harsh quality of the light provided by non-incandescent bulbs will not improve as quickly as it would have but for the ban on incandescents.

This ban is a bad and harmful idea.
We need more competition and private-sector involvement in power generation and delivery,
not less competition and more government involvement in light-bulbs.

The Ceolas site accompanying this blog has a full account of Why a ban in Canada is particularly wrong (http://ceolas.net/#li11x).

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