GREEN ENERGY POLICIES SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF ONTARIO
Thirty years ago, the Ontario Ministry of Energy hired freelance writer Ron Truman to prepare a manual on using wind to generate electricity. The concept was considered so impractical the ministry didn’t have any literature on the topic.
Truman was unimpressed with wind power. When he turned in the manuscript, he suggested the front page of the booklet should warn: “Don’t read this. In Ontario, the wind doesn’t blow, it sucks.”
Thirty years later, it still does. Yet wind turbines of dubious benefit spring up like dandelions on a pesticide-free lawn even as property owners and municipalities struggle in vain to stop the onslaught.
Truman’s cynicism has not only endured, it has deepened. In his recently published memoirs, Polar Bears and Other Scares, Adventures of a Freelance Writer (FriesenPress, April 2016), Truman describes Ontario’s energy policy as a dismal tale of incompetent governance, misplaced priorities, pandering to greenies and “hugging the tree-huggers.”
He writes, “The idealists wished, as hard as they possibly, possibly could, for a world powered by tiny generators cleverly concealed in tinkling brooks, photovoltaic panels activated by healing sunshine, gentle breezes setting picturesque windmills awhirl, and the CO2-free spontaneous combustion of unicorn farts. Anything but nukes and coal.”
Even though he continued writing on green energy for the ministry, he never bought into it. As a pastime that reflected his cynical attitude to wind power, Truman started taking pictures of abandoned, decaying wind turbines from Hudson Bay to Hawaii. The windmills, usually built with government subsidies, often deteriorated from landscape-jarring eyesores into monstrosities with twisted, broken blades and rusting pylons.
After 2003, he watched in fascination and horror as Ontario’s electricity world was transformed from one promising security of supply and power at cost to a laser-like focus on whatever was green and renewable—and hopefully vote-getting and possibly even earth saving.
Solar installations, paying up to 82 cents a kilowatt-hour, enrich developers. Some fear today’s electricity policy may lead to energy prices high enough to drive Canada’s industrial heartland to a Thelma-and-Louise ending, sending us over a cliff to oblivion.
And still, the mysticism of green energy quickens its swirl. Blue-sky thinkers among the environmentalist acolytes of the Liberal government have been floating schemes to end reliance on natural gas, one of the cleanest and cheapest sources of energy. To be replaced with: what?
Truman continued to be an energy communicator for the Ontario government until 1995. He wrote keynote speeches for ministers of energy, acted as provincial Director of Emergency Information during the commissioning of Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, was editor of a quarterly publication on electricity demand management and promoted electricity conservation in municipalities.
He dealt primarily with conventional energy. Of all the publications he later produced for the ministry, only a comic book entitled Energy and the Environment paid any attention to wind-generated electricity. It was treated as an unserious topic that got a single passing mention in a publication designed to raise environmental awareness in children.
Truman returned to the energy sector in 2007 as Director of Project Development for a California-based corporation building the world’s largest solar farm in Sarnia. In his stint in the renewable industry, he got the municipal permits to allow construction of the huge solar utility—and enhanced his cynicism about naïve, idealistic schemes for powering a modern economy.
There’s much more in Polar Bears than Truman’s shredding of green energy policies. Other parts of the book tackle crisis communications, cardiovascular adventures, speech writing and newspaper feature writing.
Polar Bears and Other Scares: Adventures of a freelance writer is available at www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000024257389/Ron-Truman-Polar-Bears-and-Other-Scares and as an ebook.