“That’s not my bag, baby!”


On page 7 of the January 3rd edition of the Auroran, it seems as though during discusions to ratify the 2012 budget there is some debate finaly at council over paying a premium for clean energy to the for-profit venture “Bullfrog Power”.  You can read it here:

Download this file

I brought the subject before council in the March 2011 budget discussions in my slideshow here:

A posting to his blog by Clr. Ballard shares his views on the subject, they are as follows:

December 20, 2011 – Town to dump Bullfrog Power and increase its pollution

Back in 2008, Council of the day showed environmental leadership by agreeing to buy electricity from Bullfrog Power, which provides Eco-Logo certified Green Power. A one-year trial to purchase power for Town Hall was extended to March of 2012. By using Bullfrog electricity, produced with hydro and wind, the Town reduced its pollution output each year by approximately 145 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide, 430 kilograms of Sulphur Dioxide and 185 kilograms of Nitrogen Oxide. There was a cost. Green Power is more expensive than that produced by coal, or natural gas. The Town has paid a premium of $20,000 each year for green power. 
Now Council is uncertain whether the additional $20,000 is worth the environmental savings.
In order to stop an outright cancellation of the project without implementing a corresponding environmentally-positive project, I voted with Council on a motion that asks Staff to report back on alternatives to Bullfrog — in other words, what other environmental initiatives can the Town undertake for $20,000 that will return greater environmental benefits. If there are none, I’ll push to renew the Bullfrog contract. I’ll keep you updated. 
For now, I’ve asked my family to buy me a year of Bullfrog Power for Christmas. It’ll cost about $1 per day in extra electricity charges for my home. I just need about 50 more Aurora families to do the same to offset the loss of the Town as a customer.

Regardless if Santa brought Clr. Ballard his “Green” Christmas or filled his stocking full or dirty coal, the belief that the past term of council were “environmental leaders” is deserving of a Santa belly Howell.

The “right to dry campaign” was a shinng example.  As a “rights” issue it was a non-issue, it was an ineffectual, hokey P.R. move that ended in an Al Gore photo-op and nothing more.  

But it was not alone in the trend to the initatives that Aurora Council (2006-2010) that proved “Environmental leadership” is not in the bag.

Let’s review shall we:

1.) The town’s environmental iniatives of 2009 

These were laughably summarized by the newly minted C.A.O. in the waste calendar.  I commented on it here: http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/accolades-and-ass-hats-january-11th-2010-0

They included Bullfrog power and the “Greenbin” program, the latter of which was so broken that a large amount of what was collected went to landfill.  Now there’s some environmental leadership to be proud of.

The Corporate Environmental Action Plan referenced in this piece: 

also cites programs like green bin, bullfrog power and earth hour.  None of this is indicative of leadership, it shows a rush to play catch-up and load up on existing services without clearly researching how they perform and will benefit the town and its citizens.

A well written Fast Company article here: 

says to expect corporate sustainability programs to shift from the public-focused green washing of years past toward more robust risk management and environmentally conscious operations.

Aurora has shown the opposite of environmental leadership, but perhaps that will change now that the Environmental Advisory Committee is not being steered by someone who drives a gas guzzling Cadillac Escalade.

The message that sent was this:


2.) The Aurora not-so-SMART car

Last November I prepared a detailed post on how the SMART cra, a decision of past council, was the antithesis of environmental leadership, you can read it here:  http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/primp-my-ride

The future of the SMUG car is uncertain.  Staff proposed folding it back into the fleet.  I suggested in a presentation to council that it be sold and the $ recouped be used to embracing a local outfit that greens the town’s entire fleet.  And where did I learn about this?  From the Business website, that Ballard continuously credits himself in bringing forward as to his involvement of EDAC.  If he wants to champion environmental stewardship, even leadership one wonders why he couldn’t have proposed something similar.

I noticed Clr. Pirri and Mayor Dawe were pictured beside it in the December 20th Auroran, showcasing it’s interim use as a shopping cart.  You can see that here:

Download this file

3.) Paper grows on trees

Copius amounts of paper were printed, and distributed during the last term of council.  Notices, minutes reports, Press releases like this one: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=57283

Talk about not recognizing irony.

At least this council is considering moving in a paperless direction.

4.)  That dirty Cultural Centre

Proposed Geothermal retrofits were not approved for the Church Street School.  

Clr. Buck has raised the issue on her blog several times, including here: 

3/4 of $ 1million available in grants was turned down.

By Ballard’s logic the Aurora Church Street School is powered by “dirty power”.  Therefore every event the Cultural Centre holds, including his $300 a ticket levee is dirty.

And then we come to the topic at hand:

5.) Bullfrog Power

Bullfrog Power cost the City of Toronto huge $, as much as $500,000 annualy.  

Singled out as a “green leader” by former mayor Miller this April 2011 post speaks to his relationship to Bullfrog’s president Tom Heintzman:  http://thebiggreenlie.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/why-torontos-energy-costs-are-so-high/

Blow this up to the provincal level and you get this:

I outlined my reservations in an October 2010 post here:  http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/town-of-aurora-powered-by-bullshi

Since then it seems like Bullfrog power was fined $25,000 for making the flase claim:  “In Ontario, Bullfrog Power greneration injects EcoLogoM certified wind power and low impact hydro power into the Ontario electricity grid to match the amount of power your home uses”

See for yourself in the Ontario Energy Board ruling here:

Even if one could overlook the shady business dealings, the blatent misrepresentation to its customer base, and the fact that as an energy company it is not not very diversified in its energy production one has to question the very existence of a service where consumers pay a premium for injecting clean energy into the grid when the province already injects wind power and pays a heft price to bring online.

“Greater environmental benefits than Bullfrog Power” exist almost anywhere you look.

80% of Bullfrog power comes from wind.

Clr. Thompson seems to be more with MicroFIT projects, including Solar technologies than Clr. Ballard.

With the advent of paint on solar cells (
http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/25/notre-dame-heralds-paint-on-solar-cells-wants-to-smear-your-hom/ ) it is encouraging to visit sites like this one that include an interactive map that hints at the future of solar energy as a component of the renewable energy mix, and projecting when it will reach parity:   http://energyselfreliantstates.org/content/mapping-solar-grid-parity

However we get to the desired ballance of renewable energy sources there will no doubt be temporary growing pains.  This article points out how renewable energy is a disruptive technology:

Until it changes its questionable business practices and ditches it’s current model I fail to see how Bullfrog Power does anything but produce more problems than opportunities, and for that reason Aurora should run screaming from it’s current contract Austin Powers style, screaming “That’s not my bag, baby!”

As for “offsetting the town as a customer from Bullfrog power” be sure to ask Clr. Ballard how he made out with that goal.  Out of a community of 50,000 he said he needed 50 takers.  Unless he posts a list of names saying otherwise I expect he’d be hard pressed to get 5.

If Clr. Ballard believes his blog has any readership to drive such a campaign perhaps next year he’ll consider powering his Christmas Tree lights with it, like this:  


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