A Chat With the Mayor of Oshawa

Oshawa Mayor John Henry on December 1, 2014

This morning has started randomly. While sitting down to drink a coffee and read the tech news, I ran into Oshawa’s Mayor John Henry. As a homeowner, small business owner, and an electric vehicle driver in his city, I had a few questions to ask. Naturally, he with with another person, so I tried to be cognizant of not being a dick by interrupting them.

My first question to him was simply “Do you know how many electric vehicles (EVs) are in Oshawa?”, further I said “I figured if anyone would know, you would”. His response was that he didn’t know that number, but they are aware of the rising numbers of these vehicles. He went on to say that he knew the number of EV chargers in Oshawa, and that stood at six so far.

Then, he went on to talk about something I had never heard of, the Global Adjustment Rate. He says this rate is charged by the Ontario government to the City of Oshawa in the amount of $10 million this year. He was clear that the electricity users on Oshawa aren’t aware of this but they pay it ; and it’s bad.

The conversation then turned to the fact that Oshawa generates electricity at peak, always. When it’s not in full use, they “give it away”. I asked “Why not store it?”, and he said this was not possible – but – one company has been using excess electricity to pump water into a reservoir at night, and then using that water to later run a turbine and generate energy. That seems like an elaborate and environmentally costly way to store electricity, I said.

I’m no student of the electricity industry in Ontario, but I’m getting the sense that the entire system is headed for some kind of massive crash. The struggle between conservation rhetoric and the rise of electrical vehicles and usage is surely confusing the Governments. While these out of touch politicians waste money, and energy not knowing how to efficiently generate or price it. Couple that with no reasonable means of mass storage, and this is ready to explode.

Henry the man is cordial and respectful. Heck, I voted for the guy. In the two or three times I have encountered him, he has been receptive to me. In fact, as he was sitting across from me in this coffee shop, he shook many hands. The most amazing thing about Oshawa is that you could randomly find yourself having a coffee next to your mayor.