Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Boondoggle, Caesar's ™ style

Truly unbelievable: To get the new and expanded Caesar's Palace ™ Windsor off the grid (because Windsor and area simply didn't have enough power to light up the hotel / concert / casino complex), the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation decided to build a "clean energy" co-generation plant on site. The Caesar's project was supposed to cost $40 million; it's now run up to at least $81 million but may actually be worth zero zip nada on paper because no one knows how much excess power would be created to pump back into the grid so it could pay for itself. And the worst part: It still hasn't generated a single watt of power.

Meanwhile, the designer of the power plant and the OLG are suing each other because of claims the province reneged on the deal to buy power in the case of the former, and lack of timely delivery for the latter.
You'd think with a name with the caché of Caesar's, and with several former auto plants in Windsor now idle permanently, there would be a top notch facility with plenty of power to spare. But the nearest power facilities in Lambton and Bruce are pumping out as much as they can -- to the Greater Toronto Area; meanwhile the juice from Michigan is sold out of state at top dollar.
For a Premier who promised accountability and major improvements in health and education, partly funded by the revenues from gaming facilities across the province (the casinos, slots at racetracks and the horse races themselves), we the taxpayers have gotten one hell of a snow job from Dalton McGuinty. Sure there's a recession going on and Ontario's casinos collectively lost money last year for the first time, but that's no excuse for overspending on a clean energy project with nothing to show for it.
Why couldn't they have done what they did up at Casino Rama near Orillia? They built a backup gas generation plant, which came in handy during the big blackout in 2003; in fact they were the only gaming facility in Southern Ontario that was still running. It doesn't cost that much to build a purpose-driven gas plant.
This is yet another thing Dalton McGuinty has to answer for. This is beyond embarrassing. Little wonder people would want to go to the casinos in Detroit -- and not just because one can bet on a single game there which is still illegal in Canada (a three game parlay minimum is required).
And if they can't be trusted to build an in-house plant at a casino, how can they be trusted to build a windmill farm, or a nuclear power plant, at or below the contracted or stated price? When pigs can actually fly, then I'll believe it's possible to keep a promise when it comes to power.

At this point one couldn't blame Harrah's if they decide to strip the OLG of the right to use the Caesar's name. Who would want to be associated with a bs project like this knowing there's money for nothing? That's what's supposed to happen to those who patronize the facilities, not those who built it -- in this case, us the taxpayers.

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