This past week, Zoomer Media hosted a panel discussion on Ontario’s growing electricity rates which the media organization (affiliated with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons/CARP) says is adversely affecting seniors and others on fixed incomes.
Energy analyst Tom Adams was one of the panel members, who called on the government to rescind the Green Energy Act, which he says is at the core of the problems today. Wind power produces only 6 percent of the Ontario supply, he said, but at 30 percent of the cost.
Wind: 6% of the power for 30% of the costs
McMaster University professor Marvin Ryder agreed that expensive contracts were a problem but he said the damage has been done, and it will be 10 years before Ontario can climb out of the hole.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she still supports the Green Energy Act, but suggested creating subsidies for everyone having problems paying their electricity bills. (The cost of that would be …. added to the bills…)
The Ontario government awarded five contracts for new wind power generation in 2016, including two in the Ottawa area. The cost of these projects is about $1.3 billion. If the projects proceed (they do not yet have Renewable Energy Approvals/REA), the cost will be a further addition to Ontario electricity ratepayers’ bills.
Special guest will be Parker Gallant. Mr Gallant’s commentary on energy issues is regularly published in The Financial Post and other media; he is a former international banker and vice-president at Toronto Dominion Bank. He is vice-president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
The second event will be in early March, location TBA.
Wind power developer EDP Renewables, based in Portugal, will be holding an Open House information session on the 100-megawatt, 30+-turbine, $430-million wind power development they have called “Nation Rise” on December 13 in the arena in Finch.
Last week, MPPs Jim McDonell and Grant Crack took letters and petitions containing more than 1200 signatures from citizens of North Stormont and Nation Twp to the Legislature at Queen’s Park, demanding that the contracts for the two Ottawa-area power projects be cancelled.
The Open House information sessions are typically just poster sessions with developer staff available to answer any questions.
The site plan for the project has not yet been made available although proposed turbine locations are usually part of the application to the IESO for a power contract. The lack of a site plan means there are community members who may yet be unaware that they will have an industrial-scale wind turbine generating power near them.
Wind turbines emit a wide range of noise including low-frequency or inaudible noise which has been linked to adverse health effects. Wind turbines have also been implicated in disturbances to the water table and drinking water (Dover Twp, Ontario) via seismic vibration, and wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of migratory birds and endangered species of bats.
A few weeks ago, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne admitted that her government’s electricity policies have been “a mistake” and that they need to work to get consumer bills down. Last week, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault admitted that an “arbitrary” choice of wind power as a source of power generation had led to “sub-optimal siting” and community concerns.
The Nation Rise power project will cost Ontario as much as $430 million over the 20-year life of the contract.
The Open House will be held from 3:30-7:30 PM.
EDP wind turbine and home at South Branch project, Brinston, Ontario. Photo by Ray Pilon.
EDP wind turbine and home at South Branch project, Brinston, Ontario. Photo by Ray Pilon.
October 21, 2016
Portugal-based power developer EDP Renewables is holding an Open House for its Nation Rise wind power project on Tuesday, October 25, from 4-8 PM in Finch Ontario, at the Finch arena.
The 100-megawatt power project is located completely in the Township of North Stormont; it was one of five to receive a contract from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) earlier this year, and one of three projects to win a contract despite being proposed in an unwilling host community.
The contract is worth $436 million over 20 years.
In September, the IESO announced that Ontario has a surplus of power and that the new contract process scheduled for 2017 is now suspended. The IESO did not announce plans to cancel any of the contracts for more unneeded wind power announced a few months previous, despite IESO representative statements that the contracts are contributing to Ontario’s electricity bills.
Citizens of the area have formed a community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, and vowed to fight approval of the project, including legal action in future if necessary.
People gather at EDP Renewables open house in August, 2015
Ottawa City Council has endorsed a motion put forward by the Chair of the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC), Councillor Scott Moffatt, requesting that the province make municipal support a mandatory requirement of any bids for wind power contracts.
Ottawa is the second largest city in the province of Ontario.
Council previously passed a motion in 2013, asking for more meaningful input to the power contracting process; this followed a citizen “referendum” by a majority of residents in North Gower and Richmond, stating they were unwilling hosts to a proposed wind power development, that would have resulted in hundreds of families being within a few kilometres of huge wind turbines.
As of May 11, 45 Ontario municipalities have passed resolutions at Council, requesting that municipal support be a mandatory requirement in any new wind power contract bids. In the last round of contract bids, three of the five communities where power developers obtained contracts had designated themselves unwilling hosts to wind power projects. That includes Dutton Dunwich, near London, Ontario, which held a formal referendum — 84% of residents said “no” to a proposed power project.
In March of this year, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said it would be “virtually impossible” for any company to get a contract in a community that did not support the proposed power project.
The Ottawa motion is as follows. An unofficial record of the vote is posted here.
1. Ask the Province of Ontario to make the necessary legislative and/or regulatory changes to provide municipalities with a substantive and meaningful role in siting wind power projects and that the “Municipal Support Resolution” becomes a mandatory requirement in the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) process.
2. Forward this resolution to the Chair of the Board and President of IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator), the Minister of Energy, AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario), ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipal Association) and all municipalities, within the Province.
Smaller project gets the nod in unwilling host communities 2016, while larger power project simply has to resubmit
No community support for greed in Nation Twp [Photo: Ontario Farmer]
Province okays more wind farms
Ontario Farmer, March 22, 2016 (excerpted)
By Ian Cumming
Sixteen new green energy projects across Ontario, five of them wind turbines and 11 solar farms, were approved by the provincial government on March 10th.
The largest project at 100,000 MW [Editor’s note: this is incorrect–the project is 100 megawatts or 100,000 kilowatts], with the next largest project at 54,000 MW [Editor: 54 MW] was approved for windmills in North Stormont in Eastern Ontario.
That will mean 35 to 50 windmills, depending on their size, says North Stormont mayor Dennis Fife.
They are slated to be hilt about one kilometer west of Finch and head north, just west of Berwick and Chrysler [Crysler], said Fife. For those visiting last fall’s plowing match in North Stormont, the southern end of the project will be about where the event was held.
“We don’t know the farmers who signed the leases,” said Fife.
Being picked was a surprise since the Premier and area MPPs had publicly assured them that no such project would be “forced” on areas such as his, that had declared at council that they were “unwilling hosts,” said Fife.
Wind Concerns Ontario noted in a press release that four of the five windmill projects approved for this round were slated for municipalities that had declared themselves “unwilling hosts.”
WCO also predicted that the windmills just approved under this round will cost consumers $1.3 billion over the next 20 years.
..In nearby St Bernardine, windmills were approved for the 32,000 MW [Correction:32 MW] Gauthier Project in this round, but the adjoining proposal in the same county of over 100,000 MW [Correction:100 MW] in St. Isidore was not approved.
However, a day after the announcement Steve Dick, who had helped lead the massive protest against both projects in his county, was not celebrating.
“We’re a pretty disheartened group right now,” he said. “They pretty much steam-rolled over the township.”
Since the Gauthier project was approved, the wiring infrastructure they neded to install will be dovetailing, as planned, with the soon-to-be-approved St. Isidore project, he predicted.
[Editor’s note: Sorry, this article is not available online. We object to the use of the term ‘windmill’s–these machines are industrial- or utility-scale wind turbines that are used to generate power.]
George Darouze, councilor ofr Osgoode in the City of Ottawa, thinks its outrageous that some residents in Ottawa have to buy their electricity from Hydro One … and pay 30 percent more than their neighbor on Ottawa Hydro.
He has launched a petition which can be found here.
Like all real petitions, in order to be a legal document, it must be signed by a resident of the City of Ottawa, hard copy only, and mailed.
While the Wynne government claims to be “Building Ontario Up” the reality is different for rural communities where wind power developers offered leases to farmers, who then chose money over their neighbours and communityFarmers Forum, Eastern Ontario Edition, March 2016
TEARING US APART
Wounds not healing after wind turbines turned friends into bitter enemies
By Tom Collins
BRINSTON—Wind turbines tear apart communities and relationships, causing animosity that lingers for years, warn farmers who have lived through the ugly battles.
Don Winslow signed up almost immediately in 2013 when a wind company planned to build five turbines near Peterborough. Three months later, after immense public pressure and hostility, he couldn’t do it anymore.
“It relieved our stress tremendously [to cancel the contract],” the then-70-year-old Winslow told Farmers Forum after he cancelled his turbine. “We don’t have to sneak around the neighbours hoping not to run into them. There is always an element of society that is going to go overboard but people I respected were just as upset as the real radicals.”
There are only three wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario – Brinston (10 turbines), Wolfe Island (86 turbines) and 5 turbines just west of Kingston, but there are more than 1,200 turbines in the province with another 1,500 on the way. The province is expected to announce new projects this month that could include another 98 turbines in Eastern and East-Central Ontario.
Most turbines are in Western Ontario where the stories are shocking.
They put their pocketbook ahead of the community
Time doesn’t heal all wounds, said Guelph-area dairy farmer Tim Martin. “There are people here that have absolute hatred for others. I have never seen anything so divisive in our community, ever, in my entire life. You try to say forgive and forget, but a lot of people say ‘We forgive them but we remember.’ They put their pocketbook ahead of our health and above the community’s well-being, and people don’t forget that.”
… But not everyone blames wind turbines. Some lay the blame on anti-wind protestors for stoking fears and fueling the fighting. Farmers with turbines have signed confidentiality agreements and won’t speak to news media. However, North Gower farmer Ed Schouten signed up for turbines on his dairy farm years ago but the project never went ahead. Although he is a strong supporter, Schouten said he would have to think long and hard about signing up again if the opportunity arose.
“You’ve got to be careful today because people are jealous and they’ll get back at you,” he said. “We have a lot to lose here. They can easily sabotage something on you. There’s all kinds of crazy people out there today.”*
Schouten credited anti-wind groups for doing a good job of fear-mongering and, while they are a minority, get people riled up.
The anti-wind protestors “say [turbines] tear up the communities. They’re the people that tore up the communities, not the turbines. They say [wind turbines] pit neighbor against neighbor and all this stuff because they want another reason to get rid of them.”
To see the full article, go the FarmersForum.com next week or call 613-247-1334 to purchase a copy.
*Ottawa Wind Concerns Editor note: during the time of community action to oppose the proposed North Gower-Richmond wind power project, there was NEVER any threats of violence or civil disobedience. As to the comments about the opposition being a “minority,” readers will recall that a petition to the City of Ottawa requesting that North Gower be Not A Willing Host to the wind power project garnered signatures from 1,400 residents— almost every taxpayer in Ward 21. The petition was accepted and a motion of support passed unanimously at Ottawa City Council.
A report from energy analyst Scott Luft, released today, shows that curtailment of wind power in Ontario reached record levels in 2015. If the government proceeds with its plans to contract for 300 more megawatts of wind power under the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) plan for 2015, and another 200 megawatts in 2016, this disastrous trend will continue.
A 2015 year-end review of my hourly estimates indicate the curtailment of output from industrial wind turbines (IWTs) soared in 2015. I show total curtailment exceeding 1 million megawatt-hours, which I assume Ontario ratepayers paid ~$127 million for regardless.
I show the potential supply curtailed rising to 10% from 6%.
The increase in curtailment in the Bruce region is galling as an examination of output from one IWT location there revealed that during the peak electricity demand of summer it was often a net consumer of grid power rather than a contributor to supply.
Note in the above graphic that only the Northwest breaks a trend that sees higher curtailment equate to lower market valuation of the output of the zone’s IWTs, with a doubling of curtailment in the Bruce region matched by a halving of market value of production.
The increase in curtailment in 2015 is particularly relevant because the Large Renewable Procurement which the IESO (operator of the system) intends to proceed with in 2016 used about 6% as the level of curtailment it anticipated.
If more IWTs are added, they’ll be increasingly wrong.
In 2015 potential output from IWT’s could have increased by about 2,500 gigawatt-hours (GWh), while I estimate curtailment increased by about 575 GWh – which indicates 22% of new supply ended in curtailment of wind.
There are other reasons curtailment would change, particularly in 2016. Up until January 1, 2016 flexible nuclear at Bruce Power was dispatched previous to IWTs, but the rules have now been rationalized.
We may look back at 1 million MWh of wind curtailment as the good ol’ days. …
Ontario’s desire for total control over all aspects of the electricity sector is nearly fulfilled.
The push to eliminate dissent and independent review of the province’s energy monopolies has been a decade in the making. Since 2004, many of the province’s largest and most expensive policies were implemented with little to no oversight — at great cost to ratepayers, as the Auditor General forcefully highlighted in her recent annual report.
But Queen’s Park is set to fully take over all decision-making regarding the province’s energy monopolies by solidifying its control over the province’s energy regulator, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), with the recent passing of Bill 112. In doing so, Ontario is shutting down the last arena of independent public review of the billions of dollars being spent by the province and its many publicly owned utilities.
The legislation, “Strengthening Consumer Protection and Electricity System Oversight Act,” would deny independent intervenors the funds needed to hire the lawyers and experts needed at these hearings, effectively blocking their participation.
Prior to this legislation, any individual ratepayer or organization representing ratepayers — ranging from big, industrial groups to cottage associations or low-income organizations — could apply for funding and act as an intervenor in any rate application. The government would instead replace the independent intervenors with a new government-appointed consumer representative.
In other jurisdictions where this has occurred, the direct cost of this new bureaucracy has been far more expensive than the cost of reimbursing intervenors for their lawyers and consultants. The indirect costs of losing the ability to hold the utility monopolies to account by forcing them to justify their proposed rate increases before the OEB could be much greater still.
One study found that intervenors have been highly successful at paring back the monopolies’ rate requests, their lawyers and consultants costing ratepayers just 2 cents annually while helping to reduce rate increases by $28 per customer. Other studies found that intervenors account for 1 per cent or less of overall regulatory costs, which themselves are a small amount of total electricity costs borne by ratepayers.
Replacing these groups with a government-appointed consumer representative charged with questioning government-owned monopolies eliminates the last remaining voice of independent review of proposals by public monopolies to spend billions of dollars on capital projects.
The province’s new legislation also ensures that any new transmission line can be deemed a “priority project” by the ministry of energy and automatically approved by the OEB. In the past, the OEB would analyze such projects to determine whether they were necessary or cost-effective. Furthermore, the province is considering more legislation that will exempt all government-directed energy plans or projects to be exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act.
The province’s previous moves to sidestep independent review have been costly for ratepayers. The smart meter rollout — which cost ratepayers $2 billion and counting and still isn’t fully functional — was done without any review from the OEB or other regulators. Billions of dollars in contracts have been — and continue to be — given to renewable energy and natural gas generators without any review by the OEB or intervenors. And the long-term energy plans developed by the province’s own energy planning experts — the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) — were never implemented and, instead, were replaced with plans written by the ministry of energy that were, again, never fully reviewed at the OEB and were later criticized by the Auditor General as overly expensive.
More recently, the province collapsed the OPA into another energy agency, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which is in charge of operating the province’s wholesale electricity market, ensuring that even more political control is embedded in ever more parts of the electricity sector. There is no longer anything “independent” about the Independent Electricity System Operator.
In the end, the OEB and the intervenors were the last voice of criticism that wasn’t on the payroll of the province. By replacing them with a government-led consumer advocate, the province will control every step of decision-making on electricity policy and spending, those pesky checks and balances eliminated at last.
Brady Yauch is an economist and Executive Director of the Consumer Policy Institute (CPI). He has acted as an intervenor at the OEB.