Turbines on Wolfe Island: hidden costs to wind power affect electricity customers
March 2, 2020
Ontario’s fleet of wind turbines cost electricity ratepayers more than $24 million last weekend, says retired bank executive now energy commentator Parker Gallant.
That was mostly due to the fact that wind — as usual–produces power out of phase with demand, but there is a lot more to the costliness of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines, as he details in a recent article here.
Some added costs of wind power or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs):
Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
Increased surplus power from IWT often means other clean sources must either spill (hydro) or steam off (nuclear) power which adds costs to our electricity bills.
IWT kill birds and bats, many of whom are “species at risk” meaning insects, damaging to crops, are not eaten and farmers must spray their crops with insecticides adding costs to produce.
IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
IWT cause property values to fall affecting the realty tax base where they operate and the value of the property should the occupants try to sell after the installation of those IWT has occurred.
IWT lifespan is relatively short (20 years at most) compared to traditional sources of electricity generation and when unable to perform, create costs of remediation and disposal of recyclable and non-recyclable materials they consumed when built and erected.
The property value loss from the North Gower project that was proposed in 2008, got a contract to generate electricity from the IESO in 2010, but ultimately failed in a reorganization of the The Feed-In Tariff program, would have been in the millions.
At the time, Ottawa Wind Concerns estimated the property value loss for homes within 3 km of the multiple turbines would have been $134 million.
The current Ontario government has pledged to reduce electricity bills by 12%, but the many expensive wind power contracts signed by the previous government will go on for more than a decade.
EDPR, the Portugal-based power developer for the Nation Rise wind power facility planned for, and partially constructed, in North Stormont, south of Ottawa, will appear in court in Toronto February 14th, with an application to “render without legal effect” or quash the recent revocation of the Renewable Energy Approval by environment minister Jeff Yurek.
Minister Yurek issued his decision in response to a direct application to his office by the local community group, filed early in 2019.
Minister Yurek revoked the Renewable Energy Approval on the grounds that there was a significant risk to endangered bat species, which are critical to the eco-system, citing the fact that Ontario also does not need the power from the proposed 100-megawatt project.
The wind power lobbyist Can WEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is seeking status in the legal proceedings as an intervenor, which would mean their lawyers could cross-examine witnesses.
Community group the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS), which filed the direct application, may also participate. CCNS had appealed the original approval before the Environmental Review Tribunal but the appeal was dismissed.
While statements have been made that the cancellation is unprecedented, the fact is, several power projects have been cancelled in Ontario historically. The Ostrander Point project in Prince Edward County was also revoked due to danger to the Blandings Turtle, and the White Pines power project, also in Prince Edward County, was reduced from 29 to 27 and eventually 9 turbines over multiple environmental concerns. That project was ultimately cancelled by the Ford government.
Statements have been made that the Nation Rise project was mostly constructed when the approval was revoked. In fact, of 29 turbines, only eight were approaching completion. The company’s target date for completion and providing power to the grid in Ontario was near the end of March or this year. That deadline has now been extended because of legal actions.
The power developer has also claimed that the community will suffer because of the cancellation, because the project would have brought jobs to the area. The usual case, however, is that there is one technical job per 10 turbines in operation; other jobs are short-term, construction-related positions that end with the construction phase.
North Stormont was one of the original unwilling host communities in Ontario, and was also one of 116 municipalities that demanded a return of local land-use planning powers removed by the Green Energy Act.
The Wynne government did not respond.
The Ford government returned planning powers to municipalities last year.
Almost every wind power project has been appealed on the basis of environmental concerns in Ontario since 2009; prior to that date, communities appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Losses to citizens, damage to environment not calculated
Turbine close to home in North Stormont last week: too close [Posted on Facebook Stop Wind Turbines in North Stormont]
December 20, 2019
OTTAWA— EDPR, the Portugal-based renewable power development company building the Nation Rise wind power facility in North Stormont for new owner Axium Infrastructure, is claiming losses of more than $200 million following the revocation of the Renewable Energy Approval by Ontario environment minister Jeff Yurek, last week.
The minister cited the potential for harm to wildlife in the area from the 29-turbine power project, specifically “localized harm to an already small bat population.”
The minister said further in a letter to the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the community group that had appealed the power project, that he was required “to balance several things in my considerations of the public interest, including the benefits of renewable energy against the harm to bats, the impact of the project on the community, and the need for the electricity from the project.”
He concluded that, on balance, the project wasn’t needed, and posed too great a risk to wildlife.
The power developer responded demanding a stay to the minister’s decision and was due in court today in Toronto to argue that; meanwhile, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has extended the project Commercial Operation Date so that Nation Rise will not be in violation of its contract before the judicial review also requested by the developer is heard.
In the meantime, construction has halted.
Quoted in a news release put out by Wind Concerns Ontario*, the chair of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont Margaret Benke said the power project had been a very divisive issue for the community, and she hoped North Stormont could again be a “good place to grow.”
The power developer however is claiming millions in losses if the project is halted, according to a report today in the National Observer. EDPR claims it has put more than $200 million into the project to date, although fewer than 10 of the 29 turbines are actually built.
The project could have cost Ontario electricity customers as much as $400 million over its 20-year contract. Property value loss could also have been significant for people forced to live beside the 29 50-storey wind turbines.
Also in the National Observer article, Wind Concerns Ontario president and Ottawa Wind Concerns chair Jane Wilson pointed out that citizen concerns about the project were not personal but environmental in nature. The appeal brought forward by the community group dealt with wildlife, health and safety, and potential damage to the water table in an area designated as a “fragile aquifer” by the province.
“There has never been a cost-benefit analysis or impact study done for Ontario’s wind power program,” Wilson says.
The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont spent about $100,000 to launch their appeal and various legal actions against the power project.
To donate toward legal fees, please send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, 14950 County Road 9, Berwick ON K0C 1G0.
*Both CCNS and Ottawa Wind Concerns are members of the community group coalition, Wind Concerns Ontario.
How the wind power industry made a fool out of Ontario
Noise complaints unanswered, wells contaminated, a huge job ahead to unwind the damage
April 1, 2019
It’s now almost a decade since Ontario passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which opened the door to industrial-scale wind power developments throughout the province, and heralded ten years of environmental impact … for nothing.
In fact, the province had already approved a gigantic wind power project in Melancthon, and racked up hundreds of noise complaints before the Green Energy Act was passed — the government went ahead anyway.
Today, we have high electricity bills which are harming ordinary families and discouraging business investment; the government has records of thousands of complaints about wind turbine noise and vibration (mostly unresolved); there are 40 or more families in Chatham-Kent who trace the failure of their water wells to construction and operation of wind turbines on a fragile aquifer there; and, we are seeing the environmental impacts that were brought forward in citizen appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals now becoming reality.
Ontario citizens spent close to $10 million in after-tax dollars to protect their communities from the onslaught of large-scale wind power, according to a survey Wind Concerns Ontario did of our coalition members.
The Ontario wind power disaster should not have been a surprise.
Auditor General Jim McCarty chastised the McGuinty government for never having done a cost-benefit or impact study on the wind power program; subsequently, current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimated that Ontario electricity customers overpaid for renewable energy by $9.2 billion.
Guaranteed to fail
The program to encourage large-scale wind power (the province had a choice back in 2004 onwards to go for small-scale power generation–that’s not what they chose, guided by wind lobbyists) was based on ideology and was criticized by such informed analysts as Michael Trebilcock, who said “This combination of irresponsibility and venality has produced a lethal brew of policies.”
Economics professor Ross McKitrick predicted, “If the goal [of the Green Energy Act] was to promote industry and create jobs, it is guaranteed to fail.”
And Tom Adams, who said, “Urban Ontario, including city-bound journalists, are largely unaware of the corrosive effects some wind developments are having on communities, neighbourhoods, even families. This is expropriation without compensation.”
The jobs never materialized, electricity bills went up, a new phrase “energy poverty” was coined, businesses closed or left, and families were forced to leave their homes because of unbearable noise.
Noise complaints are so prevalent in Huron County that the health unit launched a follow-up study (results will be published later this year). Preliminary data showed that 60% of the people participating in the follow-up were experiencing problems because of wind turbine noise.
Wind Concerns Ontario presented the government’s own noise complaint data as evidence at the appeal of the Nation Rise power project last summer; the approval was upheld regardless of citizen concerns about noise, and damage to a provincially designated “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
Meanwhile, reports of noise are investigated on behalf of the wind power operators by the same companies who prepared the original noise impact assessments for them; one such acoustics firm even boasts that it created the government’s noise assessment protocol.
The fox is not only in the hen house, he built it to ensure easy access.
As Ontario’s new government struggles with all this (Energy Minister Greg Rickford told the Legislature last week that this is a “very difficult” file), there is little to laugh about in Ontario today as the spring winds blow, and families face more sleepless nights.
Citizens thought this power project was gone. Is it? [Photo: Ontario Farmer]
March 6, 2018
Citizens of The Nation are waiting for answers from the Ford government after it was discovered — by accident — that the Ontario Energy Board awarded a 20-year licence to generate electricity to the Eastern Fields wind power project.
Eastern Fields was on the list of 758 power projects cancelled by the Ford government last July, and a check with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) shows that the power developer, U.K.-based RES Canada does not now have a contract.
On the other hand, when both Wind Concerns and community group Save The Nation checked with a Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks officer on the project status, the response was that it is in “technical review.” (This is an onerous process by which civil servants look at boxes on an application and see whether there is a check mark. Important information such as the presence of unstable Leda Clay in the case of the Nation Rise project, need not be assessed, or even known.)
Save The Nation put out the following news release, and is waiting for answers from the Ontario Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford.
In the meantime, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, the citizens of The Nation lost seven valuable months in which they could have been gathering data on environmental impacts from the wind turbines. Wind Concerns Ontario has government records of thousands of reports about excessive wind turbine noise, which have not been resolved.
For immediate release
How Can a Cancelled Wind Turbine Project Receive a Licence to Produce Electricity?
ST-BERNARDIN – Save The Nation is seeking answers from the Ontario Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, regarding the issuance of an Electricity Generation Licence to the ‘cancelled’ Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project. The Ontario Energy Board issued the licence on December 6, 2018, even though Minister Rickford had announced the cancellation of Eastern Fields project on July 13, 2018.
“We were shocked to find out about this licence. We do not understand why or how a cancelled project can be issued a licence to produce electricity for a period of 20 years – until 2038. We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation.
Eastern Fields was one of 758 projects identified by Minister Rickford for wind-down on July 13, 2018, following a promise to cancel unnecessary and wasteful energy projects in order to cut hydro rates. “We’re asking Minister Rickford to confirm that this promise has been kept and that Eastern Fields Wind Farm LP is a dead project with no chance of ever moving forward. We also ask him to revoke the useless Electricity Generation Licence EG-2018-0213” adds Leroux.
The Electricity Generation Licence was issued on December 6, 2018. Incidentally, on that same day, the Ontario Government adopted the Green Energy Repeal Act, which will affect other acts and regulations, namely the Environmental Protection Act, the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation 359/09 and the Planning Act when fully enacted.
Save The Nation is a grass-root movement that has been opposing the Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project near St-Bernardin in The Nation Municipality and Champlain Township since it was publicly announced in June 2015. Save The Nation is not against green initiatives, but is fiercely opposed to the process that was used for the approval of renewable energy projects in Ontario under the Green Energy Act.
Power that could be produced “like a fly on the flank of an elephant” says energy watcher Parker Gallant
February 4, 2019
Last week, a news article appeared in the Nation Valley News reporting the local Conservative MPP, Jim McDonell’s response to a question asking on why the government hasn’t cancelled the 100-MW Nation Rise wind power project. Mr. McDonell said, “We’ve always been clear: We would cancel any project we could cancel economically,” and he added “… we just can’t spend a billion dollars to cancel a project and get nothing from it.”
The same day, a press release from the Ford government noted that Premier Doug Ford told people attending the annual Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference, that “We’re lowering electricity costs”.
I am at a loss to explain Mr. McDonell’s suggestion that cancellation of the Nation Rise IWT project would cost the same as the McGuinty/Wynne gas plant moves, but that’s what he said. It’s worth a look back at how this power project came into being, as it illustrates the disaster that has been Ontario energy policy for the last 15 years.
The Nation Rise wind project was one of five awarded contracts in March 2016; after that, its history gets really interesting … and very political.
Cost of the project
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) at that time noted the average price for all the projects proposed was $85.90/MWh (or 8.5 cents per kWh). Over 20 years that would produce revenue of about $450 million, or less if their bid was lower than the average.
If the project were cancelled, no court would award them the full contract amount; it is more likely the government would be on the hook for perhaps 5 to10 % of that amount (on the high side).
There is no doubt that cancelling this project would save Ontario citizens hundreds of millions.
Timing of the approval
According to the Environmental Registry the Nation Rise entry for the Renewable Energy Approval or REA is dated May 7, 2018 and indicates it was loaded to the registry May 4, 2018. That is just four days before the writ was drawn up by former Premier Kathleen Wynne, formally announcing the upcoming Ontario election. It was known* the voting date would occur on June 7, yet the REA — a major decision — was given by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). At that time, not only were polls forecasting a defeat for the Liberal government, “electricity prices” and hydro bills were a major election issue. The MOECC issued the decision anyway.
Is the power needed?
In 2015 (before the IESO called for more wind power proposals) Ontario had a huge surplus of generation. Our net exports (exports less imports) were 16.8 TWh (terawatt hours) or enough to supply almost 1.9 million average households (over 40% of all Ontario households) with their electricity needs for a full year. It cost ratepayers an average of 10.14 cents/kWh to generate that power which was sold for an average 2.36 cents/kWh, representing a cost of $1.3 billion to Ontario’s ratepayers.
Due to the highly intermittent nature of output from wind turbines, the IESO’s projections of long-term capacity use only 12% of the nameplate capacity for wind power installations when calculating their contribution to overall capacity. So for Nation Rise, the IESO is projecting that the useable contribution of the project will be 105,120 MWh — just .0765% of the IESO’s forecast power consumption of 137.4 TWh. That is a fly on the flank of an elephant, in my estimation.
Cancellation of Nation Rise would not affect the long-term supply of electricity for the people of Ontario.
Worse, adding more capacity, particularly from an intermittent source, could result in more spilling of hydro, more curtailment of wind power generation, additional nuclear shutdowns or steam-off, all of which would drive Ontario’s electricity bills rates higher.
Property value loss
The property losses in value caused by the presence of 33, 650-foot industrial wind power generators throughout the countryside in the Nation Rise project will be in the tens of millions of dollars according to a study which notes: “Using research completed recently by a land economist with the University of Guelph and published in Land Economics, Wind Concerns calculates that overall, the property loss for houses within 5 km of the 33 planned turbines could be $87.8 million. Using other research that is less conservative, however, the property value loss could be more than $140 million.”
A loss of either magnitude would impact North Stormont’s realty tax base leading to either significant drops in revenue for the township or realty tax increases as a multiple of the COL (cost of living).
And then there’s the water
One condition among many in the REA given to EDP/Nation Rise was related to identifying and mapping all water wells in the project area within a set range of any proposed equipment, meteorological tower or wind turbines. This was due to concerns about construction activities on the local aquifer. While EDP identified 444 wells, the community group says there are more than 800 homes within the immediate project. Water wells in other areas of Ontario and elsewhere have become contaminated allegedly due to drilling and vibrations from wind turbines. There is significant concern about contamination of the wells, and the assessment taking place.
North Stormont is dairy farm country, and each farm operation uses thousands of litres of water every day — what would be the effect on these businesses, and Ontario’s food supply, if suddenly, the water wells were not functioning?
Who is EDP?
EDP (parent of EDPR) is a Portuguese utility company partially owned by two of the Chinese government’s companies; China Three Gorges (23.27%) and CNIC Co., Ltd., (4.98%) and the former has been trying for several years to acquire the balance of the shares. That attempt is speculated to be off; however, a recent NY Times article suggested otherwise, based on discussions with Portugal securities regulator CMVM.
Where is democracy?
North Stormont, where the Nation Rise wind project is planned, declared itself an “unwilling host” in 2015, well before the award of the contract or the issuance of the REA. The people perhaps relied on promises made by former energy minister and Ottawa Liberal MPP, Bob Chiarelli, when in 2013 he declared: “It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement”. Despite their council passing the unwilling host motion, and also joining the 117 Ontario municipalities demanding a return of local land-use planning for energy projects, the IESO still granted Nation Rise the contract.
There are many questions about this project and many reasons why it simply isn’t needed. Cancelling this contentious project is a perfect way to lower future electricity costs, directly.
*The Toronto Star reported in an article dated October 19, 2016 the next Ontario election would be on June 7th, 2018
Residents in Arkwright, NY, are shocked at the noise and environmental disturbance from a wind power project, which just started operation.
The project developer and operator is Spain-based EDP, the same company that runs the South Branch project in Brinston and which is planning the contentious Nation Rise power project in North Stormont.
Residents had hoped the project would be cancelled when the new Ontario government cancelled three other wind power projects, but the IESO claims the project–which is under appeal–has met all its contractual milestones.
Here is the news story with resident complaints of never-ending noise and visual disturbance.
OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward A large crowd fills the Arkwright Town Hall, as complaints of noise are heard regarding the wind turbines.
ARKWRIGHT– This week saw the powering up of the wind turbines in Arkwright, and the area received its first taste of what a wind farm is like when fully operational.
Kellen Ingalls, project manager for EDP Renewables, gave his report to a crowded house at Monday night’s Arkwright town board meeting, stating the obvious, “the turbines are operational. All 36 of them are connected to the grid. We’re waiting to hear back any day now that they accepted power and is declared operational.”
Despite what many deem as good news, others were not impressed.
“We were up at the lean-tos,” Joni Riggles, a concerned citizen stated. “I am so upset, EDP was asked not to put turbines within viewshot by the county planning board. It is a nightmare, a sonic nightmare, a visual nightmare. It sounded like sneakers in a laundromat. The campground is surrounded, it’s a toxic environment. Who’s going to want to camp here?”
Carrie Babcock, an Arkwright resident said, “It’s like jetliners surrounding my house. It’s a form of noise pollution. It’s awful. How can you help me move away from here? How do I get out of here and still have some property value?”
“I could be sitting on my couch reading and all I have to do is barely crack open a window and it sounds like a jet that’s going by that never goes by. We were told by these people everyday that you’ll never know they’re even there, and if you think that’s not a problem, you’re taking money from the windmill people,” Doug Zeller, another resident added.
“What do you want us to do about it?” Councilman Larry Ball asked. “What do you want us to do about it today?”
“Take them down,” Riggles voiced.
“That’s not going to happen,” Fred Norton, town supervisor, and others on the board responded.
In response to Riggles’ original question, Norton did note that the county gave a release to the developer allowing them to put their windmills there.
Beyond the noise complaints, a letter from Dorothy Fogelman-Holland was read by her husband, citing issues with cell phone interference. Within the letter she claims that there have been times, no matter the day or to who or what type of phone she calls, she’s unable to make a connection. These incidents are sometimes 11 calls being made consecutively and none of them connecting. She states that the issues started in July and are ongoing. Both she and her husband have spoken with their carrier and the carrier has found no issue with their phones or with the towers.
The problem for her is that she undergoes at home dialysis care, and is in need of a constant outside line in case she was to need emergency services. Fogelman-Holland is concerned that others might be in the same predicament with their phones, and that if someone is unable to make a call to 911 that it could be the difference of a life.
Concern was also raised with health issues the turbines might cause. In response Ingalls reminded citizens that, if there’s a complaint or health issue with them, the company has a hot line on the door of the Arkwright Town Hall that has been up throughout construction. If there is an issue they want to hear about it so that they can address it; those messages are checked every day.
There is a fund-raiser/information Brunch event Saturday September 15 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the arena in Finch, hosted by the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.