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.
Public declaration demands cancellation of wind power procurement, and re-focus of energy policy by the Wynne government
January 9, 2017
The Ontario Multi Municipal Group has issued a public declaration stating it wants the “exploitation” of rural Ontario by the wind power industry, aided by the Ontario government, to end.
“The implementation and expansion of renewable energy (industrial-scale wind turbines and large solar power projects) has developed to the point that it has caused hydro costs to increase, caused a division between rural and urban municipalities, and caused the citizens of Ontario to lose faith in democracy,” says Ron Higgins, Mayor of North Frontenac, in the document.
The municipal group was formed at the last meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) after 115 municipalities, or 25 percent of all municipalities in Ontario, passed resolutions demanding that municipalities get final say in the siting of renewable power projects.
“We are now speaking out on behalf of all those communities,” Higgins says.
Rights of communities ‘neutralized’
The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed the right to carry out local land-use planning for power projects –the Multi Municipal Group says that’s wrong. “It neutralizes the rights of residents of rural Ontario to advocate for, rely on and claim the benefit of sound land-use planning principles,” Higgins says. “It amounts to a form of discrimination.”
In the public declaration document, the group lists the impact of Ontario’s wind power program, saying it has not brought the economic benefits promised by the McGuinty government and in fact has resulted in an economic burden and energy poverty. They also say that no environmental benefit has been demonstrated and that “the natural world is suffering” because of large-scale turbines which are disrupting the natural environment and harming wildlife such as migratory birds and endangered species of bats.
Wind power a ‘false hope’ for the environment
Wind power has created “false hope” of steps to be taken to combat climate change and protect the environment, says the Multi Municipal Group. And, the Government of Ontario has ignored knowledge of the negative impacts of invasive wind power technology.
The group demands that all procurement of wind power be stopped, and the Green Energy Act repealed. They also recommend that the government base future policies on generation capacity and conservation, and use current energy supply assets.
“Our rural communities are unprotected against the exploitation [by] renewable energy,” Higgins concludes. The municipalities have no choice but to declare their position to the government and the public formally.
Municipal approval key to sustainable development, Canada’s capital city tells the Wynne government
The City of Ottawa, Ontario’s second largest city and Canada’s capital, sent a letter to the Minister of Energy requesting a return of local land-use planning powers removed under the Green Energy Act.
Ottawa is a city but it also has a large rural area, which makes it a “draw” for wind power developers, Councillor Scott Moffatt wrote in the letter. Moffatt is Chair of the city’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, and the representative for the rural Rideau-Goulbourn ward in the city.
The City is not opposed to renewable energy projects, the letter states, but because wind power projects have “significant implications” for planning, Ottawa believes their approval should “go through the existing planning framework that takes Ottawa’s Official Plan, community sustainability, and input of the community into consideration.”
Under the current Large Renewable Procurement process, Ottawa’s letter says, municipalities’ role is “consultative” only, and without “decision-making authority.”
The letter was sent to the former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, whose own riding is in Ottawa.
In 2013, the City supported a Not A Willing Host declaration by residents faced with a 20-megawatt wind power project that would have been close to hundreds of homes and a school.
The Ottawa resolution, passed unanimously at Council in May reads as follows. Ottawa is among 75 municipalities now requesting the IESO and the Ontario government to make municipal support a mandatory requirement for new wind power bids.
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.
No one is forced to have wind turbines on their land, and communities shouldn’t be forced to have them, either.
Ontario Farmer, May 17, 2016
By Jane Wilson and Warren Howard
Recently, a Mitchell, Ont. resident wrote to Ontario Farmer saying that the wind turbine siting process seems fair to him: “no one [has been] forced to have a wind turbine.”
We beg to differ: with almost 2,600 industrial-scale wind turbines now operating or under construction, the fact is thousands of Ontario residents have been forced to live with wind turbines, without any effective say in the matter.
The decision to host wind turbines should not rest with the few individuals who lease land for the project, but also with the entire community; many people can be affected by this decision.
The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed local land-use planning for wind power projects, at the same time as it overrode 21 pieces of democratically passed pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, the Environmental Bill of Rights — even the Places to Grow Old Act.
Can’t say NO
The result is a process in which citizens and their elected governments now have no “say” whatsoever. Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this past March that it would be “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract in a community that did not support turbines, but that’s exactly what happened.
Even a community that held a formal referendum, in which 84 per cent of residents said “no” to wind power, is now being forced to have turbines.
Compare this to the procedures for other forms of development: they are relatively open, in which the community is presented with detailed information and opportunities to comment on the type and scope of development proposed.
The opposite is true for industrial-scale wind power projects. Municipalities are asked for support with very little information on environmental, economic, or social impacts. In some cases, where the developer has determined formal municipal support is unlikely, the company simply files a document saying it “tried” to get municipal support but failed — the truth is, municipalities will meet with anyone. Failure to meet on such an important project should be a red flag to contracting authorities about the nature of the development and the degree of opposition to it.
The public information meetings held by developers often occur after municipal support is requested. A paper produced by a team of academics published this year termed these meetings “dog-and-pony shows” which is an indication of how much real information is offered.
Municipal support must be mandatory
Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) on the contracting process, which included: a requirement that all documents related to the project should be released prior to any public meeting or municipal consultation; the precise location of turbines must be revealed as well as a broader set of site considerations; there must be a process through which municipal government, community groups and individuals can comment on these documents and their accuracy; and last, municipal support must be a mandatory requirement of any contract bid.
It may be true as the letter writer suggests: no one is forced to have a turbine on their own property, but communities and neighbours should not be forced to have them either.
Before people sign for lease turbines, they need to talk to their neighbours (because the whole community will be affected by the decision to lease) and learn from the experiences in other communities where turbines are operating. They may discover that the small lease payments offered are not worth the impact on the community, and on their friends and neighbours.
The fact is, wind turbines result in high impact on communities for very little benefit. The Ontario government needs to respect the right of Ontario citizens to make decisions on wind power developments for themselves.
Jane Wilson is president of Wind Concerns Ontario. Warren Howard is a former municipal councillor for North Perth.
OTTAWA WIND CONCERNS NOTE: The City of Ottawa is among the 59 municipalities to date which have passed resolutions demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement for wind power contracts.
Earth Hour 2016 is tomorrow, March 19, 2016 from 8.30 PM to 9.30 PM when all the world is encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour of symbolic action. Specifically the goal is: “Earth Hour aims to encourage an interconnected global community to share the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world.”
This is an admirable objective – everyone wants to do their best for the environment – but the truth is, much depends on how sustainability is positioned by politicians.
In Ontario the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) noted in a 45 page report dated December 22, 2014: “Using LIM1. as a measuring tool, and relying on Statistics Canada household data, Ontario has 713,300 low-income households. The OESP is estimated to reach 571,000. This estimate recognizes that not all low-income households in the province pay their electricity bills directly (i.e., utilities included in rent).”That report led to the introduction of the OESP or Ontario Electricity Support Program start-up on January 1, 2016, expected to cost between $175 and $225 million, paid for by those 3.9 million households who don’t qualify for the OESP.
So did the Ontario government simply not understand creation of the Green Energy & Green Economy Act (GEA) would result in so many low-income households? It is now apparent the advent of the GEA played a major role, by raising the cost of the production of electricity by well over 70% since its enactment. The push for renewables in the form of industrial wind turbines, solar panels, etc., which require back-up from gas plants due to the intermittent and unreliable nature of renewables, added billions in costs. The transmission builds to bring wind and solar power to the grid added billions more and, coupled with the other billions spent trying to convince us to conserve, added even more costs.
The addition of almost 10,000 MW (so far) of renewable generation at prices over market impacted disposable income for all Ontarians living at, or close to, minimum wage and for many others living on fixed incomes. The other result of adding renewable power is that Ontario is now in the position of having surplus power generated at the wrong time of the year and night when demand is low. This surplus must be either sold off (exported), curtailed (wind and solar) or steamed-off (nuclear). Additionally, ratepayers and taxpayers are charged for the ideasNB: related to conservation such as paying for grants for electric vehicles and their charging stations.
March 13, 2016 is an example: it was a day when the sun shone and the wind was blowing. Ontario demand was low reaching only 320,000 megawatt hours (MWh) while generation, coupled with curtailed wind, idling gas plants, spilled hydro and even curtailed solar along with all of the distribution connected (Dx) power (principally wind and solar) was about 463,000 Mwh2.. Ontario’s ratepayers needed only 68% of that 463,000 MWh, so the other 32% was either exported or curtailed (to avoid blackouts) while being billed to Ontario ratepayers. Production costs (without the other items tossed into the “Global Adjustment pot) were over $100/per MWh, meaning the 143,000 MWh surplus picked ratepayers’ pockets for more than $14 million or $2.85 per ratepayer for just one day. (Bob Chiarelli, our Minister of Energy, would probably say that was just the cost of a “Timmies”!)
In 2015, Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, said Earth Hour “Every passing year it becomes more infectious. It’s actually really doing what it intended to do, which is to get into the popular culture.”
Minister Murray should note we have turned off the lights, not because we want to but because we can’t afford to “keep them on.”
It appears to this Ontario ratepayer that what is really “infectious” is the Ontario government’s ability to create “energy poverty” for hundreds of thousands of Ontario’s households and, instead of promoting sustainability, it has instead driven many to a situation where they now have to decide whether to “heat or eat”.
Hardly the lofty goal that Earth Hour aspires to, and clearly not what well-meaning citizens wanted to happen.
Ontario premiers have a weak spot for pithy little slogans they can use to brush away troublesome matters.
“There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing,” Dalton McGuinty loved to say whenever stuck for an explanation for some horrific mistake. Why did his government spend $1.2 billion to not build two power plants after repeatedly insisting the projects would go ahead come hell or high water? Well, “there’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.” Smile. Next question.
His successor, Kathleen Wynne, has adopted a catchphrase of her own. “The cost of doing nothing is much, much higher than the cost of going forward ,” she’ll say when confronted with questions about some expenditure that has heads exploding across the province.
She deployed it Wednesday while seeking to justify the new tax on Ontarians that will accompany her cap and trade plan. Gasoline prices are expected to rise 4.3 cents a litre, while natural gas bills will increase about $5 a month.
Just in case the increases annoy Ontarians, Wynne came prepared: “The cost of doing nothing is much, much higher than the cost of going forward and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” she declared.
That’s debatable, and it raised an obvious question: Wynne’s Liberals have been in power since 2003. If the province has been “doing nothing,” who, precisely is to blame? And why are motorists and homeowners expected to pay the price now?
The reality is that the Liberals have been doing a great deal — much of it expensive, wasteful, ill-considered and counterproductive. Windmills now pockmark vast stretches of the countryside, producing excess power at marked-up prices supported by heavy subsidies. An Ontario Chamber of Commerce report indicated demand for power has fallen 8% since the Liberals came to power, due to a stagnating economy, but generation has increased 13%, producing a surplus of unneeded electricity. Twenty percent of businesses say the soaring costs could force them to shut down within five years. Rates rose in October, and again in January.
Ontario’s broken promises on funding for health care and jobs
Ontario’s nurses are campaigning for more health care dollars. If only they hadn’t believed the government’s promises …
Back in January 2012, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) issued its Research Paper # 3. The paper was directed at the provincial government and called for increased health care spending including adding 9,000 registered nurses to the sector.
One of the recommendations in the paper was: “To fulfill the 2009 G20 Pittsburg commitment to put quality jobs at the heart of economic recovery – part of the coordinated G20 stimulus plans to which Canada was a signatory – the Ontario government should work with the federal government to establish job creation targets in various areas. This should include job-intensive green job creation and fully subsidized skills training programs accessible to all unemployed and underemployed workers.”
Disaster for health care
Fast-forward four years: the ONA is running TV ads focusing on nursing layoffs at hospitals and reduced health care funding throughout the province. Layoff notices have been appearing regularly since release of the Research Paper. The ONA’s President, Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, has been outspoken about the health care cuts as in a February 2016 media release where she says “that 2016 is turning into a ‘disaster’ for patient care and it’s now hitting Toronto hospitals.”
It is ironic that the ONA appeared to support Ontario’s Liberal government in the last election, even giving $100,000 to “Working Families,” the coalition of unions that used union dues to paint the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario as not worthy of election. Almost $2.5 million was spent to accomplish that task. The ONA, whose members pay high union dues, spent $687,000 in total.
Billions lost in cheap power exports
Had the ONA re-considered their recommendation to “include job-intensive green job creation” in Research Paper # 3 and instead examined the fall-out from the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), they might have taken a different tack. As I noted in an earlier article, just the cost of Ontario’s net exports of electricity from 2007 to 2015 removed almost $4.5 billionfrom ratepayer pockets. That $4.5 billion would have gone a long way to ensure both the retention of registered nurses and the hiring of recently graduated RNs.
Believing the Ontario Liberal government promises of job creation with the GEA, and endorsing it, the ONA may have exacerbated the continuing cuts to health care. Many earlier studies out of the EU noted that, rather than creating private sector jobs, renewable power developments actually caused the demise of private sector jobs in ratios as much as five to one. Tax dollars need to come from the private sector and those jobs promised by the McGuinty-led government were simply a pipe dream.
The ONA may also have been led astray by George Smitherman when he set up a $40-million irrevocable trust to save nursing jobs referred to as the Nurses Retention Fund, but only a very small portion of the fund has actually gone to retain jobs. While the $40 million is a long way from the $4.5 billion mentioned above, it would appear to have done little to support Registered Nursing jobs, perhaps because of the way it was setup by the former Minister of Health.
The ONA should ask the government to focus on wasted tax dollars both within the health care portfolio and elsewhere, including the Energy Ministry where billions of dollars are being wasted annually.
(C) Parker Gallant
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see a news release on a report issued today by the CD Howe Institute on poor governance in Ontario’s electricity sector. An excerpt: “If a disproportionately large amount is dedicated to unnecessary electricity projects, then that amount is not available to meet other needs – such as transportation, schools and hospitals.”
Higher electricity bills, manufacturing being driven away, social costs of huge wind power plants
Shoreline Beacon, February 8, 2016
By Jim Merriam
Photo Toronto Sun
It’s to be hoped the Fraser Institute didn’t spend much money on its recent study of the fiscal performance of Canada’s premiers.
Every resident of Ontario able to sit up and take nourishment — probably including Wiarton Willie last week — has known the study’s conclusion for a long time: Premier Kathleen Wynne is doing a lousy job of managing Ontario’s economy.
Wynne, with the help of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, has reduced Ontario from a powerhouse to an empty house.
On almost every file Wynne’s government is found wanting if not severely under water, to borrow a phrase from the mortgage industry.
The worst is energy. The cost of power in the province has forced industries to close and some families to choose between heat and groceries.
A columnist in a Toronto newspaper recently suggested the heat-vs.-food statement is an exaggeration. He should spend a few minutes listening to clients at food banks in rural areas. But I digress.
Much of the high cost of power is associated with renewable energy production.
A new study from the University of Ottawa confirms what we’ve been saying all along: Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand.
Stewart Fast, who headed the study, said, “It was a gold rush, basically.” Since those involved kept details secret to avoid giving their competitors an edge, residents didn’t know what their neighbours were planning.
“That is really the worst way to go about something that you know is going to have a big impact on landscape and people,” he said.
In defence of renewable energy, we keep hearing from our urban cousins how much money farmers are earning by allowing turbines on their land. Although true on the surface, there’s much more to that equation, said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
Just one question is the impact of the presence of a turbine on the farm owner’s financing.
Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand, says a University of Ottawa study.
The 2009 Green Energy Act gave little thought to the transformation that wind farms bring to rural communities — problems that even revisions to the act “will only partially address,” writes a group headed by Stewart Fast.
Fast personally favours wind energy, “but only if it’s done right.”
Renewable energy developers – and those who regulate them – need to be more sensitive to the concerns of residents who are going to have massive wind turbines built near them, a group of Canadian academics says.
In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Energy, the eight authors – six of whom are university professors or researchers – analyze why there is so much debate over the placement of wind turbines in Ontario.
Ontario has the greatest number of wind turbines of any province, and their construction has created considerable conflict between developers and those opposed to the installation of large industrial machinery in rural environments. Often these fights end up pitting neighbours against neighbours, and they can become big political battles at the municipal level.
Ontario has altered its rules since it first encouraged wind farms in its Green Energy Act in 2009, said Stewart Fast, a senior research associate at the University of Ottawa and one of the paper’s authors. But even though the new rules encourage more input from local governments and residents near proposed turbines, these changes haven’t been enough to stop the disputes, he said. …