Berwick area farm: 33 huge industrial wind turbines proposed, with risk to health, safety, environment and wildlife [Photo Dorothea Larsen, Kemptville]
February 8, 2019
Eastern Ontario community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont have launched a petition for their MPP Jim McDonell to take to the Ontario Legislature within days. The petition says the 100-megawatt wind power project is not “in the public interest” and its Renewable Energy Approval should be revoked.
The community group has also filed a direct appeal with the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Nation Rise means more cost added everyone’s electricity bills.
It was approved using outdated and flawed noise assessment protocols.
It will expose hundreds of people to wind turbine noise emissions.
There are very serious environmental concerns with the project.
its approval was rushed through before the election by the Wynne government, without adequate assessments.
Parker Gallant says the power from this project will be like a “fly on the flank of an elephant” — we don’t need to pay the $450 million for this power plant.
Promises of long-term jobs and other community benefits are over-stated–there will be only five net permanent jobs after construction (and even then, EDPR spokesperson said the company can’t guarantee they will use locals for the construction phase). Profits from this project will go to interests in Portugal and China.
Let’s stop this thing.
Please sign the attached petition and mail it to their MPP Jim McDonell, as soon as you can. Today, if possible.
Let’s have no more personal and environmental damage done to us all by industrial wind turbines.
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
Berwick area farm: 33 huge industrial wind turbines planned could mean a loss of $37 million for nearby property owners [Photo Dorothea Larsen, Kemptville]
Homeowners in North Stormont will have to make a big sacrifice to “green” energy if the proposed “Nation Rise” wind power project is constructed, says Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups and Ontario families.
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.
Research done in 2016 by the partnership of Clarkson University and Nanos Research on U.S properties with a view of Wolfe Island wind turbines showed an overall property value loss of 15 per cent for homes “with a view” of the turbines. Older research done by Ontario real estate appraiser Ben Lansink in 2012 found a more dramatic reduction for properties closest to turbines, an average loss of 37 per cent.
University of Guelph associate professor Richard Vyn found a property value loss in communities opposed to wind power projects of 8.98 percent for houses within 2 km of turbines, and 8.62 per cent for properties within 4 km, post-construction of turbines.
For the Nation Rise power project, there are 828 properties within 1,500 metres of turbines according to the wind power developer, Portugal-based EDP, and approximately 2,500 residences within 2 to 5 km of the turbines, according to community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.
The houses within 1,500 metres of a turbine in the “Nation Rise” project could see a loss of $21.8 million using professor Vyn’s estimate, $37 million according to Clarkson-Nanos, or as much as $91 million in losses using Mr. Lansink’s calculations.
The community group has appealed the project approval on the basis of environmental, safety and health concerns, and is worried about the effect of turbine construction on the water supply, which could be an additional factor in property value loss.
Wind power proponents and Ontario’s municipal assessment agency have maintained that there is no appreciable property value loss, but an energy commentator wrote in Forbes magazine in 2015 that “there’s a heavily funded public relations machine to make Americans think that wind power doesn’t impact property values.”
“Renewable energy and the ‘environment’ are big businesses and they include not just energy producing companies but also various agencies, interest groups, and even university researchers,” Jude Clemente wrote. “Their grant money and careers are at stake.”
Clemente added that “Many members of the Real Estate and Appraisal businesses, however, have been clear that wind power DOES impact property values … it would seem to me that these groups have no vested interest in supporting wind power or not supporting it.”
A decision is expected on the Nation Rise project appeal in the first week of January, 2019.
Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) says Ontario has an adequate supply of power until 2035. The 20-year contract for the Nation Rise project will cost Ontario more than $450 million.
Lawyer Maureen Cartier-Whitney chairs the appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal. A geoscientist testified that the only mitigation is not to locate the wind turbines on the vulnerable areas where landslides and water contamination are possible.
Re-posted from Wind Concerns Ontario, October 15, 2018
Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.
Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.
Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.
She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”
The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”
A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.
The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.
When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.
The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.
In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.
The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.
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.
Berwick area farm: 33 huge industrial wind turbines proposed, with risk to health, safety, environment and wildlife [Photo Dorothea Larsen, Kemptville]
September 12, 2018
The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont are hosting a special Country Breakfast-Brunch event this Saturday, September 15 at the Finch Arena, to offer information on the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, and to help raise funds for the citizen appeal of the power project.
The project is neither necessary nor wanted by the community.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has stated that the project has met all the milestones; this is not possible as the project is under appeal, and is subject to a condition-laden Renewable Energy Approval. That approval was granted just three days before the writ for the recent Ontario election was drawn up.
In response to citizen concerns about damage to the aquifer and water supply and health impacts of exposure to noise emissions from the turbines, the power developer, EDPR of Spain, actually changed material aspect of the project in the middle of the appeal. The company announced in documents filed with the Environmental Review Tribunal that it was changed the method of construction to be used for the foundations, and changing the equipment type for the turbines.
The appeal has been halted for the moment but resumes next week with testimony on hydrogeology and risks to the environment.
Turbines near Strathroy — reports of noise ignored [Photo London Free Press]
After more than six years of working with communities facing wind power projects, the president of Wind Concerns Ontario still can’t find a rationale for Ontario’s wind power push
By JaneWilson, Guest Columnist
Every time I am interviewed by the media, or speak at a public meeting, I am asked: Why is Ontario continuing to push ahead with its program of industrial-scale wind turbines and wind power, when all the facts seem to argue against it?
I don’t know.
I don’t understand why Ontario’s Liberal government never did a cost-benefit analysis, or why it has ignored the admonitions of two auditors general about impacts and costs, or why it seems unable, or unwilling, to look at the real-world experience of its wind power experiment.
I don’t know why the government signed contracts in 2016 for 600 megawatts of wind power when we already have a power surplus.
In 2016, Ontario paid $2.7 billion for generators of electricity from nuclear, gas and hydro not to produce power, because we were forced to accept wind power (when it shows up) to the grid.
In September, a new 100-megawatt wind power facility started commercial operation, but that same month, 42% of wind power in Ontario’s west region was curtailed (surplus, not added to the grid).
Ontario’s electricity customers paid for that power, anyway.
I don’t know why the government keeps adding more new power, which adds costs to people’s electricity bills, so much so that “energy poverty” is a new, sad phrase in Ontario.
The government claims to have reduced electricity bills by 25%, but it has done nothing to cut costs by cancelling contracts for unneeded power.
I don’t know why we are adding more “green” power when Ontario is already “green” by most standards.
Ontario’s engineers point out that more intermittent wind power means more natural gas back-up, which means more fossil fuel use, not less.
I don’t know why the government persists in saying wind power is good for the environment when its effect on the natural environment and wildlife is well known.
Last month, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner pointed out that no request to “kill, harm or harass” wildlife had been refused for four years – she cited wind power projects where development actually took precedence over environmental balance.
Finally, I don’t know why the government is ignoring the thousands of reports of negative impacts from the huge, noise-producing turbines.
Between 2006 and 2014, the government received well over 3,100 formal reports of excessive noise and vibration, according to documents provided to Wind Concerns Ontario.
When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, the government already knew there were problems, but it pushed ahead anyway, going so far as to remove local land use planning power from municipalities seeking to protect their residents.
Of those thousands of reports, more than 50% received no response from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Only 1% resulted in a priority response.
On the formal Pollution Incident Reports kept by the government, there is space to name the “client”.
Who might that be, for the ministry whose pledge it is to protect the environment and human health?
New Ontario wind turbine noise compliance protocol falls short
As in, little or no understanding of the problems with wind turbine noise emissions.
On Friday, April 21, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a new protocol document intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.”
While in the absence of guidance for staff, and the complete lack of compliance audit information from wind power developers and operators, this is a step forward, the truth is, the protocol doesn’t change much.
the protocol still relies on audible noise only, when many of the complaints registered with the MOECC concern effects that are clearly linked to other forms of noise
the protocol does not take into account lower wind speeds, which is where problems are being experienced, particularly with newer, more powerful turbines
there is no comment on any sort of transition between the protocol that existed before and this one
the Ministry’s action in producing this protocol is an indication that they know they have a problem
the description of Ministry response is a good step forward
requiring wind power companies to actually have, and to publish, compliance audit documents could be a sign of expectations of greater accountability among the power developers/wind power project operators.
This table outlines the critical gaps in the new protocol document.
Assessment of noise at wind speeds between 4 m/s and 7 m/s
MOECC testing indicates problem noise starts below 3 m/s which is outside of wind speeds involved in the protocol.
Narrow time period assessed
Wide seasonal variations while wind turbine noise constant
Only test outside of home
Very different inside noise conditions
Uses criticized techniques
Narrow band analysis shows tonal noise present.
Resident concerns drive other MOECC procedures
Elevated levels of infrasound in homes
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise, and accept that it must play a role as a government agency charged with protecting the environment and people in it — preparing an industry-led document may look like a positive step, but this document does not meet the needs of the people of Ontario forced to live with wind turbines, and their noise emissions.
Wind power contracts should be cancelled to control electricity costs: Mike Baggott of Ottawa Wind Concerns
Ottawa Wind Concerns was an invited guest speaker this week at a pre-budget consultation event held by Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, at the Alfred Taylor Centre in North Gower.
Executive member with the group and North Gower resident Mike Baggott told the audience that while Ontario’s electricity bills are among the highest in North America, more costs, specifically expensive wind power contracts awarded to power developers, were yet to come.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment,” Baggott explained, “but has the Ontario government done the right thing?” Two Auditors General said there was never any cost-benefit or impact analysis for the province’s green energy plan, and the Wynne government pays twice as much for renewable energy as other jurisdictions do. The expensive wind contracts are among the factors pushing electricity bills up.
“As high as our bills are now,” Baggott said, “they will get worse if projects in Ontario recently awarded contracts are allowed to proceed.”
He noted the power projects in La Nation, east of Ottawa, and North Stormont –both opposed by the local communities — will cost Ontario ratepayers over $600 million for the 20-year contracts.
In all, Ontario is facing $5 billion in new wind power contracts, at a time when the province has a surplus of power. Wind power also cannot demonstrate any benefits to the environment, Baggott said.
“It’s time to stop digging the hole,” Baggott concluded.
The main speaker at the event was Parker Gallant, a former banker whose energy sector analysis is frequently published in The Financial Post, who explained line by line, “What’s in Your Hydro Bill.”
MPP MacLeod outlined steps that can be taken to control electricity costs, and answered questions from the audience.
“It’s hard not to get depressed when you hear, line by line, how we got here with our electricity bills,” commented Rideau-Goulbourn councilor Scott Moffatt.
Parker Gallant: what’s in your hydro bill? A lot of government mistakes
Worthy of a repost, from the National Post, this opinion from a renewable energy insider.
September 2, 2016
Ontario set an all-time peak electricity demand of 27,005 megawatts (MW) 10 years ago this summer. At the time, rising demand and plans to retire its coal-fired power plants dominated provincial energy policy. What followed was optimism for a new energy policy, focused on the ambitious procurement of large wind and solar installations. I felt great pride in helping to lead an industry that would make Ontario’s power system clean, responsive and cutting edge.
What a difference a decade makes. Intrusive policy and poor implementation are largely responsible for the energy market debacle Ontarians face today. But there is no excuse now for buying more mega-projects when our power supply is saturated and hydro bills are skyrocketing.
Coal-fired power generation effectively disappeared after 2010, by which time Ontario’s electricity demand had already started to plummet. Demand has fallen 13 per cent in the past 10 years, including consecutive reductions in each of the past five years. In 2016, Ontario will consume less electricity than in 1997.
Peak demand exceeded 23,000 MW only one day this summer, despite parts of the province seeing 35 days with temperatures above 30 C. Yet our installed capacity approaches 40,000 MW. The system will have reserves above extreme summer peaks well into the 2020s. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reinforced this point recently when it confirmed “Ontario will have sufficient supply for the next several years.”
Against this troubling background, the Ontario government is procuring an additional 1,300 MW of large wind and solar generation under the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program. This decision is indefensible. It makes the frequency of negative pricing (paying our U.S. neighbours to take Ontario energy during periods of low demand) and curtailment (paying wind developers for energy production even when the grid can’t use the power) even worse. These problems have become billion-dollar burdens for Ontario electricity customers.
Sweet contracts, painful electricity bills
Offering sweet contracts to large renewable energy developers while demand stagnates has helped push hydro bills higher. Electricity prices have increased by seven per cent a year since 2009. Costs have risen faster than Ontario’s inflation rate in each of the past several years. The province’s electricity rates are increasing faster than any other jurisdiction in North America.
It’s clear that change must begin with the renewable industry, since our industry alone benefits from the continued overprocurement of electricity. The fact is large wind and solar developers have been pampered by Queen’s Park for far too long. Although solar installation costs dropped 70 per cent in the past decade, the government froze prices for years at a time. When permitting delays enabled projects to be built as much as five years after contracts were awarded, multi-millionaires were created overnight.
Today, with no logical reason to build more wind and solar mega-projects in Ontario, renewable developers must confront the economic damage they are doing to their families, friends and neighbours, and to the next generation of citizens who will bear the brunt of this green corporate welfare.
Renewable energy companies must confront the economic damage they are doing.
We need to make four changes. First, Ontarians must demand a return to basic electricity policy principles: safety, reliability and cost effectiveness. Second, the government should revisit the IESO’s legal obligations associated with the current LRP process and exit this procurement process without paying the ransoms that characterized Ontario’s gas plant debacles. Third, the IESO should restrict renewable procurement to the smaller rooftop and distributed energy projects that actually benefit customers. Fourth, Ontario renewable energy firms must learn to export their pioneering expertise and target new domestic and international markets.
The global renewable energy revolution has just started. Solar energy is increasingly the cleanest, cheapest and most environmentally sustainable option. The advent of battery storage, smart grids and the Internet of Things will catalyze innovative economies that embrace change. Renewables have a bright future in this world, but we need to regain control of Ontario’s failing electricity policies — and do it soon — to ensure we seize the energy opportunities of the 21st century.
Jon Kieran is a Toronto-based renewable energy consultant. He is a member of the Canadian Solar Industries Association’s board of directors. He declines LRP work from clients.