A critical factor in the decision was a statement in Minnesota Statute §216B.2422, subsection 4(3) saying that due to the “intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities” there could be an impact on the cost of energy.
“In fact,” the Judge wrote, “as Minnesota Power illustrated in its EnergyForward , the output from those resources can ebb significantly even over the course of a single day. When that happens, or customer demand increases, Minnesota Power must increase output from more reliable resources, like coal or natural gas generators, or purchase power on the regional market.”
The Judge noted testimony from a consulting expert on energy who said that adding more wind power would leave the power company “doubly vulnerable to market pricing, both to sell surplus energy into the market when prices are low and to buy energy when prices are high.”
The final conclusion was that a “wind or solar alternative is not in the public interest” because the costs are higher.
In short, Ottawa’s choice of large-scale, or grid-scale wind power will be a high impact on the environment and electricity consumers for little benefit.
In a recent article in the Financial Post, economist Dr. Jack M. Mintz emphasized the need for honest accounting of the costs of climate policy, and he used the Ontario example:
“Despite implementing various cost-reduction measures the Wynne government was saddled with expensive sole-sourced contracts for wind and solar electricity awarded by the McGuinty government. Those subsidies were put on the backs of Ontario ratepayers who saw their electricity bills jump.”
As for the choice of wind power, Dr. Mintz noted:
“Governments generally do not understand and certainly cannot predict the evolution of technology so should not try to pick the ‘winning’ technologies themselves. They should instead put a price on environmental damage”.
In the Pathway Study on Wind Power in Ottawa, the author stated that because the Ottawa-area is a low wind power resource, financial encouragement would be needed to attract wind power developers. That means subsidies; that means higher electricity bills.
In a Commentary for the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy on energy costs, author Marc Brouillette stated that “Renewables-based DER systems in Ontario could cost 60-percent to 230-percent more than an alternative nuclear-based DES option. These higher costs have the potential to increase ratepayer bills by 10 percent to 20 percent.”
In its 2016 annual report, the Ontario Association of Food Banks wrote about energy poverty and connected poverty to Ontario’s electricity bills:
“Since 2006, hydro rates have increased at a rate of 3.5 times inflation for peak hours, and at a rate of 8 times inflation for off-peak hours. Households across Ontario are finding it hard to keep up with these expenses, as exemplified by the $172.5 million in outstanding hydro bills, or the 60,000 homes that were disconnected last year for failing to pay. In rural Ontario, the effects of the rising cost of hydro can be felt even more acutely. According to a recent report, rural Ontarians can expect current hydro bills to increase by 11.5 per cent by 2017, on top of their current hydro costs, which are already higher than those in cities or larger urban areas.”