All that despoliation of Ontario communities, agricultural land and the natural environment for … what? Expensive power produced out of phase with demand, says Marc Brouillette
In a stunning commentarypublished yesterday by theCouncil for Clean and Reliable Energy, energy policy consultantMarc Brouilettesays that Ontario’s wind power program is an expensive adventure that does not achieve any of its goals for the environment or economic prosperity, and is in fact, making things worse.
At a cost of $1.5 billion in 2015, Brouillette says, the fact that wind power generation is completely out of sync with demand in Ontario results in added costs for constrained generation form other sources. Constrained nuclear and hydro cost $300 million that year, and a further $200 million in costs was incurred due to “avoided” natural gas generation.
And, the power isn’t even getting to the people who need it. “[O]nly one-half of total provincial wind output makes it to the Central Region and the GTA where most of Ontario’s electricity demand exists,” Brouillette states.
All things considered, wind costs more than $410 per megawatt hour, which isfour times the average cost of electricityin Ontario. This is being charged to Ontario’s electricity customers, at an increasing rate.
Ontario should reconsider its commitment to more wind, Brouillette concludes: “these challenges will increase if Ontario proceeds to double wind capacity to the projected ~6,500 MW.”
Reposted from Wind Concerns Ontario windconcernsontario.ca
Turbines surround a home in Huron County, Ontario. Complaints get no response. [Photo by Gary Moon]
The Global News investigative team took on the task of finding out what happens when people in rural Ontario report excessive noise and other effects from industrial-scale wind turbines in nearby wind power projects?
The answer, said Global National reporter Shirlee Engel is, “Not much.”
Here are Parts 1 and 2 of the Global News investigative report. The investigation took four months, and was based on documents and analysis provided to Global by Wind Concerns Ontario. It took two years for Wind Concerns to get the documents from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) under Freedom of Information legislation.
In over half the cases in the documents, the MOECC made no response; in others there was limited response. The Ministry relied upon wind power companies “predicted modeling” to determine whether noise exceedance was possible. When actual measurements of noise were done, they were limited to a narrow range of audible noise and did not include low frequency or tonal noise.
Minister Glen Murray told the Legislature yesterday after a barrage of questions from Opposition MPPs that the Ministry will now be including “tonal” noise in its measurement; the Minister still insists there is no problem, and told Global News that he has no complaints on his desk at present — Wind Concerns Ontario documents show almost 3,200 complaints filed between 2006 and 2014.
Global News has a report today on information related to wind turbine noise complaints.
Carla Stachura and her husband Mike thought they’d found the perfect spot to retire.
A house in rural Ontario where they run a wildlife sanctuary with lamas and a variety of birds, and planned to spend their retirement years enjoying the peace and quiet of country life.
But that dream was shattered when wind turbines began popping up near their Goderich, Ontario home. Since then, their dream has become a nightmare. The couple says they’ve been unable to sleep and exposed to prolonged periods of annoying noise. Adding to their frustration, they say the provincial government won’t lift a finger to help them, other than order more tests.
“We’ve been having issues since they turned the turbines on,” said Carla.
The couple purchased the property in 2003. They say it was paradise until the K2 Wind Farm, operated by Pattern Energy, started operations in the spring of 2015.
Over the past two years, officials from the ministry have measured violations of the province’s noise limits at the couple’s home on two occasions, first in August 2015 and again in March 2017. Despite these violations, the couple says the government has done nothing other than order more tests.
Ministry of Environment does not respond to majority of wind turbine complaints
The Stachura’s complaints of government inaction are not unique. In fact, Global News has learned that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change does not respond to the majority of complaints made by residents concerned about wind turbines.
Documents released through Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act and obtained by Global News reveal officials from the Ministry of Environment chose not to investigate or deferred responding to – meaning they did not make immediate plans to investigate – roughly 68 per cent of all noise and health complaints lodged against wind turbine operators in the province between 2006 and 2014. This represents nearly 2,200 individual complaints.
The documents also show limited resources sometimes prevented the ministry from responding to complaints.
Originally obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, the documents include a list of 3,180 complaints. They also include a 458-page collection of “master incident reports,” which the ministry has verified as authentic, detailing the ministry’s response – or lack thereof – in cases where residents complained multiple times.
The documents show that in 54 per cent of all cases – more than 1,700 individual complaints – the ministry did not investigate residents’ concerns. In another 450 cases, roughly 14 per cent of total incidents, the ministry deferred responding to complaints.
In most cases, the documents do not reveal why the ministry chose not to respond. Instead, they tend to focus on whether the wind farm was compliant with ministry standards or past efforts to resolve residents’ concerns.
“The lack of response from the ministry shows just how unprepared they were for the potential effects of putting these giant machines so close to people and their communities,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
Read more here, and watch the story today on Global News.
Two wind power projects have contracts but not Renewable Energy Approvals yet in the Ottawa area: the Nation Rise project in North Stormont (Finch, Berwick) and Eastern Fields in The Nation (St Bernardin, Casselman).
Wind Concerns Ontario is recommending that approvals not be granted for these projects, and that new tougher noise standards be developed for turbines, and enforced.
Wind Concerns Ontario has released a report based on documents received via Freedom of Information request that shows the Ontario government’s process to deal with citizen complaints about wind farm noise is flawed.
From the news release on the website today:
[Documents] show that almost 3,200 reports of noise complaints were made in 2006-2014. In more than half, the government took no action.
“When Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, he promised the people of rural Ontario to address concerns about health and safety from the turbines,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said. “But they already had multiple complaints about wind turbine noise from 2006 onward, and they were unable and even unwilling to deal with them. This is failure of a government to protect people.
“Their goal appears to be protecting the interests of power development corporations instead.”
Ontario families called the MOECC hotline to report sleep disturbance, headaches, and dizziness from the wind turbine noise emissions. Some were desperate and reported not having slept for days, even weeks at a time.
The reports show, however, that ministry staff had no protocols or guidelines to deal with noise complaints and that high-level directives blocked staff from responding. Staff were told to rely on computer noise models provided by power developers instead of actual noise measurement.
“The noise models said that the turbine noise levels were safe, and within regulations,” Wilson explains, “but complaints continued — the Ministry did nothing. The MOECC chose power developers, their ‘clients,’ over Ontario families.”
Many reports referred to vibration or “pulsing” sensations from the huge turbines, but the MOECC restricted responses to audible noise alone.
“People just gave up and stopped calling,” Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says. “Then, in many cases, the Ministry simply closed their files. There was no help for these people from their government.”
A revised Compliance Protocol was released by the government on April 21, but contains no substantive change to the complaint process.
Wind Concerns Ontario recommends that no more approvals or Notices To Proceed be granted for wind power projects, and that the government develop and enforce new, tougher noise standards.
ENDANGERED TURTLES WIN PROTECTION FROM WIND FARM IN ONTARIO, CANADA
The Environmental Review Tribunal determined the Blandings Turtle was endangered by the wind farm
Landmark legal decision overturns government approval of large power project
WELLINGTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, April 27, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ —
A years-long legal battle over a wind power project by Germany-based wpd in Ontario, Canada, resulted in a ruling by the provincial government’s Environmental Review Tribunal yesterday, in favour of protecting an endangered species of turtle.
In the Tribunal ruling, government approval for 18 of 29 industrial-scale wind turbines in the “White Pines” project was reversed. With 60 percent of the project removed, it may be impossible for the power developer to meet its contractual obligation.
The citizens of Prince Edward County, about two hours east of Toronto, where the project was to be located, fought the wind turbines for almost 10 years, and spent almost $2 million CAD in legal fees.
“The County” as it is called, on the shores of Lake Ontario, is a stopping place for hundreds of thousands of birds migrating in eastern North America, and was identified as an Important Bird Area by conservation groups. The area is also a habitat for the endangered Blandings turtle, and home to the Little Brown Bat which is on the verge of extirpation.
“This [decision] is clearly a victory for the survival of the Blanding’s turtle and many other animal and plant species,” said Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County president Gordon Gibbins. “Although the Tribunal decision was specifically concerned with protecting the turtles and their habitat, we are very pleased that indirectly as a result of this decision there will be no turbines in the Prince Edward County Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.”
“The Tribunal decision has made it clear that this wind power project was never about protecting the environment,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, the coalition of community groups concerned about wind power projects.
“The wind power project was always about money. The citizens of Prince Edward County fought hard to protect the environment and wildlife against our own Ministry of the Environment.”
Citizen evidence was crucial in bringing forward evidence of harm to the environment in the various appeals of the power project, Wilson says. “The government did little or no oversight on how wildlife is to be protected, and it was the people of Prince Edward County who brought the information to the Tribunal. As a result, in Ontario now, wind power does not automatically override environmental concerns.”
Economic impacts were also a concern for the community. The County is a tourist destination with dozens of wineries and cheese establishments; winery owners were concerned about the negative impact of the huge power-generating turbines on the County with its quaint villages and pastoral views as a tourist attraction.
Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff said, “Our community has been fighting this project for quite some time. I’m glad to see that the Environmental Review Tribunal has recognized and given credence to our concerns.”
The 100-megawatt project will cost more than $400 million, while Ontario already has a surplus of power
EDP Renewables, headquartered in Madrid, has posted the site plan for its 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, in North Stormont, about 40 minutes south and east of Ottawa.
Project Name: Nation Rise Wind Farm
IESO Reference Number: L-006351-WIN-001-100
Project Location: The proposed Nation Rise Wind Farm will be located on private and public lands in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry in the western portion of the Township of North Stormont, Ontario, and bounded to the south by the Township of South Stormont and to the west by the boundary of the Township of North Dundas. The north portion of the site is delimited by the municipality boundaries of Russell and the Nation. Courville Road and MacMillan Road are the east boundaries of the project.
Dated at: the Township of North Stormont this 17th day of March 2017.
Other project documents including the draft noise impact assessment are available on the Nation Rise wind “farm” website here.
Residents interested in learning more about the impact of the power project on the area’s homes, environment and wildlife, and in supporting the group’s activities and legal fund, should contact the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont*, whose website is here.
The 20-year contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) will cost Ontario electricity ratepayers about $436 million.
The Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, has stated, meanwhile, that Ontario currently has a surplus of power (which is being sold off at prices below what power developers are paid). The Nation Rise contract could be cancelled under a pre-construction liability clause for $600,000, according to IESO documents.
Minister Thibeault told a business audience in Toronto last year that the government’s “arbitrary” selection of wind power led to “sub-optimal siting” and “heightened community concerns.”
North Stormont is a Not A Willing Host community.
Concerned Citizens of North Stormont leader Margaret Benke, at a recent information event in Finch, Ontario
The Premier of Ontario put out a news release on March 2, claiming the government was going to reduce Ontario’s electricity or “hydro” bills substantially.“I’ve heard from you loud and clear,” Kathleen Wynne said in her statement. “Nobody should have to choose between keeping the lights on or buying groceries.”
The Ontario Liberal government still claims the high electricity prices were because of improvements it “had to” make to the system. The news release concluded with these statements.
“We are – and always will be – committed to making Ontario a fairer and more inclusive place for everyone. And fairness means ensuring government investments don’t disproportionately affect today’s electricity ratepayers. One generation of ratepayers should not have to pay for the sins of the past and for a system that will benefit Ontario for decades to come. So our plan reduces costs today and stretches out costs over the long term so rates are fairer for everyone.”
Fairness. We’ve heard that before, like “transparency.” But again, the government is being disingenuous. Its latest move is simply stretching out the costs of its policy decisions, not taking action to reduce costs. (Our favourite pronouncement on this comes from electricity analyst Bruce Sharp who calls this tactic, “delay and pray.”)
Not reducing costs
The truth is, the government has signed more expensive wind power contracts for power the province doesn’t need.
At the moment, these six contracts, awarded in 2016, total $3.3 billion in costs over 20 years. In addition, there are five more contracts for wind power projects that were approved but which are not yet on the grid –including White Pines, Amherst Island and Fairview Wind which are all in legal contests– that add up to another $1.8 billion.
The total for wind power contracts awarded, which represents new costs no yet on Ontario electricity ratepayer bills, is $5.1 billion.
That is not “reducing costs today”.
The government needs to cancel the 2016 wind power contracts (which contain clauses for pre-construction liability should the government cancel), and buy out of other contracts.
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.
Former banker and now energy analyst Parker Gallant has prepared a summary of submissions to the Ontario Ministry of Energy, which last fall asked for input to a new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).
Aside from the vested interests in wind power, the stakeholder groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers all recommended the government act now to get costs down. And that includes, getting rid of wind power.
From the article, an excerpt on two of the submissions made to the government.
Strategic Policy Economics – Marc Brouillette’s excellent submission on behalf of Bruce Nuclear also carries some sane observations such as “Wind generation has not matched demand since its introduction in Ontario” and, “Over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supply capability.” And this one, which is becoming more evident as ratepayers are forced to pay for curtailed generation: “Wind generation will not match demand in the OPO Outlook future projections as 50% of the forecasted production is expected to be surplus.”
The recommendation that will cause the most handwringing will be: “The LTEP should integrate the objectives of Ontario’s environmental, energy, industrial, and economic policies for the long-term future benefit of Ontarians.”
Wind Concerns Ontario – The coalition of community groups and individuals throughout Ontario had this to say by way of advice to the Ministry: “The government policy to promote “renewables” such as wind and solar have been a critical factor in the grave economic situation today. Wind power for example, now represents 22% of electricity cost, while providing only 5.9% of the power. Worse, that power is produced out-of-phase with demand, as has been detailed by two Auditors General; so much of it is wasted. This is unsustainable.
“Clearly,” WCO continued, “the direction for the Ministry of Energy is to formulate a new Long-Term Energy Plan that will take immediate action on reducing electricity costs. Those actions must include a review of all contractual obligations for power generation from wind, and action to mitigate further costs to the system, and the over-burdened people of Ontario.”
WCO called for cancellation of all the wind power contracts given in 2016, the FIT 5.0 program, and further, cancellation of all contracts for projects not yet built or which are not going to make a critical commercial operation date. In fact, all wind power contracts should be reviewed and paid out, as Ontario can save money by eliminating the need to dispose of the surplus electricity.
WCO vice-president Parker Gallant and president Jane Wilson speak on Ontario’s mismanaged electricity sector, energy poverty, wind turbine noise regulation, and what’s ahead for 2017
(C) Wind Concerns Ontario
Q:You’ve been telling people about the impact of renewables, specifically wind power, on Ontario’s electricity or hydro bills. How much of our electricity bills is due to the wind power/renewables program in Ontario?
Parker Gallant: I recently reviewed the cost of wind and solar generation relative to its contribution to Ontario’s demand for electricity and its impact on our electricity costs is shocking. Wind and solar in the first six months of 2016 delivered 8% of our generated power and represented 35% of the Global Adjustment which appears set to average over $1 billion per month. That represents a cost of over 36 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh), including the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP).
Q: Parker, you’ve also been telling people about the Global Adjustment or GA, which is where a lot of charges are hidden. Do you think these charges should be detailed on our bills, or is that even possible?Parker Gallant: While I believe in principle the GA should be revealed on our monthly bills, in practice, that would require reams of paper. How will the local distribution company explain how much you are billed for curtailed wind generation or the meteorological stations that measure the amount of curtailed wind that might have been generated? How to explain, say, the cost of spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear or the water fuel fee, or how to tell the ratepayer how much they are subsidizing the rates for large industrial clients, or what it is costing under the rural and remote rate plan (RRRP) that transports diesel fuel to remote First Nations, among dozens of other items included in our monthly bills?
Q: The Premier and Energy Minister are now saying that parts of their policies have been a “mistake” and that they need to get bills down. Wind Concerns is saying that canceling wind power contracts is necessary for that to happen. Can you explain? How much are the 2016 contracts worth?
Parker Gallant: Interesting they are now admitting a “mistake,” but when George Smitherman was Energy Minister he was provided with a long-term energy plan that had been carefully developed by “experts” within the crown agencies. He chose to cancel the plan and instead, impose one developed in conjunction with outsiders who were NOT experts. Previous Energy Ministers (Dwight Duncan comes to mind for his “smart meter” for every ratepayer) made mistakes, as did those who followed such as Brad Duguid and were roundly criticized by both the media and by ratepayers. The canceling of wind power projects not yet built or even contracted is only “step one” and will slow the climb in our bills. The current Minister, Glenn Thibeault has only suspended Large Renewable Procurement or LRP ll, and needs to cancel it, as well as LRP I and any of those contracts now past their agreed-to start date. There are ways to reduce costs almost immediately.
Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a detailed document for the IESO on the Long-Term Energy Plan, suggesting ways they could save $1.7 billion annually. That would have an immediate cost reduction impact.
Q: The Energy Minister says that now, Ontario is a “net exporter” of electricity like that’s a good thing. He claims we’re making money: is that true?
Parker Gallant: Being a “net exporter” of 16.8 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 is simply a demonstration of being a bad planner and manager of the system. If one adds the spilled hydro and curtailed wind to the net exports, the 21.2 TWh could have provided over half of all average Ontario households with power for a full year, yet we sold it 2.36 cents/kWh while we paid 10.14 cents/kWh for its generation. Ontario contracted for far too much intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power creating a domino effect the increased our costs of generation. Paradoxically, if Ontario ratepayers consumed more of the annual excess power (15.5% in 2015) it would help reduce our per kWh cost.
Q: What is WCO’s stance on climate change?
Jane Wilson: Our position is that everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment, whether that is preventing air pollution or using the most efficient forms of power generation — but that isn’t industrial-scale wind. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or OSPE says that the proliferation of large-scale wind will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, therefore not achieving the government’s stated goals. In the OSPE’s most recent report, they say “Wind generation offers less GHG reduction value in Ontario because base-load generation is already carbon-free and wind generation often displaces hydroelectric and nuclear base-load generation.”
Q: Why does the Ontario government continue to force wind turbines on communities that don’t want them?
Jane Wilson: The government is acting on an ideology that is not supported by fact and to do that, it erased communities’ right to local land-use planning with the Green Energy Act. We think that’s wrong, and are supporting the now 116 municipal governments that have demanded a return of that control and also that community support be mandatory for wind power contracts. There is a concern too about communities in the North where there may not be elected municipal governments, where contracts can be awarded for wind power projects that have a significant negative impact on the natural environment, for little or no benefit.
WCO worked with Ontario municipalities on the mandatory support resolution.
Q:Can the government really cancel wind power contracts? Can a new government cancel the subsidy programs?
Jane Wilson: Yes. There are clauses in the contracts under LRP I that are “off-ramps” in the case of cancellation, and which set out the financial steps needed to do that. For example, the contract with EDP for the “Nation Rise” project south of Ottawa in North Stormont, worth $430 million over 20 years, would cost $250,000 plus reimbursement for development costs that must be justified, to a maximum of $600,000. And yes, government can cancel subsidy programs. The LRP II, now “suspended”, should be cancelled outright.
The other opportunity is to cancel wind power projects that do not have a “Notice-to-Proceed”: this is straightforward. WCO has also suggested to the IESO that the government look seriously at all contracts and review them for opportunities to cancel. Even costly negotiated buy-outs will reduce hydro costs significantly, due to the high cost of disposing of surplus power.
Q: What is WCO doing to help people already living with wind turbines, and the noise they produce?
Jane Wilson: We support the public health investigation being done by the Huron County Health Unit, and hope that other municipalities will take similar action. We are also looking at how research can be done to help change the Ontario regulations on noise –which are not based on current science and in fact, are completely inadequate to protect health. We prepared a detailed document on how to revise noise enforcement regulations, another on how the approval process must be changed to protect health, and we submitted a document to the World Health Organization which is preparing global noise regulations for wind turbines. In short, we take every opportunity possible to explain the situation for people living in communities where wind turbines and their noise emissions have been forced, without consent, on the people of Ontario, with the goal of having regulations and processes changed.
Q: What’s ahead in 2017?Jane Wilson: It’s a very different world for wind power now, than in 2009 when the Green Energy Act was passed. People are genuinely questioning the benefit of high-impact, large-scale wind power development, especially when there seem to be few, if any, benefits, and we are seeing the shocking results of the government’s complete mismanagement of the electricity sector such as lost jobs and rising energy poverty. We believe the government will have to take dramatic action if it is serious about getting electricity bills down. The fact that Ontario municipalities are speaking out on this issue and taking action will also have results, we believe. We are hoping for a complete halt to the ongoing damage of the government’s policies, and that there will be help for people already living with the noise and other impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines.
As for Wind Concerns Ontario, we are not stopping our work.