Turbines near Strathroy — the environmental impact, the noise, the high hydro bills. It was all for nothing. [Photo London Free Press]
June 13, 2018
Many analysts and commentators are now looking over the ruins of the Ontario government from the election last week, and pointing to the McGuinty-Wynne government’s disastrous handling of the electricity sector, particularly the ideology-driven push for renewables, as a factor.
Two Auditors General said Ontario had never done a cost-benefit analysis for its aggressive support of industrial-scale wind power and that we were paying too much — far too much — for the power. Which was intermittent and unreliable to boot, so it could never do what they said it would.
Now, Ottawa-based energy insider Steve Aplin says, not only was large-scale wind expensive it was also a waste of time: wind power has never been shown to reduce CO2 or carbon emissions.
Wind did not replace the power produced by Ontario’s shuttered coal plants, gas and nuclear did.
Read Mr Aplin’s excellent analysis here, but remember, a 100-megawatt power project was just approved for North Stormont, just south of Ottawa, and an approval is pending for another project east, in The Nation.
Neither community wants the power projects, there are significant environmental concerns, and Ontario doesn’t need the intermittent power produced out-of-phase with demand.
In 2016, the Ontario government also introduced new and more accurate standards for how companies model the noise impact of turbines before they’re built.
Map depicting range of impacts of wind turbines for Eastern Fields project near St Bernardin and St Isidore, east of Ottawa [Photo: Radio-Canada]
Suit alleges standards out of date
The lawsuit, however, alleges the proponents behind the five projects have been using old modelling standards.
“It appears that the majority of proposed turbine sites are out of compliance with the [new] requirements,” states the suit, which has been filed with the Ontario Divisional Court.
If the projects were forced to adhere to the new standards, three quarters of the more than 200 proposed turbines in the province would be breaking the rules, according to Eric Gillespie, the Toronto lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of concerned citizens.
If the companies used the new guidelines for modelling, Gillespie said, those rule-breaking turbines “will have to be relocated or removed.”
Citizens concerned about impact on health
The suit doesn’t ask for monetary damages, said Gillespie, but is about ensuring “that anyone living near an industrial wind turbine project is safe.”
“There’s well-documented research that you don’t want to go above the legislated level,” said Gillespie, adding that the noise associated with the loud, rhythmic drumbeat of the turbines can affect sleep, heart health, and general well-being.
“Unfortunately, it appears almost all these projects and most of the turbines in them are going to [break the guidelines] if they’re allowed to proceed.”
The lawsuit includes affidavits from experts on noise pollution, as well as from residents affected by the projects.
Gary Wheeler, a spokesperson with the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, wrote in an email that the ministry is working with the companies behind the wind turbine projects to make sure they meet “our stringent noise standards.”
“We will be determining the appropriate next steps,” said Wheeler, who declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Margaret Benke, right, lives near the proposed Nation Rise Wind Farm located in the Township of North Stormont. She met Saturday with other residents to discuss the lawsuit. [Photo: Radio-Canada]
Residents plan strategy
The five proposed projects include two in eastern Ontario:
Eastern Fields Wind Power Project, in the Municipality of The Nation.
Nation Rise Wind Farm, in the Township of North Stormont,
Some of the residents living close to those projects met Saturday to discuss the suit and their next steps.
“We’re asking the government to consider the sentence they’re imposing on the people of rural Ontario,” said Margaret Benke, who lives near the proposed Nation Rise Wind Farm, about 60 kilometres southwest of Ottawa.
Benke said she’s concerned that almost three quarters of the turbines proposed in her community would break the current noise standard.
“I can move out,” she said, “but there are many people without that option. Even if their health is affected.”
The three other projects are all in southern Ontario:
Otter Creek Wind Farm, north of Wallaceburg, Ont., in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
Romney Wind Energy Centre, in Lakeshore, Ont.
Strong Breeze Wind Power Project in the Municipality of Dutton/Dunwich.
Wind Concerns Ontario obtained records of noise complaints and government response in two batches, 2006-2014 and 2015-2016, under Freedom of Information legislation. There are thousands of unresolved citizen complaints about wind turbine noise and vibration; yet, the government is in the process of approving more industrial wind power projects. Read the WCO report here. NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May9
Turbines at the 100-megawatt Samsung Belle River power plant–power when we don’t need it
Friday October 6th, 2017 was a work day just before the Thanksgiving weekend. At 10 AM that morning, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers had much to be thankful for. Power generation from wind amounted to just 27 MWh, but that 27 MWh wasn’t really needed as nuclear, hydro and a little gas were providing all the power we needed. And, both hydro and gas were capable of producing lots more if Ontario demand required it.
The hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) during that hour was $13.50/MWh (megawatt hour) so the value of the 27 MWh that wind produced in that hour cost ratepayers about $365.
Two days later, Thanksgiving Sunday was a different story: at 3 AM wind power was working in the night, generating 1,145 MWh with another 2,797 MWh curtailed (wasted, held back, not added to the grid). Ontario’s ratepayers were paying $135/MWh for the grid-accepted wind and $120/MWh for the curtailed wind.
The HOEP was a negative $3/MWh so the grid-delivered wind was costing ratepayers $415.95/MWh or 41.6 cents/kWh! In total, that one hour cost ratepayers $476,274 for unneeded generation. On top of that, because Ontario demand for power was low (most of us were fast asleep so the LED lights were out), Bruce nuclear was steaming off excess generation (we pay for that), OPG was probably spilling water (we also pay for that), and we were exporting 2,802 MWh to Michigan, New York and Quebec and picking up the $3/MWh cost.
So, comparing the two hours suggests we didn’t need wind generation on October 6th during a business day and we didn’t need it on October 8th in the middle of the night!
This is more proof that wind power is produced out of sync with demand.
The time has come to stop all contracting for additional wind generation and to cancel any that are not under construction.
“Assertions are complete nonsense … only wilful blindness would suggest that wind and solar are low cost”
Recently, energy analyst and occasional columnist for The Financial PostParker Gallant wrote that the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) was hitting back at allegations that wind power was contributing to Ontario’s rising electricity bills.
Ontario representative Brandy Gianetta said wind power was a low-cost energy source, and she referred to University of Waterloo professor Jatin Nathwani for support.
Trouble is, she was wrong.
Professor Nathwani took the time to correct CanWEA’s statements in an email to Parker Gallant, published on his Energy Perspectives blog today.
Here is Professor Nathwani’s email:
Dear Mr Gallant:
In your Blog, you have cited Ms. Giannetta’s post on CanWEA’s website on April 24, 2017 as quoted below:
Her article points to two articles that purportedly support the “myth” she is “busting,” but both require closer examination. She cites Waterloo professor Natin Nathwani’s, (PhD in chemical engineering and a 2016 “Sunshine list” salary of $184,550) article of March 6, 2017, posted on the TVO website, which supports Premier Wynne’s dubious claims of “a massive investment, on the order of $50 billion, for the renewal of Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure.” Professor Nathwani offers no breakdown of the investment which suggests he simply took Premier Wynne’s assertion from her “Fair Hydro Plan” statement as a fact! It would be easy to tear apart Professor Nathwani’s math calculations — for example, “The total electricity bill for Ontario consumers has increased at 3.2 per cent per year on average” — but anyone reading that blatant claim knows his math is flawed!
First and foremost, the record needs to be corrected since Ms Giannetta’s assertions are simply incorrect and should not be allowed to stand.
If she has better information on the $50 billion investment provided in the Ministry of Energy’s Technical Briefing, she should make that available.
The breakdown of the investment pattern in generation for the period 2008-2014 is as follows:
Wind Energy $6 Billion (Installed Capacity 2600 MW)
Solar Energy $5.8 Billion (Installed Capacity 1400 MW)
Bio-energy $1.3 Billion (Installed 325MW)
Natural Gas $5.8 Billion
Water Power $5 Billion (installed Capacity 1980 MW)
Nuclear $5.2 Billion
Total Installed Capacity Added to the Ontario Grid from 2008-2014 was 12,731 MW of which Renewable Power Capacity was 6298MW at a cost of $18.2 Billion.
For the complete investment pattern from 2005 to 2015, please see data available at the IESO Website.
In sum, generation additions (plus removal of coal costs) are in the order of $35 billion and additional investments relate to transmission and distribution assets.
I take strong exception to her last statement suggesting that the 3.2 percent per year (on average) increase in total electricity cost from 2006 to 2015 in real 2016$. The source for this information is a matter of public record and is available at the IESO website.
Ms Giannetta’s assertion is complete nonsense because she does not understand the difference between electricity bill and generation cost. Let Ms Gianetta identify the “blatant flaw.”
As for the electricity bill that the consumer sees, there is a wide variation across Ontario and this is primarily related to Distribution.
The Ontario Energy Board report on Electricity Rates in different cities provides a view across Ontario:
For example, the average bill for a for a typical 750kWh home Ontario comes is $130 per month.
In Toronto it is $142, Waterloo at $130 and Cornwall at $106. On the high side is Hydro One networks is $182 and this is primarily related to cost of service for low density, rural areas.
Your Table 2 Total Electricity Supply Cost is helpful and correctly highlights the cost differences of different generation supply.
Only wilful blindness on Ms Giannetta’s part would suggest that wind and solar are coming in at a low cost.
Jatin Nathwani, PhD, P.Eng
Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy
Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE)
Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Environment Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA)
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.
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
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.
While Ottawa’s Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Energy, insists that paying high and selling low is a good economic strategy (meanwhile inflicting dramatic increases in bills to consumers), economic analysts don’t seem to agree. Here from Forbes. com is a view of Ontario’s handling of the electricity sector.
Ontario’s high electricity prices are bad for business
Jude Clemente, Forbes/Energy, March 30, 2016
“Ontario is probably the worst electricity market in the world,” Pierre-Olivier Pineau, University of Montreal
Ontario’s auditor general just reported that the province paid an extra $37 billion for electricity from 2006-2014, likely the most ludicrous energy story that I’ve ever read (here). Ontario has gone from having some of the most affordable electricity in North America to having some of the most expensive. From 2013-2015 alone, industrial electricity rates increased 16%.
In 2003, the provincial government decided to phase-out coal-fired generation by 2007 (later extended to 2014), perhaps the most cost effective source of power.
This necessitated investment in new sources of electricity. For example, more expensive wind has provided less than 4% of Ontario’s power but accounts for 20% of the cost of electricity. In January, Ontario Power Generation unveiled plans for a $13 billion refurbishment of four nuclear reactors, which could crush ratepayers to recover the total costs.