The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) today released an announcement on its blog stating that because Ontario has a surplus of power, it is constraining or wasting power that already comes from clean sources.
So, WHY has the government issued two contracts for MORE wind power in the Ottawa area, in Nation Township and North Stormont, where neither community supports the idea of becoming power plants? And the power is not needed anyway?
Here is the post. Readers are invited to go to the blog and post their comments. If you want to comment to the government directly, email Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy at email@example.com
Ontario Wasted More Than $1 Billion Worth of Clean Energy in 2016
“This represents a 58 per cent increase in the amount of clean electricity that Ontario wasted in 2015 – 4.8 TWh – all while the province continues to export more than 2 million homes-worth of electricity to neighbouring jurisdictions for a price less than what it cost to produce,” said Paul Acchione, P.Eng., energy expert and former President and Chair of OSPE.
OSPE shared these findings with all three major political parties, and will be at Queen’s Park this morning to speak to media regarding the importance of granting professional engineers more independence in the planning and designing of Ontario’s power system.
So why is Ontario wasting all this energy?
“Curtailment is an industry term that means the power was not needed in Ontario, and could not be exported, so it was dumped. It’s when we tell our dams to let the water spill over top, our nuclear generators to release their steam, and our wind turbines not to turn, even when it’s windy,” said Acchione.
“These numbers show that Ontario’s cleanest source of power is literally going down the drain because we’re producing too much. Speaking as an engineer, an environmentalist, and a rate payer, it’s an unnecessary waste of beautiful, clean energy, and it’s driving up the cost of electricity.”
In addition to curtailment, surplus hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear generation was exported to adjoining power grids in 2014, 2015, and 2016 at prices much lower than the total cost of production. This occurs because Ontario produces more clean electricity than it can use, so it is forced to sell off surplus energy at a discounted rate. Total exports in 2016 were 21.9 TWh compared to 22.6 TWh in 2015, and a significant portion was clean, zero-emission electricity.
“Taken together, those total exports represent nearly enough electricity to power every home in Ontario for an entire year,” said Acchione. “OSPE continues to assert that the government must restore the oversight of professional engineers in the detailed planning and design of Ontario’s power grid to prevent missteps like this from happening.”
Engineers have solutions
Because Ontario is contractually obligated to pay for most of the production costs of curtailed and exported energy, OSPE believes it would be better to find productive uses for the surplus clean electricity to displace fossil fuel consumption in other economic sectors. In the summer of 2016, OSPE submitted an advisory document to the Minister of Energy and all three major political parties detailing 21 actionable recommendations that would deliver efficiencies and savings, including reducing residential and commercial rates by approximately 25 per cent, without the creation of the subsidy and deferral account under the Ontario Fair Hydro Act.
OSPE also recommended the establishment of a voluntary interruptible retail electricity market in order to make productive use of Ontario’s excess clean electricity. This market would allow Ontario businesses and residents to access surplus clean power at the wholesale market price of less than two cents per kilowatt-hour (KWh), which could displace the use of fossil fuels by using things like dual fuel (gas and electric) water heaters, and by producing emission-free hydrogen fuel.
Ontario is currently in the process of finalizing its 2017 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP), a multi-year guiding document that will direct the province’s investments and operations related to energy. This presents a key opportunity for the government to reduce Ontarians’ hydro bills by making surplus clean electricity available to consumers.
“It is imperative that we depoliticize what should be technical judgments regarding energy mix, generation, distribution, pricing and future investments in Ontario,” said Jonathan Hack, P.Eng., President & Chair of OSPE. “We are very concerned that the government does not currently have enough engineers in Ministry staff positions to be able to properly assess the balance between environmental commitments and economic welfare when it comes to energy.
Professional Engineers must be given independence in planning and designing integrated power and energy system plans, which will in turn benefit all Ontarians.”
About the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE)
OSPE is the voice of the engineering profession in Ontario, representing more than 80,000 professional engineers and 250,000 engineering graduates, interns, and students.
While curtailment will decrease during the nuclear refurbishment program that began in October 2016 and the retirement of the Pickering reactors scheduled to occur from 2022 to 2024, it will rise again when the refurbished reactors return to service, unless the government takes action.
OSPE’s Energy Task Force has provided strategic engineering input to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy for more than ten years. The majority of OSPE’s recommendations have been fully or partially implemented over the past five years, saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. But more can be done if government engages Ontario’s engineers to optimize the use of the province’s clean electrical power system.
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.
Wind power developer EDP Renewables, based in Portugal, will be holding an Open House information session on the 100-megawatt, 30+-turbine, $430-million wind power development they have called “Nation Rise” on December 13 in the arena in Finch.
Last week, MPPs Jim McDonell and Grant Crack took letters and petitions containing more than 1200 signatures from citizens of North Stormont and Nation Twp to the Legislature at Queen’s Park, demanding that the contracts for the two Ottawa-area power projects be cancelled.
The Open House information sessions are typically just poster sessions with developer staff available to answer any questions.
The site plan for the project has not yet been made available although proposed turbine locations are usually part of the application to the IESO for a power contract. The lack of a site plan means there are community members who may yet be unaware that they will have an industrial-scale wind turbine generating power near them.
Wind turbines emit a wide range of noise including low-frequency or inaudible noise which has been linked to adverse health effects. Wind turbines have also been implicated in disturbances to the water table and drinking water (Dover Twp, Ontario) via seismic vibration, and wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of migratory birds and endangered species of bats.
A few weeks ago, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne admitted that her government’s electricity policies have been “a mistake” and that they need to work to get consumer bills down. Last week, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault admitted that an “arbitrary” choice of wind power as a source of power generation had led to “sub-optimal siting” and community concerns.
The Nation Rise power project will cost Ontario as much as $430 million over the 20-year life of the contract.
The Open House will be held from 3:30-7:30 PM.
EDP wind turbine and home at South Branch project, Brinston, Ontario. Photo by Ray Pilon.
Wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario, so the Wynne government is forced to export the surplus. The government claims this brings in revenue but the truth is, it costs Ontario ratepayers. How much? And how does that cheap power benefit others? Parker Gallant comments on his Energy Perspectives blog.
September 6, 2016
The state of Michigan is outperforming Ontario. That’s according to a recent study by the Fraser Institute. Since the end of the “’Great Recession” Michigan has out performed Ontario, increasing their GDP in 2013 by 2.8% versus Ontario’s growth of only 1.3%. Unemployment levels in Michigan are currently at 4.6% versus Ontario’s 6.4%. Those are two very important economic indicators.
That news plus the fact Ontario has become a “have not” province in Canada, it seems policies adopted by the Ontario Liberal government to “build Ontario up” is having the opposite effect.
One of those policies resulted in Ontario’s electricity sector focusing on acquisition of renewable energy from industrial-scale wind turbines, solar panels and biomass. The passing of the Green Energy Act (GEA) in 2009 resulted in adding intermittent and unreliable renewable energy that is unresponsive to demand (wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario). This had the effect of driving down the price of electricity.
The free market trading (HOEP) of electricity has resulted in Ontario exporting a rising percentage of our generation to buyers in Quebec, NY and Michigan, with the latter the biggest buyer. In 2015 Michigan purchased 10,248 gigawatts (GWh) or enough to power1.1 million “average” Ontario residential households. We sold it at an average of 2.36 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and were paid $242 million, but it cost Ontario’s ratepayers just over $1 billion.
Michigan doesn’t have to pay the Global Adjustment. You do.
Michigan appears delighted to be able to purchase our cheap subsidized electricity. Now they are seeking further transmission links to Ontario with an eye on the grid out of Sault Ste Marie. Hydro One earlier this year announced they “entered into a purchase agreement to acquire Great Lakes Power Transmission LP from Brookfield Infrastructure for $222 million in cash plus the assumption of approximately $151 million in outstanding indebtedness.” One has to wonder, did Hydro One know about this, and see it as an opportunity to increase transmission revenue?
This new transmission line could send both cheap hydro and expensive bio-mass generation to Michigan.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) operates 11 hydro stations with 680 MW of capacity and also two bio-mass facilities (Atikokan and Thunder Bay) converted from burning coal and now using wood pellets with a combined capacity of 358 MW in the region. The latter two facilities were focused on by the Auditor General (AG) in her November 2015 report. In the case of Thunder Bay, the report indicated the cost of generation was “$1,600/MWh—25 times higher than the average cost at other biomass facilities in Ontario.” For Atikokan the AG had this to say: “The plant is expected to generate 140,000 MWh for $74 million per year, putting the cost of electricity from this facility at $528/MWh—about eight times higher than the average cost of existing biomass from other facilities in Ontario.” Industrial wind turbines have also invaded the beautiful landscapes painted by the Group of Seven.
For the sake of Ontario ratepayers, one hopes Michigan will not access electricity from either of the two biomass plants as it will fall on us ratepayers to pick up the costs in excess of the HOEP price. In the case of Thunder Bay the cost to ratepayers could approach $1.60/kWh and for Atikokan it would be 55 cents/kWh.
Maybe the Ontario government staffers in communications should change their PR Slogan to “Building Michigan up”!
While Manitoba is bending over backwards to foster cooperation and benefit for both rural and urban communities, the Ontario government is doing the opposite, says PostMedia writer Jim Merriam. In fact, the Wynne government has made it very clear what it thinks of rural/small-town Ontario –you’re there to supply our power and bury our garbage.
Although Manitoba and Ontario are neighbours, their differences far outnumber their similarities.
One of these differences is the way their leaders treat the rural-urban divide.
Brian Pallister, recently elected Conservative premier of Manitoba, has coined two new words: “rurban” and “urbal,” according to the Western Producer.
The Manitoba premier is trying to create a new reality in Manitoba, wherein his urban members of the legislature care about rural areas and vice versa. He is trying to convince legislators that, “You do not think about yourself. You think about your team.”
The new boss went on to say “there are rural situations that many people in the city don’t fully appreciate.”
In contrast, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has been all over the map on the same issue.
As recently as two years ago she denied the divide even existed. Then last November, she told a rural audience “the issue of bridging the rural-urban gap” has been on her mind since she was first elected in 2003.
The reasons for the divide are various, but some stand out.
No. 1 is the way this government has shoved industrial wind turbines down the throats of rural dwellers. The province is still approving new developments over the strongest objections of municipal leaders in a wide area of the province.
During the last provincial election, the Liberals told rural Ontarians their voices would be heard on wind farm developments.
Yet, in April, just weeks after awarding controversial contracts for five wind farms, Ontario said it’s opening bidding for double that amount of wind energy.
Recent approvals included a development in Dutton-Dunwich in southwestern Ontario where 84 per cent of residents who voted, didn’t want such developments.
In November 2013, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli testified before a legislature committee that municipalities wouldn’t be given a veto over projects but it would be “very rare indeed” for any to be approved without local backing.
NOTE: The City of Ottawa does not presently have any wind power projects under contract, but the IESO is set to begin its new Large Renewable Procurement process later this summer. Eastern Ontario has a “green light” in the wind power expansion process. Earlier this month, Ottawa City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking that municipal support of power projects be a mandatory requirement for new bids.
Ontario electricity consumers are being zapped to the tune of tens of billions of dollars due to poor government planning, unnecessarily high green energy costs, and shoddy service from Hydro One, says auditor general Bonnie Lysyk.
Lysyk concluded ratepayers forked over $37 billion more than necessary from 2006 to 2014 and will spend an additional $133 billion by 2032 due to the Liberals’ global adjustment electricity fees.
In 14 value-for-money audits for her 773-page annual report delivered Wednesday at Queen’s Park, the auditor took aim at the electricity sector on the eve of Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s announcement on next steps for the province’s aging nuclear reactors.
She also highlighted problems with everything from Ontario’s 47 children’s aid societies — including questionable executive expenses — community care access centres, and school buses to the bungled SAMS social assistance computer system and the lack of a plan for dealing with contaminated waste.
But much of her scorn was reserved for the energy ministry, which is overseeing the sell-off of Hydro One, the provincial electricity transmitter.
“Hydro One’s customers have a power system for which reliability appears to be worsening while costs are increasing,” said Lysyk, echoing Ed Clark, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s privatization czar, who has argued Hydro One can and should be a much more professionally run company.
“Customers are experiencing more frequent power outages, mostly because assets aren’t being fully maintained, aging equipment isn’t being consistently replaced and trees near power lines aren’t being trimmed often enough to prevent outages,” she said, lamenting that this will be her final audit of the company since it will no longer fall under her purview once it is private.
At the same time, Ontario’s controversial push to promote wind and solar energy is proving more costly than it needs to be, and energy conservation is proving unnecessarily expensive because the province has a surplus of electricity.
Lysyk estimated consumers could end up paying $9.2 billion more for renewable energy over 20-year contracts issued under the Green Energy Act with guaranteed prices set at double the U.S. market price for wind and at 3.5 times the going rate for solar last year.
“With wind and solar prices around the world beginning to decline around 2008, a competitive process would have meant much lower costs,” Lysyk wrote, noting the government ignored advice from the now-defunct Ontario Power Authority to seek bids for large renewable energy projects.
The auditor shines a light on energy conservation efforts slated to cost $4.9 billion from 2006 to 2020, saying the investment does “not necessarily” lead to savings because excess electricity must be exported at a loss.
“We are concerned,” Lysyk wrote. “Investing in conservation at a time of surplus actually costs us more.”
As if the process for wind power siting and approval wasn’t slanted enough in the favour of the corporate wind power developers, now the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) has announced that because so many bids were received for contracts, it needs more time to determine the successful bidders.
That means, Ontario communities will not know until March 2016, whether they have been selected to be transformed into an industrial power location.
From the Financial PostComment, February 4, by Brady Yauch, executive director the Consumer Policy Institute
When the Ontario government launched its Green Energy Act (GEA ) in 2009, it promised “new green economy jobs” and ” a wide range of economic opportunities.” Then Minister of Energy George Smitherman argued that the GEA would be a boon to Ontarians of all stripes: “We see opportunities in our rural communities for farmers, not just to lease their land for big companies that are the proponents of wind farms, but indeed for clusters of farmers to see themselves as investors in projects…. the emergence of thousands of smaller green energy projects—microgeneration—in urban as well as rural areas.”
Yes, everyone would need to pay a little more for renewable power, the public was told, but the benefits would be widely shared, for the ultimate benefit of all. As it turned out, power rates didn’t go up a little – they soared. And the subsidies weren’t widely shared among the folk – a handful of billion dollar companies pocketed most of them, most of them outside the province.
According to an analysis by the Consumer Policy Institute and Energy Probe, 90% of the wind subsidies went to just 11 companies, 80% of the subsidies went to nine companies with annual revenues over $1-billion, 60% of the subsidies went to six companies with more than $10-billion in annual revenue.
As for the province’s claim that it wants to create an Ontario-based “green economy,” less than 10% of subsidies to wind generators went to small-scale or local owners.
Since 2006, when the province first started subsidizing wind turbines, the province has provided more than $1.92 billion in subsidies. This act of corporate welfare is far from over.
According to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) – the provincial agency in charge of energy planning and contracting – the province has signed deals for another 2,630 MW of wind energy to come on stream in the coming years, on top of the 3,065 MW already in commercial operation. All of that generation will receive above market rates courtesy of ratepayers for their output. In total, the amount of subsidies to wind producers could hit $8-billion over the next decade and $13-billion over the next 20 years.
The list of companies receiving the lion’s share of subsidies reads like a “who’s who” in Canada’s energy sector and corporate heavyweights. Brookfield Renewable Energy (a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management), Enbridge and Transalta alone accounted for about 38 percent of all subsidies handed out to wind generators. Those companies combined brought in $54-billion in total revenue in 2013.
Samsung, which posted $217-billion in revenue last year, is expected to triple its wind capacity in Ontario – and the subsidies that go along with it – in the next couple of years.
The damage to ratepayers for such policies has been significant. Since 2009 – when the GEA was introduced – ratepayers in Ontario have seen the commodity cost on their energy bills climb dramatically, with the regulated price of power over that time having increased on average by 56%, or just over 9% annually – more than five times the rate of inflation, making electricity price increases worse in Ontario than elsewhere in Canada.
To make matters worse, the high rates being pushed onto ratepayers has lowered demand for electricity across the province in recent years. That means Ontario now has a significant surplus of power, which it then exports to neighbouring jurisdictions at a loss. Ontario ratepayers are now subsidizing the energy consumption of households in America and other provinces.
Nearly everyone is losing when it comes to renewable energy in Ontario – except for those few companies that planted industrial wind turbines across the province and are receiving billions in subsidies for their effort.
NOTE from Ottawa Wind Concerns: The Library of Parliament, on request from MP Pierre Poilievre, estimated that IF the wind power project proposed for the North Gower-Richmond area of Ottawa by Germany-based Prowind had gone ahead (it almost reached approval), the 20-MW project would have cost Ontario ratepayers $4.8 million per year.
Apparently, everyone is tickety-boo with Wolfe Island being turned into a factory–or are they?
Wind turbine woes
September 2014, Farmers Forum
Farmers Forum surveyed a big chunk of Wolfe Island residents and found that 75 per cent approve of or are indifferent toward the 86 wind turbines they’ve been living with for five years.
There are only two wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario–one in Wolfe Island and one near Brinston, south of Ottawa. But Wolfe Island, surrounded by the St. Lawrence River at one end and Lake Ontario at the other, is a captive crowd. We easily surveyed 200 of the 1,400 residents lining up for the Kingston ferry or working in the hamlet of Marysville.
With such a high proportion of residents surveyed–one in seven–we captured a fairly good picture of how people feel about those gigantic white gosal posts with their three imposing blades. Of course, having a visual of a turbine makes a huge difference. On many properties on the 29-kilometer long island, you can’t even see the turbines.* From other vantage points, you can see more than 10.
We found that money makes a difference. Those landowners (many of them farmers) hosting one or more turbines, are delighted with the $10,000 to $14,000 they earn each year per turbine just to look at them. The wind turbine company hands over another $100,000 to the island annually. Improvements to the local outdoor rink are one of the many benefits. It’s like getting paid twice for having the good luck of living at the right place on the right island at the right time.
Not surprisingly, wind power companies in other areas of the province are now offering “hush” money to Ontarians living near a proposed wind turbine project. As I’ve said before, if a company wants to pay me $14,000 a year to put a wind turbine on my property, I’d move the garage in order to accommodate them. Change their mind and offer the turbine to my neighbour and suddenly that turbine doesn’t look so good. It’s kind of an eyesore and doesn’t it affect bird migration? Could this be the health issues that we hear about or am I just sick at the thought that I just lost $280,000 of free money over 20 years? I think I know the answer. But when you offer to cut me in on the monetary benefits of my neighbour’s turbine, I’m suddenly all sunshine and happy thoughts.
This is not to say there aren’t honest-to-goodness health risks. Farmers Forum has no reason to disbelieve those survey respondents who complain of low-level noise when the wind changes direction.
We’re losing $24,000 an hour on wind
This brings me to my only real beef against wind power. As happy as I thought I would be to have a turbine, I don’t want one.
They are the biggest money losers in the history of the province. Not for Wolfe Islanders or anyone else who gets a wind turbine contract. But for everyone else forced to pay an electricity bill. Electricity costs have already risen 12.5 per cent each year for the past five years. There are more than 1,000 operating wind turbines and another more than 4,000 to go up in the province. Ontario’s auditor general says we can expect another 40 per cent price hike over the next few years in our electricity bills. By 2018, every Ontario family will be paying an extra $636 per year to go green. And why? So the province can claim to be the first green province or state in North America? Big deal.
Wind turbines are incredibly inefficient. In a major report last year, the Fraser Institute noted that 80 per cent of the power generated by wind turbines occur when Ontario doesn’t need the power. So, while the province pays 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, it often resells is for 2.5 cents south of the border. The report, Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, observed that data from the Independent Electricity System Operator show Ontario loses, on average, $24,000 per operating hour on wind power sales. Numerous companies, including Kelloggs and Heinz, have closed plants because Ontario companies pay more for power than any other jurisdiction in North America.
To make matters worse, a wind turbine can contain more than 200 tonnes of steel and Chinese factories need the mining of even more tonnes of coal and iron to make them. Writes David Hughes in his book Carbon Shift, “A windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.”
So, you can’t even call wind turbines green energy. It’s appalling that farmers have been lied to about the benefits. We’re wasting billions on a phoney cause.
Patrick Meagher is editor of Farmers Forum and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Re-posted from Wind Concerns Ontario
WCO editor’s note: Although Farmers Forum was clear on the limitations of their survey they missed several key points: one, by surveying only people at the ferry dock and in a coffee shop, they may have missed people who stay on the island all day, but more important, as the Island has turbines on one half and none on the other, it would have been absolutely critical to define where the survey respondents actually live. They didn’t. Another key factor in any survey of community residents living with turbines is the fact that many turbine contracts force landowners to sign a non-disclosure agreement—in other words, if they have anything negative to say about the turbines, they can’t talk.
For some reason, there is a sudden buzz about offshore wind power in Ontario. Last week, the province put out two Requests for Proposal pertaining to offshore wind power generation. One of them was for a “noise impact” study, which is flawed from the very request because it asks for a proponent to do a literature review only, on audible noise only, and not to do any actual noise measurements, despite the fact that the Wolfe Island wind “farm” could provide very interesting data. As well, none of the studies already done on offshore wind “farms” are likely to deal with freshwater, and the attendant problems such as ice.
This week, the Canadian Physicians for the Environment or CAPE, put out an op-ed to Ontario newspapers, saying they want Canada to not lose opportunities for jobs in clean energy technology, and that “far” offshore wind power development should be explored.
Wind Concerns Ontario was quick to point out two things: first, the push for “far” offshore wind power development is an admission that there are serious problems with onshore wind power development, and second, there still have been no studies done on a cost-benefit analysis, an options analysis, or a true, comprehensive impact analysis for wind power development.
Here is the story from today’s London Free Press on the “far” offshore idea.