One of the hottest stocks these days is a company called Generac, which makes whole-home power generators, fueled by natural gas.
After the power failures in Texas and the current crisis in the UK (the latter a desperate situation due to poor energy planning and reliance on wind power), people are worried about the reliability of the power grid.
It’s happening here too and will escalate if cities like Ottawa engage in planning based on intermittent “unreliables” like wind and solar.
Here’s a comment from one of our readers, a long-time experienced power worker:
Breaking news!!!! I just got off the phone with another contractor from Rockland Ontario asking me to help them get caught up with residential generator installs. Most new construction includes a gas fired backup generator along with an 80 amp electric vehicle charging plug legislated by government code. Yup, the same people that are discussing phasing out gas fired generation. Oh, and by the way, for anyone interested, the 3 baseload gas plants that do operate daily are right across the river from Detroit and are privately owned by international consortiums supplying industrial operations that employ thousands. Most of the other gas fired electrical generating stations are on standby as backup to the Ontario windfarms which drop out of production many times a day, except for the Milton station which provides peaking power usually twice a day for the local industries. Get rid of that one, no big deal, BUT, you get rid of more Ontario industries and you get rid of more Ontario jobs. Move in Industrial Wind Turbines and move out industry, hey, it has been proven, the data is everywhere, Ontario windmills don’t work plus they are built using gas fired and coal fired power generation, just not in Ontario. Lucky for us China has gone in the opposite direction. Ok, enough new old news for today, gotta go hook up another generator.
A decision rendered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently determined that a natural gas power plant would better serve the public interest than a simultaneously proposed wind and solar power project.
In her decision, Judge Louise Dovre Borkman relied on information from the state’s public utilities analyst coordinator, who said that “wind and solar capacity does not always translate into available energy because those resources are unpredictable and uncontrollable—the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining.”
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 instead of natural gas 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.
The reasoning didn’t mention Ontario’s disastrous experience with wind power but it might have: two Auditors General said Ontario’s electricity customers had lost billions. And unlike Minnesota which appears to have approached this with care and consideration, there was never any cost-benefit analysis.
The City of Ottawa is about to make the same mistake, with its Energy Evolution plan, putting forward wind, solar and battery storage as the sole solutions to producing energy for the future.
[Reprinted with permission from Windconcernsontario.ca ]
The founder of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative (OREC) has written a letter to the Globe and Mail calling for an entire grid of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to replace the current system. An excerpt from the letter by Dick Bakker follows.
The traditional, unidirectional electricity system from big central generation sites, with top-down control, hopefully will be replaced with a new grid of distributed renewable generation, decarbonised and locally controlled. New entrants will bring the advanced technology that the traditional utilities resist and introduce local capital to address community level opportunities.
The regulators, pension funds and unions that have benefited from the past century or more of centralised planning must adapt, as their traditional solutions are simply too expensive and unreliable. Distributed renewables, with battery storage, optimized for the distribution network, and integrated with demand response are simply cheaper and more resilient.
Massive changes are coming to our electricity system; hopefully Canada can leap ahead of where we are today, by localizing most of the benefits.
The problem is, wind power for one is not cheap* and it is certainly not “reliable” as our experiences during the recent heat wave indicate. Ontario went more than eight days with barely a whisper of wind, yet we experienced peak demand periods. And that’s typical of wind power in Ontario: it comes during low demand periods of spring and fall.
As to “local” benefits, Mr. Bakker told participants in an online regional update meeting held by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) last January, that anyone objecting to large-scale wind turbines was a “NIMBY”. They have some valid objections he said but in the main, opposition is “a knee-jerk reaction to industrialization.”
He doesn’t plan to take into account any environmental or financial concerns Ottawa’s rural residents might have. His knee-jerk NIMBY response was in fact an answer to our question about the need for cost-benefit and impact analysis. He doesn’t want that. He won’t care if the people living in Kars, Osgoode, Carp, Dunrobin, KInburn or North Gower have concerns about noise, harm to wildlife, and impacts on our aquifer.
But the prime problem with this letter is that Mr. Bakker’s views ignore the reality of the electricity grid. Baseload power is needed, and wind and solar cannot do that, not can they replace anything. Wind did not replace coal in Ontario; nuclear and natural gas did.
The one word Mr. Bakker will not say is “nuclear” despite the fact that clean, efficient, reliable nuclear is a real answer to the Net Zero goal. Ontario’s power workers recently said, you can’t get to Net Zero without it.
Facts are simply beside the point for those pushing large-scale renewables.
*While wind power developers’ trade association the Canadian Renewable Energy Association or CanREA claims wind power is now inexpensive, they do not present truly levelized costing. Moreover, Eastern ONtario is a low wind resource area. Ottawa’s Pathway Study of Wind Power in Ottawa (2017) acknowledges that there will have to be financial incentives to lure wind power developers to the area.
In a recent edition of Ontario Farmer, editor Paul Mahon mused about what it would be like if one or more Ontario communities could demonstrate local power generation. It would be a community effort, he said and worth a try.
Wind Concerns Ontario president and Ottawa resident Jane Wilson wrote this letter to the Ontario Farmer on the topic, which appears in the August 24th edition.
“Thank you for your comments in your most recent editorial, Ghost towns of Ontario.
You said it would be interesting if “one village or small town [could be] a showcase for how community energy could work…a far better visual than all those wind turbines sitting idle in a steady breeze”.
That would be interesting; some municipalities have already tried it. Bancroft for example developed a hydro-electric facility that would have powered the town. It got no support from the McGuinty government and was dismantled, at a loss to the citizens.
Near Ottawa, the hamlet of Burritt’s Rapids proposed a run of river hydro facility that would provide reliable, clean power to its residents. What happened? Nothing. The Wynne and McGuinty governments were more interested in awarding huge above-market FIT and LRP contracts to large multinational wind power developers, for intermittent, unreliable power.
The City of Ottawa has embarked on a demonstration of clean power too, though it plans to encourage more intermittent wind and solar power with development being ‘directed’ to the rural areas in the city’s large rural area, and in nearby regions, the Planning department said in a bombshell announcement in June. No cost-benefit analysis, no impact analysis, and no review of how well wind turbines served Ontario in the years after the Green Energy Act in 2009. (A failure.) Most Ottawa rural residents are completely unaware of the City’s $57B energy transition plan, and of the fact that it includes 20 megawatts of turbines to be built within the next four years.
Somehow the meaning of the word “community” has been lost. Instead, more valuable farmland will be lost, and Ontario’s rural villages are threatened with industrialization and becoming energy resource plantations.”
Ottawa City staff have responded to queries about whether the City is planning wind turbines in the rural areas. Here is the response from a manager in the Climate Change and Resiliency Section.
Key point: the City of Ottawa is not directly procuring wind turbines BUT they are looking at where the turbines could go when developers come forward with proposals. That is a YES.
The City of Ottawa is not planning and does not have any intention of developing or installing large scale wind or solar renewable energy generation projects.
My team is responsible for developing and coordinating strategic policies, programs and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resiliency to climate change in Ottawa. As part of this work, my team leads the Climate Change Master Plan and is supporting the development of the new Official Plan. Below is background information about both relate to wind projects.
Climate Change Master Plan
The City’s Climate Change Master Plan provides Ottawa’s overarching framework to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and respond to the current and future effects of climate change. As part of the plan, City Council aims to reduce GHG emission 100% by 2050. Energy Evolution is the action plan for how Ottawa will meet those targets. It modelled 39 actions and their relative GHG emissions reductions to achieve the targets and identifies 20 priority projects* to accelerate action and investment over the next five years (2020 – 2025). Both the Climate Change Master Plan and Energy Evolution identify embedding climate considerations in the new Official Plan as a priority project.
On January 1, 2019, the Green Energy Act was repealed which restored municipal authority over the siting of new renewable energy generation projects through amendments to the Planning Act. Residential and agricultural concerns about the siting of projects are now expected to be addressed through local municipal approvals. The current Official Plan and Zoning By-law are silent on renewable energy generation (REG).
The Draft Official Plan was released in November 2020 included REG as a Generally Permitted Use, but it did not specify where REG was permitted. Through public consultation, staff received feedback that renewable energy generation policies in the Official Plan should align with Energy Evolution.
Since the Draft Official Plan was released in November 2020, staff has worked to add policies to direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects can be located in the rural area. The following describes the revisions:
The proposed policies direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects as well as bio-energy projects are to be located in the rural area. It should be noted that such projects would also require a Renewable Energy Approval from the province.
The proposed policies are consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement for renewable energy generation in prime agricultural areas.
The proposed policies provide direction to establish zoning by-law provisions for renewable energy generation facilities to address nuisance impacts such as noise and shadowing. Public and stakeholder consultation will be undertaken on any new proposed zoning provisions following Council adoption of the Official Plan.
The revisions to the new Official Plan will be posted on the Official Plan webpage later this month. When it is released, additional detail will be provided about how to make public delegations at the statutory public meeting expected later this summer.
Upon approval of the new Official Plan, large scale projects that are initiated by energy developers would still require approval by the Province (i.e. under the Renewable Energy Approval or Environmental Activity Site Registry process). However, there is currently no provincial policy or procurement mechanism that allows renewable electricity to be sold to the grid (i.e., there is no immediate opportunity for large scale wind or solar development in Ottawa). Staff are currently undertaking a preliminary assessment of renewable energy generation potential within the rural areas identified in the new Official Plan to better understand how the potential compares to the Energy Evolution model requirements. This study is expected to be complete this summer.
So City staff are trying to deflect interest in and concern about high-impact wind power generation in our rural communities with a lot of words about the Official Plan.
The people of Ottawa generally and especially rural residents need to be able to discuss these proposals NOW. We also need the protective zoning bylaws NOW—if the City waits until proposals are made, they will be unable to enact anything, or the power developers can take legal action.
*One of the 20 projects is 20 megawatts of wind by 2025
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Go to the City’s website and read the Official Plan draft Section 4.11 HERE.
Public meeting for rural communities to be held virtually tonight
June 22, 2021
Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt reminded people today that the City of Ottawa has published its most recent “As We Heard It” response to comments on the Official Plan.
The document is available here; it was released June 15th.
Although we, and others, commented on the statement in the Official Plan that the City will identify sites for the development of renewable energy (a statement we believe is a misinterpretation of the Provincial Policy Statement—the province wants you to identify sites, not develop them yourself), there is NO RESPONSE in the current “As We Heard It” document.
With the City planning a $57-B energy transition plan, we would think there would be more statements in the Official PLan, even though the document is a high-level instrument to outline general directions.
The rural public access meeting on the Official Plan is TONIGHT at 6:30 pm. Register here.
The draft New Official Plan proposes six different Transects areas across the City. Planning by Transect will allow the City of Ottawa to recognize the different contexts of the City’s varied geography and provide guidance as to how each area is to evolve.
Tremendous step backwards for environmental protection, citizens group says
Water supply, wildlife and noise pollution were concerns in the community fight against an unwanted wind power project [Photo: Pexels]
May 15, 2020
The decision released Wednesday by the Ontario Superior Court which overturned the Ontario environment minister’s move to revoke approval of a large wind power project has shocked the communities that have been fighting for five years to stop the wind “farm” due to concerns about the environment and wildlife.
While the urban media, at the urging of the wind power lobby, power developer, the NDP and Green political parties and so-called environmental organizations are happy about the court decision, those familiar with the power project and the evidence presented against it are not.
The court decision does not merely overturn the minister’s revocation of the project approval, it declares the minister had no authority to act and in essence, writes new public policy over development decisions and the environment. Referencing the “Ford government” with obvious distaste and a transparently one-dimensional view of the government’s approach to environmental issues, columnists failed to recognize what the court has really done.
Concerned Citizens of North Stormont chair Margaret Benke said the decision leaves the “entire Province highly vulnerable. The Minister and Ministry of the Environment with all their resources can’t protect our natural resources and species at risk. The only protection against these kinds of mistakes by the ERT [the quasi-judicial body that hears appeals of approvals] is now in the hands of private citizens,” Benke said.
“We will be asking the Court of Appeal to reconsider what seems to be a tremendous step backwards for environmental protection in Ontario.”
The community group appealed the approval for the project on the grounds of risk of harm to wildlife, the environment specifically the aquifer which is noted as “highly vulnerable” by the Ontario government, and the risk to human health from the wind turbines. The appeal was dismissed; the group then filed a direct appeal with the minister, noting errors in the Environmental Review Tribunal decision. The minister revoked the approval last December saying the risk to endangered bats was significant, he wanted to “exercise precaution” and in any event, Ontario does not need the electrical power from the wind project.
While media reports claim the Ford government dislikes renewable energy projects, the truth is, the Wynne government halted all procurement in 2016 saying the province had enough electricity, and 90 percent of the power suppl was emissions-free. The Wynne government actually cancelled several wind power projects, but gave contracts to five that year, including Nation Rise.
The power developer insists the community did not bring forward bats in their appeal, which is not correct: written submissions were presented to the Tribunal but then, the wind power developer filed a last-minute report which gave the community group’s expert witness no time to review it, so little of his evidence was presented.
The Concerned Citizens group has spent over $100,000 on legal fees; in Wednesday’s decision they were punished for their work to protect the community and environment by having to pay the power developer $60,000 in costs.
The office of the Attorney General or the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks have not made a comment on whether they will appeal the decision, which clearly has an impact on ministerial authority.
One of eight Nation Rise turbines built, now idle: 800m from nearest house. At least three bat colonies at risk in the power project [photo: CCNS]
May 13, 2020
It has been almost a month now since (virtual) hearings concluded in the matter of the cancellation of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the contentious “Nation Rise” wind power project, south of Ottawa.
The 100-megawatt power project was developed by EDPR, a power developer and utility based in Portugal, Spain and Texas. It was granted approval in the last days of the Wynne government in Ontario (arguably during the period when governments do not take major decisions) and was given a Notice To Proceed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in early days of the new government, despite campaign promises to end large wind power contracts.
Current Ontario environment minister Jeff Yurek issued a decision last December saying that he had reviewed the situation and decided that it would be in the “public interest” to revoke the REA, due to significant risks to wildlife and the environment, even though the power project was already under construction.
The power developer argued against the cancellation, and took legal action asserting that the minister did not have the authority to act.
The outcome of this case, which is now before a panel of three judges for deliberation, affects all Ontario. Nothing less than the minister’s authority to act in the public interest is at stake. Although the minister’s authority is clearly described in the Environmental Protection Act, the power developer and the wind power lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association, claimed the decision was political and that the current government hates “green energy.”
The project was to have 29 turbines encompassing the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick. Citizens’ group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont appealed the approval originally on the basis of the risk to human heath from noise and vibration, danger to the environment due to turbine vibrations in a highly vulnerable aquifer, and dangers to wildlife such as migratory birds and bats. The appeal was dismissed but the group then filed a direct appeal to the minister, as allowed under law, based on “public interest”—it was this appeal to which the minister responded.
Legal costs for this action to protect the community and wildlife have been substantial. The community group has had to suspend fundraising efforts due to COVID-19.
Anyone wishing to donate can go to the website here or send a cheque to CCNS c/o 14950 County Rd 9 BERWICK ON K0C 1G0
Turbines on Wolfe Island: hidden costs to wind power affect electricity customers
March 2, 2020
Ontario’s fleet of wind turbines cost electricity ratepayers more than $24 million last weekend, says retired bank executive now energy commentator Parker Gallant.
That was mostly due to the fact that wind — as usual–produces power out of phase with demand, but there is a lot more to the costliness of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines, as he details in a recent article here.
Some added costs of wind power or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs):
Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
Increased surplus power from IWT often means other clean sources must either spill (hydro) or steam off (nuclear) power which adds costs to our electricity bills.
IWT kill birds and bats, many of whom are “species at risk” meaning insects, damaging to crops, are not eaten and farmers must spray their crops with insecticides adding costs to produce.
IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
IWT cause property values to fall affecting the realty tax base where they operate and the value of the property should the occupants try to sell after the installation of those IWT has occurred.
IWT lifespan is relatively short (20 years at most) compared to traditional sources of electricity generation and when unable to perform, create costs of remediation and disposal of recyclable and non-recyclable materials they consumed when built and erected.
The property value loss from the North Gower project that was proposed in 2008, got a contract to generate electricity from the IESO in 2010, but ultimately failed in a reorganization of the The Feed-In Tariff program, would have been in the millions.
At the time, Ottawa Wind Concerns estimated the property value loss for homes within 3 km of the multiple turbines would have been $134 million.
The current Ontario government has pledged to reduce electricity bills by 12%, but the many expensive wind power contracts signed by the previous government will go on for more than a decade.
EDPR, the Portugal-based power developer for the Nation Rise wind power facility planned for, and partially constructed, in North Stormont, south of Ottawa, will appear in court in Toronto February 14th, with an application to “render without legal effect” or quash the recent revocation of the Renewable Energy Approval by environment minister Jeff Yurek.
Minister Yurek issued his decision in response to a direct application to his office by the local community group, filed early in 2019.
Minister Yurek revoked the Renewable Energy Approval on the grounds that there was a significant risk to endangered bat species, which are critical to the eco-system, citing the fact that Ontario also does not need the power from the proposed 100-megawatt project.
The wind power lobbyist Can WEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is seeking status in the legal proceedings as an intervenor, which would mean their lawyers could cross-examine witnesses.
Community group the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS), which filed the direct application, may also participate. CCNS had appealed the original approval before the Environmental Review Tribunal but the appeal was dismissed.
While statements have been made that the cancellation is unprecedented, the fact is, several power projects have been cancelled in Ontario historically. The Ostrander Point project in Prince Edward County was also revoked due to danger to the Blandings Turtle, and the White Pines power project, also in Prince Edward County, was reduced from 29 to 27 and eventually 9 turbines over multiple environmental concerns. That project was ultimately cancelled by the Ford government.
Statements have been made that the Nation Rise project was mostly constructed when the approval was revoked. In fact, of 29 turbines, only eight were approaching completion. The company’s target date for completion and providing power to the grid in Ontario was near the end of March or this year. That deadline has now been extended because of legal actions.
The power developer has also claimed that the community will suffer because of the cancellation, because the project would have brought jobs to the area. The usual case, however, is that there is one technical job per 10 turbines in operation; other jobs are short-term, construction-related positions that end with the construction phase.
North Stormont was one of the original unwilling host communities in Ontario, and was also one of 116 municipalities that demanded a return of local land-use planning powers removed by the Green Energy Act.
The Wynne government did not respond.
The Ford government returned planning powers to municipalities last year.
Almost every wind power project has been appealed on the basis of environmental concerns in Ontario since 2009; prior to that date, communities appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.