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Posts Tagged ‘CanWEA’

Direct quotes from the Auditor General for Ontario’s 2011 Annual Report pretty much says it all from an economic perspective  http://business.financialpost.com/2011/12/06/ontarios-renewable-energy-policy-auditor-generals-observations/

As clearly articulated by the Auditor General, the Ontario Liberal Government has exercised no fiscal responsibility, and has demonstrated a complete lack of governance in the implementation of the Green Energy Act. Add this to the now documented health impacts and the economic impact of depressing property values (and therefore the Property Tax base) in affected areas and the conclusion is self-evident.

 
  • “Because the ministerial directions were quite specific about what was to be done, both the Ministry and the OPA directed their energies to implementing the Minister’s requested actions as quickly as possible. As a result, no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate the impacts of the billion-dollar commitment. Such an evaluation would typically include assessing the prospective economic and environmental effects of such a massive investment in renewable energy on future electricity prices, direct and indirect job creation or losses, greenhouse gas emissions, and other variables. “
  • “In May 2009, when the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (Act) was passed, the Ministry said the Act would lead to modest incremental increases in electricity bills of about 1% annually—the result of adding 1,500 MW of renewable energy under a renewable procurement program called the Feed-in Tariff program and implementing conservation initiatives. In November 2010, the Ministry forecast that a typical residential electricity bill would rise about 7.9% annually over the next five years, with 56% of the increase due to investments in renewable energy that would increase the supply to 10,700 MW by 2018, as well as the associated capital investments to connect all the renewable power sources to the electricity transmission grid.”
  • In February 2010, the OPA recommended cutting the FIT price paid for power from microFIT ground-mounted solar projects after the unexpected popularity of these projects at the price of 80.2¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh), the same price as was being paid for rooftop solar projects, became apparent. This price would provide these ground-mounted solar project developers with a 23% to 24% after-tax return on equity instead of the 11% intended by the OPA. The recommended price cut was not implemented until August 2010. In the five months from the time the OPA recommended the price cut in February 2010 to the actual announcement in July 2010, the OPA received more than 11,000 applications from developers. Because the government decided to grandfather the price in order to maintain investor confidence, all of these applications, if approved, would qualify for the higher price rather than the reduced one. We estimated that, had the revised price been implemented when first recommended by the OPA, the cost of the program could have been reduced by about $950 million over the 20-year contract terms.
  • The Ministry negotiated a contract with a consortium of Korean companies to build renewable energy projects. The consortium will receive two additional incentives over the life of the contract if it meets its job-creation targets: a payment of $437 million (reduced to $110 million, as announced by the Ministry in July 2011 after the completion of our audit fieldwork) in addition to the already attractive FIT prices; and priority access to Ontario’s electricity transmission system, whose capacity to connect renewable energy projects is already limited. However, no economic analysis or business case was done to determine whether the agreement with the consortium was economically prudent and cost-effective, and neither the OEB nor the OPA was consulted about the agreement. On September  29, 2009, the ongoing negotiations with the consortium were publicly announced, and Cabinet was briefed on the details of the negotiations and the prospective agreement in October 2009. The formal agreement was signed in January 2010. 
  • Surplus generating capacity is necessary to meet periods of peak demand, which, in Ontario, occur in the summer. Therefore, to ensure system reliability, all jurisdictions will have surplus power from time to time. Ontario deals with surplus-power situations mainly by exporting electricity to other jurisdictions at a price that is lower than the cost of generating that power. Given that demand growth for electricity is expected to remain modest at the same time as more renewable energy is being added to the system, electricity ratepayers may have to pay renewable energy generators under the FIT program between $150 million and $225 million a year not to generate electricity.Recent public announcements stated that the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 was expected to support over 50,000 jobs, about 40,000 of which would be related to renewable energy. However, about 30,000, or 75%, of these jobs were expected to be construction jobs lasting only from one to three years. We also noted that studies in other jurisdictions have shown that for each job created through renewable energy programs, about two to four jobs are often lost in other sectors of the economy because of higher electricity prices.
  • “Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar provide intermittent energy and require backup power from coal- or gas-fired generators to maintain a steady, reliable output. According to the study used by the Ministry and the OPA, 10,000 MW of electricity from wind would require an additional 47% of non-wind power, typically produced by natural-gas-fired generation plants, to ensure continuous supply.”

No one need say more.

Email us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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Here is the latest from retired investment banker Parker Gallant, on the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association and its upcoming event…all paid for by Ontario taxpayers and electricity ratepayers. They are concerned that backlash against “green” energy projects and Ontario’s Feed In Tariff program might mean an end to the gravy train.

Here is the article, originally posted on the Wind Concerns Ontario website.

OSEA’s mini FIT

Posted on 11/12/2011 by MA

by Parker Gallant
The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association’s Executive Director, Kristopher Stevens on Monday morning will launch OSEA’s 3rd Annual Community Power Conference and glancing at the program one can detect a sense of concern. This is reflected in Steven’s message in the programme brochure which contains this reflective bon mot; “The green energy sector in Ontario has been threatened by uncertainty in recent months due to the provincial election and the highly anticipated Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) review. Developers, manufactures, government and investors are concerned about what may happen to the industry, their projects and businesses. Residents and communities are concerned whether clean air and water, newfound well paying jobs, local project ownership and hope, will be yanked from underneath them.  Ontario’s green energy sector is entering its next phase and it is yet unknown what this new chapter will look like and how industry participants and communities will operate in the new climate.”

There is lots in this claim by Stevens to take issue with, particular with the claim about the “residents and communities” concerns. How a change in the FIT program would affect our air or water or those reputed “well paying jobs and hope” is an incredible stretch of imagination on his behalf. Those “residents and communities” are concerned that their quickly growing electricity bills will drive them into energy poverty in order to support the visions expounded on by Stevens and his groupies.

It is noteworthy that some of the Conference’s previous sponsors have not reappeared this year however we can still find many taxpayer or ratepayer funded institutions that are front and centre as well as those institutions and companies benefiting from the Green Energy Act. Among the sponsors one finds, the Ontario Power Authority, the City of Toronto, York University, CMHC, the Community Power Fund, TREC (Exhibition wind turbine and recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the taxpayer owned Toronto Atmospheric Fund ), the World Wind Energy Association (who awarded former Energy Minister, George Smitherman with the “World Wind Energy” award in 2009) and Toronto Hydro. In the latter case we find this testimonal from Joyce McLean, Director, Strategic Issues on the Conference site: “As one of the early supporters of community power in Canada through our relationship with TREC/WindShare, Toronto Hydro appreciates the enthusiasm and energy needed to grow the community power sector in Ontario. We support OSEA’s efforts in leading the way.” Ms. McLean spent time with Greenpeace, as Chairperson and Director of CanWEA and was the founding Chair of the Community Power Fund (which dispenses grants provided by the OPA and paid for by ratepayers-they recently granted OSEA $125,000).

The “Keynote” sponsor of this conference is listed as the Ontario Power Authority and Colin Andersen, the CEO, is down as a “Keynote speaker” along with the newly appointed Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley. The ratepayer ultimately pays for the privilege of putting Mr. Andersen in this position as the sponsorship is part of the OPA’s budget.

The taxpayer is also paying for the sponsorship of CMHC and YorkUniversity, the latter a hotbed of environmentalists with a Faculty of Environmental Studies that numbers 41 Professors, Assistants and Associate Professors. Graduates of York include Kristopher Stevens and Brent Kopperson both of whom claim involvement in the creation of the Green Energy Act (Act). Kopperson is listed as a presenter/speaker at the conference as is Marion Fraser, yet another who also jointly claims responsibility for the Act’s creation. These speakers and more then half of the others scheduled as presenters/speakers are dependent on the largesse of the ratepayers and taxpayers of this province to ensure they maintain their jobs. Those jobs are designed to raise the price of electricity by pushing wind and solar generation.

The Conference program devotes most of the first day to pontificating on the election results and the potential impact on sustainable energy as well as the upcoming review of the FIT program.

The following excerpt from the program is an indication of the hand wringing going on; “ Election uncertainty has left champions of conservation and renewable energy, community and commercial developers, manufacturers, suppliers and investors wondering what’s next for Ontario?”

Looking at this from the perspective of a ratepayer; the “champions” in this session may now know what the 4.5 million ratepayers in the province have been going through since the Act was passed.

Who was our champion while the Conference attendees were using taxpayer and ratepayer funds to push their agenda forward while IWTs were springing up throughout the province damaging our health, killing wildlife and causing our electricity rates to jump by over 100%?

Perhaps it is now the ratepayers who have some hope, hope that the insanity of the Act will be discovered for what it is.

Parker Gallant,
November 11, 2011

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca and follow us on Twitter at northgowerwind

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For those of us who know the truth about industrial wind power generation–it is not “green”, it’s not “free”, and it can’t live up to any of the promises made about it–the sight of the industrial wind turbine in Toronto at Exhibition Place is a cruel joke. Thousands of people in Toronto pass by it every day and see it as innocuous, pretty even.

The truth about that one structure is a different story.

Here from Parker Gallant and the Financial Post, the true story of the Exhibition Place wind “mill.”

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/11/08/ontarios-power-trip-the-globe-has-gone-with-the-wind/

Ontario’s Power Trip: The Globe has gone with the wind

  Nov 8, 2011 – 9:35 AM ET | Last Updated: Nov 8, 2011 9:38 AM ET

The Globe and Mail declined to run the following letter to the editor from Parker Gallant:

Marcus Gee’s Nov. 2 article on the wind power in Toronto included the following statement: “A single wind turbine, championed by Jack Layton, the late NDP leader, has been operating for years at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Toronto Hydro says the impact on birds has been minimal and there is no evidence anyone’s health has been affected.”

Whether that single turbine has been beneficial to the Toronto Hydro customers is a question that was conveniently omitted. The facts speak for themselves. It has cost the taxpayers a lot of money! The following reference can be found in Toronto Hydro’s 2007 Annual Report, the last reference to be found in any subsequent Annual Reports.

“Renewables/Clean and Green Generation
TH Energy/WindShare wind turbine at Exhibition Place has produced approximately 4 million kWh of green energy since 2003”

So that single turbine that Toronto Hydro owns a big piece of has operated at 12.2 % of its rated capacity for the five years from 2003 to 2007 but questioning Toronto Hydro on the issue as to what has happened since 2007 gets no response. It hides behind the cloak of “confidentiality.”

The Exhibition Place turbine was championed by none other than Joyce McLean, current Director, Strategic Issues at Toronto Hydro, when she was engaged with TREC (Toronto Renewable Energy Association) pushing for the erection of the turbine. Ms McLean also sat as a Director and Chair of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) and prior to that was active with Greenpeace. Jack Simpson, current VP, Generation on his posted Toronto Hydro bio, said he was an early advocate of green generation projects, responsible for the 750kW wind turbine at Exhibition Place and the 36kW photovoltaic system at 500 Commissioners St. in Toronto. So these two advocates of the turbine are in a position to deny their responsibility on the costs of their boondoogle by hiding behind the “confidentiality” issue burden the ratepayers with their misguided efforts to save the world!

If you vist the TREC website you will get an idea of how this entity would be unable to survive without handouts/grants from the Toronto taxpayer-owned Toronto Atmospheric Fund ($910,000), or the provincially owned Community Power Fund (amounts granted are undisclosed) and the provincially owned Trillium Foundation ($202,500). TREC also claim support from the Ontario Power Authority, City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro, CanWEA, CanSIA, the Ministry of Environment and the Toronto District School Board, of whom most are taxpayer funded institutions.

It should be pointed out that the anemometers in Lake Ontario were partially funded by TAF who granted funds to Toronto Hydro for their erection. This waste of taxpayer funds is a blatant affront, along with the necessity of Toronto Hydro paying the legal fees for their current lawsuit against OMERS. This lawsuit was instituted because Toronto Hydro isn’t satisfied that its executives will have sufficient monies in retirement benefits, because OMERS restricts the “bonus” payments when calculating retirement benefits. This CEO earned over $700,000 in 2010 including a bonus that exceeded $300,000.

Parker Gallant is a retired bank executive who looked at his electricity bill and didn’t like what he saw.

 E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca and follow us on Twitter at northgowerwind
 
Check out Dirty Business: the reality of Ontario’s rush to wind power, with contributions by Parker Gallant and three local authors, at http://dirtybusinessbook.wordpress.com

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Much has been made in Ontario about the need for cleaner air and indeed many of the non-governmental organizations such as Environmental Defence, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Clean Air Alliance and the Registered Nurses Association, to name only a few, have gotten on the bandwagon with pleas ranging from  please stop pollution to the claim that “coal is killing people.”

Well.

The facts are (and by checking on writings by Ross McKitrick elsewhere on this site you can read those, as well as Ontario’s own clean air report) that Ontario has relatively good air quality and that what pollution does exist comes from south of the border and from automobiles. Dr. McKitrick and others have said that closing Ontario’s coal-fired power plants will not make a difference to Ontario’s air quality. Not that we’re defending coal but we need perspective.

Here, then, from Parker Gallant, a view on the recent rankings of countries according to air quality, Canada among them.

Going for First Place

 The September 27th edition of the National Post carried what an editor would refer to as filler pieces. The first on Page A7 was headed; “Canada ties for third among 90 countries ranked for air pollution” and the second filler was found on FP4 in a sidebar with the headline “WIND POWER DOUBLES IN CANADA”.

The first headline was from the first “Air Quality” database complied by the World Health Organization which gave Canada a tie with Australia following Estonia and Mauritius. The report purportedly covered 1,100 cities in 91 countries but we were beat by Estonia and Mauritius, incredible!

Looking at the production of electricity in Estonia the “Government policy and objectives toward its energy sector can be summarized in two ways: to provide a reliable source of energy for the country, and to provide such energy at the lowest possible cost.” Further “Estonia is unique among nations in its heavy use of oil shale.”

To be fair, Estonia does have 149 MW of wind generation which supplies less than 1/2 of 1% of their electricity consumption but one should also bear in mind that Estonia’s objective is to “provide energy at the lowest possible cost.”

Now lets take a look at Mauritius; # 2 in the WHO report. In the case of Mauritius this is the situation: “The generation of electrical energy is also dependent on diesel engines (61.7 percent), in three power stations, all situated around Port Louis. They have a total effective capacity of 176 megawatts. A seasonal contribution of 54.2 megawatts comes from hydro-plants and 90.5 megawatts from Independent Power Producers supplement capacity.”

The second filler was a press release by CanWEA [the Canadian Wind Energy Association] telling us that by the end of 2011 Canada’s installed wind capacity will be beyond 5,300 MW or reputedly enough to power 1.5 million Canadian homes. CanWEA goes on to say that another 6,000 MW has been contracted to come online across Canada. This press release also said “Ontario is expected to lead with 500 MW of wind power to be brought on line by the end of the year.”

So our drive from the Liberal government in Ontario has been to clean up the air by adding more and more controversial wind generation yet the two countries that beat us use principally “oil shale” and “diesel engines” to supply their households with electricity. That doesn’t sound clean or green!


Parker Gallant

Editor’s note: We’re not sure how Estonia and Mauritius would stack up against Ontario for air quality–they don’t have the 3MM people of Toronto chugging around in cars and buses, but Ontario’s air quality has continued to improve dramatically over the 1960s due to automobile-related initiatives like the Drive Clean program. What’s important to know is that industrial-scale wind power generation requires some form of back-up because it is unreliable and intermittent; Ontario’s choice is to build new natural gas plants to go along with wind power development. What effect will that have on air quality in future?

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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Well, we said you should have listened to your constituents, Von Bommel, Wilkinson, Dombrowsky and the rest. Here is the story:

Anti-wind turbine coalition may have cost McGuinty a majority

 
 
 
By Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen October 8, 2011
 
 
The Liberals lost 10 seats — almost all in rural Ontario — targeted by the anti-wind coalition Wind Concerns Ontario. Had they retained even one of those seats, they’d have won a majority government.
 

The Liberals lost 10 seats — almost all in rural Ontario — targeted by the anti-wind coalition Wind Concerns Ontario. Had they retained even one of those seats, they’d have won a majority government.

Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson/National Post,

OTTAWA — Did wind turbines cost the Ontario Liberals their majority in Thursday’s provincial election? A close look at the election results suggests it’s more than possible.

The Liberals lost 10 seats — almost all in rural Ontario — targeted by the anti-wind coalition Wind Concerns Ontario. Had they retained even one of those seats, they’d have won a majority government.

Progressive Conservative or New Democrat candidates defeated seven incumbent Liberals, and won three Liberal seats where the incumbent wasn’t running for re-election. All the ridings are home to industrial turbine projects or have active proposals for some.

Three Liberal cabinet ministers from rural Ontario were among the casualties, including Environment Minister John Wilkinson, an outspoken defender of the government’s green energy policy, who went down to narrow defeat in Perth-Wellington. He won the seat by 6,000 votes in 2007.

Leona Dombrowsky, education minister in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet, lost by 3,000 votes after winning by 6,000 votes in the last election. And Agriculture Minister Carol Mitchell, whose margin of victory in 2007 was 7,000 votes, fell to Tory Lisa Thompson by 4,500 votes in Huron Bruce.

Liberal incumbents also lost in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Northumberland-Quinte West and Algoma-Manitoulin. Conservative candidates won in two open Liberal seats — Chatham-Kent-Essex and Elgin-Middlesex-London, and the NDP picked up Essex.

All 10 seats were targeted by Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of wind opponents that claims to have mobilized thousands of volunteers angry at the Liberal government’s embrace of wind power.

“The Ontario Liberals have spent the last two years denying science, refusing to accept local democracy, and tonight they paid a price,” John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said in a news release.

“The Liberals have an opportunity to change their course during this minority parliament, act on our concerns and put the interests of people ahead of the special interests behind the industrial wind lobby that cost them their majority,” Laforet said.

Jane Wilson, chair of the North Gower Wind Action Group, which is fighting a proposed eight-to-10 turbine development near their community, said the election results show “the tide has turned.

“If the Liberal government wants to have good government for all Ontario, they’re going to have to look at the concerns of rural communities,” Wilson said.

She credited Wind Concerns Ontario with connecting concerned residents with other communities already living with wind turbines. “It gave them a kind of cohesion and more information than they would have had just acting on their own.”

The proposed turbine development near North Gower came up repeatedly during the campaign, according to Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod, who represents the area and opposes the project.

Wilson said the project is still awaiting a contract under the province’s Feed-In Tariff program. “I gather that’s connected to whether there’s transmission capacity,” she said, adding: “We don’t believe there is.”

dbutler@ottawacitizen.com

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Anti+wind+turbine+coalition+have+cost+McGuinty+majority/5524109/story.html#ixzz1aJDBNC4T

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Many people believe that because there is a multi-step approval process for wind power projects in Ontario, there must be plenty of authoritative oversight along the way.

No.

First of all, let’s be clear: we are talking about industrial-scale wind power generation here, not the little iconic wind “mills” you used to see on farms in Ontario and which are still used to create power for limited use, like a water pump. That’s as far from the current industrial wind power projects as you can get.

Under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act  or the GEA in Ontario, wind power developers create a proposal for a project, then apply for a Feed In Tariff contract. If they get that (and that process is a whole other story) then they can proceed to preparing a Renewable Energy Application (REA) for submission to the Ministry of the Environment. Their draft REA is reviewed by certain “stakeholders” and then eventually shown to the public for comment. The company is required to hold two information sessions for the public; these are typically merely Open Houses. There is no formal presentation, no question and answer period, and no sign that comments from the public are recorded in any form.

After that, the company submits the REA, gets a Certificate of Approval (the MoE is currently promising a one-month turnaround in the interest of speedy development) after which time the public has 15 days to appeal. As we saw from the Kent Breeze appeal in which a single citizen spent upwards of $150,000 to appeal the Suncor project in Chatham-Kent, the project proceeded even while under appeal, and by the time the decision was handed down in July 2011, was completed. (That project is now the subject of a $1.5 million lawsuit by a family who rapidly became ill after the project started.)

So the process is this:

-the companies do their own environmental screening according to the list of topics required in the regulations. They use private consultants (many of whom are members of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, a lobby group for the corporate wind industry) and do not seem to be required to provide information on those consultants’ credentials.

-the public has a limited time and frankly, limited ability to review and assess the assessments

-the environmental screening reports done by the corporate developers go to the Ministry of the Environment for review and approval. We have no idea the depth of the review process.

-There is no third-party, independent, professional review. Requests for “elevation” i.e., for a formal, full environmental assessment to be done by the Ministry of the Environment have been refused: not ONE has been granted since this began in 2006.

In short, the Ontario government believes so strongly that wind power is “good” and “green” it doesn’t really require a proper environmental assessment.

Worse: if environmental effects are experienced such as the bird kills at Wolfe Island (the developer TransAlta forecast 2 per year per turbine and has been surprised to find the rate exceeds 13 per turbine), the Ministry of the Environment simply RAISED the acceptable number of birds that could be killed.

Worse still: there is NO accepted methodology to measure environmental noise from industrial wind turbines—the MoE staff admit this! (See http://www.windyleaks.com )

That’s not acceptable to us.

Doesn’t sound very “environmental” either.

Wind power: it’s not what you think.

Want to live here?

Click to view full size image

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We had hoped to meet Mr Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA at our showing of Windfall a few weeks ago, but despite a personal invitation sent by courier to his Ottawa office, he didn’t attend. Perhaps he was busy crafting this message which he sent out to candidates for the Ontario election. As you know, the topic of electricity bills and the cost of renewables is a hot topic leading up to the election, and Mr Hornung wants us al to be sure to understand that wind is good.

His letter is below. We follow with a critique from Parker Gallant, who is on the Board of Energy Probe, and who counters a few of CanWEA’s assertions.

Dear Ontario Election Candidate,

 I am pleased to provide you with a copy of a new report confirming that wind power is cost competitive in Ontario today and will play an important role in ensuring price stability for Ontarians over the long term.  Behind the Switch: Pricing Ontario Electricity Options, was prepared by the Pembina Institute, a leading Canadian energy policy research organization.  The report demonstrates that replacing new renewable energy sources like wind energy with conventional sources of electricity generation would likely increase Ontario’s electricity prices over the next 20 years relative to scenarios that make use of renewable energy.

 Ontario’s electricity generation fleet is aging.  The majority will reach the end of its service life over the next two decades and will need to be renewed or replaced.  Ontario’s electricity system capacity will also need to grow by nearly 30 per cent to keep pace with demand growth.  Almost 70 per cent of the province’s generation in 2030 will come from sources that are not currently in operation.  The decisions the province makes today will have far reaching consequences for decades to come.

 The current policy to invest in wind energy as a major component of Ontario’s future electricity mix– some 7,000 MW or more of wind power is targeted by 2018 – is a forward-thinking commitment to ensuring a clean and reliable electricity system will be available to Ontarians when it’s needed.

If the current commitments to renewables and wind power were removed, something would need to be built in its place. What that something would be, and how that change would affect electricity prices, are the two main questions the Pembina Institute set out to answer in Behind the Switch.

 Wind power is a cost effective electricity generation choice today in Ontario.  The Ontario Power Authority now offers Feed-in Tariff contracts for onshore wind energy development at a price of 13.5 cents per kWh.  This is cost competitive with new natural gas at 11 cents per kwh – in the ABSENCE of a carbon price – new hydroelectric power at 12.2-13.1 cents per kwh, and new nuclear (which is not cheaper than any of the above).  The cost to produce electricity from wind will continue to decrease over time, while the cost from thermal sources is likely to increase as fuel costs continue to rise.

 Wind power has had a very minor impact in contributing to electricity price increases in Ontario to date.  By the end of 2010, there were 1,447 MW of wind power generation capacity operating in the province, contributing about 2 per cent of the total electricity produced.  The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario concluded in March of this year, that electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar and bioenergy) contributed only 0.2 cents per kWh to the typical residential electricity bill last year. 

 Behind the Switch examines how scaling back Ontario’s plans to develop renewable energy would affect electricity prices, using an integrated energy system simulator to compare two main scenarios. The first scenario is based on Ontario’s current Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), in which a large part of new electricity generation comes from additional renewable capacity supported under the Green Energy Act; the second scenario tests the effect of eliminating the Act and largely expanding natural gas in place of future renewable resources.

The results found in Behind the Switch indicate that consumer electricity prices are set to continue rising sharply over the next decade under either scenario — with prices peaking around 2022, when Ontario’s nuclear fleet is currently scheduled to undergo significant upgrades.  Even if future contracts for renewable energy were ended in 2011, the model shows consumer prices would be virtually identical between the two scenarios as prices will rise in the near term as there are so many other factors and necessary investments in the overall system that are also affecting prices.  There would be very little change to projected electricity price increases under the LTEP — amounting to less than 2 per cent difference on the average household’s monthly electricity bill. 

 We hope you continue to find CanWEA’s website and publications useful sources of information and facts on wind energy when considering and reviewing proposals for wind energy developments in your area. You can access information about CanWEA and wind energy in general directly from our website at: http://www.canwea.ca/wind-energy/talkingaboutwind_e.php

 We would be pleased to meet or speak with you to discuss the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy in Ontario. For further information, please contact Justin Rangooni, Ontario Policy Manager, at 613-234-8716, extension 235.

 Yours sincerely,

 Robert Hornung

President

And here is Parker Gallant’s comments on CanWEAs assertions about wind power, as presented on the lobby group’s website. The original post may be viewed at: http://ep.probeinternational.org/

In Greek Mythology Aeolus was the “King of Wind” but in Canadian Mythology the King of Wind is CanWEA; a not-for-profit association of 420 members including public and private companies, legal firms, manufacturers, etc. and others who feed off of the largess of taxpayers and ratepayers to ensure they retain their mandated (Ontario’s Green Energy Act) place on the energy podium.

The claims made on CanWEA’s website are wide ranging and while Aeolus was associated with creating storms; CanWEA’s claims are principally associated with saving the world from catastrophic global warming. Let’s look at some of those claims:

The Balanced Diet

One of the claims made is; “Wind energy is part of a “balanced energy diet” and is a perfect complement to other conventional forms of electricity generation. One example is wind and hydroelectric. Over short time periods (days and weeks), hydro can be used to compensate for variations in wind power production. Over long time periods (years and decades), wind can be used to compensate for fluctuations in reservoir levels, an effect that will be increasingly felt through climate change.”

Wind-energy Storage

On the latter claim wind-energy may have some use in Quebec or BC for that purpose, but in Ontario we have limited reservoir capacity (140 MW) unless we wish to flood vast regions of the province. In point of fact Ontario is often forced to export power to Quebec during the Spring  at a loss.

On the former point in the above extract from CanWEA’s website the “perfect complement” is not perfect. Hydro’s peak production comes in the Spring season when the freshet can produce an abundance (almost to full capacity) of cheap clean hydro power which coincides with peak wind production that frequently reaches similar levels. Unfortunately Spring, and Fall are the lowest demand periods so the “complement” is a misnomer and wind power takes precedent over hydro power meaning we must often spill cheap, clean hydro to give wind-energy their first to the grid rights. The “complement” thereby becomes a burden that the ratepayers endure through higher electricity bills.

Wind-energy Variability Demand

This same webpage from CanWEA states “The variability of wind matches the variability of demand. Generally wind is strongest in cold-weather months when our demand for electricity is highest.”

Ontario’s peak demand for the past several decades occurs in the hot summer months not in the cold-weather months and the variability of wind doesn’t match this cycle. Wind-energy is highest in the shoulder months of our Spring & Fall and at night when demand is at its lowest. Wind production in the summer (on average) is less than 17% of it’s capacity and often falls to less then 5% and that is when our demand reaches it’s annual peak.

Wind-energy Reliability

The next CanWEA webpage claims “Wind Power is Reliable.” and goes on to state; “The wind turbines that you see today are the result of decades of research and development. Thanks to these efforts, modern turbines are highly efficient and a typical unit alone can generate enough electricity to power over 500 homes. The science of wind turbine placement has advanced a great deal, too – nowadays, the output of a wind farm can be predicted accurately well before a shovel hits the ground.”

To claim that a typical unit can generate enough electricity to power over 500 homes would require that unit to operate at a 33 % capacity level based on the standard household usage (800 kWh per month) claimed in submissions to the Ontario Energy Board by parties seeking rate increases. My view on the CanWEA statement is that it should state; “a typical unit can generate enough electricity to power 1500 homes for 33 % of the time.” This would ensure that we understand that some other power source would be required for the other 77 % of the time when that unit was producing nothing! The other misleading fact about this statement is that industrial wind turbines, on average, only produce power for approximately 27 % of the time and in the UK a recent report http://www.jmt.org/assets/pdf/wind-report.pdf indicated an average production level of only 21 % was achieved in 2010. The additional problem as highlighted in a recent Aegent study is that “excess output would exacerbate or create a number of undesirable outcomes, including:

  • surplus base load generation
  • dispatched-off situations
  • subsidized exports”

Wind-energy & Extreme Weather

This same webpage further claims: “As long as there is wind, there will be wind power.

With good placement, a modern wind turbine will typically produce electricity 70 percent of the time. Enhanced technology and design improvements have also played a part in increasing the reliability of wind power allowing turbines to generate electricity in all but the most extreme weather conditions.”

The foregoing reference to “extreme weather” is exactly what happened in the UK late last year as those extreme conditions took hold and the industrial wind turbines froze and actually were consuming power rather then producing it as the Institute of Energy Research noted.  A similar event occurred in New Brunswick as reported here.

So just when we need the power, wind fails to provide it. In those situations we require 100% back-up power. So if CanWEA achieve their goal of 20 % of Canada’s electricity capacity by 2025 we will need 20% of other more reliable and dispatchable power generation to ensure we avoid blackouts.

Wind-energy is always Producing somewhere

This same CanWEA page goes on to ask the question: “But what happens when the wind isn’t blowing? Here it is important to remember that the wind never stops blowing everywhere at once. Experience from around the world has shown that a large number of wind turbines spread over a wide geographic area will actually produce a consistent amount of power. And the use of advanced wind and weather forecasting tools helps to make wind energy more predictable and more reliable than ever before.”

That claim to reliability is no doubt something that the UK and New Brunswick grid operators would dispute. The assertion that a geographic spread of wind turbines “produce a consistent amount of power” has been disputed by many and in Ontario’s case an Energy Probe study going back to 2006 indicated that assertion was not backed up with facts. The study went on to state that wide geographic disbursement of wind turbines would cause considerable transmission and grid related problems and add to costs.

Wind-energy Adaptability

The next CanWEA webpage I wish to explore is this one: where they carry this message; “The modern wind turbine was built to adapt to all kinds of wind and weather conditions. Turbines can even be installed on water; they don’t need to be just on land.”

As noted above the first part of this claim is a stretch based on what happened in UK and New Brunswick and no doubt other areas of the world.

Wind-energy as a Cuisinart

The next part of this page is presumably meant to educate us and has this brief description; “Wind turbines generally consist of large blades mounted on tall towers attached to a horizontal shaft. As the wind blows, these blades cause the shaft to turn. The shaft is attached to a generator located inside the head, or “nacelle” of the turbine, which generates electricity. Cables carry this electrical current to transmission lines that then carry it to homes and businesses. Modern turbines rotate quite slowly, at an average speed of between 18 to 20 revolutions per minute.”

What this fails to tell us is that “revolutions per minute” do not tell us that the tips of the blades are travelling at a speed of as much as 200 kilometres and hour and they are very effective at chopping up birds and destroying bats as this webpage highlights for only one of the many industrial wind turbine sites spread throughout the province.

Wind-energy Availability

The next piece of this webpage carries this message; “Maintenance issues are also much smaller on a wind farm. At some conventional power plants, the entire plant may have to be shut down for repairs whereas at a wind farm, maintenance takes place one turbine at a time. This has led to availability factors (referring to the percent of time that a turbine is available to capture the wind) of 98% – much higher than conventional forms of energy production.”

I am not sure what CanWEA are trying to accomplish here beyond putting an impressive percentage on the page. Availability means absolutely nothing without wind to turn the blades and it is a fact that the actual production from the turbines is on average only 27%. If an educator was to mark CanWEA he/she would give them an “A+” for attendance but an “F” for their paper. I also find it interesting that when I enquired about the Wolfe Island industrial wind installation and why all of their units were producing absolutely no power over a three day period during a recent hot spell I received the following response; “We’re currently performing annual substation maintenance at the site (a scheduled 3-day outage) to ensure park and grid reliability. We perform this in low-wind seasons; however, we need to schedule months in advance. Hope this helps,”

What caught my eye about this reply was both the fact that they had shut down all of the turbines and also admitted that the summer was one of the “low-wind seasons”. So the claim to be able to provide maintenance “one turbine at a time” is a stretch and the disclosure of “low wind-seasons” by one of their members is an admission that they will be unreliable during the peak demand summer season.

Wind-energy to reduce Global Emissions

This CanWEA webpage had this bon mot; “Canada’s electricity system is at a crossroads. Demand is rising and many power plants are approaching retirement. We need more power, and concerns over climate change, air pollution and acid rain damage mean we have to look at cleaner ways to generate it.”

Well, I have a shock for CanWEA. Demand is not rising. In fact Ontario consumed 144 TWh in 2003 and in 2010 we consumed only 142 TWh. Demand has actually fallen, both as a result of the recession and as a result of the loss of major energy consuming industries. Even before the recession a report by the OFL in 2007 indicated Ontario had lost 150,000 manufacturing jobs in the prior 4 years.

Wind-energy to prevent Climate Change

CanWEA go on to state; “Wind is an obvious part of the solution. Wind is quick to install and produces no air pollution or greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In fact, in light of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warns that in order to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we need to get global emissions to peak and start to decline before 2020, wind energy may well be the best solution right now. “In this critical period between now and the end of the next decade, we are really it on the supply side and that is a pretty large responsibility,” says Steve Sawyer, the secretary-general of the Global Wind Energy Council.”

This is at the heart of CanWEA’s principal argument-saving us from global warming because “wind energy” will get global emissions to decline. That premise was recently taken to task by a report from Bentek Energy which concluded that claims made on CO 2 and other noxious reductions by the wind industry are “vastly overstated” and wind energy is not “a cost-effective solution for reducing carbon dioxide if carbon is valued at less than $33 per ton.”

Wind-energy as a replacement for Nuclear power-Globally

This same webpage asks the question: ‘What are our choices? Nuclear power has no emissions, but for the technology just to maintain its current market share, 150-180 new plants will need to be built between now and 2020. The complexities around getting those facilities permitted and constructed make it unlikely.”

So CanWEA have gone global with the above statement unless there are proposal that haven’t yet hit the media about plans to construct these plants in Canada. Are they suggesting that industrial wind turbines could take the place of these 150-180 new plants being constructed around the globe or just the 16 in Ontario that have a rated capacity of about 12,000 MW? Aegent Energy in an April 2011 release estimated that just replacing the nuclear plants in Ontario with industrial wind turbines concluded “Given the operating characteristics of wind generation, 34,000 MW of wind capacity and 10,000 MW of natural gas-fired generation capacity would be required to replace Ontario’s nuclear.” and “That amount of wind capacity would require 14,200 km2 of land – the equivalent of a strip 14 km in width around the shorelines of southwestern Ontario.” The Aegent report estimates that 11,333 turbines would be required so if that assumption is applied to the 150-180 plants mentioned in the CanWEA website that would represent over 120,000 turbines and take up over 150,000 km2. .assuming the “150-180 new plants” are of a like output.

Wind-energy doesn’t have “long planning horizons”

This page goes on to say: “New large hydro is a possibility; it faces long planning horizons and fierce public opposition to the environmental devastation caused by flooding huge tracts of land. Small run-of-river hydro facilities have fewer impacts, but are becoming increasingly difficult to access.”

It is amusing that CanWEA would include the phrase “fierce public opposition” presumably inferring that industrial wind installations don’t face similar opposition. The difference between any new large hydro and industrial wind turbines in Ontario is that the GEA gives the wind developers a carte blanche on the “fierce public opposition” as it gives them an easy ride through the bureaucracy of the various ministries that bless their developments. Fierce public opposition does not carry the same weight with the authorities when wind development is being considered in Ontario!

Wind-energy will be cheaper then Natural Gas

Yet another statement on this page has the following; “Natural gas generating plants are easy to build, flexible to operate and produce fewer emissions than coal, but dwindling supplies and uncertainty over what fuel prices will be next year, much less 20 years down the road, make it a risky choice. Other renewable energy technologies, like solar power and ocean energy, are not yet mature enough to make a substantial contribution over the short term.”

Again the fact that natural gas supplies in North America are not dwindling but increasing seems to have escaped the attention of CanWEA and this has kept the price of natural gas at relatively low levels. For that reason new gas generating plants are the energy of choice in the US and are replacing old coal generation plants because they are more dependable and have ramping capability unlike wind. In 2010 new gas generation plants coming on stream were almost 50% more then wind in rated capacity and even new coal generation plants were higher then wind. If one factors in wind’s low delivery abilities at say; 27% they fall even further behind.

CanWEA’s Advertising Offensive

Criticism on the effects of industrial wind turbines are occurring globally and in Ontario the critics have been both vocal and organized. The criticism’s have universally been about;

  • human health,
  • economic costs,
  • wildlife deaths,
  • declining property values, and
  • esthetics/tourism.

As more turbines are erected more critics emerge and those critics now consist of the medical profession, engineers, nature groups, real estate agents, acoustical specialists, economists, and municipal and provincial politicians. On the issue of human health a recent peer reviewed paper by Carl V. Phillips published in the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society indicates “There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate.” which is in sharp contrast to the CanWEA claims.

In an effort to counter all of the negative media, CanWEA has embarked on an aggressive campaign which has included support from ENGOs, formal polls with leading questions, commissioned a noise study, an economic study and ran a series of ads on various radio stations and in regional newspapers.

Print Ads

In the latter case they have used several people to carry their message containing such catchy phrases as; “wind energy is about land stewardship”, “my family supports wind energy”, “the wind facility has also brought in some tourists who are curious to see what it’s all about.”, “wind energy is having an incredibly positive impact on our community.” and “ I would say the wind development has been a real boost for the whole community.”

What the ads fail to say is that hundreds of people have had their health affected in some manner, many have abandoned their homes and farms (5 in one small community alone), several have had their properties acquired and forced to sign gag orders and a number of them live in their basements to try and avoid the effect of the noise and vibrations from the turbines. The print ads also often describe a particular industrial wind development and claim it will produce “enough zero-emission electricity to power” a given number of homes.

When I do the math on the electricity they claim they will produce I found that the ads are saying the turbines will operate at a much higher efficiency level (34/36%) then other industrial wind sites in Ontario.

One of the individuals in the ads; Jutta Splettstoesser whose family farm hosts turbines, has embarked on a organized campaign as a “friend” of wind-energy and is being helped out (administratively) by CanWEA & OSEA. The latter was just awarded a $125,000 “education” grant by the Community Power Fund under the Community Energy Partnerships Program which is funded by the Ontario Power Authority and paid for by the ratepayers of this province. The fact that the Executive Director of the CFP worked with the Executive Director of OSEA in the past is simply a coincidence?

Amazingly enough Jutta’s husband was reputedly caught removing anti-wind signs. Another individual in one of the ads is the Mayor of Chatham-Kent and a former MPP when Bob Rae led the NDP to victory. I can only assume that he is still a supporter of the NDP and therefore favours wind turbines. Back in 2009 he was front and centre when CanWEA presented the Municipality with the 2009 National Group Leadership Award. That many people in his municipality suffer adverse health effects from wind turbines apparently is not his concern.

Conclusion:

The claims by CanWEA published on their website and in their advertisements clearly border on unsupportable statements of fact and should be reviewed by the Competition Bureau and Advertising Standards Canada. Perhaps it is time for CanWEA to come clean!

Parker Gallant, July 31, 2011

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

The North Gower Wind Action Group Inc. is a corporate member of Wind Concerns Ontario Inc.

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