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This from today’s Wellington Advertiser, re: farm owners who have leased property for wind development. Just the facts:

Farmers now wanting to opt out of wind leases

by David Meyer   The Wellington Advertiser

ELORA – Centre Welling­ton council’s committee of the whole heard on Monday after­noon that several farmers who signed lease agreements for wind farms near Belwood are willing to back out of them.

A delegation led by Dave Hurlburt, Laura Humphrey, Gerry Ellen and Darryl Burnet came to council to ask for its help in opposing the wind farm planned by Invenergy that sur­rounds much of Belwood and reaches into Dufferin County. They represented a group that is opposing the proposal for up to 35 wind turbines.

Hurlburt acknowledged coun­cil has no authority over the project because the pro­vincial Liberal government took it away and gave it to the Ministry of Environment, but he said, “We feel this council has a strong role to play” in op­posing it.

Humphrey cited new information coming forward regularly about the health risks wind turbines might pose, which could cause things like sleep disorders, headaches and numerous  other medi­cal concerns.

She compared the wind tur­bines and health issues to smok­ing, and noted it took years to convince people that smoking was dangerous.

“We need to repeatedly study wind farms to see if they are safe for human health,” Humphrey said.

She added there are impacts on animals and said the site of the wind farm is very close to what has locally become known as “tornado alley,” where there have been several tornadoes over the years that caused millions of dollars in damage in Wellington County.

Hurlburt said part of the pro­cess forces Invenergy to consult with the local council, and he wants council to oppose the project and insist that a letter of opposition is included in its report to the MOE.

The group also asked that if the project is approved, trans­mission lines be buried and that heavy development charges be placed on each turbine. The group asked that council get all the local area roads improved before heavy machinery is allowed to travel over them. It also asked that the company be forced to provide letters of credit for decommissioning the turbines, and to insist on a 4-to 5-km setback from all private airstrips.

The group also asked council to join other munici­pali­ties that supported the Mapleton resolution to seek a provincial moratorium on all such projects until health studies are com­pleted. Council has already done that.

One of the more sur­prising requests was that farmers be allowed to opt out. Councillor Fred Morris asked if that is possible.

Hurlburt said it is. He ex­plained many of the con­tracts signed by farmers to accept wind turbines on their prop­erty had been signed near­ly four years ago – and with another company. Invenergy is the third and latest company involved in the project.

He said what farm­ers accepted four years ago has changed greatly, including the size of the wind turbines. As well, he said, many farmers had no idea the effect the old pro­posal would have on the com­munity. He said they had no idea of the number of turbines that would be part of the plan and, “If asked today, they probably would not sign.”

Darryl Burnett said, “Not only would they not sign, they want out.” He said at least “five of 15 farmers [in East Gara­fraxa] would back away” if they could.

He said that in East Gara­fraxa, he has heard from a coun­cil member there that Invenergy officials had told that council it would not stop farmers who want to change their minds about placing wind turbines on their properties.

Hurlburt said he wants Centre Wellington to council to get a similar commitment from Invenergy for the Belwood area land­owners.

He added that the group is “really frustrated” not only by the public open house forum that was used as a public meet­ing, but because the provincial Liberal government has taken the decision away from local councils.

As for the meeting, “It was no public forum; it was a one-way street,” Hurlburt said.

Lobby effort

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj told the group it has council support. She said she had met with Revenue Minister and Perth Wellington MPP John Wilkinson last week about the issue, and he had told her that resi­dents need to lobby John Gerretsen, the Minister of Environment.

Ross-Zuj told the group, “Whatever it takes – email, a stamp – get it to the MOE as individuals. Gerretsen knows what to expect from council. If that’s where they want it to go, make sure they hear from you.”

Residents also bom­barded Centre Wellington officials. Ross-Zuj said she received over 100 letters and all the writers are going to get a reply that they should lobby the MOE.

“That starts today,” she said. Those 100 letters we received should go down there.

 Contact information for Gerretsen was handed out at the meeting. He can be reached by mail at: The Honourable john Gerretsen, Minister of Environment, 77 Wellesley Street West, 11th Floor, Ferguson Block, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2T5, or by email at minister.moe@ontario.ca, or be telephone at 416-314-6790, or be fax at 416-314-7337.

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To get in touch with the North Gower Wind Action Group, email us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

Special event Tuesday April 13 at the Alfred Taylor Centre in North Gower–YOUR unique opportunity to hear the facts from the experts in Ontario!

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It’s ON: after months of planning and organization, our public information meeting is ON for April 13th, 6:30 p.m., at the Alfred Taylor Centre in North Gower. This is your opportunity to hear from people in the know about industrial wind turbines and their effects.
Featured speakers:
Dr Robert McMurtry, professor emeritus of medicine, University of Western Ontario, speaking on health effects that result from noise and vibration produced by industrial wind turbines. He is a former Assistant Deputy Minister of Health.
Dr John Harrison, professor of physics, Queens University, speaking on noise and vibration. Dr Harrison has published many papers on the noise produced by industrial wind turbines and has presented at the International Wind Turbine conference.
Stephana Johnston, an Essex County resident who is living in the midst of 18 industrial wind turbines, telling her story
Colette McLean, Harrow area farmer on farm owner issues
Chris Luxemberger, Realtor and president of the Brampton Real Estate Board, on the effects on property values, based on his study of properties near wind turbines in the Shelburne-Amaranth-Melancthon area
and pharmacist Carmen Krogh, who will share the results of her research and experiences with wind turbines.
 
Please join your community in this unique and fantastic opportunity to learn about wind turbines!!!! Tell your neighbours!!!
Donations welcome to help us with the cost of this event (hall rental, promotion, etc). Please email for pickup or mail to PO Box 485 North Gower K0A 2T0
 
In other news, the municipal election occurs this fall: it’s time to make your views known. Ecology Ottawa has the idea that the Green Energy Act is a great idea and we should be asking candidates how they will support renewable clean energy in Ottawa. That’s true, but industrial wind turbines are NOT the answer!!! Go to their website at http://www.ecologyottawa.ca/election/
 and take their survey on environmental views. This is your chance to say that 626-foot structures that will affect human health, wildlife and the water table are NOT the way to go.
 
 

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In today’s Financial Post in the FP Comment, section. We don’t usually provide the entire text of articles but this is worth it, and it should be widely read.

Blowing away taxpayers
Posted: March 06, 2010, 12:31 AM by NP Editor

 

Wind power is unreliable, expensive and doesn’t result in lower C02 emmissions. Why is Ontario still rushing ahead with it?

By Michael Trebilcock

The  Ontario government’s rush into renewable energy, and industrial wind turbine-generated electricity in particular, is likely to reveal the law of unintended consequences. The government needs to rigorously re-evaluate this precipitous policy before committing billions more in subsidies to it.

First, as to the cost of wind-generated electricity, the feed-in tariff for on-shore wind turbines in Ontario provided for under the Green Energy Act is 13.5¢ per kWh (and higher for smaller projects). This is more than twice the prevailing rates for electricity on the spot market in Ontario (less than ¢6 per KWh).

This cost increase will be fed through to industrial, commercial and residential consumers through various additional charges on their electricity bills. In addition, further expenditures are required to enhance and extend the transmission grid to accommodate these projects. A 2009 study by London Economics Consultancy, Examining the Potential Costs of the Ontario Green Energy Act 2009, estimates that the higher costs of green power will add hundreds of dollars to the average electricity bills of households throughout Ontario. 

Adam White, President of the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario, states:  “The situation is not sustainable because it will leave companies paying higher rates than competitors in other jurisdictions.” Toronto energy lawyer, Peter Murphy, states: “The government is sitting on a political time bomb.” Recent studies of wind power in Denmark, Germany and the U.K. reach similar conclusion about the impacts of renewable energy on electricity costs in these three jurisdictions. The Ontario government’s estimate of an increase in electricity costs per year from its renewable policies of 1% a year seems to lack any justification or credibility.

The contributions of industrial wind power to reducing CO2 emissions are at best marginal. Massive numbers of turbines are needed, and because of their intermittency and unpredictability, they require the availability of back-up generation, especially for peak-load capacity. In Denmark, Germany, the U.K., and now Ontario, this has entailed the construction of additional fossil fuel plants (typically natural gas plants) to provide reliability. These plants dramatically reduce the net contributions of wind power to CO2 abatement, which come at an extremely high cost relative to other abatement strategies (such as real-time pricing of electricity). 

In the case of base-load electricity, most of this is provided in Ontario by carbon-clean hydro and nuclear power so that, to the extent that wind power is used to provide base-load electricity, it displaces lower cost hydro and nuclear power and often results in exports of surplus power, often at give-away prices. 

In October 2007, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) — the government’s own agency, tasked with planning Ontario’s power system and now entering into long-term contracts with renewable energy producers — published its Integrated Power System Plan, where it analyzed a “high wind power” scenario for the province, and concluded:  “Since wind generation has an effective capacity of 20% compared to 73% for hydroelectric generation, additional generation capacity with better load-following characteristics would need to be installed. 

“This needed capacity will likely have to be obtained by installing additional gas-fired generation. Thus, in addition to incurring further capital costs for the gas generation installation, higher gas usage would be expected to make up for the reduced amount of renewable energy from wind compared to that from hydroelectric generation or this alternative. Therefore, this alternative would result in higher greenhouse gas emissions.” The OPA concluded: “Wind and solar power will never be more than a niche supplier of power in Ontario.”

What did the OPA see as the better alternative? Renewable hydro power sites in northern Ontario (which it identified). The OPA stated: “The hydroelectric generation developments included in the plan are cost effective compared to developing additional wind generation; this comparison includes the cost of transmission reinforcements. In conclusion, development of major hydroelectric generation north of Sudbury, with major reinforcement of the transmission north of Sudbury, is the preferred alternative compared to developing additional renewable generation in southern Ontario and other parts of northern Ontario.” 

This begs the obvious question, what has changed in two years? Beyond these sites in northern Ontario, in the medium to longer term there would be enough northern Canadian hydro power in Manitoba, Quebec and Labrador to satisfy Ontario’s needs for decades. If Boston and New England can depend on northern Canadian hydro power, why not Toronto? Moreover, prior demand projections for electricity need to be revised downwards to reflect not only the current economic recession (demand was down more than 6% in 2009 over 2008), but the long-term contraction in a number of Ontario’s electricity-intensive heavy manufacturing industries, such as steel and automobile manufacturing.

The potential contributions of renewable energy to the creation of jobs in the province require a heavy dose of skepticism. While the government has claimed that it plans to create 50,000 new green jobs in the province over the coming years, the additional burdens on industrial, commercial, and household consumers from higher electricity costs associated with renewable energy will kill existing jobs. Recent studies in Denmark and Germany find that very few net new jobs have been created as a result of renewable energy policies. In the case of Denmark, they have cost between US$90,000 to US$140,000 per job per year in public subsidies, and in the case of Germany, up to US$240,000 per job per year. According to a column by Randall Denley in the Ottawa Citizen of Jan. 24, 2010, the new manufacturing jobs entailed in the massive Samsung renewable project recently announced by the Ontario government will cost $300,000 each in public subsidies.

In an SNL Financial news wire report of Oct. 23, 2009, the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources was reported as stating that the agency had temporarily stopped accepting applications for proposed wind energy projects because it had already received 500 such applications and needed to make sure that it had appropriate processes in place before taking any more. Obviously, the massive public subsidies being offered have provoked a corporate feeding frenzy.

But corporate enthusiasm for subsidized wind power should not be confused with the longer-term public interest. In terms of cost, CO2 and jobs, wind power attracts a failing grade. It gets worse, with poor marks for localized impacts on flora and fauna, for potentially adverse health effects on local residents from persistent exposure to low intensity turbine noise, for potentially adverse impacts on local property values and for an environmental review process which the Ontario Environmental Commissioner describes as “broken.” All render renewable energy policy, at least as currently conceived by the Ontario government, one of the least compelling options in the challenging economic environment in which the province finds itself now. 

Picking technological winners in fields such as this, and then picking winners within classes of technology (such as Samsung) are fraught with the risk of costly errors. A better policy orientation would be first to price all sources of electricity, including environmental costs , and let consumers respond accordingly, and finally to subsidize breakthrough R&D in sectors that are significant sources of carbon emissions. 

As Jan Carr, former CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, puts it in a recent article: “The recent rush to “green” Ontario’s electricity system has produced a largely ad hoc approach to the selection and investment in power generation technologies that will unnecessarily increase the cost of electricity with far-reaching economic and social effects… Pricing carbon would have the advantage of continuing a century of economically rational development of the electricity system as an essential underpinning of modern society. To do other than proceed on an economic basis is to risk massive economic distortions… The alternative process of picking winners and losers in renewable energy technologies, based on perceptions and public opinion polls, puts us all at considerable risk.”

Before mortgaging its long-term future by awarding hundreds more 20-year fixed-price contracts to wind developers, the province of Ontario urgently needs an independent, objective, expert investigation, perhaps by the Auditor-General, of the prospective economic, environmental and employment effects of wind power and other renewable energy policies in the province.

Financial Post

Michael Trebilcock is professor of law and economics, faculty of law, University of Toronto, and co-author of “The Perils of Picking Technological Winners in Renewable Energy Policy,” an Energy Probe study released yesterday

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When it comes to the politics of energy generation in this country, it seems that when people come to learn the facts, they are quite surprised to find out things are not what they seem. Or as we’re being told by government.

Interesting article in Renaissance, the magazine for retired teachers in Ontario about people participating in community causes. Pat Foster who lives in the Grey Highlands area says she was initially supportive of wind energy development but then had to face the cold hard facts where her own neighbour leased land for two industrial wind turbines. She discovered the impact on communities such as Melancthon (which has recently called for a halt as the number of turbines could approach 200) and is now asking, “Are wind turbines safe, efficient and economical?” Foster says that her rural community is now “in chaos” over the issue of wind development and she is trying to inform people so they can make up their own minds. For herself, she says, “We do need green energy, but wind is not the best choice!”

Another high profile turnaround, is Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, who admits he thought nuclear was an environmental bogeyman, but today recognizes it is is the most economical, safe, efficient, and effective way to produce power. His opinion piece in CanWest papers can be read here:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/Demise+nuclear+being+exaggerated/2634928/story.html

Last, another turnaround: two Essex councillors, who were very active in getting wind turbines approved for a land-based development, were shocked when the wind developer announced a 700-turbine development for Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. “It scares the living hell out of us,” said Councillor Randy Voakes, for himself and Councillor Paul Innes. Mr Innes, it is reported, lives on Lake St. Clair.

For daily news, visit http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com and for scientific information, http://www.windvigilance.com

and for local opinion, http://northgowerwindturbines.wordpress.com

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We’ve been asked to provide facts on the wind development industry, specifically as it could affect North Gower. But perhaps a view of the bigger picture is needed, and that is the state of Ontario’s hydro supplier. This was written by a retired banker who actually looked at Ontario Hyrdo’s annual report in detail… and saw some serious warning signs.

The article is from the Financial Post but here it is:

Ontario power risk 
Posted: February 24, 2010, 10:39 PM by NP Editor 
http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2010/02/24/ontario-power-risk.aspx 

By Parker Gallant 

On Feb. 11, Hydro One, Ontario`s electricity transmission giant, released the company’s annual report along with a statement from CEO Laura Formusa announcing that all was well. In 2009, Hydro One “met its net income target and made important progress on a number of strategic fronts.” 

End of story, apparently. No major media reported on Hydro One’s annual statement to “investors,” as the company puts it, even though the report is a dog’s breakfast of warning signs and bizarre trends that spell trouble. 

As a retired banker, I had a look at the financial information in Hydro One’s annual report. Comparing results from one year to the next gives clues on where a company is headed and what that means for investors, in this case electricity consumers and Ontario taxpayers. Hydro One’s numbers should alarm both of the affected parties. 

Net income in 2009 of $470-million may have “met target,” but it is down 6% or $28-million from the previous year, even though revenue rose $147-million to $4.7-billion. Why the drop in net income? Rising costs, with operations, maintenance and administration up by 9.5% or $93-million, reflecting increases in salaries and benefits. 

The cost of power also rose by 6.6%, or $145-million. Wind and solar power costs are higher and other producers that supply nuclear and other forms of power are presumably being paid more. 

Then there’s the debt, up 18.7% to $10.4-billion, as Hydro One borrowed $1.6-billion to pay for new transmission lines to hook wind and solar power to the grid and to purchase a fleet of smart meters. More debt is on the way. 

As debt rises, Hydro One’s debt-to-equity ratio weakened from 1.71:1 to 1.91:1. It borrows money to pay for capital costs surrounding the province’s Green Energy Act and puts the company at risk of a debt ratings downgrade, which will drive borrowing costs up. 

Return on equity is down to 8.7% from 9.7% in 2008, indicating an overall decline in the value of the company. Return on assets fell to 3% from 3.5%. As a result, the dividend payment to the province was $188-million, down 27.4%. But the CEO says the company is “on target.” 

Even though revenues and costs are rising, and profit falling, Hydro One handles less electricity — 139.2 terawatts, a decline of 6.4%. The cost of distribution per terawatt was up by 14.9%. Operations and maintenance costs keep rising as power transmitted declines. The number of employees rose 7.7%. Since 2002, when the company had 3,933 employees to distribute 153.2 terawatts, total employment has jumped 38% to 4,400 to distribute 9% less power. Are these additional 1500 staff working in the field or at head office working on rate increase applications? 

If you review the notes in Hydro One’s report you find that they installed 433,000 smart meters in 2009. Hydro One must install those meters, as required by the Energy Conservation Responsibility Act passed in 2006 by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government. The notes disclosed that it cost the taxpayers approximately $332-million or over $750 for each smart meter installed during 2009. Hydro One will be levying a charge each and every month to recover those costs as soon as the meters are activated. 

Some Ontario power consumers are already being billed for smart meters and Hydro One has submitted applications to the Ontario Energy Board to increase the monthly fees for smart meters to approximately $2.50 per month this year and $4.50 per month in 2011. With 1.2 million meters already installed, that will increase their revenues by over $65-million in 2011. At those rates it will take them approximately 13 years to recover the costs. Anyone in business will tell you that this length of payback time is not a smart investment. Ontario power consumers should get ready for more increases to cover off these costs. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. As expensive electricity coming from wind and solar power slowly works its way through the system, many more rate increases will follow. 

For some reason, none of this was news when Hydro One released its annual report earlier this month. At the corporate level within Hydro One, everything is apparently on target. But they don’t tell us what the target is, not just at Hydro One but throughout the whole Ontario power system. Soon, Ontario will have the highest electricity rates in North America. 

Financial Post 
Parker Gallant is a retired Canadian banker who developed an interest in his monthly electricity bill and didn’t like what he was seeing.

Be sure to read ALL Parker Gallant’s articles at The National Post; they appear in the Financial Post “Comment” section, and are online.

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