MOECC misleading the public on wind turbine noise: municipal group

Residents’ health is being harmed, say municipal leaders. They’re not impressed with the MOECC’s lack of action

January 17, 2018

A group of municipal officials sent a formal letter to the supervisor of the Owen Sound office of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) following a presentation by the MOECC on the subject of wind turbine noise, noise reports, and adverse health effects.

While thanking manager Rick Chappell for his presentation, Stewart Halliday and Mark Davis, deputy mayors speaking on behalf of the group, said it was disappointing, and designed to mislead the public into thinking there are not problems with wind turbine noise in Ontario.

It’s time to stop denying the health effects, the Multi-Municipal group said, and get on to the business of alleviating the real suffering.

The letter follows.

M U L T I – M U N I C I P A L W I N D  T U R B I N E W O R K I N G  G R O U P

11 January, 2018

 

Andrew Barton, District Supervisor Andrew.Barton2@ontario.ca

Rick Chappell, District Manager Rick.Chappell@ontario.ca

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

101 –17th Street East

Owen Sound, Ontario N4K 0A5 Dear Mr. Barton and Mr. Chappell,

RE: Your presentation to our meeting of 14 December, 2017

 

Thank you for taking the time to make your presentation to the Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group.

As councillors, we have had ongoing complaints from a significant number of residents living near wind turbines in our area who are suffering harm to their health. The video we presented to you documents the experience of some of those affected. It will also help you to understand the widespread anger and disillusionment with the MOECC’s failure to act on their behalf.

Much of the suffering could have been avoided had the local MOECC offices identified to their standards division that the public were adversely impacted (as confirmed by complaints and field monitoring) even when the turbines might have been compliant with the A weighted limits, since those limits were not appropriately corrected for the cyclical nature of the sound that is unmatched in nature, the tonality, the frequency spectrum, and the dominance of the sound above the local environment, and the other special characteristics of the wind turbine sound.

As recently revealed in FOI disclosure, there have been hundreds of complaints. Failure to resolve them, declining to shut down problematic arrays, and relying on proponent estimates of noise emissions only creates growing distrust of the MOECC.

Your presentation was disappointing. It appeared to be designed to mislead the public into thinking there are no health problems. You presented a rosy picture of a government that is busy working  on our behalf. But our experience shows that it is not.

You admitted at the meeting that you are aware that some people living near wind turbines are getting sick. You agree that IWTs cause annoyance and that leads to health issues. It is time to accept this and move forward— to protect the public so that they are not adversely impacted.

The urgent need for action is confirmed by the recent decision of Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) that declared: “We accept that the evidence points to an association and a plausible pathway between WTN and adverse health effects (of a physical nature) mediated by annoyance, sleep disturbance and/or psychological distress”.

The Ministry’s commitment to the Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) (1994) stipulates that it will use “a precautionary, science-based approach in its decision-making to protect human health and the environment” and that “it will place priority on preventing pollution [in this case harmful noise emissions] . . . minimizing the creation of pollutants that can adversely affect the environment. . . . The Ministry will ensure that staff involved in decisions that might significantly affect the environment is aware of the Ministry’s Environmental Bill of Rights obligations”.

You can no longer justify continued inaction by falsely assuming that “components of wind turbine sound including infrasound and low-frequency sound have not been shown to present unique health risks to people living near wind turbines”.

Scientific, peer reviewed work carried out on infrasound and wind turbines by NASA under the direction of the highly respected Dr. Neil Kelley between 1981 and 1988 demonstrated the infrasound component of wind turbine emissions and its adverse effect on nearby residents. The World Health Organization has issued warnings that “the evidence on low frequency noise is sufficiently strong to warrant immediate concern”; “low-frequency noise . . . can disturb rest and sleep even at low sound pressure levels”; “other primary physiological effects can also be induced by noise during sleep, including increased blood pressure; increased heart rate; … vasoconstriction; …cardiac arrhythmia”.

Ambrose and Rand (2011, 2012), Basner et al. (2014), Cooper (2014), James (2013), and Nissenbaum (2012) all related measurements of wind turbine emissions (including infrasound) directly to diarized symptoms reported by those living nearby. Thorne’s study (2013), which took place over seven years, collected acoustic data at a number of homes so that cumulative exposures could be estimated. It concluded that health is “seriously and adversely affected”. Swinbanks paper presented in Glasgow in 2015 did not support your position. The MOECC failed to refer to  published peer reviewed documentation by Tachibana and Kuwano in the Noise Control Engineering Journal 62(6) 503-520 (2015): “Wind Turbine Noise (WTN) generally has dominant low frequencies and is easily transmitted into buildings, causing residents psycho-acoustical annoyance and sleep disturbance”.

We would be happy to provide you with these documents.

How did it get to this state of affairs that local residents have a greater understanding of the problems than the people whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers to protect us? We await some timely, responsible, diligent enforcement action from your office to alleviate the suffering of our residents.

Yours truly,

Stewart Halliday, Deputy Mayor Municipality of Grey Highlands, Chair

Mark Davis, Deputy Mayor Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, Vice-chair

MOECC managers Rick Chappell (4th from left), Andrew Barton at December 14th meeting: misleading the public [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

Stephana Johnston “wind warrior” passes away

Stephana Johnston at a fund-raising supper for the Drennan case

January 11, 2018

It is with deep sadness that Wind Concerns Ontario announces the passing of one of its staunchest members and Board member, Stephana Johnston.

Stephana had lived for years among the wind turbines in the Cultus-Clear Creek-Frogmore wind power project, developed by AIM PowerGen, and was one of the forst people in Ontario to experience symptoms from exposure to the vibration and noise emissions.

She fought back.

She presented information countless times to municipal councils, attended appeals before the Environmental Review Tribunal, and drove long distances to communities across Ontario to support people in their fight against the unwanted power projects. She was featured in numerous news articles including one published by the Globe and Mail.

A committed environmentalist, she ran for office as an MP for the Green Party in Haldimand-Norfolk, promoting “healthy communities” and “renewable energy.”

In a recent message to Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, Stephana wrote:

” … bless all the unsung wind warriors who are still strong in their resistance to IWTs and the harm they heap on those surrounded by them.”

 

As soon as we receive the formal notice from the family, we will publish it here.

 

Wind power in Ontario’s cold snap: not reliable

When demand for electricity and heating were at their highest, wind and solar production were at their lowest

–Stephen Aplin, Canadian Energy Issues

January 6, 2018

 

Ottawa-based energy analyst Stephen Aplin has taken on a portion of the work the Ontario government never did: an analysis of the benefits of wind power as part of Ontario’s power mix.

This week, with temperatures well below normal, is wind power achieving the promises made for it as a cheap reliable source of power?

No, says Aplin, in a comment on his Canadian Energy Issues website. “Bearing in mind the data presented [in his recent article], the answer is an obvious and emphatic, NO.”

Even if Ontario had ten times the capacity of wind and solar it does now, it still wouldn’t meet demand.

And before the pro-wind people jump up and say, We need MORE, Aplin says, that’s just  the usual from the pro-renewable energy salespeople — ” buy more of my inferior product.”

Aplin concludes by despairing of the renewables myth.

“In light of this, another monster-size question is begged. Why do governments all across the world regularly and routinely regurgitate the 100 percent renewables myth?

And why do the media types who interview the government types who regurgitate this nonsense not call them on it?”

Read the article here.

Challenges ahead in 2018 for social, environmental justice in Ontario

House Finch on Amherst Island: industrial-scale wind power development can’t trump environmental protection

January 1, 2018

Best wishes to all for the year ahead.

The Ontario government is still processing five wind power contracts awarded under the 2016 Large Renewable Procurement I (LRP I), despite concerns about the environment and health and the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power. With thousands of noise complaints recorded with the government unresolved, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) refuses to acknowledge that it has a problem, and refuses to look for causes, relying instead on its clearly inadequate set of regulations.

One of our favourite quotes in 2017 came from a hydrogeologist who pointed out, referring to the problems with water wells in Chatham-Kent, if you have a model that says you’re not going to have problems, then you experience problems, then it’s the model that is wrong.

The fact that wind power development on the industrial or utility scale has many significant problems — energy poverty, environmental damage, adverse health effects, negative impact on rural communities — is now better understood by the people in Ontario, and the media. In 2017, two major networks, Global News and Radio-Canada, carried multi-part investigative reports this past year. The three-part Global News feature spurred questions in the Legislature and forced the then-minister to act on noise complaints for several Huron County families.

The Huron County public health follow-up of noise complaints was finally launched by the Health Unit there; other health units are watching attentively. We believe 2018 will be the year when the Government of Ontario is forced to live up to its mandate and take steps to protect the health of its residents.

And, the legal battles continue, with actions taking place both inside the legislated appeal process for wind power projects, and in the courts. There have been victories: there will be more.

In her Christmas Message this year, the Queen spoke of the importance of “home”:  ” … the idea of home reaches beyond a physical building, to a home town or city,” she said.

We in Ontario think of our “home” as being our communities, the landscape, the natural environment — indeed, the entire province and all the people in it. We will continue to fight for justice for the environment and for families this year.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

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Ontario’s energy policies mean expensive, disappointing Christmas Day

Wind power a bonanza for power corporations on Christmas, but meant a bad day for ordinary consumers

December 29, 2017

Ontario had enough surplus power to provide millions with free power for Christmas Day … but that’s not what happened

 

A quick review of IESO data for Christmas Day 2017 shows our Energy Ministry delivered lumps of coal to all Ontario’s electricity ratepayers, whether they were good or bad.  Those lumps of coal can be seen as a gift from all past and present Energy ministers who signed contracts for the industrial wind turbines liberally sprinkled throughout the province.

This year, the IESO data shows about 54,327 MWh* was curtailed (paid for but not delivered to the grid) and paid $120/MWH. That means wind power corporations were paid over $6.5 million  ($6,519,240 to be more precise) for NOT delivering that power.

The curtailed or wasted power was enough to supply almost 2.2 million average homes with power for the day, free.

Meanwhile, the IESO accepted about 25,680 MWh, so the curtailed/suspended generation was actually 2.1 times as much as grid-accepted wind power. Wind power corporations were paid $135 per MWh — that’s another $3,467,800 so the total bill for wind power for the day was $9,987,040.

What you paid them: 39 cents a kWh

Here’s what else it means: the 25,680 MWh of power actually accepted by IESO into the grid cost $388.77/MWh* or 39 cents a kWh!  And, that 39 cents a kWh doesn’t include the costs of gas plant backup, spilled hydro or steamed-off nuclear, all of which applied on Christmas Day.

What you got paid: 1.9 cents

That’s not all: at the same time, the IESO was busy exporting surplus power to our neighbours in New York and Michigan at an average of 1,993MW (net-total exports less imports) per hour. We practically gave away 48,000MWh (rounded) at a cost to Ontario ratepayers of over $4 million.  So, Christmas Day, the day of giving, ratepayers coughed up $14 million for unneeded power whether they could afford it or not! That $14 million raised the cost to electricity customers by about $40/MWh or 4 cents/kWh.

Christmas Day is supposed to be a day of joy and giving. In Ontario though, it was a day when the result of government energy policies and mismanagement furthered hardship for many.

(C) Parker Gallant,

December 27, 2017

 

* Calculation is simply $8,083,200 + $3,467,800 = $11,551,000/25689 MWh = $449.80/MWh

MOECC: Christmas fun! (but not for you, North Kent)

December 23, 2017

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Somebody at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change headquarters on St Clair Avenue in downtown Toronto must have thought this was funny … and a way to use Christmas (because Christmas is there to be used for political purposes, isn’t it?) in the government’s “use-tap-water-not-bottles” campaign.
Employing social media Facebook and Twitter, the MOECC came out with a retro graphic asking people to leave Santa a glass of good old Ontario tap water this Christmas… it’s so good, it’s better than milk!
The campaign betrays a complete lack of awareness and/or sympathy for the plight of people in Chatham-Kent, whose water wells have been damaged, possibly by nearby wind turbine construction. Their homes, and the wind power project, are located on Kettle Point Black Shale and now, particles of that bedrock, which contains arsenic and other elements that should not be ingested, are present in their water. So much so, the water in some areas resembles chocolate milk, and the sludge is so thick that filtration systems have failed.
In response, the MOECC relies on the power developer; the power developer says its consultant assures them whatever happened to the wells isn’t their fault. Meanwhile, experts differ. If you have a model that predicts you won’t have problems,  but then you have problems, it is the model that is probably at fault, geologic scientist Keith Benn told a Wallaceburg audience at a public meeting recently.
So now, at Christmastime, at least 14 families cannot turn on THEIR taps for fresh, clean, Ontario water … but the government ministry in charge of protecting the environment and their health takes no action, and instead spends time thinking up Christmas jokes.
The government, and Minister Chris Ballard should be ashamed.

MOECC reps stun audience with views on wind turbine noise

Municipal officials told wind turbine noise no worse than barking dogs, no action planned

MOECC officials actually compared noise emissions from large-scale wind power generators, including harmful low-frequency noise, to barking dogs. A failure to regulate

December 16, 2017

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) position on wind turbine noise is that they don’t pose a health problem.

That’s the conclusion from remarks made by Owen Sound District Manager Rick Chappell and District Supervisor Andrew Barton, speaking to the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group in Chesley this past week.

The two MOECC managers said repeatedly indicated that they are just messengers: the MOECC’s Technical Assessment and Standards Branch is responsible for establishing the Ministry’s position on wind turbine noise and providing “advice” to local District staff when they respond to queries.

Bottom line: we don’t believe you

In their presentation and responding to questions from municipal officials in the Multi-Municipal working group, the MOECC officials outlined key elements of the MOECC position on wind turbine noise.

  1. They agree that wind turbines can cause annoyance. Contrary to medical literature, however, they do not use “annoyance” as a medical term denoting stress or distress. They actually compared annoyance caused by barking dogs to residents’ reactions to wind turbine noise. *
  2. The MOECC managers insisted the literature did not demonstrate any direct health effects from wind turbine noise, when asked about health studies and reviews on turbine noise. Despite evidence of indirect health effects raised, the staff comments repeatedly indicate the MOECC is narrowly focused on direct health effects.
  3. The MOECC takes a one-sided view of the Health Canada study which according to these officials only found that there was no link between wind turbine noise and health impacts. This statement ignores the second half of the findings which confirmed a link between reported health effects experienced over 12 months and wind turbine noise. They also do not seem to be aware of the findings released to WCO which indicated that annoyance starts at 35 dBA, not the 40 dBA used in Ontario.
  4. Their view of the Council of Canadian Academies report was similarly selective. They downplayed the key finding of this review which was that there is sufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and annoyance in the medical sense. Also not mentioned were the issues highlighted about measurements of wind turbine noise using A-weighted tools which fail to capture low frequency components of wind turbine noise. The Council noted that averaging measurements over time does not convey changes in sound pressure levels occurring in short periods.
  5. In terms of low frequency noise and infrasound, the MOECC representatives relied on a statement from Health Canada that levels of these emissions were found to be below levels that would expect to result in harm to human health. When questioned, however, they were not able to quantify what the MOECC considered “safe” levels of infrasound, or when the MOECC would be acquiring equipment that is capable of measuring emissions at frequencies below 20 Hz.
  6. Members of the Working Group countered by referring to research that conflicted with the MOECC statements. The response from Chappell and Barton was that the Technical Assessment and Standards Development branch reviews emerging research, but limits its assessments to peer-reviewed articles in “respected” journals.
  7. In the MOECC presentation, staff said the 2016 Glasgow International Wind Turbine Noise Conference supported their position on infrasound and health effects. This prompted the Technical Advisor to the group — who actually attended the conference — to inform them that he sent 14 papers presented at this conference to the Ministry, because the conclusions do not support the Ministry’s position.
  8. Chappell and Barton did not seem to be aware of the work of Dr. Neil Kelly at NASA in the mid-1970s on low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines, even though it was published in respected peer-reviewed journals and presented at U.S. wind industry conferences.
  9. Residents affected by wind turbine noise were present in the audience. One from Grey Highlands asked when the Ministry was going to respond to the noise assessments at his home that had been provided to the Ministry. No response timeline was provided. Another asked for the position of the MOECC on people who had to move from their homes because of the impact of the noise from nearby wind turbines. The response was that the MOECC has no position except to repeat that there is no direct link between wind turbine noise and health issues.

Members of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group did not appear to be satisfied with the answers provided by the Ministry officials; several follow-up activities are planned.

MOECC failing as regulator: WCO

Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson says these remarks are either a sign of “stunning ignorance, or a calculated policy by the MOECC to ignore and even demean what is happening to people in Ontario.”

Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says there is a great deal of evidence in the health literature about the range of noise emissions produced by large-scale wind turbines, and growing international concern about adverse health effects.

“Of course there are health effects,” Wilson said. “That’s why we have setbacks between turbines and homes in the first place. This Ministry refuses to acknowledge it has a problem and take appropriate action — it is failing the people of Ontario as a regulator.”

MOECC managers Rick Chappell (4th from left), Andrew Barton at December 14th meeting: their answers didn’t satisfy the committee [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

*CanWEA in a 2011 news release acknowledged that a percentage of people can be annoyed by wind turbines, and the trade association said that when annoyance has a significant impact on quality of life, “it is important that they consult their doctor. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also describes noise-induced annoyance in legislation as a situation that “can have major consequences, primarily to one’s health.”

Residents, municipality fed up with MOECC on turbine noise complaints

“Years of testing, but never any results”

http://london.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1282268

December 12, 2017

A Kincardine area couple has filed hundreds of formal reports of excessive noise and vibration from nearby wind turbines with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), but has never had any resolution of the problem.

CTV’s Scott Miller interviewed the Walpole family and learned of their plight. The vibrations in the home are so strong, they said, light bulbs come loose in their sockets.

The Walpoles have filed more than 200 reports with the government and are told testing is ongoing, but somehow, the tests are never completed, and the problem continues.

The Municipality of Kincardine is frustrated by the MOECC’s apparent inaction and failure to resolve residents’ problems, says the Mayor in the CTV interview.

Last week, a representative of the MOECC appeared before Kincardine Council to answer questions on the situation. Rick Chappell, manager in the Owen Sound District Office, claimed there was a backlog in the Ministry’s processing of reports.

The wind power project in Kincardine has been operating for more than eight years.

Earlier this year, Wind Concerns Ontario received documents from the MOECC with records and staff notes on wind turbine noise reports to the Ministry, which showed that there was no response to more than half the complaints made and in fat, only one percent received a “priority response.” The Ministry was aware of hundreds of complaints even before the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, which facilitated the development of even more utility-scale or industrial-scale wind power projects in Ontario.

At present, with thousands of unresolved reports of noise and vibration, and questions of interference with water supply, the MOECC is in the process of considering Renewable Energy Approvals for five more projects.

 

The recording of Mr Chappell’s appearance before Kincardine Council is now available here, after minute 11.

 

Real-world evidence shows wind power is expensive

… and produced when it’s not needed. Consumers pay big

December 11, 2017

The wind power industry continues its refrain that wind power is cheap and getting cheaper … meanwhile, real-world stats tell a different story.

Energy commentator Parker Gallant has done analysis on two December days in Ontario last week, and shown that because wind power is produced out of phase with demand (this is a fact), it contributes to power surplus and waste.

“IESO forecasts indicated that wind could have delivered 23.8% (177,100 MWh) of total Ontario demand (755,200 MWh) via the 4,200 MW of grid-connected wind capacity.  But wind turbines have a bad habit of generating power when it’s not needed (middle of the night, spring and fall),” says Gallant. “So the intermittent power must often be curtailed (constrained/wasted but paid for).  It was! The IESO curtailed 41.8% of their forecast generation meaning 74,000 MWh were not used! Via the contracts in place with wind power companies, IESO is obliged to pay for both delivered and curtailed power at prices for grid-accepted power at $135/MWh and $120/MWh for curtailed power.”

In fact, Gallant says,”The cost of the delivered wind power for those two days was almost three times the current levied* ‘average’ cost of 8.22 cents/kWh, and 3.7 times the off-peak cost of 5.9 cents/kWh.”

Meanwhile, the surplus of wind meant other sources of power — clean, emissions-free hydro and nuclear — were constrained, too.

At this moment, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is considering approvals for five more wind power projects in Ontario. Intermittent, undependable, expensive power that isn’t needed, and will certainly add to costs for Ontario’s electricity consumers.

Read Parker Gallant’s post here.

 

Wind power: not needed in Ontario, say energy experts

December 8, 2017

The final part of the ICI Radio-Canada series on wind power in Ontario aired December 8.

This is a translation of the E-zine version of the story.

[Photo: Nic Pham, ICI Radio-Canada]

Unserviceable wells, contaminated water, noise, citizens concerned about their health, wind farm issues are increasingly being blamed in southwestern Ontario, and many communities are mobilizing to oppose the development of their homes. New projects. Yet, for two decades, the number of wind farms has been increasing. So why do we need so many wind turbines?

Reportage and photos: Nicolas Pham Text: Marine Lefevre Edim and infographics: Vincent Wallon

 

Experts say that wind energy is not absolutely necessary in Ontario. The province has been experiencing energy surpluses for several years and the intermittent electricity produced by wind turbines is, at the present time, mainly an extra energy source.

A SATURATED MARKET

“We do not need these turbines for the moment,” says Jean-Thomas Bernard, visiting professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Ottawa. A message relayed by Pierre-Olivier Pineau, holder of the HEC Montréal Energy Sector Management Chair.

According to both researchers, demand in Ontario has declined significantly in recent years. The economic crisis of 2008-2009 brought down demand in the industrial sector, and rising prices at the residential level encouraged the public to save energy.

On the supply side, the province relies primarily on nuclear energy and hydroelectricity. The combination of these factors results in the production of wind farms being added to other energy production.

“With a low demand, we have surpluses. ” – Pierre-Olivier Pineau, who holds the Chair sector management Energy HEC Montreal 

 

In addition to this, wind generation does not adequately meet the energy needs of consumers. In any case, this is indicated in a study published in June 2017 by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy, which deals, among other things, with the effect of installing wind turbines on the province’s electricity grid.

“The analysis shows that the intermittency of the wind makes it an unproductive and expensive choice that does not meet the needs of customers and also compromises the price of electricity exports”, reads the introduction to the report by Marc Brouillette , Senior Consultant at Strategic Policy Economics (Strapolec)

Based on data from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), the author indicates that in 2015 Ontario’s wind farms operated at less than one third of their capacity, approximately 60% of the time.

In addition, the report states that wind turbines are usually in operation when the province’s grid is least in need of electricity.

“Ontarians’ energy consumption is highest in winter and summer, and lowest in spring and late fall, which is almost a mirror image of wind generation models because the wind is the highest in spring and autumn, “says the author.

In conclusion, wind energy does not meet the needs and forces the use of other forms of energy to fill the gaps, but in addition this irregular production contributes to the average surplus of the energy production, which also has a cost.

In 2015, wind energy accounted for one-third of excess core production outside of peak periods in Ontario. That year, the only wind surplus cost consumers $ 370 million on a total bill of about $ 550 million.

In addition, these surpluses have an effect on the price of this energy, especially for exports, where this energy is sold at a loss because it is difficult to store. According to the author, this report puts into question the entire past, present and future deployment of wind resources in the province.

WHY INVEST IN WIND?

One of the reasons for this is the intention of Dalton McGuinty’s government (2003-2013) to make an industrial transformation in Ontario.

In a context where the province’s traditional industries such as pulp and paper, metal refining and even the automobile sector were losing their wings, the Liberal government of the day wanted to convert the province to renewable energy. solar and wind, to create a new industrial sector in Ontario.

At the same time, as the fight against climate change intensified, investments in this green energy sector became natural.

“It was done to encourage renewable energies when we were aiming for the closure of coal plants. ” – Jean-Thomas Bernard, a visiting professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Ottawa 

 

For the government, massive investment in the sector also reflects a desire to diversify energy sources and protect Ontarians from unforeseen events, especially over the long term.

A reasonable approach even if it means having surpluses for several years, says Pierre-Olivier Pineau, particularly in a context where the objective is to have an electricity sector that no longer emits greenhouse gases.

“It may seem like a long time, but in electricity you invest for periods of 20 to 30 years. It is difficult to predict economic conditions and we always keep an extra capacity to be able to meet the demand, “he says.

According to him, the government announcements [were] a bit premature in the wind industry in Ontario, and elsewhere in Canada, a response to the positive perception of the electorate towards this [form of] energy.

“For politicians, we still have image gains to make by announcing green policies, focused on sustainable development. And pictures of wind turbines, and green energy contracts, these are beautiful images,” says the researcher.

THE FAILURE OF A POLICY

The wind shift did not happen as planned, however, explains Jean-Thomas Bernard. Ontario has been unable to create a new industrial sector.

“It did not work because Ontario produces little wind equipment. Major turbine manufacturers are Denmark, Germany, the United States and China. The Ontario market is not big enough to provide a foundation for development, “he says.

“We have invested in wind power, but the bill comes later, so it creates a political problem to announce an increase in the price of electricity. » – Pierre-Olivier Pineau 

 

Wind power not justified by the market

The Ontario government put a halt to new project grants in 2016,* but it remains contractually bound to buy electricity from existing wind farms at fixed prices.

“There is no jurisdiction where the market price justifies wind energy investment. Once the government decides to have wind generation capacity, it is obliged to guarantee prices. » – Pierre-Olivier Pineau 

 

This guarantee forces Ontario to purchase electricity at a fixed price, regardless of the demand and lower production costs associated with the technological evolution of the sector.

A difficult situation for the province, which has invested millions of dollars in a sector that looked promising as it faces an economic situation where electricity demand is lower.

“Electricity rates are increasing by 5% per year as a result of this firm price policy for renewable energy. If we had not developed them, today there would be a drop of 5% per year. “Adds Jean-Thomas Bernard.

Ontario is not unique, Quebec and Alberta have also had to guarantee prices to energy companies.

On the other hand, the manner of proceeding, by call for tenders in particular, made it possible to establish lower fixed prices. In addition, the importance of hydroelectricity in Quebec and oil in Alberta makes the wind industry very secondary in these provinces.

A COMPLEX SITUATION

For these experts, the energy sector in Ontario is generally in an unenviable position. Prices are high and the energy policies put in place for several years have not yielded the expected results.

“The current government has chosen to have both nuclear and wind power with the problems we know in terms of price. And these problems will not disappear in the future because the rehabilitation of nuclear power and wind will be very expensive in the years to come, “says Pierre-Olivier Pineau.

And even though over the last year the government has lowered rates twice, including reducing the sales tax, the real question remains: are we able to produce electricity at a lower cost? “Not today,” concludes Jean-Thomas Bernard.

Part 1 | In the land of black water 
Part 2 | Opposition rumbles
Part 3 | Wind turbines: green energy at all costs?

 

  • WCO note: it is not correct to state the the Ontario government has halted its wind power procurement program. The Large Renewable Procurement program has been put on hold due to a surplus of power, but it is not gone. Meanwhile the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is currently processing five more applications for large-scale projects, for 300 megawatts of intermittent, unnecessary power.