Germany and renewables: electricity now a “luxury”

We’re a couple of days behind on this report but it’s worth a read, if only to heartily wish Ontario had looked at everything Germany is now going through with wind power: the highest electricity bills in Europe, people unable to pay, hardship for seniors and young families…When Ontario gets to the level where our bills are the highest in North America, we will be raising the bar on complete policy failure.

Here is the article from Der Spiegel:

Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good

By SPIEGEL Staff
Photo Gallery: The Costs of Green Energy

Photos

DPA
Germany’s agressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty pricetag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor. Government advisors are calling for a completely new start.

If you want to do something big, you have to start small. That’s something German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier knows all too well. The politician, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has put together a manual of practical tips on how everyone can make small, everyday contributions to the shift away from nuclear power and toward green energy. The so-called Energiewende, or energy revolution, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s project of the century.

“Join in and start today,” Altmaier writes in the introduction. He then turns to such everyday activities as baking and cooking. “Avoid preheating and utilize residual heat,” Altmaier advises. TV viewers can also save a lot of electricity, albeit at the expense of picture quality. “For instance, you can reduce brightness and contrast,” his booklet suggests. Altmaier and others are on a mission to help people save money on their electricity bills, because they’re about to receive some bad news. The government predicts that the renewable energy surcharge added to every consumer’s electricity bill will increase from 5.3 cents today to between 6.2 and 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour — a 20-percent price hike.
German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. But because the government is failing to get the costs of its new energy policy under control, rising prices are already on the horizon. Electricity is becoming a luxury good in Germany, and one of the country’s most important future-oriented projects is acutely at risk.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar. But now many Germans are realizing the coalition government of Merkel’s CDU and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) is unable to cope with this shift. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the public has any more confidence in a potential alliance of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The political world is wedged between the green-energy lobby, masquerading as saviors of the world, and the established electric utilities, with their dire warnings of chaotic supply problems and job losses.
Even well-informed citizens can no longer keep track of all the additional costs being imposed on them. According to government sources, the surcharge to finance the power grids will increase by 0.2 to 0.4 cents per kilowatt hour next year. On top of that, consumers pay a host of taxes, surcharges and fees that would make any consumer’s head spin.
Former Environment Minister Jürgen Tritten of the Green Party once claimed that switching Germany to renewable energy wasn’t going to cost citizens more than one scoop of ice cream. Today his successor Altmaier admits consumers are paying enough to “eat everything on the ice cream menu.”
Paying Big for Nothing
For society as a whole, the costs have reached levels comparable only to the euro-zone bailouts. This year, German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.
If there is too much power coming from the grid, wind turbines have to be shut down. Nevertheless, consumers are still paying for the “phantom electricity” the turbines are theoretically generating. Occasionally, Germany has to pay fees to dump already subsidized green energy, creating what experts refer to as “negative electricity prices.”
On the other hand, when the wind suddenly stops blowing, and in particular during the cold season, supply becomes scarce. That’s when heavy oil and coal power plants have to be fired up to close the gap, which is why Germany’s energy producers in 2012 actually released more climate-damaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than in 2011.
If there is still an electricity shortfall, energy-hungry plants like the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Hamburg are sometimes asked to shut down production to protect the grid. Of course, ordinary electricity customers are then expected to pay for the compensation these businesses are entitled to for lost profits.
The government has high hopes for the expansion of offshore wind farms. But the construction sites are in a state of chaos: Wind turbines off the North Sea island of Borkum are currently rotating without being connected to the grid. The connection cable will probably not be finished until next year. In the meantime, the turbines are being run with diesel fuel to prevent them from rusting.
In the current election campaign, the parties are blaming each other for the disaster. Meanwhile, the federal government would prefer to avoid discussing its energy policies entirely. “It exposes us to criticism,” says a government spokesman. “There are undeniably major problems,” admits a cabinet member.
But this week, the issue is forcing its way onto the agenda. On Thursday, a government-sanctioned commission plans to submit a special report called “Competition in Times of the Energy Transition.” The report is sharply critical, arguing that Germany’s current system actually rewards the most inefficient plants, doesn’t contribute to protecting the climate, jeopardizes the energy supply and puts the poor at a disadvantage.
The experts propose changing the system to resemble a model long successful in Sweden. If implemented, it would eliminate the more than 4,000 different subsidies currently in place. Instead of bureaucrats setting green energy prices, they would be allowed to develop indepedently on a separate market. The report’s authors believe the Swedish model would lead to faster and cheaper implementation of renewable energy, and that the system would also become what it is not today: socially just.
Trouble Paying the Bills
When Stefan Becker of the Berlin office of the Catholic charity Caritas makes a house call, he likes to bring along a few energy-saving bulbs. Many residents still use old light bulbs, which consume a lot of electricity but are cheaper than newer bulbs. “People here have to decide between spending money on an expensive energy-saving bulb or a hot meal,” says Becker. In other words, saving energy is well and good — but only if people can afford it.
A family Becker recently visited is a case in point. They live in a dark, ground-floor apartment in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood. On a sunny summer day, the two children inside had to keep the lights on — which drives up the electricity bill, even if the family is using energy-saving bulbs.
Becker wants to prevent his clients from having their electricity shut off for not paying their bill. After sending out a few warning notices, the power company typically sends someone to the apartment to shut off the power — leaving the customers with no functioning refrigerator, stove or bathroom fan. Unless they happen to have a camping stove, they can’t even boil water for a cup of tea. It’s like living in the Stone Age.

Once the power has been shut off, it’s difficult to have it switched on again. Customers have to negotiate a payment plan, and are also charged a reconnection fee of up to €100. “When people get their late payment notices in the spring, our phones start ringing,” says Becker. In the near future, an average three-person household will spend about €90 a month for electricity. That’s about twice as much as in 2000.
Two-thirds of the price increase is due to new government fees, surcharges and taxes. But despite those price hikes, government pensions and social welfare payments have not been adjusted. As a result, every new fee becomes a threat to low-income consumers. Read more at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html

Dear Minister Chiarelli…


September 9, 2013
[Tongue in Cheek Letter]
The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy,
Dear Minister Chiarelli:
It has come to my attention that the Independent Electricity System Operator will start paying industrial wind developers for not producing any electricity, starting on September 11, 2013.  I understand that they could possibly receive as much as $200,000 per megawatt of installed power for not producing that electricity.
 This leads me to believe that I could also be persuaded to not produce any electricity in order to obtain the benefits of that program.  I would start small and perhaps not produce electricity for say 2 megawatts, which would mean a payment of $400,000 per year. In a few years I could expand and not produce electricity for, say, 10 megawatts.
I understand that IESO put up meteorological stations to determine what electricity is not produced and that these stations are also paid for by them.  I would be delighted to have IESO put up a station to measure what I will not produce.   In fact, it seems to be fruitless to actually put up any wind turbines if I am paid for not producing electricity so perhaps we could agree to skip the process of obtaining a Renewable Energy Approval—it just takes up too much time for that other Ministry. Another benefit of the latter is that the wind turbines I would not put up would not kill any birds or bats, thereby saving money that would have gone to paying someone to collect the carcasses.  I trust you will find merit in this suggestion and hope that you agree.  It has the added benefit of stopping those pesky naturalists from complaining.
  In studying the electricity system I see that those industrial wind turbines that will be paid for not producing electricity will be backed up by gas plants who will also be paid for not producing electricity.
In a couple of years I would also like to apply for some of the money that I could be paid for, say, a small gas plant generator of 10 megawatts that would not produce electricity.  That payment of around $1.8 million a year would allow me to expand my non-producing industrial wind turbine production by perhaps as much as another 100 megawatts.
  I certainly applaud the efforts of your ministry to not produce electricity and am sure that those efforts will be endorsed by the Environment Commissioner, Mr. Miller, as he is adamant that he wants us to conserve energy: what better way to do that than not produce it!
  No doubt there are many companies and businesses throughout the Province that are supportive of your efforts to pay for not producing electricity and many among them are those large and small solar generators who will also (we understand) be paid for not producing electricity.   At this juncture I do not plan to get into the business of not producing electricity from solar panels but will consider it for the future.  Any information that you can send me on that program would however be appreciated as I have other family members who are considering getting into solar panels so they can also be paid for not producing any electricity.
I look forward to doing business with your Ministry by not producing electricity.
Yours truly,

Parker Gallant



The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Kawatha Lakes wind projects: throwing ‘silver’ around to pretend acceptance

We can’t reproduce this article for you, and can only offer a link to the publication The Kawartha Promoter, but this week’s edition has an excellent article on wind power developer (and sometime environmental consultant to the wind power development industry) M.K. Ince.
  Note the trend toward forming symbolic “co-operatives” like the Wintergreen Co-operative behind the Ernestown Windpark (that got them a grant from the Co-operators Insurance Foundation). It looks like community acceptance–but isn’t.
  Click on the link than page through to page 19.
http://issuu.com/thepromoter/docs/the_promoter_sept_6_2013/1?e=4874630/4744518

Without taxpayer money, wind doesn’t exist

Here from the blog North East Windmills is a view on wind power development in that part of the United States: slowed virtually to a halt.

Wind Installations Grind to a Halt With Zero Installed Nationwide in 2nd Quarter of 2013

July 31, 2013 by
Wind energy is collapsing
Wind energy is collapsing – zero installs in the 2nd quarter of 2013

We’ve been trying to point out just how bad the collapse of wind energy really is, but some of you might think we’ve only been showing you a few cherry picked facts, so here’s something for you to consider from the American Wind Energy Association, the wind energy trade group.

Only 1.6 megawatts (MW) of wind power were commissioned during the first half of the year and none at all during the second quarter

Zero installs in the second quarter!

Think about that, the BOOMING wind energy sector installed 1.6MW in the first quarter, that’s most likely a single wind turbine, and absolutely none in the second quarter. What does that say about the wind industry?

Without taxpayer money, wind energy doesn’t exist

The AWEA says they’re fine, things are “ramping up” and they blame the late extension of tax credits as the reason they were down so long. In other words, this huge “dead zone” with zero installs is what wind energy looks like without taxpayer money propping it up.
Countries around the world cutting back on wind, plants in the US closing, sales from the big manufacturers way down, and now, zero installs in the second quarter, it makes you think this rush to put a very wind friendly ordinance in place in communities like ours, is a last desperate grab by out of town developers for taxpayer money before the Production Tax Credit (PTC) expires for good.
It looks like wind energy advocates can’t handle the truth.
Just say NO! North East is our home, we live here. We can do better.

Is renewable energy finished in Australia?

Here from the Guardian an interesting report from Australia: almost no mention of renewable sources of power, plenty of focus on fossil fuels, a promise to look into thorium as a power source, and once again, a promise to conduct a health study into turbine noise.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/coalition-energy-document-focuses-almost-entirely-on-fossil-fuels

Coalition energy document focuses almost entirely on fossil fuels

Only reference to Australia’s $20bn renewable industry is repeat of promise to hold another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms

Construction Continues On Controversial Lake George Wind Farm
The Lake George Capital Wind Farm in Canberra. Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The Coalition on Thursday unveiled its new energy and resources document, which focuses almost entirely on fossil fuel developments, promising to restore coal-fired power stations to profitability, boost exploration for oil and gas, and to produce another “white paper” on energy.
Other proposals in the document prepared by opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane include an investigation into the use of thorium as a potential energy source of the future, and support mechanisms for the use of LNG as a transport fuel.
“Australians have a choice between a Coalition government that will give industry policy certainty and stability or a Labor government putting investment, jobs and economic growth at risk with erratic policies and taxation burdens on Australia’s most important industry,“ the document says.
However, the only other reference to the country’s $20bn renewable industry is the repeat of a promise made last December to hold yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms, and confirmation of a previously leaked commitment to require “real time” monitoring of wind turbine noise – a move that wind energy groups say would involve “crippling” costs.
There is no mention of renewables – least of all the “solar revolution” that state energy ministers admit is sweeping the country.
However, separate costing documents reveal sharp cuts to renewable support measures. This includes stripping the Australian Renewables Energy Agency of $150m over three years to fund the Coalition’s million solar roofs program, cutting a planned $40m program to support geothermal and ocean energy developments in regional towns, and cutting $185m from a “connecting renewables” program designed to support transmission infrastructure for renewables. The million solar roofs program – targeted for low income earners – will now feature a $500 rebate instead of a $1,000 rebate because of the fall in the cost of solar PV modules.
On wind, the energy document – in an apparent gesture towards the anti-wind members of its constituency – says: “Some members of public have serious concerns over the potential impacts of wind farms on the health of people living in their vicinity.
“The lack of reliable and demonstrably independent evidence on the subject of wind farms both adds to those concerns and allows vested interests on either side of the debate to promulgate questionable information to support their respective cases.
“We will implement a program to establish real-time monitoring of wind farm noise emissions to be made publicly available on the internet.”
The renewables industry has previously said that real-time monitoring would impose unbearable costs on the wind industry, and would be almost useless because of the inability to separate other noise in real-time.
Despite the fact that there have been 19 separate studies into wind farm health, including one by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Coalition said it would establish either an independent NHMRC research program or an independent expert panel to examine and determine any actual or potential health effects of wind farms.
A previous study by the NHMRC in 2010 found that “there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines”. A Senate inquiry into wind farm health fell largely along party lines, although it said it was unable to establish a direct link between ill health and the noise generated by wind farms.
The Coalition has said that the inquiry would be made in response to demands from anti-wind senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon, who may hold the balance of power in a new Senate.
“This panel will be modelled on the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development,” it says.
The new energy white paper will address issues of “energy security” and transparency that the Coalition says had not been addressed in the previous document.
It would also investigate the role of alternative transport fuel sources, including but not limited to biofuels, LNG, CNG and LPG, and another white paper would look at how the government would support Australia’s “world leading” expertise in petroleum and mining services industries.
The document says the Coalition would look into formalising the sale of uranium to India, and would also examine the potential use of thorium as an energy source, noting that Australia possesses an estimated 18.7% (489,000t) of the world’s identified resources.
“The primary source of thorium in Australia and globally is the mineral monazite. Thorium can be used as an alternative source of fuel for energy generation and possesses an energy content that can be utilised almost in its entirety,” it says. Thorium is often touted as a future energy source, although most experts say it is decades away from deployment.
Among other initiatives, the Coalition says it will provide $100m in incentives to boost mineral and petroleum exploration, and would convene an “urgent meeting” of state governments, gas explorers and producers and gas consumers to set in place “a workable gas supply strategy for the East Coast gas market to the year 2020”. This follows widespread warnings of a sharp jump in gas prices as the LNG terminal in Queensland begins exports, and of a potential gas shortage in some areas such as NSW.
The Coalition document noted that electricity generators across Australia have faced “huge losses” in value thanks to the carbon tax. It said these losses meant higher costs for consumers and taxpayers, although it didn’t explain how.
“The O’Farrell government has made it clear that its black coal-fired power stations will suffer a loss in value of at least $5 billion because of the carbon tax,” it said. “This is a cost that will be paid by New South Wales taxpayers already struggling with rising cost of living pressures.”
Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables initiative says the anti-wind farm stance of some Coalition members is out of touch with mainstream views.
“All available public polling shows strong public support for wind farms,” says Ewbank. “The Coalition desperately needs to make a wind energy friendly policy announcement to reaffirm its commitment to Australia’s most affordable renewable energy source.”
• Giles Parkinson is editor of RenewEconomy.com.au

Renewable power finished in Australia?

Coalition energy document focuses almost entirely on fossil fuels

Only reference to Australia’s $20bn renewable industry is repeat of promise to hold another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms

Construction Continues On Controversial Lake George Wind Farm
The Lake George Capital Wind Farm in Canberra. Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The Coalition on Thursday unveiled its new energy and resources document, which focuses almost entirely on fossil fuel developments, promising to restore coal-fired power stations to profitability, boost exploration for oil and gas, and to produce another “white paper” on energy.

Other proposals in the document prepared by opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane include an investigation into the use of thorium as a potential energy source of the future, and support mechanisms for the use of LNG as a transport fuel.

“Australians have a choice between a Coalition government that will give industry policy certainty and stability or a Labor government putting investment, jobs and economic growth at risk with erratic policies and taxation burdens on Australia’s most important industry,“ the document says.

However, the only other reference to the country’s $20bn renewable industry is the repeat of a promise made last December to hold yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms, and confirmation of a previously leaked commitment to require “real time” monitoring of wind turbine noise – a move that wind energy groups say would involve “crippling” costs.

There is no mention of renewables – least of all the “solar revolution” that state energy ministers admit is sweeping the country.

However, separate costing documents reveal sharp cuts to renewable support measures. This includes stripping the Australian Renewables Energy Agency of $150m over three years to fund the Coalition’s million solar roofs program, cutting a planned $40m program to support geothermal and ocean energy developments in regional towns, and cutting $185m from a “connecting renewables” program designed to support transmission infrastructure for renewables. The million solar roofs program – targeted for low income earners – will now feature a $500 rebate instead of a $1,000 rebate because of the fall in the cost of solar PV modules.

On wind, the energy document – in an apparent gesture towards the anti-wind members of its constituency – says: “Some members of public have serious concerns over the potential impacts of wind farms on the health of people living in their vicinity.

“The lack of reliable and demonstrably independent evidence on the subject of wind farms both adds to those concerns and allows vested interests on either side of the debate to promulgate questionable information to support their respective cases.

“We will implement a program to establish real-time monitoring of wind farm noise emissions to be made publicly available on the internet.”

The renewables industry has previously said that real-time monitoring would impose unbearable costs on the wind industry, and would be almost useless because of the inability to separate other noise in real-time.

Despite the fact that there have been 19 separate studies into wind farm health, including one by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Coalition said it would establish either an independent NHMRC research program or an independent expert panel to examine and determine any actual or potential health effects of wind farms.

A previous study by the NHMRC in 2010 found that “there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines”. A Senate inquiry into wind farm health fell largely along party lines, although it said it was unable to establish a direct link between ill health and the noise generated by wind farms.

The Coalition has said that the inquiry would be made in response to demands from anti-wind senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon, who may hold the balance of power in a new Senate.

“This panel will be modelled on the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development,” it says.

The new energy white paper will address issues of “energy security” and transparency that the Coalition says had not been addressed in the previous document.

It would also investigate the role of alternative transport fuel sources, including but not limited to biofuels, LNG, CNG and LPG, and another white paper would look at how the government would support Australia’s “world leading” expertise in petroleum and mining services industries.

The document says the Coalition would look into formalising the sale of uranium to India, and would also examine the potential use of thorium as an energy source, noting that Australia possesses an estimated 18.7% (489,000t) of the world’s identified resources.

“The primary source of thorium in Australia and globally is the mineral monazite. Thorium can be used as an alternative source of fuel for energy generation and possesses an energy content that can be utilised almost in its entirety,” it says. Thorium is often touted as a future energy source, although most experts say it is decades away from deployment.

Among other initiatives, the Coalition says it will provide $100m in incentives to boost mineral and petroleum exploration, and would convene an “urgent meeting” of state governments, gas explorers and producers and gas consumers to set in place “a workable gas supply strategy for the East Coast gas market to the year 2020”. This follows widespread warnings of a sharp jump in gas prices as the LNG terminal in Queensland begins exports, and of a potential gas shortage in some areas such as NSW.

The Coalition document noted that electricity generators across Australia have faced “huge losses” in value thanks to the carbon tax. It said these losses meant higher costs for consumers and taxpayers, although it didn’t explain how.

“The O’Farrell government has made it clear that its black coal-fired power stations will suffer a loss in value of at least $5 billion because of the carbon tax,” it said. “This is a cost that will be paid by New South Wales taxpayers already struggling with rising cost of living pressures.”

Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables initiative says the anti-wind farm stance of some Coalition members is out of touch with mainstream views.

“All available public polling shows strong public support for wind farms,” says Ewbank. “The Coalition desperately needs to make a wind energy friendly policy announcement to reaffirm its commitment to Australia’s most affordable renewable energy source.”

• Giles Parkinson is editor of RenewEconomy.com.au

Hydro One, Energy Ministers: getting ‘smarter’? You be the judge!


Three bills in three weeks from Hydro One and a new line on the bill: “Miscellaneous Adjustment” got this writer wondering, why?  The first bill came with an insert with the heading “Important Information about your enclosed Hydro One bill” and went on to explain that after they had “changed the meter at your premises, we experienced an issue which prevented the data from your meter from being processed in a timely manner in our system.”   The meter they changed was a “smart meter” Hydro One installed a few years ago, so I assume this is a “smarter” meter.  Calling the number on the insert allowed me to confirm with Hydro One  that the meter change was due to a “communication problem.”
   The upsetting part of the final bill is that when the all-in price of my power is calculated (including the costs of electricity, delivery, regulatory and debt retirement charge) it turned out to be 29 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) and when I looked at my bill from November 2008 the all in charge was 16.5 cents a kWh.  So in less than five years, the price had risen by 81%.
   We’re doing our best to be responsible power consumers: we consumed less power than before and 71% of the billed electricity was in “off-peak” hours. 
   If one looks back this is what then Premier McGuinty said in his Throne speech of October 12, 2005 about smart meters: “Consumers can look forward to getting smart meters that will help them save money by telling them when they can pay less.
    An 81-% increase? Sounds like another broken government promise!
   Those who have Hydro One as their local distribution company (LDC) will recall that only a few months ago, they sent another insert about a “new billing system”  which allows them to bill on a “real time” basis.   In effect this was a $160-million grab from ratepayers, perhaps to ensure their profits grow and that they can continue to pay dividends to the Province ($370 million in 2012).  Profitability however, doesn’t cover off employee pension and benefit requirements as noted by DBRS, the Canadian bond rating agency, who listed Hydro One as # 8 on their recent list of worst funded pensions in Canada. Perhaps they should be funding their pension fund instead of making big dividend payments to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, but that might force Finance Minister Sousa to make some tough spending decisions.
   My comments on “smart meters” are not new: back in July 2010I pointed out that in a 3,400-page submission by Hydro One for a rate increase, the installed cost per smart meter was $700.54. That was confirmed by an exchange with a Hydro One officer.  Now, the smart meters are having to be replaced? And not for the first time: Hydro One has needed to replace smart meters back in 2010 when the Newmarket Eracarried an article about meter replacement in Keswick, Sutton and Mount Albert. My suspicion is that the form letter in our recent bill wasn’t the only one: who else in Prince Edward County and other parts of the province got it?
  So, now,  one wonders about the promises made for those smart meters. At $700.54 cents per meter the cost of replacing the old analog meter at our place is now $1,400.00; the Hydro One 2012 Annual Report indicates they are charging $1.52 per month as a recovery cost.  At that rate, it will take them 76 years to recover their costs. Will Hydro One be spending hundreds of millions each year on “smart meters” instead of upgrading the important infrastructure such as transmission lines, transformers, etc.?
   An interesting story recently came out of Germany: the German Federal Ministry of Economics published a studyby Ernst & Young which basically concluded, no rollout for smart meters.  Why? Ernst & Young did a cost/benefit study and concluded:
The study comes to the conclusion that smart meters in particular for small consumers are not cost-efficient, as the potential savings would be well below actual costs of smart meters and their operation.”
Cost-benefit analysis and other studies: not necessary for decisions by the Ontario government
   In Ontario we seem to do things differently as was pointed out by the Auditor General in his 2011 report. Jim McCarter said that the initiatives behind the Green Energy and Green Economy Act were not based on a cost-benefit analysis.  While not speaking directly to the issue of “smart meters” and their installation throughout the province this writer believes that the conclusions of a cost-benefit analysis would have reached the same endpoint as the Ernst and Young study completed for Germany.
    When the McGuinty government gave its Throne Speech in 2005, the Ontario Energy Minister (Dwight Duncan) had already issued a directive to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) dated July 14, 2004to Howard Wetson, Chair, of the OEB (the Ontario Power Authority did not exist at that time) which instructed them to “implement a plan to achieve the government’s objectives for the deployment of smart electricity meters. 
   No cost-benefit study was considered and Minister Duncan’s directive to the OEB simply had to be “formalized” before the media picked up on the government’s manipulation of the electricity sector without going through the legislature or a hearing before a legislative committee! With a single signature Duncan committed Ontario’s ratepayers to pick up a bill for at least $2 billion!
   Several years after that 2005 Throne Speech and the Dwight Duncan directive, Tyler Hamilton (the “expert” commentator as noted by Alicia Johnston in e-mails recently released by the government and commented on by Tom Adams) wrote an article for the October 7, 2010 Toronto Star.  The article was all about “smart meters” and the wonders they would perform for all of the ratepayers in Ontario.  It contained quotes from an IBM “technology consultant” including this one:  “ ‘Right now, Ontario is a world leader in the smart grid and smart meter systems,’ he explained. ‘Dozens of utilities around the world are watching what’s going on here. In a way, we have become a micro lab for the rest of the world.’  
    Later on in the article Hamilton makes this comment:  With smart meters…we have a tool that helps us to at least manage our electricity bill and help offset electricity rate increases.”
   Did Tyler Hamilton, the “expert” commentator, really understand what he was endorsing? I believe most ratepayers in the province have received absolutely no benefit from either “smart meters” or the “smart grid” –neither one has done nothing to improve the aging infrastructure in the Province or “help offset electricity rate increases.” 
   Germany, whom we copied on the FIT and MicroFIT programs apparently didn’t see it with the clarity of Tyler Hamilton or that IBM technology consultant. 
   Mr. McGuinty is now at Harvard and presumably living in Massachusetts where the average cost of power is about half of what I am being charged. I wonder if he and former Minister Duncan now appreciate the “green” mess they created. 
   Worse, power utilities around the world must now be laughing up their sleeve at the wasted money Ontario’s ratepayers are forced to absorb.  The “microlab” referenced by the IBM technology consultant has turned out instead to be an incinerator for our hard earned dollars!
Parker Gallant,
September 7, 2013
Next time, we will look at the “smart grid”
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent policies of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Report on ERT preliminary hearing on South Kent wind project

This report comes from the Chatham-Kent Wind Action group.

Report on the Preliminary ERT Hearing of Platinum Produce vs South Kent Wind
 
The second appeal of the South Kent Wind project began with a preliminary hearing in Blenheim yesterday (Sept 5). Robert Wright was the only tribunal judge presiding. Two lawyers (Bunting and Powell) were there to represent South Kent Wind, and at least 3 lawyers (Jacobs, Horner and ?) were there for the MOE as well as a representative or two for the minister of the Environment. The appellant, Platinum Produce, was represented by Graham Andrews (from the Gillespie firm).
   No one requested any status to present material or raise issues at the hearing.
   South Kent Wind began by seeking dismissal of the constitutional challenge raised by Platinum Produce as well as a complete dismissal of the hearing. This was echoed by the MOE who also said that the Tribunal was not the proper jurisdiction to raise constitutional issues.

   The proceedings continued as per normal while schedules, correspondence, etc were discussed… kind of like watching paint dry.
   Eventually Horner for the MOE began his argument regarding the need to strike the constitutional part of the challenge, that is– the right to life, liberty and security of person. His argument was that a company (Platinum Produce) has no direct standing to make such a claim, because it is a corporation, not a human.
Bunting for South Kent Wind continued with the same opinion that a corporation can’t raise a charter challenge.
   I’m not sure how things progressed after that as I had to leave. But here is a bit more background about the appeal…
   One of the turbines was originally located less than 550m from Platinum Produces’ permanent bunkhouse. This was not discovered until the last day of the first appeal of the project which took place about a year ago. South Kent Wind eventually moved 3 turbines and reduced the power rating on another in an effort to correct their mistake and meet the (inadequate) noise requirements for the bunkhouse. They had to reapply for approval which opened the door for Platinum Produce to file their appeal in an effort to protect the health and safety of its workers (some of which are migrants).
  BUT… what was the most revealing incident of the day came when I took a few photos. The leaseholders and at least one South Kent Wind employee in the audience, turned away!!!! Then they ran to the South Kent Wind lawyers to have the photos stifled. That really should tell you everything you need to know about the wind industry… those involved are guilty of harming others and don’t want their neighbours to know who they are.
Chatham-Kent Wind Action