Ontario driving business away with power prices

From the Globe and Mail:

The laws of economics suggest that when supply goes up, prices fall.
Not so in Ontario’s increasingly twisted electricity market.
Here, heavily discounted surplus power is routinely sold to neighbouring utilities in Quebec and various U.S. states, while customers at home face a steady diet of higher rates.
Ontario had net exports of more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity last year, or enough to power a million homes. Occasionally, Ontario Power Authority even pays Hydro-Québec to take electricity off its hands – power the Quebec utility can then resell in New England at a profit.
Al Yousef, process improvement manager at plastic packaging maker Par-Pak Ltd. of Brampton, Ont., is appalled by this bitter irony.
The company pays 12 to 14 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity at its three Toronto-area plants – four or five times the price charged to Ontario’s neighbours in the wholesale market.
Mr. Yousef wonders whether Ontario really wants a manufacturing industry. Par-Pak, which has 500 Ontario employees, could save millions of dollars a year by moving to Buffalo, which is dangling cheap power and tax breaks to attract Ontario manufacturers.
“It’s not fair for us as a manufacturer … [to be] paying for the mistakes done by the province,” Mr. Yousef said. “We are a Canadian company, but how much can we take?”
Thanks to a dysfunctional market, Ontario has become an island of high-priced electricity in a North American sea of surpluses and falling rates.
Higher electricity rates is one of a growing list of good reasons not to make things in Canada. Already reeling from the high dollar and a host of competitive disadvantages, expensive power risks forcing more businesses out of the province altogether – to Quebec, or more likely, to the United States.
The problem goes way beyond the $1-billion squandered on two cancelled gas-fired power plants.
The culprit for Ontario’s pricey electricity is the so-called “global adjustment,” which is added to customer bills, but not the export price. The surcharge is a catch-all that pays for a decade or more of botched deregulation, bloated guaranteed-fixed-price energy purchase contracts and costly efforts to promote wind and solar, while shuttering coal plants.
Energy traders eagerly exploit this price gap. Meanwhile, independent power suppliers, including wind farms and the privately owned Bruce Power, a nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont., are often paid for electricity they don’t ever produce – a concept referred to as “deemed generation.”
“Ontario is probably the worst electricity market in the world,” said Pierre-Olivier Pineau, an associate professor and electricity market expert at the University of Montreal’s HEC business school.
Ontario’s prices are now dangerously out of whack with key neighbouring jurisdictions, who are using cheap natural gas to produce power. 

 Once again, Wind Concerns Ontario points to the statement by the Auditor General in 2011, that no cost-benefit analysis for Ontario’s renewable power plans was ever done.

Health Canada monitoring EMFs and emissions from wind turbines

Health Canada, as part of an international project coordinated by the World Health Organization, is monitoring the electrical and magnetic fields from various sources, including power transmission lines and, by extension, wind power projects and their associated transformers, substations, etc.
Health Canada monitors the emissions from wind power generation facilities, along with other utilities and projects.
  To learn more, and to link to a way to report any such health effects you may be experiencing, go to: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/cons/electri-magnet/index-eng.php

Environmental Review Tribunal: Paul Muldoon revisited

A year ago, Parker Gallant wrote this on the Environmental Review Tribunal and had several questions about the impartiality of some Tribunal members. He takes a special look at Paul Muldoon, the environmental lawyer, who is vice-chair at the Adelaide appeal, being heard in London this morning.
  We reprint this excerpt:

Examining the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), adjudicator of licences under appeal, issued by the Minister of the Environment (MoE), is an interesting exercise. One of the criteria for application as a member of the ERT is: “Experience, knowledge or training in the subject matter and legal issues dealt with by the tribunal; Aptitude for impartial adjudication”.

A focus on that latter qualification means Ontarians should expect [it] is the pinnacle of member qualifications, because the “tribunal”, is a quasi court, set to administer justice as defined under the Act which it adjudicates. Looking at members of the ERT one notes that four of its members have the “experience” but one could question whether those four have the “aptitude for impartial adjudication.”

Appointments to the ERT are made by the Premier or the Minister and follow “a recruitment and review process managed by the Public Appointments Secretariat” (PAS). All appointees are required to sign a “Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement” which asks the question: “Have you been involved in any issue or controversy in the past, or that may be subject to public review in the future, in which the government may have an interest?”

One would assume that extensive lobbying of the government in the past on energy related matters would have automatically generated a “yes” to the foregoing question, and may have rendered the applicant inappropriate. At least one (and possibly four) of those now sitting on the ERT may have answered that question with a “yes” but that yes didn’t generate a rejection.

The first is Paul Muldoon, Vice Chair of the ERT. In his prior position as Executive Director with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) Mr. Muldoon had occasion to lobby the current Liberal government. In fact Mr. Muldoon on November 4, 2003 sent Premier McGuinty a letter claiming CELA were one of the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Phase-out and that CELA supported renewable energy: “Energy efficiency programs and renewable energy are cheap, clean, and safe ways to secure Canada’s energy future”. The letter finished with the words; “We look forward to working with your government on appropriate energy solutions for Ontario.”
CELA get the bulk of its funding (73% or $1.2 million) from “Legal Aid Ontario”, according to their March 31, 2011 annual report, with a big chunk of the balance (17% or $295,000) from grants. Two of the latter came from the Trillium Foundation who report they granted CELA $502,200 between 2007 and 2009. CELA list other funders including the Canadian Environmental Network, Environmental Defence, CAW and several others.

CELA team up with other environmental groups such as Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund and Jerry DeMarco’s [another ERT member] former employer), Environmental Defence, Sierra Club, etc. to push their “renewable energy” views to the Ontario Provincial government (as recently as June 6, 2012). CELA claim their organization is a “Legal Aid Clinic”.

The “legal aid clinic” aspect is interesting as the writer is aware that CELA was approached a few years ago for legal help by a small conservation group, concerned that industrial wind turbines on the shores of Lake Erie would harm migratory birds. That group never even received a response. CELA tout objectives in their 2011 annual report including this one; “to prevent harm to human and ecosystem health through application of precautionary measures” but apparently they tend to pick and choose those health and ecosystem issues when it suits their purpose. One such example appears to be the Sierra Club (revenue reported to the CRA Charities by the two “foundations” that comprise the Sierra Club were in excess of $2 million) who they name as a client in the annual report. This is a blatant example of our tax dollars (legal aid and government grants) being used to fund a charity’s legal actions so taxpayers effectively pay twice for those activities. …

So Paul Muldoon, whose past involved both controversy and issues, bound to be subject to public review, applied for a position on the ERT. Mr. Muldoon was presumably blessed by PAS, appointed by the Minister of the Environment, Laurel Broten, and is gainfully employed as Vice Chair of the ERT. In my personal opinion, I have difficulty believing that Mr. Muldoon does not continue to harbour some of that green religion in his position and would be personally concerned of bias in any ruling(s) he might hand out and indeed if he has the “aptitude for impartial adjudication”?

Interpretation of the law or the regulations governing our lives is judged through the eyes of the adjudicator who pays close attention to those presenting the best and most relevant “case law.” The MoE with an unlimited budget are in a much better position to do research than the poor appellant. While the “appellant” can certainly appeal the ERT’s decision or order he/she must be prepared with a pile of cash to support the process and possibly pay for the court costs. The ability to pay is an attribute the MoE is not concerned with as they use our tax dollars to fight anyone appealing an ERT decision.

It’s not a difficult conclusion to realize the odds of winning an appeal favour the MoE, without even stacking the Board with individuals that may be inclined to have a bias or, to some extent, may have actually played a role in creating the legislation/regulations that they now adjudicate.

The opinions expressed are those of Parker Gallant and not necessarily Wind Concerns Ontario.

Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller: not about to bite the hand that feeds him

Parker Gallant has posted this on the Energy Probe blog, dealing with the Ontario Environmental Commissioner’s annual report. While Mr Gord Miller made a great show at his news conference of castigating the Ontario government for riding roughshod over environmental protection regulations, even going so far as to say “It isn’t quite the Wild West yet…” the actual content of his report reveals his utter devotion to his government masters’ intention to defile Ontario’s environment to benefit big business.
  He even goes so far as to congratulate the government for the removal of the Bald Eagle nest near Middlesex to accommodate a wind power project.
  Going even farther, he wanders blithely into quicksand as he discusses infrasound:  

Gord Miller, the Commissioner, seems intent on venturing into areas where he is out of his depth. As an example he opines on infra-sound after outlining the following on Page 188 of the supplement:
In December 2012, two applicants requested that the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) review the need for new regulations to govern the levels of low frequency noise and infrasound emitted by industrial wind turbines. The applicants asserted that low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines have caused health problems in residents living nearby, and that O. Reg. 359/09 under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), which regulates the placement of turbines, is inadequate at addressing these issues as it is based only on audible noise.”

Visiting pages 192 and193 discloses that Commissioner Miller is not about to bite the hand that feeds him his “sunshine list” salary. The comments from the Commissioner fully support the denial by the MOE:

The ECO agrees with MOE’s decision to deny the applicants’ request, since conducting a reviewwould duplicate previous and ongoing studies on this topic.” and then goes on to state,
 “The Ontario government has already conducted and commissioned reports on the human health impacts of wind turbine noise (including low frequency sound and infrasound), and these reports have concluded that there is no direct link.” and the one that stands out in the “supplement” notes, (presumably with the Commissioner’s blessing) says:
 Further, there is no scientific evidence to date that vibration from low frequency wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects.

Commissioner Miller’s bio indicates he received an “Honorable Bachelor of Science degree in Biology” and a “Master of Science degree in Plant ecology” so one must wonder why he would issue such a firm opinion when his education clearly doesn’t reflect his ability to opine on either infra-sound or the effects on our health!

Perhaps he is simply “sucking up” to his boss? 

Read the entire critique at the Energy Probe site.

WCO news release: ordinary citizens battle gov’t, industry over wind power


Citizens battle government, corporations over wind power projects
Questions about fairness of government appeal process
October 15, 2013
The Ontario government is refusing to hear testimony from experts on noise and safety in an ongoing Environmental Review Tribunal, according to motions presented to the appellant. Last week, the Environment ministry and power developer NextEra filed motions to deny testimony from witnesses at an appeal launched by Esther Wrightman, a citizen of the Middlesex area. The ministry and developer are objecting to testimony from medical doctors, a professional engineer with expertise in noise measurement, an acoustician with knowledge of the effect of environmental noise and infrasound on human health, and real estate appraisers.
 Wrightman, received notice of the motions last Thursday evening, and was given four days over the Thanksgiving weekend to respond. Motions to dismiss three more of her witnesses will be heard Tuesday morning, October 15, 10 a.m. at the Middlesex County Office in London.
“They are trying to force her to back down and give up,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “This appeal is being thwarted by our own government and the wind power developer. But they have no idea how hard people are working to fight this.”
As the Ontario government continues to approve giant wind power generation projects despite opposition from municipal councils, community groups, and individual citizens, protests and demonstrations against the invasive power projects are on the increase.
“The day that Kathleen Wynne said she was ‘sorry’ about the gas plant scandal, and the exact same day that Energy Minister Chiarelli said he is going to try to get the location process for power plants ‘right’ in this province, the government announced yet another wind power project—the monstrous, 92-turbine Samsung project near Kincardine,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
“In fact, they announced three more such projects over five days already this month, and while Kathleen Wynne has been Premier, 14 have been given approval,” she added.  “The Kincardine-area project is incredible because there are so many people sick from the environmental noise produced by the existing Enbridge power project there was a delegation of citizens at Kincardine Council last December. But this government is just pushing ahead.”
Another one of the three most recent projects is at Goulais Bay in the Algoma region, which has been opposed by heritage groups because of the destruction to landscapes made famous by Group of Seven painters, and which attract thousands of tourists to Ontario every year.
At present, 72 municipalities have passed a resolution at Council expressing their unwillingness to host wind power generation plants, after Premier Wynne said she was not going to force the projects on communities that don’t want them. More councils plan to discuss similar motions in the weeks ahead, with well-attended public sessions.
“What we have is Ontario citizens using their after-tax dollars to fight the government and the Ministry of the Environment to—guess what—save the environment,” Wilson said. The Ostrander Point wind power project, which witnesses said would destroy a rare plant environment and endanger hundreds of thousands of migrating birds was halted due to concerns about one animal species, but the Ministry of the Environment and the wind developer, Toronto-based Gilead Power, is now appealing that decision, and local residents are fund-raising to carry on the fight.
 “What’s increasingly clear,” Wilson, a registered nurse, says is that “the appeal process pretends to be a way for the public to have a ‘say’ in where these power projects go, but it isn’t. The process is flawed and weighted in favour of the developers. This government doesn’t care about people’s health and it definitely doesn’t care about the environment. ”
A demonstration is planned Tuesday at the Middlesex County offices in London at 9 a.m. to protest actions to quell witness testimony, and citizens’ groups from southwestern Ontario plan a demonstration in Strathroy on Saturday, October 19, along Highway 402.

Ontario gov’t, power developer seek to quash ERT witness testimony

Tuesday, October 15, 0900:

In a matter of minutes now, the Environmental Review Tribunal dealing with appeals brought by Ontario citizens against the approval of the NextEra Adelaide wind power project, will convene to hear opening statements and motions.
  Among them, will be motions to quash testimony from expert witnesses assembled by appellant Esther Wrightman, of Middlesex.
  Last week, the Ministry of the Environment and NextEra served motions on Wrightman to object to the testimony by several of her planned witnesses, including Dr Sarah Laurie, engineer William Palmer, accoustician Richard James, and real estate appraisers Michael McCann and Ben Lansink.
  Serving Wrightman with the motions on a Thursday evening, they gave her a day to respond; she demanded, and got, an extension on her response, until today. As far as we understand, in ordinary court, participants are usually given 20 days to respond to motions–not so in the Tribunal.
  Today, the government and the huge corporate power developer are expected to file motions with the Review Tribunal panel to quash testimony from the remaining witnesses assembled by the appellant, who has been working on this appeal night and day since August.
  Engineer William Palmer who, as a licensed professional engineer is required by law to report on situations he deems unsafe, commented that the objections to his testimony as reported by the Ministry of the Environment were based on comment by a medical doctor—who has no expertise in engineering issues.
  Has the ERT stepped over the line this time?
  Has it demonstrated clearly that Ontario citzens’ ONLY recourse to express concern about renewable energy projects, the appeal process, is meaningless?
  Today will tell: the Tribunal resumes at 10 a.m. this morning in London at the Middlesex County Office at 399 Rideout Street North, in London.
  Meanwhile Wind Concerns Ontario issued a news release last evening with questions about the fairness and justice offered by the appeal process, and further calling out the Ontario government on its large energy project process which STILL offers communities and citizens no real opportunity to say what they want for their communities.
Wind Concerns Ontario

Algoma area wind power project approved: opponents consider action

From SooToday reaction to the Ontario government’s approval of the Goulais Bay wind power project.

Goulais wind farm approved, opponents consider next steps

Saturday, October 12, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

The Save Ontario’s Algoma Region (SOAR) group is clearly disappointed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) October 4, 2013 decision to approve construction of the Goulais Wind Farm project.
A Renewable Energy Approval (REA) has been given to SP Development Limited Partnership to build, install, operate and eventually retire a renewable energy facility, consisting of 11 wind turbines , with a total capacity of 25 MW, in the unorganized Townships of Pennefather and Aweres.
The wind facility will be connected to Great Lakes Power’s distribution system.
The REA comes with a long list of conditions, which include requiring SP Development Limited to construct and install the facility within three years of the date of approval, compliance with the MOE’s noise emission limits,  keep an eye on storm water management, sediment and erosion during and after construction, the effect of the project on wildlife (such as birds and bats), establish a community liaison committee with members of the public, and properly decommissioning of the facility upon its retirement.
SOAR’s Executive Member and spokesperson Gillan Richards, in an e-mail to SooToday.com, stated: “SOAR and Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) will now consider what action to take in response to the Goulais Project Approval.”
The group, if it decides to file an application to appeal the MOE’s Goulais Wind Farm project approval, must do so within 15 days.
SOAR has long been opposed to the project, and has maintained that the whirring of wind turbines, for example, is detrimental to human health, and that the presence of more wind farms in Algoma would be an all-round disruption to the environment and wildlife in the area.
Also ranking high among the group’s concerns is that, in its view, the project will create an eyesore on the area’s famous Group of Seven landscape, disturbing “the natural beauty of Algoma from industrial intrusion.”
SOAR states the public in general has never been keen on wind turbine developments, claiming  “Algoma residents and visitors are already annoyed and dismayed by the intrusion of the Prince Wind Farm turbines.”
SOAR has also long insisted not enough public input has been gathered from the province and the developer regarding the Goulais Wind Farm project (along with other wind projects, proposed by other developers, for the Algoma region).
The group agrees with criticism from The Fraser Institute (a Canadian think tank based in Vancouver) that forecasts Ontario’s energy prices will increase dramatically (40 to 50 percent) in coming years, putting the blame for that on the use of wind and solar farms, and insisting that wind turbines are simply inefficient in producing electricity.
SOAR agrees with critics who state Ontario could have gone with cheaper alternatives, such as natural gas or nuclear power, when it sought to move away from coal-fired plants and brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009.
The Ontario government has said the Green Energy Act, despite higher costs for electricity, will ensure “cleaner” electricity for future generations.

Wind power plants not “farms”: Haldimand resident

Here from The Sachem and Glanbrook Gazette,  resident Betty Ortt writes a letter to the editor. We point out again that the Auditor General for Ontario noted in 2011 that NO cost-benefit analysis or business case was ever prepared for wind power in Ontario, and the impacts–both social and economic–have NEVER been assessed by the Ontario government.

Don’t taint my fond memories

A wind project is not a farm. A real farm produces food to feed our population and real farmers are stewards of their land. That name was coined by wind developers to make Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) sound acceptable to a farming community. The only thing turbines have to do with a farm is that they are taking up farmland. They are clearly industrial. Don’t taint my fond memories of being raised on a farm.
The article said that they are sending “about” 124.4 mega watts (MW) of power to the grid. The descriptor “about” is definitely needed when production will be a far cry from that.
According to the Auditor General’s 2011 Annual Report: “We analyzed the performance of all wind farms in Ontario in 2010 based on IESO data. Although the average capacity factor of wind throughout the year was 28 per cent, it fluctuated seasonally, from 17 per cent in the summer to 32 per cent in the winter.”
One recent production example of NextEra’s project in Haldimand was Friday, October 4, 2013 when the IESO hourly generator report showed a range of 0-13 MW being produced each hour, far from 124 MW.
As to the jobs wind projects create, as we saw in the article, the permanent jobs are few (seven) and other jobs were short term as we warned council in September 2011 when they passed the Vibrancy Fund agreement after hearing over 40 speakers until near midnight and much to the disgust of a packed council building.
Mr. Hewitt once said that we would lose our passion of fighting the turbine issue after the last provincial election, but he was wrong. Council gave up.
As to the economic benefits to the county, those too are short term. Did the CEO consider the economic losses to Haldimand? Our county is now contributing to the economic poverty of our province because of the government’s Green Energy Act with electricity prices that will keep going up and now property value losses. How much are short term economic benefits worth when some people and animals in Haldimand are already having health effects since the first project of turbines started up?

Betty Ortt,

Rex Murphy on “duplicitous Dalton”

From the weekend edition of The National Post, Rex Murphy‘s summary of Duplicitous Dalton and the havoc wreaked up Ontario taxpayers. Who pays for all this “venality” Murphy asks: “the honest pockets of carpenters in North bay and teaching assistants and snow plow operators and store clerks and seniors…”
  The horrible truth is, Ontarians are continuing to pay for the disastrous McGuinty energy policies as approvals of giant wind power projects continues, and subsidies are doled out by the million each week.

Rex Murphy: Duplicitous Dalton, Inc.

| | Last Updated: 11/10/13 1:58 PM ET
More from Rex Murphy
Where is McGuinty now that the full cost of his expediency is known? Harvard, of course, disappeared like a member of some witness protection program for the well-connected.
Peter J. Thompson/National Post Where is McGuinty now that the full cost of his expediency is known? Harvard, of course, disappeared like a member of some witness protection program for the well-connected.

The Auditor-General of Ontario has released her report on the provincial Liberal government’s brazenly political decision to cancel two gas-fired power plants. Her estimate of the ultimate cost: about $1.1-billion, potentially reaching $1.5-billion. This obscenity of mismanagement and prevarication came out of Duplicitous Dalton, Inc., a.k.a. the McGuinty government, an administration we now know was, politically, so venal as to toss perhaps as much as a billion and a half taxpayer dollars into the devouring — but politically favourable — wind.

Kelly McParland: Here lies the wreckage of Dalton McGuinty’s self-serving gas plant decisions

In contemplating the disastrous consequences of the Ontario government’s two arbitrary gas plant closures, it does well to remember the performance put on by then-premier Dalton McGuinty before his abrupt resignation.
Never hesitant to play the Boy Scout, the premier prorogued the legislature rather than face questions about the gas plants, and then piously sought to blame the opposition for his troubles.
“I prorogued because the place was becoming overheated,” Mr. McGuinty insisted, citing a “spurious, phoney” suggestion that his energy minister had been in contempt of the legislature for failing to produce documents related to the scandal.

D.D., Inc. even had the brass to insist, originally, that the cost to cancel just the Oakville, Ont., plant was only $40-million. The Auditor-General this week, after a cautionary distribution of Gravol tablets to the assembled press, offered a more altitudinous range of $675-million to $810-million — 15 to 20 times as much! And from the very beginning of the noxious affair, to any question the Liberal response was delay, obfuscate, stone-wall, delete emails, deny said deletions, miraculously locate the not-so-deleted emails, and, of course, insult and hector any and all critics.
Let there be no more “used car salesmen” jokes about political leaders. Used car salesmen are pillars of candour and conscience compared to this lot.
They knew $40-million was a joke estimate from the moment they scrambled to “buy” the votes by scrapping the plant — in other words, from the moment they chose to buy a couple of ridings by ripping up contracts, costs be damned.

Read the whole article here.