Big Becky: what is THAT going to cost you?


The big hole where your money goes

In February 2010 an article penned for the Financial Post I disclosed that the Ontario Power Generation’s OPG) new Niagara tunnel (“Big Becky”) was not only running late but had incurred substantial cost overruns—in excess of $600 million, in fact. 
The effects of that overrun have not affected our electricity prices yet, but the writing is now on the wall based on the OPG application of September 27, 2013.  The increases requested in that rate application by OPG, if approved, will increase electricity rates by at least $6-7.00 per month ($72-84.00 annually) for the average 800-kilowatt (per month) consumer.   According to the submissions to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), all of OPG’s “regulated” hydro rates will increase from 3.9 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 4.4 cents per kWh due to the costs of the tunnel.  One-half a cent doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that in 2012, OPG produced 18.5 billion kWh of unregulated hydro, it is time to bring out the calculators. 
That overrun effectively means OPG is seeking to recover about $96 million annually for the cost of “Big Becky” for the next 50 years (amortization period), which equates to $4.6 billion for a tunnel originally estimated by OPG in the business case presented to their Board of Directors in 2005, to cost $873 million. It has cost 70% over that amount.   
OPG is seeking approval for the foregoing as a rate increase for their “regulated” hydro as Big Becky is classified; that means it is considered “baseload” generation and its cost of production will be close to 10 cents a kWh.  At the same time they are also seeking approval for an even larger increase in their “unregulated” hydro which could generate as much as $300 million and was the cause of the media focus when they discovered the application.  The “anti-nuclear” lobby painted it as a rate increase related to OPG’s nuclear refurbishment plans, which was a false premise. 
What the cost overrun on “Big Becky” demonstrates is that oversight at Queens Park is sadly lacking in the energy portfolio.   It is disconcerting to realize that this project was $600 million over budget, yet to the best of the writer’s knowledge no OPG employee or Board member was castigated or lost their job. A private sector firm would investigate and allocate “cause” to one or several individuals in the event a project of this size exceeded budget by a factor of 70%. 
Perhaps it is time to privatize the electricity sector as the private, but regulated, natural gas sector has demonstrated they can do a much better job.
©Parker Gallant                                                                                                                                           January 25, 2014    
The views expressed here are those of the author.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Appeal dismissals mean more $$$ for Ontario ratepayers

Appeals were dismissed yesterday for two wind turbine projects meaning that they will proceed unless they are appealed to the courts. 

 
The South Kent Project approved today for Samsung/Pattern in Chatham-Kent is huge— 270 MW.  The Adelaide project approved today for Suncor in Middlesex County is  40 MW.
 
Here are the costs from these projects for Ontario electricity users:
 
                                        South Kent        Adelaide        Total
Annual Cost in $ Millions      $    92.6              13.7         $106.3
20 year Cost  in $ Millions    $1,852.0          $274.4        2,126.3
 
The annual cost for these two projects alone works out to $22.15 per household for 20 years.
 
The decision on the 270-MW K2 project appeal is expected by the end of January.  
 
This has been (another) costly week for Ontario ratepayers.

Kincardine supports new noise bylaw

http://www.kincardinetimes.com/

Inline images 1
Municipality supports noise nuisance bylaw coalition
By Liz Dadson

Kincardine council has gone from no support to full support for the formation of a multi-municipality coalition to draft a nuisance noise bylaw to regulate industrial wind turbine developments.
Jan. 9, after a presentation by Warren Howard of North Perth, outlining the formation of such a coalition, council made no decision and no commitment to the proposal.
At the Jan. 15 meeting, council agreed to defer a motion by councillor Kenneth Craig directing staff to contact legal counsel to advise Kincardine on matters concerning a multi-municipality nuisance noise bylaw.
Wednesday night (Jan. 22), council passed two motions, offering strong support for the coalition and the proposed generic noise nuisance bylaw.
The first motion was Craig’s from the Jan. 15 meeting.
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said she is unsure what Kincardine would have to send to legal counsel right now, other than a proposal in general terms.
Councillor Randy Roppel said that before the coalition were to proceed, it would likely come up with a firm capable of representing all municipalities in the coalition. However, he agreed that a report would have to come back to council before approving anything.
Craig said his motion went to a more fundamental matter – protecting Kincardine.
“This coalition is a ground-breaking idea,” he said. “So, I’d like some legal advice about our participation in it. I want a lawyer to tell us what our municipality should do with regard to joining this coalition.”
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said it depends on each individual’s comfort level. She noted there are already several municipal coalitions in place, regarding various issues. In fact, Kincardine is involved in a municipal coalition in bringing natural gas to the area, she said.
“I agree with Ken (Craig)’s comments,” said councillor Maureen Couture. “I’d like legal advice before we enter into this commitment.”
Council approved the motion for staff to contact legal counsel to advise the municipality on the nuisance noise bylaw coalition, with a report back to council by Feb. 19.
Faubert brought forward the second motion which states the municipality strongly supports, in principle and in practice, the forming of a coalition to investigate and draft a generic noise nuisance bylaw as outlined by Howard, Jan. 9
And further, that Kincardine support forming a coalition with other municipalities to develop a noise nuisance bylaw.
And further, that Kincardine pledges $15,000/year for two years for funding the development of such a coalition.
And further, that no money will be paid to the coalition until:
  • An acceptable threshold for membership funding is achieved
  • A Memorandum of Understanding is agreed among members which includes a written pledge for funding from each member
  • A plan is presented that includes the basic steps necessary to move the process forward, decision-making and administrative structures and methods of accountability in terms of handling funds
“I’m not asking council to join a coalition to ban any type of industry,” said Faubert. “Just acknowledge that we are empowered by the Municipal Act to have some control over noise and nuisance.”
Couture said her only concern is committing a future council to the second year of this two-year agreement. “As long as we get commitment from other municipalities, I’m fine with this, but for one year, not two.”
Roppel noted that this council has already put restrictions on future councils. “A future council could always say no at budget time to funding this,” he said.
“Two years is likely the time needed to do this work,” said councillor Candy Hewitt.
“It’s a manageable amount of money,” said Eadie. “A two-year term is best.”
Craig said he would prefer council have a discussion with legal counsel before agreeing to support the coalition.
Mayor Larry Kraemer agreed, saying it’s too much money and will scare off a lot of smaller municipalities from participating in the coalition.
The vote was called and Faubert’s motion was approved.

Ontario government’s stellar planning abilities: Thunder Bay could run out of biomass in 3 weeks of cold winter

Biomass Supply Not Sufficient For Northern Winters

Posted 26 January 2014 by in Business
 

 1 2 0

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Minister Michael Gravelle and MPP Bill Mauro at OPG Enhanced Bio-Mass Announcement in November.
Minister Michael Gravelle and MPP Bill Mauro at OPG Enhanced Bio-Mass Announcement in November.

Cold Northern Winter Needs More Power for Heat

THUNDER BAY – Common Voice Northwest says that the planned enhanced bio-mass that Ontario says can be used to fire the Thunder Bay OPG Generating Station isn’t in sufficient supply to handle possible demand.
“As plans are underway to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station to run using biomass, the Energy Task Force is expressing concerns that the current agreement with the Province of Ontario to purchase and burn 15,000 tonnes of biomass per year will be not be able to meet the demands of future cold winters in the northwest. Had the conversion happened this year, the Thunder Bay Generating Station would have already consumed the equivalent of all of the advanced biomass fuel that the Government of Ontario is allowing OPG to buy”, according to a statement issued by Common Voice Northwest.

Cold Winter Would Use Up Supply in Three Weeks

Iain Angus - Common Voice Northwest
Iain Angus – Common Voice Northwest

“If the Northwest were to experience the identical weather and other conditions in January of next year that we have been experiencing since January 6 of this year, the advanced biomass fuel would have been used up within 3 weeks,” said Energy Task Force Co-Chair, Iain Angus.  “This is exactly as we, NOMA and the City of Thunder Bay have warned.”
– See more at: http://www.netnewsledger.com/2014/01/26/biomass-supply-not-sufficient-for-northern-winters/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NetNewsLedger+%28NetNewsledger.com%29#sthash.JyEaZwZE.dpuf

Cold Northern Winter Needs More Power for Heat

THUNDER BAY – Common Voice Northwest says that the planned enhanced bio-mass that Ontario says can be used to fire the Thunder Bay OPG Generating Station isn’t in sufficient supply to handle possible demand.
“As plans are underway to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station to run using biomass, the Energy Task Force is expressing concerns that the current agreement with the Province of Ontario to purchase and burn 15,000 tonnes of biomass per year will be not be able to meet the demands of future cold winters in the northwest. Had the conversion happened this year, the Thunder Bay Generating Station would have already consumed the equivalent of all of the advanced biomass fuel that the Government of Ontario is allowing OPG to buy”, according to a statement issued by Common Voice Northwest.
– See more at: http://www.netnewsledger.com/2014/01/26/biomass-supply-not-sufficient-for-northern-winters/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NetNewsLedger+%28NetNewsledger.com%29#sthash.JyEaZwZE.dpuf

The Net News ledger reports that if there were to be a cold winter, Ontario Power Generation’s plan to use biomass at the Thunder Bay Generating station wouldn’t work out so well.

Biomass Supply Not Sufficient For Northern Winters

Posted 26 January 2014 by in Business
 

 1 2 0

 90Share0

Minister Michael Gravelle and MPP Bill Mauro at OPG Enhanced Bio-Mass Announcement in November.
Minister Michael Gravelle and MPP Bill Mauro at OPG Enhanced Bio-Mass Announcement in November.

Cold Northern Winter Needs More Power for Heat

THUNDER BAY – Common Voice Northwest says that the planned enhanced bio-mass that Ontario says can be used to fire the Thunder Bay OPG Generating Station isn’t in sufficient supply to handle possible demand.
“As plans are underway to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station to run using biomass, the Energy Task Force is expressing concerns that the current agreement with the Province of Ontario to purchase and burn 15,000 tonnes of biomass per year will be not be able to meet the demands of future cold winters in the northwest. Had the conversion happened this year, the Thunder Bay Generating Station would have already consumed the equivalent of all of the advanced biomass fuel that the Government of Ontario is allowing OPG to buy”, according to a statement issued by Common Voice Northwest.

Cold Winter Would Use Up Supply in Three Weeks

Iain Angus - Common Voice Northwest
Iain Angus – Common Voice Northwest

“If the Northwest were to experience the identical weather and other conditions in January of next year that we have been experiencing since January 6 of this year, the advanced biomass fuel would have been used up within 3 weeks,” said Energy Task Force Co-Chair, Iain Angus.  “This is exactly as we, NOMA and the City of Thunder Bay have warned.”
– See more at: http://www.netnewsledger.com/2014/01/26/biomass-supply-not-sufficient-for-northern-winters/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NetNewsLedger+%28NetNewsledger.com%29#sthash.JyEaZwZE.dpuf

Read the full story here.

Platinum ERT decision expected today

WIND ENERGY

Decision by Environmental Review Tribunal expected Monday 158

By Ellwood Shreve, Chatham Daily News

Tim Verbeek, an owner of Platinum Produce greenhouse, pictured on right, believes a concerted was made to get two turbines constructed, which are part of the South Kent Wind project, that his family business has an appeal over with the Environmental Review Tribunal. A decison from the ERT is expected on Monday. Diana Martin/Chatham Daily News/QMI Agency
Tim Verbeek, an owner of Platinum Produce greenhouse, pictured on right, believes a concerted was made to get two turbines constructed, which are part of the South Kent Wind project, that his family business has an appeal over with the Environmental Review Tribunal. A decison from the ERT is expected on Monday. Diana Martin/Chatham Daily News/QMI Agency 

Tim Verbeek has grown increasingly frustrated watching two wind turbines be constructed, despite the fact his family business has an appeal concerning the structures before the Environmental Review Tribunal.
A decision is expected Monday over the turbines, and Verbeek, whose family owns Platinum Produce greenhouse located south of Highway 401 on Communications Road, said it appears a concerted effort was made to get the two turbines erected before the decision is handed down.
The turbines in question are part of the South Kent Wind Project, a joint venture of Pattern Energy Group and Samsung Renewable Energy Inc.
Verbeek told The Chatham Daily News he findings it “coincidental” the two turbines that are in the appeal were built before others in the area.
However, Pattern and Samsung are well within their rights to construct the turbines, said environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie, who is representing Platinum Produce in its appeal to the ERT.
Gillespie said sometimes when an ERT appeal is launched, there is an automatic stop of the permit.
“In this case, the Ontario government decided to let them go ahead anyway, even if there is an appeal,” he added.
But this isn’t the first time the lawyer has seen this happen.
Gillespie, who represented the appellants that challenged the approval of the Kent Breeze Wind Farm near Thamesville in 2011, said Suncor Energy continued with construction of the project despite the matter being before the ERT.
“This is where many people would say there is a major disconnect between the government and the people living where these projects are moving ahead,” he said.
“The government has given an appeal right, but still allows wind companies to proceed as if there is no appeal,” Gillespie added. “That has been very difficult for many people to understand.”
The Daily News covered the Platinum Produce issue in December when Verbeek raised concerns then about construction of the turbines proceeding.
The location of the two turbines near the greenhouse was amended, because they were located inside the minimum setback of 550 metres of a bunkhouse used by workers at the greenhouse.
Pattern Energy previously told The Daily News it’s reason for proceeding with construction is it has Ministry of Environment approval to proceed on the amended layout for the project.
Platinum Produce is still objecting to the two turbines being located near the greenhouse, with one being within 240 metres. The model of turbine being used in the South Kent Wind Project can hurl chunks of ice that can buildup on the blades, up to 275 metres.

Read the entire story here.

Mothers Against Wind Turbines voice opinion in Niagara Falls

Here is a re-post from the Mothers Against Wind Turbines site:

Visit to the Lib/NDP candidates in Niagara Falls…We are NOT impressed!

Posted on January 26, 2014 by
Political Winds Starting to Stir in the Provincial By- Elections, Niagara 2014
Niagara Falls,  Ontario
January 25 2014
Winter weather had a fierce and Arctic- tight grip while delivering blowing snow, white outs and high winds across the Niagara region on January 25th. Weather conditions severe enough to make the most seasoned winter experienced Canadian driver stop and pause, while considering if the all- wheel drive and snow tires were up to the job of travelling the back country roads safely.   Never the less the howling winds and intimidating weather were proven not to be a deterrent for the declared candidates preparations for the upcoming Provincial by- elections in Niagara Falls. 
Kim Craitor, the former Liberal MPP, had resigned last summer creating a vacant seat at Queens Park that is now being contested in the Niagara region.  The three main party candidates are Bart Maves for the Conservatives, Wayne Gates NDP, and Joyce Morocco representing the Liberal party.
Liberal candidate, Joyce Morocco  was busy holding an open house for the media at her campaign office located on Morrison Street.   The by-elections traditionally are a good indicator of the issues of the day and a powerful predictor for the upcoming outcome of the full provincial elections. This one will be no different.   The weather was frightful outside as members of the Liberal party, party followers, public and media mixed and mingled inside in the warm glow of the political posturing of election time.  Outside, signs of a different political implication and dynamic were being held in the freezing winter cold on the threshold of the Liberal political meet and greet.  
Renewable energy projects powered by wind have created growing discord and meet with persistent opposition in communities as the Ontario government  continues to ram full speed ahead with its Green Energy policy for electricity generation.   Niagara Region Wind Corporation has recently filed its renewable energy application for its proposed industrial wind electrical generation plant of 77,  3MV wind turbines.  These will be the tallest turbines of all the projects and would be reaching up to a soaring height of 184 metres if the project is approved.   Comments are being received on the Environmental Registry(EBR Registry Number: 012-0613) until February 1st 2014 about this project at:
Shellie Correia, Co- Chair of a grass roots community group called Mothers Against Wind Turbines (MAWT), was present and flanked by several other Wind Warriors who managed to get through the snow filled roads from the surrounding rural areas.  They were bringing a human face to the contentious issues  now increasingly swirling around the implementation of wind power.  The protesters presence was a physical reminder of the impacted residents who have not granted consent to being forced host communities for the sprawling electrical generation plant installations.
The Wind Warriors then travelled on a short distance away taking the message to display for Wayne Gates NDP office at his store front headquarters.  All political parties, Conservatives, Liberals and NDP will have their feet held to the fire as rural voters of Ontario flex their political muscles in regards to the imposed siting and resulting adverse impacts from the renewable energy projects.
Health and environmental impacts are headliners for the growing list of harmful effects experienced by those who are continuing to battle the invasion of Industrial wind turbines across Ontario.  It is the soaring electricity rates of 47% , due in part to the Liberal government’s policy for renewable energy that are really starting to sting all rate payers.  
 Rising electricity rates, building of power generation plants, and the insatiable demands for building even more supporting infrastructures will be on the minds of voters as they contemplate who will be their choice.  Candidates and party platforms will be held up to measure and inspection. The casting of these votes will decide who will be Niagara’s next MPP.  Rural Ontario residents living with wind turbines sent a very strong and clear message with the last provincial election in 2011. The position remains steadfast and unwavering.  
Stop the turbines.

London School of Economics study to show wind farm neighbours property value loss

From the Daily Mail, a news story about a soon-to-be-published study from a professor with the London School of Economics.

Proof wind turbines take thousands off your home: Value of houses within 1.2 miles of large wind farms slashed by 11%, study finds

  • Study by LSE found value of homes close to wind farms slashed by 11%
  • Home that costs £250,000 would lose £27,000 in value
  • Homes as far at two-and-a-half miles away could be reduced by 3%

By Sanchez Manning
PUBLISHED: 23:59 GMT, 25 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:45 GMT, 26 January 2014

The presence of wind turbines  near homes has wiped tens of thousands of pounds off their value, according to the first major study into the impact the eyesore structures have on house prices.
The study by the London School  of Economics (LSE) – which looked at more than a million sales of properties close to wind farm sites over a 12-year period – found that values of homes within 1.2  miles of large wind farms were being slashed by about 11 per cent.
This means that if such a wind farm were near an average house  in Britain, which now costs almost £250,000, it would lose more than £27,000 in value.

Homes located within 1.2miles of wind farms can decrease in value by up to 11 per cent, a study has discovered

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Homes located within 1.2miles of wind farms can decrease in value by up to 11 per cent, a study has discovered

In sought-after rural idylls where property prices are higher, the financial damage is even more substantial. In villages around one of Southern England’s largest onshore developments – Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm in Romney Marsh,  Kent, where homes can cost close to £1 million – house values could drop by more than £100,000.

The study further discovered that even a small wind farm that blighted views would hit house values.
Homes within half a mile of such visible turbines could be reduced in value by about seven per cent.
Even those in a two-and-a-half-mile radius experienced price reductions of around three per cent.

Homes within a two-and-a-half mile radius could see reductions of up to three per cent

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Homes within a two-and-a-half mile radius could see reductions of up to three per cent

The report’s author, Professor Steve Gibbons, said his research was the first strong evidence that wind farms are harmful to house prices.

MORE ‘GREEN C**P’ TO BE CUT AS CARBON TAX IS SLASHED
Green taxes are set to be frozen to reduce soaring energy bills.
Whitehall sources say the Government is preparing to put the brakes on the ‘carbon tax’ on greenhouse-gas emissions, with an announcement expected in the Budget in March.
Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly instructed aides to ‘get rid of all this green c**p’ to reduce energy bills, which currently average £1,350 a year.

Prof Gibbons, director of the LSE’s Spatial Economics Research Centre, said: ‘Property prices are going up in places where they’re not visible and down in the places where they are.’
The study, which is still in draft form but is due to be published  next month, focused on 150 wind-farm sites across England and Wales. It compared house-price changes in areas that had wind farms, were about to see one built  or had seen one rejected by the  local authority.
Last night Chris-Heaton Harris, MP for Daventry, said: ‘There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence – especially in my constituency – of house-price reductions near wind turbines. The question is, will anybody be liable for these losses in future?’
And Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said: ‘These results are not really surprising as it is already known that people place a value on countryside views.’
A Department for Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: ‘Developments will only get permission where impacts are acceptable.’
A spokesman for Renewables UK, which represents the wind industry, said: ‘We will be analysing the conclusions closely when the final report is issued.’

Ontario politicians alert: the top issue in rural Ontario? Green Energy Act

This will be an important piece of news for politicians at ALL levels in Ontario. Bayshore Broadcasing recently conducted a poll, asking what the most important issues were for rural/small town Ontario, and the answer was… the Green Energy Act and all the problems it has caused.
Here is the story.

Wind Turbines a Concern for Rural Ontario

Sunday, January 26, 2014 2:41 PM by Fadi Didi
Bayshore Broadcasting poll reveals listeners and readers worried about Green Energy Act

There is audio for this story.

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(Regional) – Bayshore Broadcasting News asked you what you think the biggest concern is for rural Ontario in 2014, and the Green Energy Act spun out at number one.

Thirty-six percent of respondents feel the Green Energy Act or environmental sustainability is a major worry for those living in the province’s country lands.

The poll results follow a year rich with wind turbine controversy, including 78 towns, municipalities, and counties declaring themselves unwilling to host turbines.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives refused to support the act, stating they would not support the GEA until a Health Canada study ruled winds turbine do not negatively effect health.

Just trailing the concern over Green Energy at thirty-three percent is the worry of employment opportunities in rural Ontario.

Respondents worried that the few jobs in country areas do not pay very well, and that even those jobs are scarce.

Farm revitalization and transportation improvement were of the least concern to respondents, each coming in at six percent.