Parker Gallant on the problem of expensive, surplus power

Save energy, use energy...it's too big for you to understand
Save energy, use energy…it’s too big for you to understand

When you do a little research on the issue of energy in Ontario, it becomes obvious that the problem is surplus and very expensive electricity.  Ontario companies who use a lot of electricity and compete across the U.S.-Canada border are finding they are under siege from their U.S. competitors—their clients are getting better prices from U.S.-based border companies.

Two companies mentioned in the speech by Minister Chiarelli at Giant Tiger last week were held up as examples of a change to one of the programs that former Energy Minister Chris Bentley brought in.  That program was the Industrial Electricity Incentive (IEI) program. …

Let’s look at the two companies that Chiarelli is asking us all to support, and the many more that may follow now that the bar has been lowered to increase consumption!  Before going there, however, I should explain that one objective of the IEI is to reduce our export volumes. For 2013 that was 18.3 TWh at the average HOEP of 2.65 cents per kWh.  At one point Minister Chiarelli mistakenly suggested Ontario had earned a profit of $6 billion on exports but since his discovery of that mistake he perhaps believes it is better to at least keep some of the jobs at home.   The cheap electricity was Ontario exported was creating jobs elsewhere like New York and Michigan.

One of the companies that Minister Chiarelli mentioned was Detour Gold, a relatively new gold producer located in Northeastern Ontario south of James Bay.  The following was found in their latest annual report:  “In January 2014, the Company was accepted into the Industrial Electricity Incentive Program for a 6-year fixed rate electricity contract at CAD $0.05/kWh with the Ontario Power Authority which is estimated to reduce power costs by approximately CAD $20,000 annually.”*  Now if you run the numbers on the savings at, say, 4 cents a kWh, it works out to consumption of 500 MWh annually or  enough to power about 50 average homes, or less than 1% of a TWh.

The other interesting fact about this is that Elections Ontario reports that Detour Gold in 2012 contributed $9,300 to the Ontario Liberal Party—about 50 % of their reported annual savings. Makes you wonder…

Read Parker’s full article here: Minister Chiarelli surplus electricity production

 

*Addendum to Post of April 29, 2014: 

While Detour Gold claim a savings of only $20,000 annually in their annual report as a result of their IEI six (6) year contract the actual amount that they will save is probably closer to $20 million or $120 million over the 6 years.  We base those calculations on the information recorded on the Environment Ministry website where they record their approval in 2010 of an application for a 230 kilovolt (KV) transmission line to supply the mine with 120 megawatts (MW) of power.  On that basis 120 MW could supply Detour Gold with in excess of 1 million MW hours annually and at a price of $50 a MWh would produce annual savings of $20 million.  That is a much better pay-back on  the $9,300 contribution they made to the Liberal Party and it will be extracted from all the other ratepayers in the province!  Kind of sounds like a new way of creating one of Premier Wynne’s “Revenue Tools”.

 

MPAC study not likely to quell property value controversy

 Wind turbines don’t hurt property values, MPAC says

Industrial wind turbines have been controversial in rural communities. A new Ontario study investigated the value of properties close to turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more, with towers 70 metres or taller, and blades 35 metres or longer.

Municipal Property Assessment Corp. concludes properties near industrial turbines are “equitably assessed” — but group opposing wind farms says the research is flawed.
By: John Spears, Toronto Star Business reporter, Published on Mon Apr 28 2014

Wind turbines do not have a significant effect on the sale prices of nearby homes, a study by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. has concluded.

A group that opposes large-scale wind power development quickly labelled the study as “a self-serving exercise by bureaucrats to serve their government masters.”

Big wind farms can have an effect on rural landscapes, with the tips of the blades reaching more than 100 metres into the sky. The turbine towers are topped by blinking red lights at night.

Turbines have created rifts in some rural communities. Leasing out land for turbines provides income for some landowners. Others complain the turbines mar the countryside, cause illness for neighbours and kill birds and bats.

The MPAC study looked at properties close to 1,157 big Ontario turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more. Such turbines have towers 70 metres high or taller, with blades of 35 metres or longer.

The study took note of whether the turbines were fully or partly visible from adjacent properties or not visible at all.

After reviewing the assessments of properties close to industrial wind turbines (IWTs), the study concluded the properties are “equitably assessed.”

It went further, saying: “MPAC’s findings also concluded that there is no statistically significant impact on sale prices of residential properties in these market areas resulting from proximity to an IWT, when analyzing sale prices.”

The study includes a separate analysis by an Arizona-based firm. That analysis concluded that the presence of a wind farm has a “statistically significant but minor” impact on property value.

Properties within one kilometre of a turbine suffer a 4-per-cent drop in value, it said.

The MPAC study is unlikely to settle the controversy over wind turbines. Jane Wilson, who heads Wind Concerns Ontario, told the Star the research is flawed.

Wilson said the study used questionable mathematical modelling and excluded properties that simply didn’t sell or were withdrawn from the market because they’re too close to turbines.

“Honestly, if you have a home, and someone puts up a thing that’s equivalent to a 30- or 40-storey tower, that does make noise, that does have flashing red lights — it’s really not a big jump to say that’s going to have some effect on values,” she said.

Wilson pointed to an appendix in the MPAC report containing bar charts showing the relationship between property values and proximity to wind turbines.

She said the charts show that properties five kilometres or more from wind turbines generally have higher sale prices and assessments than those within five kilometres of turbines.

Read the full story and comments here.

Niagara turbines to be near 1,000-year-old historic trail

Ancient Trail Threatens Turbines
SMITHVILLE, ON – April 27, 2014
A local amateur historian may have stopped the imminent start-up of a Niagara wind farm by simply highlighting the importance of a thousand year old trail on the very doorstep of the turbines. And while largely
forgotten by locals and historians alike, Neil Switzer contends that this 35 km trail that stretches from the Grand River to the Forty (Grimsby) is a major legacy trail to both native and Canadian cultures alike which
upon further study should qualify as a cultural heritage landscape of major Provincial significance under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Unfortunately for the wind power developer Vineland Power Inc., their heritage assessment consultant missed this historically significant feature and making matters worse the Ministry of the Environment failed to forward Mr. Switzer’s comments back to the heritage consultant or the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport for appropriate review. The trail comments were formally submitted to the MOE’s Environmental Registry as part of the Green Energy Act’s public consultation process but that Act does not supersede the Ontario Heritage Act and all projects must have clearance from the MTCS before approvals are granted.
This convenient oversight previously allowed the MOE to expeditiously grant approval to the wind project but now, owing to property line setback violations of 4 of the 5 turbines, an amendment must be approved prior
to final project start-up. This time however Mr. Switzer is making sure the MOE cannot cover-up such an important heritage asset. And in order to ensure that the MOE follows due process this time he has submitted
a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office detailing how the MOE will effectively be in contravention of the of Ontario Heritage Act if it proceeds with the amendment prior to the completion of a full trail heritage
assessment.
Mr. Switzer stated “the depth, richness and importance of Niagara’s native and pre-confederation history is unparalleled in Ontario and MOE’s disregard for this significant historic trail is a major insult to all Canadian
and First Nation’s people alike”.
Examples given of the cultural significance of this trail as submitted to the MOE included:
• One of only three major north/south Iroquoian/ Neutral Indian trails connecting the Grand River to
Lake Ontario with major archaeological resources along its 35 km route (i.e., Grimsby Neutral ossuary of 373 burials)
• Gateway trail influencing earliest settlement pattern of the United Empire Loyalist after the American Revolution including many officers and soldiers of the famous Butler’s Rangers and Indian Department
(i.e. Captain Robert Nelles, friend of the British and Chief Joseph Brant, homesteading land grants at both ends of the trail and frequented the trail so often that it became known as the Nelles Trail).
• Trail played major role in war of 1812 which not only transported local members of the 4th Lincoln Militia to battle but significantly it was the influx of Grand River native warriors arriving along this trail
to attack the retreating Americans after the Battle of Stoney Creek together with Sir James Yeo’s naval bombardment that sent the Yanks running back to Fort George. Without this native attack the Americans outnumbering the British 5 to 1 and with further reinforcements on
their way could easily have regrouped and overwhelmed the British at Burlington Heights and today we’d be under an American flag.
• Captain John Norton the famed native leader of the Grand River warriors lived at the southern terminus of this trail and regularly frequented this route on his way to battle or rendezvous with the British at the Forty.
• Chief Mesquacosy, an Ojibwa warrior who fought beside General Brock and Tecumseh in several battles had a son born in 1811 on the banks of the Forty Mile Creek named Maungwudaus who become one of North America’s most famous Indian in the 1840s and 50’s. Capitalizing on his native heritage he formed a troupe of native performers who toured the United States and Europe performing and lecturing before huge cheering audiences as well as having private audiences with the US President and French. Belgium and English royalty.
• Historically this trail symbolizes one of the best physical and literal representations of that formative nation building era when the ties between two of Canada’s three founding nations were strongest as
having been forged “as brothers in arms” during the American Revolutionary War and when natives and UEL settlers respected and depended on each other as equals.

Mr. Switzer admits this is a last ditch attempt to stall the turbine start-up until the upcoming Provincial election where if the PC’s win, Hudak has said he’ll cancel the costly $20 billion subsidy to wind and would hold wind developers accountable to comply with all setback requirements. Otherwise the future for anti-wind protesters appears extremely bleak so long as the Liberals remain in power and continue to approve hundreds more turbines every week in spite of electrical surpluses and spiraling energy costs.
While all Ontario homeowners, businessmen and industries are suffering from the highest electricity rates in North America due to the Liberal/NDP Green Energy Act, the real victims are the immediate neighbours.
Experience elsewhere has shown they stand to lose 20 to 40% of their property value as well as sleepless nights and the resultant health problems from turbine noise and low frequency infrasound.

One of the neighbours whose property will be directly impacted by an MOE amendment to legitimize the setback infractions stated in their comments to the MOE that she and her husband had fled their homeland in Yugoslavia 40 years ago in an attempt to escape a communist government who always put their own interests above the people and the community. Unfortunately, the way this issue has been handled by the
MOE has made them question whether life in Canada is really much different from our previous life under a communist regime halfway around the world.
Not so says Neil: “We may have strayed from our Canadian roots of “peace, fairness and good government” but it’s not too late to set things right and a little history lesson might be a good place to start.

Neil Switzer Chair, WLGWAG
www.wlwag.com

 

Five ways the Liberals are ‘messing with’ Ontario’s economy

(Or, five more reasons why this government should go)
Scott Stinson, National Post, April 28, 2014
Kathleen Wynne has spoken repeatedly in the past month about how her Liberals are the only party to be trusted with the fortunes of a province that is still unsteady on its economic feet.

Ontario, the Premier has said, needs her “safe hands” to guide it through its recovery, not those “reckless schemes” of the two parties in opposition.

Other Liberals have picked up the thread. In blasting the NDP for its demand of increased corporate tax rates, Transportation Minister Glen Murray last week said the province, “is emerging from the global recession. However, our recovery remains fragile.”

Add a couple of seafaring metaphors about troubled seas, and the comments were perfectly in line with what the federal Conservatives were touting in the 2011 election: now isn’t the time to mess about with our delicate economic recovery.

Except there is a key difference: the Ontario Liberals are furiously messing with the economy.

On Thursday, after the federal Tories announced plans to tinker with public pensions, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa all but rolled his eyes at the proposal and insisted that the province will forge ahead with an Ontario-only enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan. It is fair to say a debate remains over whether a CPP top up is needed, and if so whether a mandatory plan as envisioned for Ontario is the solution. But there is little such debate in the business community.

“It’s going to have a devastating impact,” Nicole Troster, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Federation of Business, said in an interview. Among the key concerns for the CFIB, Ms. Troster said, is that mandatory pension contributions are essentially a profit-insensitive tax. Even struggling businesses would be hit with a new, additional cost. Other business groups have lined up to express concern over the Liberal proposal: the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Certified General Accountants of Ontario, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Read the full story here.

Parker Gallant: the Energy Minister’s announcements

The Liberals’ promise of ‘significant relief’ on power bills: a closer look

The April 2014 Liberal event calendar has had a minimum of an event a day, including the Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s delivering a message on how the government plans to help small and medium Ontario business deal with electricity bills. The event was held at Giant Tiger’s HO in Ottawa.

Energy
Bob Chiarelli and friends: did they look at the numbers, really?

These daily announcements are leading up to the budget presentation on May 1st which is widely expected to trigger an election.

Not once in the 27-minute podcast did the Minister mention “Timmies” coffee in the context of either what it would cost ratepayers or how much it would reduce hydro bills for those small and medium sized companies. But what he did was to spin the bad news electricity story: first they rob Peter and Paul to pay wind and solar developers, and when Paul becomes vocal you rob more from Peter to pay Paul. As soon as Peter laments, you tell him you have a plan to give him a break and you simply stick Paul with higher rates. Then, while you are telling Peter he will soon get a break, you rob the company that employs him so they can no longer afford to hire Paul. Shortly after that the company laments that they may have to lay Peter off so you rob even more from Peter and Paul, so that they will be able to keep Peter on staff and may even be able to afford to hire Paul.

Should you decide to watch Chiarelli’s podcast you’ll see he doesn’t make it quite that simple. Instead, he talks about “pillars,” points and electricity acronyms like “IEI” (Industrial Electricity Incentive) or “ICI” (Industrial Conservation Initiative) programs. Like the other promises of prosperity coming daily from the government, the benefits are all in the future. Only one of his suggestions came with a specified time (2015). That was one that will instruct your local distribution company (LDC) to become a lending institution! They will be told to provide financing for “up-front capital costs” associated with “conservation programs.” Needless to say this and the other programs will be financed by other ratepayers via the Global Adjustment (GA).

The day before, the announcement was about ending the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC) at the end of 2015, and was clearly aimed at residential ratepayers (people who vote). Premier Wynne said it would bring “significant rate relief.” The DRC will continue to be collected until 2018 from those to whom Minister Chiarelli promised relief too, from his perch at Giant Tiger. By the end of December 2015 we will have paid $15.5 billion to retire the original $7.8 billion of “Residual Stranded Debt” but they want more, so they will take about $1 billion from most commercial and industrial clients before they will finally declare it paid—evidence of the Liberal trick of robbing Peter to pay Paul!

“Significant relief”?

Let’s look at Wynne’s “significant rate relief” claim. Just one year ago the Ontario Energy Board announced a rate increase that cost the “average” ratepayer $3.63 a month or $44 annually, and followed that with another increase in November raising rates by $4.00 a month or $48 annually. The more recent increase of April 14, 2014 saw another increase of $2.83 a month or $34 annually, and those announcements didn’t include rate increases for the “delivery” or “regulatory” lines on our bills, which also increased. So, in just one year the electricity rates jumped $126 annually and Wynne’s announced rate relief won’t happen until the end of 2015. That’s the year the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB) ends. The OECB reduces the average bill by $13.30 per month or $160 annually. The “average” bill (electricity only) at the start of 2016 will be $286 higher on an annual basis than it was as of April 30, 2013. Adding the HST brings the increase to $323.
We should also expect additional increases from the OEB’s scheduled rate setting on December 1, 2014, May 1, 2015 and December 1, 2015; those add a minimum of $100/120 to our electricity line.

In other words, the average bill will have jumped by approximately $425/$450 by which time Wynne’s “significant rate relief” will become insignificant. Just as the annual DRC charge of $67 falls away, another scheduled charge from the Wednesday announcement (aimed at reducing energy poverty) of $11 will be added, so we may see a measly $56 decrease at that time.

25% increase in two years
The “average” ratepayer will have experienced an increase of over 25% in electricity prices in slightly more than 2 years by the time the December 31, 2015 date arrives. At that time our electricity costs will be charged out at over 21 cents per kilowatt (kWh). That only gets worse as more contracted wind and solar enter the grid. The price will rise further should OPG prove successful in their “significant” rate increase request now before the OEB. Add in increases expected in the “delivery” and “regulatory” lines, tack on HST and all-in costs will be in the neighbourhood of 30 cents a kWh! That average $133 monthly bill will suddenly be $240 and Ontario residents will be challenging Germany and Denmark for the privilege of having the most expensive rates in the industrialized world.

It seems the Liberal Ontario government has apparently abandoned the “Chiarelli” math (units are based on the price of a Tim Horton’s coffee) and have now moved on to a shell game. They tell us their management of the energy portfolio is constantly saving us money—you just have to look for the pea under the right shill, oops, I meant shell!

©Parker Gallant,
April 26, 2014

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

WCO: MPAC study a “self-serving” exercise

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

STATEMENT ON MPAC 2012 ASSESSMENT BASE YEAR STUDY: “IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY ASSESSMENT IN ONTARIO”

April 25, 2014

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation or MPAC, the independent property assessment body which reports to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, released its long awaited report on the effect of industrial wind turbines on property assessment in Ontario in mid-April.

Anyone waiting for this report, which was more than a year late in coming, was disappointed: despite studies done by real estate appraisers in Ontario showing significant loss in value for properties near wind turbines, MPAC said it “cannot conclude any loss in price” due to proximity to a wind turbine.

Wind Concerns Ontario consulted with several individuals including real estate appraisers and finance professionals about the MPAC report.

“It’s just a self-serving, bureaucratic  exercise in mathematics done by MPAC for their government masters,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “The study was done by assessors, not appraisers—this was not a real-world study using on-the-ground valuation techniques such as direct comparison to property sales.”

In fact, Wilson said WCO’s advisors point out that the MPAC study actually does show a property value loss of 25%. “They claim there is no value loss, but then they present a chart that shows there is, and the effect extends out as far as five kilometers,” Wilson said.

What they left out

What MPAC left out of the study is more interesting than what’s in it, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

Here’s a summary:

-MPAC studied areas near turbines 1.5 megawatts or larger in capacity—this excludes areas with older, less powerful but still large-scale turbines; these are areas where studies by independent real estate professionals have indicated significant property value loss.

-MPAC used only sales after 2008, which means for areas like Kincardine and Ripley, the damage was already done, and is reflected in the data they are using for comparison

-MPAC chose not to include properties that are now vacant, such as those that have been purchased by wind power developers as they have become uninhabitable

-MPAC left out the sales that would have been most informative, i.e., those that sold for significantly less than their assessed values and surely demanded some further investigation before being dismissed.

-MPAC as assessors study sales data only—there is no data on houses listed for sale that do not sell, or which are on the market for extended periods of time

U.S.-based real estate appraiser Mike McCann examined the study and concluded that the assessors went against their own professional standards for assessment methodology: “the IAAO (International Association of Assessing Officers) standards discourage regression analysis and instead recommend the use of paired sales methodology, with direct, detailed comparisons of individual sales data, near and far from the environmental disamenity in question,” he said. MPAC’s regression studies actually show a loss of property value, he explains, when the raw data is sorted by distance, yet the authors somehow concluded there was no impact on value.

The real meaning of MPAC’s report

Prior to the Green Energy Act being passed in 2009, countless municipalities asked the Ontario government for economic analysis of the impact of wind power projects on their communities. “They never got that,” says Jane Wilson. “And the Auditor General in his 2011 annual report said Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for the impact of wind power generation projects on Ontario’s economy—we never got that either.

“This government doesn’t want the public to know the true impact of its decision to rush into large-scale industrial wind power on Ontario’s small towns and rural communities—property value loss would be one metric of just how badly this decision has harmed our economy.”

Instead, Wilson says, “ MPAC obliged its government masters by coming up with this flawed and self-serving study that was designed to produce a specific result, which will doubtless now be used by the government and its wind power industry partner to put a ‘chill’ on requests for re-assessment, and on legal actions based on lost property value.”

CONTACT

Jane Wilson WCO.president@gmail.com

MPAC study available here.

MPAC sales chart showing loss of value: http://www.mpac.ca/pdf/AppendixD2.pdf

 

 

 

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Grand Bend area signs vandalized

(This does not have to be said, but Wind Concerns Ontario in no way condones  vandalism.)

Destructive behaviour concerns OPP
Lakeshore Advance, April 19, 2014

Energy company Nextera has been given the green light to start building a 92-turbine industrial wind farm in Lambton and Middlesex counties.

And that okay may have prompted the graffiti splashed on Grand Bend Highway 21 businesses and the municipal sign Friday morning. From the entry sign north to the Caldwell Banking sign “Stop wind power” was clearly written in red paint. At the Ausable Inn one car was splashed in red paint and the tires slashed.

Bill Weber, mayor of the Municipality of Lambton Shores, told the Lakeshore Advance that, “Reaction is disappointment. It’s disappointing that it would come to this in Lambton Shores.”

Even more frustrating for Weber is that the municipality – which includes Grand Bend – is one of nearly 100 unwilling host communities in Ontario.

The municipality has been fighting to keep turbines out of the community and stands largely on the same side as those in the anti-wind movement.

“Everyone understands the frustration that the anti-wind people have, that’s the frustration that the municipality has with the Green Energy Act,” Weber says adding he does not believe this destruction helps to further the protester’s cause.

Provincial approval to build 92 new wind turbines near Grand Bend was just handed down last week and although Grand Bend is not directly involved in the wind debate, yet, the businesses may have been targeted because they are close to homes and apartments being rented by wind company employees.

OPP Const. Chrystal Jones says “The OPP understands this is a very sensitive issue in our communities. Bottom line is, it’s mischief, it’s against the law and we’re not going to tolerate this.”

Weighing in on social media one poster said, “Shameful! This is not about wind power being a good or bad thing – this is about morons out vandalizing neigbourhoods! “

Another agreed stating, “Did they think this was going to change anything? What a bunch of fools!”

Anyone with information on what happened is asked to contact OPP at 1-888-310-1122, their nearest police authority or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Read more

MPAC releases property assessment report

More than a year past its scheduled release, the report from Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) on the effect wind turbines may have on property values has just been released.

You may see the report and its statistical appendices here: http://www.mpac.ca/property_owners/IndustrialWindTurbines.asp

We will be conducting an analysis of the report and will provide an opinion on the findings, soon.

US-based NextEra racks up wind power project number 7 with Jericho approval

Middlesex-Lambton community group considering an appeal

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment issued a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) earlier this week for the company’s proposal to build a 150-megawatt wind farm spanning Lambton Shores, Warwick Township and North Middlesex.

Some final details still need to be worked out, but construction of the Jericho Wind Energy Centre is expected to begin as soon as possible, said Ben Greenhouse, director of development with Nextera Energy Canada.

The project has been in the works since 2008, he said, and was submitted for ministry approval 14 months ago.

“We’re excited,” he said, noting a laydown yard — headquarters for construction — will soon be built on Thomson Line, north of Jericho Road and south of Northville Road.

But not everyone is enthused about the approval.

Lambton Shores resident Marcelle Brooks, with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, has been a vocal opponent of the project.

It was a sad day when she saw the approval, she said.

“It was just devastating that our voices simply aren’t being heard.”

Concerns raised about whether turbines are being set back the required 550 metres from residential properties, and environmental concerns about nesting eagles near powerlines, haven’t been adequately addressed, she contends.

Concerns have also been raised about wind turbines affecting tundra swan migration, and the potential health impacts to people living nearby.

Brooks said she was planning to convene a meeting Wednesday with people affected by the project — connecting to Hydro One’s distribution system — to talk about options.

Read the full story here