Big Thunder decision: MoE Director has discretion

The decision stemming from the application by Horizon Wind to force the Ministry of the Environment to approve the Big Thunder Wind power project has been published and is now available.

The decision includes the statement that “it is clearly a matter of the Director’s discretion whether to issue an REA, with or without terms and conditions, after a determination whether it is in the public interests.”

This raises the question about contracts for renewable power projects, as Wind Concerns Ontario maintains: the Feed In Tariff or FIT contract with the Ontario Power Authority to purchase power is the first step in the process of providing power—companies must then go through the application process to get a Renewable Energy Approval, which, as the courts have confirmed again, is at the discretion of the Director.

Read the decision here: BigThunderDecision

Down Wind documentary airs June 4

Sun News has announced the debut of its “Down Wind” documentary. The news special, hosted by Rebecca Thompson, will air June 4th.

A promotional trailer is available here: http://www.downwindmovie.com/

The film was funded by crowd source; $30,000 was raised in three days to finance production.

Jan Carr on the Samsung contract CFRA today

Former CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, Dr Jan Carr, will be interviewed by journalist Rob Snow on CFRA radio today after the 5 PM news, on the topic of the Samsung contract which he stated in a letter to the Financial Post was a egregious example of government procurement, and caused the power industry to be “aghast” at the fact that the contract was awarded without competition, to a company with no expertise in either wind or solar power generation.

Listen live at www.cfra.com

Wind power invades beauty of Great Spirit Island

Windmills on Manitoulin Island. (Mike Strobel/QMI Agency)

Mike Strobel, QMI Agency, May 26, 2014

KAGAWONG– It looks like Martians landed on Manitoulin Island this spring.

They hulk on McLean’s Mountain behind Little Current, Manitoulin’s metropolis, pop. 1,500.

What a shocking sight it is as you approach the century-old iron swing bridge, the only land link.

When I left last October, there was nothing between that ridge and God but treetops and clouds.

Now? Someone call Orson Welles.

“It’s like we’ve been invaded,” Deb Turner tells me at Turners of Little Current, a 135-year-old department store.

The War of the Worlds giants also march along the Cup and Saucer trail behind M’Chigeeng, the closest Ojibwa reserve to my woodsy shack near Kagawong, “Ontario’s Prettiest Village.”

“They’re a blight,” says Deb’s husband, Jib, who is running for Tim Hudak’s Tories.

Jib’s great-great-grandmother was migrating west when her boat arrived at this Paradise and she declared, “I don’t know about you, but I’m staying right here.”

Who could blame her? Or the Martians? The Ojibwa call this Spirit Island with reason.

The invaders, of course, are not really Martians, but windmills. McGuinty Mushrooms. Dalton’s Big Wind. Built so Liberals could feel warm and fuzzy.

There are 24 on McLean’s Mountain and two at M’Chigeeng, each 150 metres, including blade. They dwarf the Peace Tower, the Taj Mahal, Rogers Centre, even Adam Vaughan’s ego. They are higher than Rob Ford on a Saturday night.

You could live with them, I guess, if they were productive or cost-effective or were going to save us from Doomsday.

But here’s the rub: At 10 a.m. Sunday, of 13,116 megawatts total output across Ontario, just 130 megawatts came from windmills, according to a government website (ieso.ca) where nuclear and hydro still reign.

The “others” category even out-produced windmills.

Read the full story here.

Turbine noise health report to be published today

“…association exists between wind turbine noise and distress in humans…”

A comprehensive report based on a literature review will be published today in the online journal Cureus. www.cureus.com

Dr Ian Arra, associate medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce, will present the paper today at a meeting of the Canadian Public Health Association in Toronto.

The results of the review are: “The presence of reasonable evidence that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans. The existence of a dose-response relationship (between distance from wind turbines and distress) and the consistency of association across studies found in the scientific literature argue for the credibility of this
association. Future research in this area is warranted as whether causal relationship exists or not.”

Take wind power health problems seriously, scientists told

 

Conference warns health effects of wind turbines should be taken seriously

Sleep disturbance emerging as major public health concern, particularly affecting children and older people

Pamela Duncan, Irish Times, May 23, 2014

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.  Photo: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance. Photo: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Health studies into the effect of wind turbines on those living in their vicinity must be explored to prevent potential health problems, a conference on public health heard yesterday.

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast was speaking at the 2014 Summer Scientific Meeting at the Royal College of Physicians the second day of which was held in Dublin yesterday.

He said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.

Prof Evans said there was “clear evidence” that, as the size of wind turbines had increased, so has the infrasound and low frequency sounds generated by them and that they were now emitting “serious amounts of noise”.

“When you measure them with the correct filters you find they are producing noise levels which are far above what’s supposed to be permitted,” he said.

He said while many people are not affected, that others could experience sleep disturbance, adding this in turn leads to increased blood pressure which he said is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Prof Evans said that, while he did not want to sound alarmist, the effects were such that they needed to be taken seriously and investigated further.

Quoting a 2009 WHO report on night noise, Prof Evans said sleep disturbance was emerging as one of the major public health concerns of the 20th century and something which particularly affected children and older people.

He said sleep was “absolutely essential, central to the normal physiological function of the brain and the body” and was necessary for facilitating learning. …

Read the full report here.

Killing green contracts: Samsung deal should go

Here from former CEO of the Ontario Power Authority Jan Carr, is an opinion on cancelling contracts for renewable power generation. Reprinted from The Financial Post.

Killing green contracts

FP Letters, May 23, 2014

Bruce Pardy (May 15) explains how Ontario election campaign promises to tear up high-priced renewable energy contracts would be legal if backed up by legislation.

The downside is of course that retrospective laws like this drive general costs up because they undermine investor confidence. Given the thousands of renewable energy contracts involved, it is not hard to imagine that if the economic consequences of such a break of faith would dwarf the $1.1 billion cost of Oakville and Mississauga gas plant cancellations.

“The massive 25-year Samsung contract was awarded without competition and to a company with no demonstrated expertise in either wind or solar generation.”

But if the cancellation legislation applied only to the the Samsung renewable energy contract awarded in 2010 it might actually increase business confidence. The power industry was aghast when this massive 25-year contract was awarded without competition and to a company with no demonstrated expertise in either wind or solar generation. In addition to the above-market energy prices available to all renewable energy generators, the contract provided an additional subsidy of $110 million and rights to 500 megawatts of scarce space on the provincial transmission system. Literally “priceless” because rights to transmission access are not for sale to anybody else in Ontario.

On a per capita basis, the $18.6 billion Samsung renewable energy contract committed each Ontarian to $1,400 over its life. In contrast the $25 billion F-35 fighter jet contract, which dominated public debate about government sole source contracting at the time, works out to $725 for each Canadian.

“The Samsung contract remains a monument to the worst excesses of government procurement.”

The Samsung contract has already been scaled back through negotiation but it still remains a monument to the worst excesses of government procurement. many would see legislated cancellation of the Samsung renewable energy contract as righting a significant wrong rather than the beginning of a slippery slope towards government-backed contracts not being worth the paper they are written on.

Jan Carr, former chief executive, Ontario Power Authority

 

Constraining wind power in Ontario

Making your head spin or, how Ontario’s energy sector is regulated

Enbridge Gas Distribution recently received the blessing of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a 40% hike in what they charge Ontario’s consumers for distributing natural gas, claiming, because of the high demand during a cold winter they were forced to purchase it at a high market price.  The OEB granted the approval despite many objections by various interested parties who pointed out that Union Gas had requested a smaller increase.

This note was in the OEB’s approval:  “This means that Enbridge plans for lower storage deliverability requirements and transportation capacity” requiring gas purchases at higher spot prices on the open market.  One wonders why Enbridge is not required to maintain a larger storage capacity, which would have allowed them more prudence in purchasing the supply of gas, but that is presumably a question for the OEB to ask!

While the OEB was weighing their decision, another arm of Enbridge was constraining their production of wind-generated electricity.  That was to allow the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to protect the grid and prevent blackouts or brownouts by requesting constraint.

Constraining wind power—and paying for it—started September 11, 2013. Since then Enbridge has been paid for not producing about 83,500 megawatt hours (MWh), which should have generated close to $9 million.

Enbridge was not alone: Brookfield didn’t produce over 29,000 MWh and IPC/GDF Suez (where the CEO is Mike Crawley) didn’t produce 12,800 MWh, and TransAlta didn’t produce 17,100 MWh.  In total about 161,000 MWh were constrained since IESO started paying wind developers—that means  ratepayers picked up the $16 million cost.  And that cost doesn’t include what ratepayers pay for remote meteorological stations to ensure wind developers don’t lie about what they may have produced.

Interestingly enough if one checks out Elections Ontario to determine what those wind developers contributed to the three major political parties in 2010, 2011 and 2012, you find that the NDP received nothing, the Ontario PC party received $1,080 from Enbridge and the Ontario Liberal Party or OLP received $8,000 from Enbridge, $14,840 from Brookfield and nothing from the rest.  The CEO of IPC did donate a total of $555 to the OLP.

The wind power lobby organization Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) contributed $16,620 to the OLP over the last three years and zero to the NDP or the Ontario PC party.  I wonder why?

This situation is a win-win for some of the parties involved, but a hit to the pocketbook of the average ratepayer.

©Parker Gallant,

May 22, 2014

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

 

 

 

Samsung sweetens the deal in Southgate

Wind turbines.

Samsung sweetens the pot in bid for Southgate wind project

By Don Crosby, For The Sun Times

Samsung isn’t giving up on plans for a wind energy project in Southgate.

Company representatives appeared before council on Wednesday with a new proposal.

Samsung is offering Southgate 15% equity in the 120-megawatt project. Company spokesperson Tim Smitheman said as an equity partner, Southgate could expect a net annual dividend of $905,000. That would increase the township’s annual revenue by 19% based on 2013 property tax collected.

The partnership in the project isn’t a gift. The township’s share of the cost for the 40 to 60 turbine development would be $10 million.

Smitheman said Samsung would secure a loan to pay for Southgate’s share. The township would repay the loan at a rate of $500,000 a year out of its dividend for 20 years.

However, even after the loan payments, Southgate would net $905,981 a year – a total of $18.1 million over 20 years.

In addition to the equity partnership Samsung and Pattern Development, the principal owners of the proposed project, would give Southgate $3.6 million over 20 years in a community vibrancy fund to support community, environmental and wellness initiatives.

The dividend, vibrancy fund and annual tax revenues of $250,000 from the wind energy project would net Southgate $26.7 million over the 20-year life of the project.

Smitheman said the only other community where Samsung has 15% equity agreement is Six Nation of Grand River, which has agreed to be host to a 250-megawatt wind project.

Southgate council could decide to include all or a portion of township residents as shareholders and divide the annual dividend payments among them, or it could use the money for operations and capital spending.

The township had a population of 7,190, according to the 2011 Canada census, the latest available.

Deputy-mayor Norm Jack wanted to know why Samsung didn’t include the equity partnership in its initial offer to the township earlier this year.

Smitheman said council hadn’t indicated it was interested in a partnership agreement and negotiations hadn’t progressed very far when council voted to declare Southgate an unwilling host community.

“We had only met once or twice with council when the unwilling host resolution came down. We felt we weren’t given an opportunity to put our best foot forward . . . having had the opportunity I think we would have submitted this earlier,” Smitheman said.

Barbara Dobreen, a Southgate resident who is opposed to wind energy projects in the township, said the latest offer still has too many unanswered questions.

“They are basing that number on a certain level of production. That 15% equity goes down as production goes down.”

She’s also opposed to dividing the dividend among residents. She prefers to see the township use the money as it sees fit.

“I don’t see it as good a deal as they are purporting it to be,” Dobreen said in an interview after Wednesday’s council meeting.

Coun. Kim Peeters said the money is attractive and would be well used, but worries there are too many hidden strings attached and…

Read the full story here.