Skyway 8: Back-room deals, spin as turbine numbers climb

Transformer at Skyway 8: more than 5 turbines coming, people
Transformer at Skyway 8: more than 5 turbines coming

The Skyway 8 Project in Southgate Township, County of Grey, presently owned by Capstone Infrastructure, has been a myriad of confusing and secret deals as well as a debacle of onus ownership.

The five  95-meter turbines totalling 9.8 MW and transformer(s) are well within Grey County and Southgate’s borders yet the township of Melancthon had more correspondence, updates and notifications with the proponents than either Grey County or Southgate township. In fact, an invitation to a BBQ celebrating the end of construction was on the Melancthon council agenda June 5, 2014. Nowhere was it found in any newspaper in Southgate nor mentioned at Southgate council or on their website.  The power lines from the transformer(s) were supposedly buried on a little used portion of the Melancthon 260 road allowance in order to join up with a HONI less than four miles away.

A document produced by the Grey County TAPS (Transportation and Public Safety) Committee dated December 19, 2013, said oversized and overload permits had not been submitted, two entrances on Grey Rd. 8 must be reduced to the required size/width by the proponent post construction, and there would be no request to install power transition equipment within the Grey County. This document went to county council and was passed as resolution CC12-14 on January 9, 2013.

The two entrances off Grey Road 8 have not been reduced and a washed away south east corner of Grey Rd. 8 & Southgate Road 10 has not been repaired. Some time ago I contacted the CAO of Grey County with no response, and twice to the CAO and the Public Works Manager (PWM) of Southgate Township. I received a reply from the PWM that he would contact the county CAO. To date no further correspondence has been received.

The transformer that was specifically not to be in Grey County is indeed well within the boundaries of Southgate Township, a municipality of Grey County.  An electrical worker on the transformers was asked why the need for transformers of this size when there are only five turbines. The worker replied “Five? There’s a whole lot more than five turbines coming.”

This is an area which has declared itself an unwilling host.

The original application to the MoE, granted September 29, 2011, approved  103 – 105 dBA for the turbines and 67 dBA for the transformer. That was amended  July 29, 2013 to increase the dBA for the transformer to 94 dBA. Both dBA allowing for the cooling fan noise.
In an article published in the Dundalk Herald September 17, 2014, the author says Samsung is planning 65 more turbines. He also says the project was received with broad acceptance by local residents and municipal council. One wonders why then there are three For Sale signs and one For Rent sign nearby. He does not stipulate which municipal council. Melancthon was a willing host at the time of negotiations.

One land owner that has two of the turbines and is eagerly waiting for approval of the 65 larger turbines planned as he has signed up for more was interviewed. He also has solar panels and is paid 80 cents per kilowatt under the FIT program. He says the money is secondary.  A neighbour of his who signed up three years ago for a turbine and is also waiting for the next phase said “the people who protest the loudest are people who live outside the area.” He went on to say that “the people that are protesting are ones that can’t get one.” A pat answer we have heard time and time again by the proponent’s script writers.

The neighbour also mentioned in the interview a petition she started that was in favour of the project  and had 100 signatures. In fact, it was an online survey with approximately 75 signatures, the majority of whom not only don’t live in the area but do not reside in Canada. A legal survey which was signed by over 720 residents of Southgate were not in favour of IWT’s was presented to Southgate council in March. Pecuniary interests were not declared at Southgate council even though at least one incumbent has  recently admitted he is getting 28 turbines on 14 farms he owns during the next phase.

Needless to say, the upcoming municipal election is clearly about “Trusted, Timely Transparent Decision Making.”

Louise Morfitt Hall is a resident of Southgate, and is running for council in the municipal election, October 27

 The views expressed here are those of the author.

Stay proceedings set for Monday September 22

The SWEAR/HEAT Stay Court Proceeding with Julian Falconer and team was scheduled for Monday, September 22nd and Tuesday, September 23rd in London.  We have been advised that it will be a one day Hearing – Monday, September 22, 2014.  The proceeding starts at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning.  We are hoping that lots of people will come out and show their support by peacefully protesting outside the courthouse and respectfully attending inside the court room.  Your attendance is needed and would be so greatly appreciated.  The location for the Stay Hearing is as follows:

London Courthouse

80 Dundas Street

London, ON

The full Divisional Court Hearing will be held November 17-18-19.  The location for this Hearing has not been set as of this date.  We will let you know when the location has been confirmed.

Please feel free to circulate this to others who share our concerns.  Let’s pull together.

For more information on the court proceedings you can go to www.falconers.ca

Anita Frayne

Secretary/Treasurer, SWEAR/Safe Wind Energy for All Residents

Atikokan conversion converts ratepayer cash to emissions

 

What's a few trucks?
What’s a few trucks? And trees that don’t grow back for 40 years? It’s GREEN!

The September 10, 2014 press release from the Ontario didn’t quite put it the way this headline does, but if you look behind the PR slogan, “A New Era of Cleaner Air in Ontario” it is obvious! The conversion of the Atikokan coal plant to biomass was complete, went the news story, but the real news is, it will cost us ratepayers a lot and will not save the planet. Why? It is going to emit lots of carbon when it actually runs and produces some electricity.

For background a visit to Renewable Energy World and an article about the conversion process a year ago tells a lot about the project. The article tells you how much the anticipated percentage of production will be, compared to its 200 MW capacity (10% to 12%), the tonnes of wood pellets to be stored (10,000), annual purchase of pellets (90,000 tonnes; one of the chosen suppliers has a contract to supply DRAX with 400,000 tonnes of pellets annually from their Wawa facility), thermal efficiency (close to coal in the mid 30s), the conversion cost ($170 million), and the term of its power purchase agreement (PPA) with the OPA (10 years) with the added information that the latter covers both the conversion and fuel costs (one assumes that it will also cover the costs of operations, maintenance and administration [OMA] of the 70 permanent workers).

In order to calculate how the Atikokan plant will burden ratepayers to produce 1 kilowatt of power, we need to make some basic assumptions in respect to the calculations, but the following are on the conservative side.

  • The converted plant will operate at 10% of capacity thereby producing 175,200 MWh (megawatt hours) annually calculated as 200 MW X 20% X 8760 hours = 175,200 MWh
  • At 10% capacity the plant will use 38,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually at a cost of $200 per tonne meaning annual costs of 38,000 X $200 = $7.6 million.
  • The conversion costs of $170 million will be amortized over the 10 years of the OPA contract meaning (on a straight line basis) an annualized cost of $17 million.
  • The cost of the 70 employees will average $100K per annum (all-in with pension and benefits) calculated as 70 X $100,000 = $7 million.
  • The foregoing represents total annual costs of $34,600,000 to produce 175,200 MWh creating a cost per MWh of $197.49 per MWh or 19.7 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour).  The math is simply the total cost of $34,600,000/175,200 = $197.39.

There’s more: pellet delivery will require 10 trucks per day within a 200 kilometer radius, five days per week, to bring those 90,000 tonnes to the converted plant.  One of those plants is located in Thunder Bay a distance just under the 200 kilometer radius.  How is that going to produce “Cleaner Air in Ontario” as suggested by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli?

The other distorted fact about biomass is that 2.5 tonnes of wood  is required to produce 1 tonne of pellets and requires considerable energy to both grind and produce the pellets.  They also are less efficient (lower efficiency ratings than all fossil fuels) and produce more CO2 than bituminous coal.  The reason biomass is regarded as “renewable” is that the trees cut to produce the pellets (or wood chips) may eventually grow back—it just takes 40 years or so!

A website, Partnerships for Policy Integrity put it succinctly by asking this question:  “Is biomass “Worse than coal?  Yes, if you’re interested in reducing carbon dioxide emissions anytime in the next 40 years.”

So, what’s the real news story? Our Ontario Liberal government has caused OPG to plunge into further debt, increased our electricity bills and created more emissions than we had before the conversion. The truth is there behind the doublespeak about cleaner air.

©Parker Gallant,

September 15, 2014

 

The opinions expressed are those of the author.