Wind farm threatens UK world heritage site

Earlier today we posted a news story on the wind power generation project that threatens not only wildlife and a fragile environment, but also the tranquility of a Buddhist temple.

This goes one better—or worse.

Bat's Head, on the Jurassic Coast (Getty Images)

Jurassic Coast windfarm plan at Unesco site ‘like bulldozing Buckingham Palace’, residents warn

The Independent, Saturday January 24 2015

The south of England’s “Jurassic Coast” has inspired countless school geography trips and novelists such as Jane Austen, Ian McEwan and John Fowles, whose French Lieutenant’s Woman famously stood on Lyme Regis harbour “motionless, staring, staring out to sea”.

But whereas the fictional Sarah Woodruff’s view, framed by the Isle of Wight to the left and Old Harry Rocks to the right, would have been largely free of humans’ influence, proposals to build a giant offshore windfarm would fill the vista, threatening the coast’s status as England’s only natural Unesco world heritage site in the process.

MPs, locals and naturalists have banded together to fight plans by EDF Energy, the French owner of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, to build one of the world’s largest windfarms. The £3bn project involves installing 194 turbines, of up to 650ft high, nine miles off the coast of Dorset and East Devon. Opponents say the development would spoil an area whose identity and economy is built upon a unique and breathtakingly beautiful 96-mile stretch of coast that includes landmarks such as Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Chesil Beach and Ladram Bay.

“To have a big windfarm off the coast of Dorset where you’ve got miles of holidaymakers and locals coming to enjoy the area, I think would be the equivalent of ripping the cathedral down in Salisbury, or tearing down Westminster Abbey brick by brick or taking bulldozers to Buckingham Palace,” said Conor Burns, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, Alderney and Branksome East. He surveyed 3,000 of his constituents and found 87 per cent opposed the development.

Unesco has also criticised the proposals, telling the Government in a letter that the development, known as Navitus Bay, would “adversely impact” the view and raising the prospect that its World Heritage status could be removed.

Geologists say the coastline is unique because the dramatic cliffs and secluded coves are document to 185 million years of the evolution of the Earth, taking in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Peter Fanning, 76, a retired geologist who lives in Christchurch, has explored the coast countless times.

“The coast is a unique piece of geology. If you start in the west and move eastwards you are stepping further and further into the past as you encounter older and older rocks. There’s shale, sandstone, limestone. It’s breathtaking,” he said. “There’s a certain uniqueness. When you go there you feel it. It’s hard to describe in scientific terms, but it gels, it fits together. If you introduce an industrial zone, which is what the windfarm would be, you spoil the setting completely.”

The coast also has a rich literary history. Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, the newlyweds in McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, spend their honeymoon there and Louisa Musgrove falls into the sea in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Bill Bryson simply loves the place. “The world, or at least this little corner of it, seemed a good and peaceful place, and I was immensely glad to be there,” he wrote in his UK travelogue, Notes from a Small Island.

But the proposed windfarm endangers much more than the ambience, opponents say. Mark Smith, Bournemouth’s director of tourism, said the view and the local economy are interlinked. “The main asset this area sells itself on is the beautiful view. The whole origin of Bournemouth was based on that view, so it’s pretty fundamental to the area that the view is looked after. The windfarm could have a devastating impact on the economy,” he said.

Andrew Langley, an engineer who heads the Challenge Navitas opposition group and lives on the Isle of Purbeck, added: “This would change the character of something I love, from being relatively pristine and beautiful to something fairly manmade and intrusive.” The Government is considering the proposal and is expected to decide in the autumn.

Temples or turbines? Wind farm appeal final arguments Kawartha Lakes

The Temple lions needed legal help to defend against the Ontario government and a wind power developer: will community win over Big Wind?
The Temple lions needed legal help to defend against the Ontario government and a wind power developer: will community win over Big Wind?

Kawartha Lakes This Week, January 2015, Mary Riley

PONTYPOOL – In the end, it will be temples or turbines, and lawyer Eric Gillespie has never seen a case like it.

Delivering his final oral arguments to the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing the appeal of a controversial wind energy project in Manvers Township,

Mr. Gillespie wondered aloud how a lawyer can win a case that has had “zero response” from the opposite side.

Mr. Gillespie represents the groups appealing the Province’s granting approval to wind energy company wpd Canada for its Sumac Ridge industrial wind turbine project, which would see five industrial turbines built in Manvers Township.

When the approval was granted in December of 2013, several groups, Manvers Wind Concerns, Cransley Home Farm and the Buddhist Cham Shan Temple, appealed the decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Much of 2014 was taken up for the hearing, which officially concluded last December.

The Buddhists plan to build four Temples mirroring those in China, and will abandon the $100 million project if the wind turbines are built. One temple has already been built on Ski Hill Road.

The appellants maintain the Province violated its own legislation in allowing two of the turbines to be built on the Oak Ridges Moraine, which is protected by law. They also allege the project will have a significant impact on human health, the environment and quality of life in the area.

Dozens of people appeared for the appellants, while the Province elected to call no witnesses and few appeared for wpd Canada.

Lawyers for the Province, wpd Canada and the appellants submitted their written arguments earlier this month, and the oral arguments were heard on Friday (Jan. 23).

Tribunal co- chair Heather Gibbs said the purpose of Friday’s hearing was to allow people to hear the highlights of the arguments.

Mr. Gillespie focused on several key areas including the natural environment (specifically the moraine), First Nations and the Cham Shan Temple, reiterating the impacts industrial wind turbines would have on each.

But he maintained that because there were so few witnesses from wpd Canada and none from the Province, the Tribunal would face “a very difficult” task. Without witnesses for the Province, Mr. Gillespie said it would be very difficult for them to respond to the appellants’ case.

In all his years of experience, he said, “I’ve never seen a case where there wasn’t a response.”

He told the panel the level of interest from the community, the number of people who followed the hearing and worked on the appeal demonstrates its uniqueness. But, he noted there were many unnecessary delays as the hearing took almost a year to complete.

Mr. Gillespie accused the Province and wpd Canada of failing to properly consult with First Nations (Curve Lake and Hiawatha) band leaders to address their claims wind turbines would interfere with their Treaty 20 lands and harvesting rights. He said the Province should have met with them “government to government” to address the concerns.

He alleged the same relating to the Cham Shan Temple, noting the federal, provincial and City of Kawartha Lakes leaders have welcomed the Buddhists. The temple, he said, will be one of only two in the world and will draw people for its pilgrimages.

He noted a study of the impact of wind turbine noise on meditation can’t be done because there are no meditation centres in which to conduct them. But, the Buddhists who testified at the hearing were qualified as experts in their religious practice and testified about the requirements for meditation.

Mr.  Gillespie challenged scientists who appeared for wpd Canada on species at risk ; saying they had not visited the moraine and were not basing their testimony on relevant studies. And he noted that not seeing a species does not mean they are not in the area.

“That’s the problem, you don’t see them; that is why they are called species at risk,” he said, but added if habitat is destroyed “you can’t get it back.”

Mr. Gillespie also accused wpd Canada of not adhering to tribunal direction; delaying the proceedings to the point where they narrowly avoided a costs order.

“They didn’t keep the parties informed…didn’t follow the tribunal’s direction and came very close to (legally defined) unreasonable conduct…before the hearing even started.”

When he concluded, Mr. Gillespie said, “There are some places in the province where turbines shouldn’t be built” and said the appellants have presented clear evidence to support their case.

He received several minutes’ applause when he was finished, but as the Province began its arguments, catcalls and guffaws erupted when people didn’t like what they heard.

Ms Gibbs put a stop to that, demanding respect from the audience, and also banned cameras and videotapes after she was informed someone was using them. Audio recording was permitted, she said, but only for personal use, not publication.

The Province’s primary counsel, Andrew Weretelnyk, said the appellants have not proved their case because much of it was supported by opinion rather than fact. He said “no adverse influence” should be drawn by the decision not to call witnesses; that decision rests with counsel based on quality of evidence.

He denied the Province kept anything about the project hidden; that Sumac Ridge has always been five turbines. He also challenged some of the appellants’ witnesses, particularly those testifying about species at risk, saying bird expert Geoff Carpentier had no experience with wind turbines and birds.

Mr. Weretelnyk said the onus was on the appellants to show irreparable harm to the environment, and they “haven’t met the tests.”

He also challenged testimony about potential fuel spills from the turbines, saying  keeping them in the base does not make them a storage facility for hazardous materials.

The Province also addressed First Nations concerns, saying Treaty legislation and environmental legislation did not fall within the tribunal’s mandate for the purpose of the hearing. The Province maintained that while First Nations concerns were sincere, there were no tests that supported their claims in law.

When it was wpd Canada’s turn, their lawyer John Richardson asked the tribunal to refer to his written submissions (hard copy of which they had not received on Friday). He summed up most of his rebuttals to Mr. Gillespie by saying the Province’s lawyers had covered most of the same points.

Mr. Richardson’s position was that the appellants’ evidence did not prove there would be harm to human health, water, plant and animal life. He also noted documentation relating to the Sumac Ridge approval has been posted on the company’s website for public review.

A decision in the case is expected sometime in February.

Ontario’s power system is “exactly like Walmart” Bob Chiarelli says

Electricity: on sale every day, cheap, in Ontario
Electricity: on sale every day, cheap, in Ontario

Anyone reading an excerpt from the November 18, 2014 Standing Committee on Estimates text of Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli might have trouble discerning what his message was.  And, specifically, what his answer had to do with MPP Randy Hillier‘s question on whether Ontario loses money exporting surplus electricity.

Chiarelli had danced around the question, claiming Ontario needed “surplus generation,” but Hillier kept hounding him and finally, Chiarelli responded.

Mr. Randy Hillier: “Listen, I understand that we want to have a margin of surplus. We all can understand that, because you don’t know specifically and exactly how much is going to be needed at any particular point in time. But let’s get back to the question. What are our estimated losses—do you have an estimate—for this year and next year, cumulatively, in our losses of trades?”

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: “Can I ask you to give me 30 seconds without interruption? Just a few seconds, okay?”

Mr. Randy Hillier: “Well, if you can answer the question—60 seconds.”

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: “Walmart buys snow blowers. They expect to sell X number of snow blowers in a winter. At the end of the winter, if they haven’t sold those snow blowers, they sell them at a discount. They’re selling them for less than their costs. That’s part of doing business.

The electricity system is exactly the same as Walmart. Why do they have sales? Why do they sell a product that is worth X number of dollars in November for less when they’re selling it in March or April? Why do they do it? They’re giving it away. They’re losing money. How much have they lost?”

Walmart. Ontario’s electricity system is “exactly the same” as Walmart.

Here’s what the Ontario Auditor General’s report for 2011 said about what Ontario lost by exporting electricity surpluses.

 “Based on our analysis of net exports and pricing data from the IESO, we estimated that from 2005 to the end of our audit in 2011, Ontario received $1.8 billion less for its electricity exports than what it actually cost electricity ratepayers of Ontario.”

The losses highlighted in the AG’s report are related to the creation of the Global Adjustment or GA.  The buyers of our surplus electricity only pay the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) and Ontario’s consumers pick up the difference between the contracted price for generation and the HOEP.  It was that difference, the GA, that the AG’s report highlighted.

Ontario has seen three more years of generation since that report and each one has meant increasing costs to Ontario’s electricity consumers.  For 2012, IESO reported our exports were 14.6 terawatt hours (TWh) and generated an average price of $24.1 million/TWh, but the costs to Ontario’s consumers for that generation included the GA which was an additional $49.6 million/TWh—that resulted in a cost of $724 million.  2013 was worse: Ontario exported 18.3 TWh generating $26.5 million/TWh with  the GA cost at $59.0 million/TWh for a cost of $1.007 billion. 2014 was slightly worse again, with exports of 19.1 TWh generating $36.0 million/TWh, costing ratepayers $53.5 million/TWh for the GA, creating a loss of $1.022 billion.

So, those three years cost ratepayers $2.75 billion for the 52 TWh (11.3% of total generation of 459.8 TWh) of exported power we didn’t need, bringing losses since creation of the GA to $4.550 billion.

Ontario’s ratepayers might be much better off if Walmart really was running the electricity system in Ontario. At least Walmart isn’t continually running at a loss.

©Parker Gallant                                                                                                                                     January 21, 2015

Wind farm neighbours have greater risk of health problems: Australian study

This is a story provided by Wind Watch, which has access to a subscriber-only report from The Australian.

Turbines may well blow an ill wind over locals, ‘first’ study shows

Credit:  By: GRAHAM LLOYD. From: The Australian. January 21, 2015. ~~

People living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.

The study by acoustics expert Steven Cooper is the first in the world in which a wind turbine ­operator had fully co-operated and turned wind turbines off completely during the testing.

It opens the way for a full-scale medical trail that may resolve the contentious debate about the health impact of wind farms.

Funded by wind farm operator Pacific Hydro, the study was conducted at Cape Bridgewater in southwest Victoria where residents have long complained about headaches, chest pains and sleep loss but have been told it was all in their minds.

As part of the study, residents living between 650m and 1.6km of the wind turbines were asked to ­diarise what they were experiencing, including headaches, pressure in the head, ears or chest, ringing in the ears, heart racing or a sensation of heaviness.

Their observations were separated into noise, vibration and sensation using a one to five severity scale.

“The resident observations and identification of sensation indicates that the major source of complaint from the operation of the turbines would appear to be related to sensation rather than noise or vibration,” the report says. “For some residents experiencing adverse sensation effects, the impact can be exacerbated by bending over rather than standing, with the effect in some cases being reported as extremely severe and lasting a few hours.”

Mr Cooper said it was the first time that sensation rather than audible noise had been used as an indicator of residents’ perception of nearby wind turbines.

The report found offending sound pressure was present at four distinct phases of turbine operation: starting, maximum power and changing load by more than 20 per cent either up or down.

Mr Cooper said the findings were consistent with research into health impacts from early model wind turbines conducted in the US more than 20 years ago.

The relationship between turbine operation and sensation demonstrated a “cause and effect”, something Pacific Hydro was not prepared to concede, he said.

Survey participant Sonja Crisp, 75, said the first time she experience discomfort from the wind turbines, “it was like a thump in the middle of the chest.

“It is an absolute relief, like an epiphany to have him (Mr Cooper) say I was not crazy (that) when I am doing the dishes I feel nausea and have to get out of the house.”

David Brooks, from Gullen Range near Goulburn, NSW, said health concerns from wind farm developments were not confined to Cape Bridgewater.

The findings should be used as the basis for a thorough health study of the impacts from low frequency noise, he said. “Until this is done, there should be a moratorium on further wind farm developments,” he said.

Pacific Hydro and Mr Cooper agree that more widespread testing is needed. Andrew Richards, executive manager external affairs at Pacific Hydro, said: “While we acknowledge the preliminary findings of this report, what they mean at this time is largely unclear.

“In our view, the results presented in the report do not demonstrate a correlation that leads to the conclusion that there is a causal link between the existence of ­infrasound frequencies and the ‘sensations’ experienced by the residents.” Mr Cooper said the findings had totally discounted the so-called “nocebo” effect put forward by some public health ­officials, who said symptoms were the result of concerns about the possibility of experiencing them.

The Cape Bridgewater study included six residents over eight weeks in three houses.

One hearing-impaired participant had been able to identify with 100 per cent accuracy the performance of wind turbines despite not being able to see them.

Another Cape Bridgewater resident Jo Kermond said the findings had been “both disturbing and confirmation of the level of severity we were and are enduring while being ridiculed by our own community and society.”

Mr Cooper said residents’ threshold of sensations were experienced at narrow band sound pressure levels of four to five hertz at above 50 decibels.

The nominal audible threshold for frequencies of four to five hertz is more than 100 decibels. Mr ­Cooper said an earlier investi­gation into health impacts of wind farms by the South Australian EPA had been flawed by limiting the study to only one-third octave bands and not looking at narrow band analysis.

“By looking at high sensation and narrow band I have developed a methodology to undertake assessments using narrow band infrasound,” he said.

“We now have a basis on how to start the medical studies,”

Mr Cooper was not engaged to establish whether there was a link between wind turbine operation and health impacts, “but the findings of my work show there is something there,” he said.

Mr Cooper said Pacific Hydro should be commended for allowing the work to proceed.

“It is the first time ever in the world that a wind farm has co-­operated with a study including shutting down its operations completely,” he said.

Mr Cooper has coined the term Wind Turbine Signature as the basis of the narrow band infrasound components that are evident in other studies. He said the work at Cape Bridgewater had established a methodology that could be repeated very easily all over the world.

Pacific Hydro said it had conducted the study to see whether it could establish any link between certain wind conditions or sound levels at Cape Bridgewater and the concerns of the individuals involved in the study.

“Steven Cooper shows in his report, for the limited data set, that there is a trend line between discrete infrasound components of the blade pass frequency (and harmonics of the blade pass frequency) and the residents’ sensation observations, based on his narrow band analysis of the results,” Pacific Hydro said.

“However, we do not believe the data as it currently stands supports such a strong conclusion.”

The report has been sent to a range of stakeholders, including government departments, members of parliament, environmental organisations and health bodies.

The report may be downloaded from the following links:

The Results of an Acoustic Testing Program – Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm
Appendices A to H
Appendices I to J
Appendices K to M
Appendices N to P
Appendices Q to S
Appendices T to V

Source:  By: GRAHAM LLOYD. From: The Australian. January 21, 2015.

See also a story from January 21 in The Standard, here.

Wind farms: forced industrial zones, says scientist

Turbines change communities into industrial zones
Turbines change communities into industrial zones

From the current edition of Metroland’s Inside the Ottawa Valley, by retired scientist David G. Stephenson.

…Across the province advancing wind turbines are changing the wind swept countryside into a scene from H.G Well’s “War of the Worlds”. Wind power is clean and cost competitive, but the turbines are very large, unsightly, noisy industrial installations. A wind turbine will immediately zone everywhere within eyeshot as industrial, and people prefer not to live or conduct their recreational pursuits in an industrial zone. Consequently large wind farms are now being built over water.

A wind farm filling all of this country’s portion of the great lakes might just, when the wind was blowing, generate enough power to replace our use of fossil fuels.

But the output of wind farms is unpredictable and only available a quarter of the time. Wind power, like geothermal and tidal power is a boutique solution to a Mega-mall sized problem. Their contributions can only be useful supplements to a robust anchoring source of non-polluting energy. …

This is an excerpt from an article and does not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Hi electricity bills in Ontario bad for business, farms, consumers

From the January edition of Farmers Forum.

If premier likes low oil prices, why does she like high electricity prices?

By Parker Gallant

According to the Globe and Mail, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her province “is ready to shield Canada from the economic tsunami caused by declining oil prices and a sinking dollar.”

Ms. Wynne’s comments came after an RBC report estimated the fall in oil prices will actually help the Canadian economy by boosting household purchasing power by $8.9 billion this year. With annual Ontario gasoline consumption of 16.4 billion litres, a permanent slide in the price of about 25 cents (from $1.20 a litre to 95 cents a litre) should translate to about $4-billion annually in the hands of Ontario consumers.

Premier Wynne went on to say: “I don’t wish for low oil prices and a low dollar for Alberta,” she said. “But at the same time, we want our manufacturing sector to rebound. So if that [low oil price] helps, then that’s a good thing.”

If lower oil prices are a good thing, what can the premier say about the higher electricity prices she is responsible for? Ms. Wynne cannot have it both ways. The cut in gasoline prices, in fact, will only replace a portion of the cash the Liberal government’s Green Energy & Green Economy Act (GEA) annually extracts from consumers on their electricity bills. If one goes back to 2009 when the GEA was passed into law and compare the price of electricity with today’s prices, the hit to Ontario’s ratepayers (including manufacturers) is about $4.5 billion per year.

In billing terms the cost of electricity in Ontario has risen from 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2009 to 11.3 cents in 2014. For 2015, the cost per kWh will average 12 cents.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has said electricity prices are set to rise a further 11 per cent in the next two years, as reported in a Dec 2, 2013, article in the National Post.

Since Ms. Wynne now agrees that lower energy costs are good for consumers and manufacturers, then she is in a position to do for electricity what the world market has done for gasoline. She can repeal the Green Energy Act, cancel wind and solar contracts, and bring back lower electricity costs.

Imagine the benefits in jobs and growth if Ontario could have lower energy costs across the board. If lower gasoline prices will spur economic activity, so will lower electricity prices.

Parker Gallant is a former Canadian banker and is vice-president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Adding new wind power deepens mismanagement of Ontario electricity sector

Here is an editorial from Rick Conroy in The Wellington Times, one of the last independent newspapers in Canada.

Surveying the wreckage

January 16, 2015 | Filed under: COMMENT | Posted by:

A  good friend of mine runs a business in the County. He has done so for 40 years. He showed me his electricity bill last week. In December, he spent $770 on electricity. It was one of the least expensive lines on his bill. The global adjustment charge was $4,267.32. There was also a delivery charge, a debt retirement charge and an array of taxes. In total, he spent nearly $10,000 in December—for $770 of electricity. He doesn’t know where this money is going. He is not sure he can keep up. He isn’t alone.

The global adjustment is a catch-all fee that covers the provincial government’s intervention in electricity generating market. It pays for solar generators, industrial wind turbine plants and subsidized exports to Michigan and Quebec. It covers the subsidized rates some chosen industries pay. It pays for the lawyers who battle residents and groups—including the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists—at tribunals and courtrooms across the province.

In essence, my friend is paying an amount nearly six times the value of the electricity he used to line the pockets of industrial wind developers, solar companies, lawyers, foreign owned smelters, as well as enriching Michigan’s coffers to take this power off our grid.

He has enough challenges in his business—he can’t afford to pay the cost of the Ontario’s Liberals decade of mismanagement of electricity in this province.

The province explains the global adjustment as the difference between the market price, set by the forces of supply and demand, and the price it pays to contracted suppliers. So let’s look at that a bit closer.

That same year, the average market price for electricity in Ontario was 2.65 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). In 2013 the average price paid to Ontario Power Generation (a mix of nuclear, gas and hydro) was 5.7 cents. The average price paid to all other producers was 9.9 cents per kWh.

Industrial wind producers earn between 11.5 and 13.5 cents per kWh. Solar producers can earn up to 39.6 cents for new contracts, while older deals pay as much as 82 cents per kWh.

In 2013, Ontario generators produced a total of 154 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. Wind and solar produced just 6.5 TWh, or 4.2 per cent. Not only was it really expensive—we had to subsidize Michigan and Quebec to take it off our grid. Electricity exports that year were 14.6 TWH—two and half times the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar. It cost Ontarians more than $1.2 billion to shed this excess in 2013.

Worse, the province instructed hydroelectricity generators—the least expensive and cleanest form of electricity—to spill water over their dams rather than generate electricity. According to Ontario Power Generation’s 2013 annual report, it estimates that 1.7 TWh of electricity generating capacity spilled over hydro dams in 2013 under the direction of the province.

The first thing the province does when it has excess electricity is to order OPG to take hydro generating facilities offline. Again, the cheapest and cleanest form of electricity we have.

We waste more hydroelectricity generating capacity in Ontario than we generate from every solar panel in the province.

Sadly, it will get worse. The province is eager to see 3,300 MW of new solar and industrial wind development added to the mix over the next 18 months.

We will pay much, much more than market price to purchase this power. We will agree to do so over 20 year contracts. Our exports will continue to rise to shed this load at subsidized rates to our neighbours. And our hydroelectricity facilities will spend more time idle to enable the brave new world of solar and wind.

Over the past decade, we have traded a powerful competitive advantage for a handful of shiny beads. We waste or give away more electricity than we will ever generate from wind and solar. Manufacturers have deserted the province. Others will follow.

Smaller businesses have less mobility—they can’t simply pick up and move to a less expensive jurisdiction. But when they are asked to spend $10,000 for $770 of electricity, they have to re-examine their options. Soon they won’t have a choice.


Wind power contributes to Ontario’s double $1-billion giveaways

Buy high and sell low: even kids know that's nuts
Buy high and sell low: even kids know that’s nuts

A billion here, a billion there: electricity ratepayers pay big and receive no value in Ontario’s wacky power system

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) released the 2014 Electricity Production, Consumption and Price Data January 15, 2015 and confirmed what most Ontario ratepayers suspected—another $2 billion was extracted from our pockets via our electricity bills last year.

IESO reported that Ontario’s demand for power was down for the year (from 140.7 terawatts/TWh in 2013 to 139.8 TWh in 2014) while total power generation at 154 TWh matched the 2013 output.   As a result, Ontario’s exports of surplus electricity rose to 19.1 TW, with 7.4 TWh going to Michigan and 7.6 TWh to New York.

The production costs of electricity rose by 4.7% or 0.04 cents/kilowatt hour (kWh) to 8.95 cents and the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) was 3.60 cents/kWh and the Global Adjustment (GA) came in at 5.35 cents/kWh.

A shortfall of over $1 billion

Doing the math on the exports explains why it cost Ontario’s ratepayers $1 billion for which they received no value.   Export sales don’t include the GA, meaning that the average sale price for 19.1 TWh (12.4% of total generation) was $36 million per/TWh generating revenue of $688 million (19.1 TWh X $36 million).  The cost of producing that generation included the GA which Ontario’s ratepayers paid for so, the 19.1 TWh exported cost $1.7 billion—that leaves a shortfall of $1.012 billion.

While the makeup of the exported generation is an unknown, IESO reported that wind generated 6.8 TWh and solar 0.0185 TWh.  At $123.5 million/TWh for wind the cost was $840 million and for solar the cost was $9 million at $500 million/TWh.  In the case of solar however, most of its capacity is “embedded” meaning IESO doesn’t count it in their generation.  Embedded solar generation is north of 1,200 MW so if those panels produced at an average of 15% of capacity they would have generated 1.8 TWh, adding $900 million to the cost of production. Taken together, the 8.6 TWh generated by wind and solar cost ratepayers $1.7 billion whereas the average cost of production was (as noted by IESO) $89.5 million per TWh (including wind and solar costs). So, the all-in benefit of their production was less than $600 million.

Ontario paid $1.1 billion more for that wind and solar generation and another $1 billion to export our surplus generation.

©Parker Gallant

January 16, 2015


P.S.  In 2007 Ontario consumed 152 TWh at a cost of $7.676 billion; in 2014 Ontario’s consumption was 139.8 TWh and the cost (including the $1.012 loss on exports) was $13.524 billion—an increase in the cost per TWh of 91% from just 7 years ago.

Wind farm December bonanza in Ontario: great for wind developers, bad for consumers

What does he know that you don't? You're just gave multi-million-dollar Christmas gifts to wind power developers
What does Santa know that you don’t? You just gave multi-million-dollar Christmas gifts to wind power developers

Why December was the cruellest month if you pay hydro bills in Ontario

Special and exclusive to Wind Concerns Ontario—

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) measures their weeks from Wednesday to the following Tuesday when issuing their weekly summaries.   As it turned out, the week of December 24, 2014 to December 30, 2014 was a wonderful week— for wind developers, that is.

The approximate 3,000-megawatt (MW) capacity of wind turbines operating in Ontario pumped out almost 209,000 MW hours (1,244 MW per hour) of electricity; that represents about 8.4% of Ontario’s total demand of 2.5 million MWh.  That also meant the developers generated $25.8 million in revenue (average of $123.50 per MWh) for the week, providing them with a great Christmas present.

The name on the gift card was Ontario’s electricity ratepayers who were obliged to pick up the costs of the contracts for the wind power generation as it found its way onto that big Santa sleigh known as “Global Adjustment.”  While the wind turbines were producing 8.4% of Ontario’s demand for electricity, Ontario was exporting an average of 3,017 MW per hour, or about 507,000 MWh for the week to Michigan, New York, Quebec, etc.  The 507,000 MWh represented 20% of Ontario’s demand.

The volume of those exports resulted in the “weighted average HOEP” (hourly Ontario electricity price) which came in at a lowly $5.66 per MWh for the week, generating just under $2.9 million.

The utility-scale wind turbines, as noted above, produced 209,000 MWh which was 41.3% of the export volumes while generating electricity at about 41% of their capacity.  Ontario didn’t need that power.  So while exported surplus power nets a few million, the sad part of this Christmas story is that the “bare bones” cost of wind’s generation was $24.6 million ($25.8 million in payments to wind developers, less $1.2 million generated from the sale of the 209,000 MWh via the HOEP) all paid for by Ontario’s ratepayers.

Not included in the (one week) cost of $24.6 million to subsidize wind developers were the additional levies hitting ratepayers through payments required for back-up for wind generation for idling gas plants, spillage of clean hydro and steamed-off nuclear and the additional cost of those meteorological stations to measure how much we ratepayers pay for constrained wind.

The cost of the Christmas present to the wind developers was about $5.00 for each Ontario ratepayer (just the $24.6 million).  Most of that Christmas gift will be transferred to foreign banks in countries (South Korea, USA, Germany, etc.) where the developers’ head offices are located along with a big ho-ho- ho from our Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli.

©Parker Gallant,

January 11, 2015