New assistance program creates more energy poverty in Ontario

Peasantry

Peasants in the Middle Ages: we’re getting there

On March 26, 2015, one day before release of the “Sunshine List”, Ontario’s Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli announced the province has “low-income” electricity consumers who struggle to pay their electricity bills—and he intended to do something about it.

What a surprise: there is no denying the Liberal government forced more households into “energy poverty.” But Chiarelli’s press release and his diatribe at the press conference didn’t use that term; he blamed the need to close “dirty coal plants”* for rising costs. He wasn’t specific on how many “low-income” households there were or how many would benefit in his announcement, which was a followup to his letter of April 23, 2014 to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), asking for recommendations to “protect low-income residential customers”.

The OEB submitted a 45-page report, and recommended “a maximum credit of $50 per month or $600 annually, with an average credit of $27.” to provide relief. The cost estimate by OEB to provide this assistance was “between $175 and $225 million” including “administrative costs of approximately $20 million” or (10 per cent of total program cost). The report suggested 500,000 households or about 11% of the 4.5 million hooked up to the grid would be in the “low-income” group. The report (dated December 31, 2014) was released to the public by the OEB the same day Chiarelli made his announcement. The media had no time to review it and question the Minister.

The prior (and retained) support program, LEAP (Low-income Energy Assistance Program), in 2013 had a total cost to ratepayers of $3.7 million which is/was a cost to ratepayers of less than $1 per year.

One would expect social support programs to fall under the Ministry of Community and Social Services, but with that cupboard empty and Premier Wynne and Finance Minister Sousa promising to balance the budget by 2017/18, a “revenue tool” had to be found somewhere. Wynne and Sousa presumably saw Hydro One (which just received a sizeable rate increase from the OEB) and its billing debacle as a looming “energy poverty” problem, more to do with high electricity prices. So Minister Chiarelli, who uses Tim Horton’s coffee as his reference currency, was the “go to” person. The plan concocted was, let’s ding the ratepayers! The OEB ran the numbers and told him the cost could be a “monthly fixed charge for a residential customer” of $2.55.   One large “Timmies” a month or $31 a year! The balance of the costs suggested were to come from a volumetric (per/kWh) charge on other users.

Chiarelli in his press release highlighted removal of the “debt retirement charge” and inferred that his cost of “less than a dollar a month” or $12 a year, support of low-come users would not impact ratepayers. The release said “Removing the Debt Retirement Charge will save the typical residential electricity ratepayer $5.60 per month” (or $67 a year). The press release failed to mention the “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” (OCEB) will be removed at the same time, increasing the typical residential electricity ratepayer’s bill by $170 a year. Quick math indicates 4 million ratepayers would pay an extra $115 annually ($170 + $12 = $182 – $67 = $115) with the balance presumably paid by commercial consumers. So, the promise of no impact wasn’t true!

Minister Chiarelli opted for the OEB to implement “a fully volumetric charge applied at an equal rate to all rate classesvia his letter of February 17, 2015 to the OEB. The letter was brought to my attention by Bruce Sharp who also ran the numbers on the cost to ratepayers. Chiarelli’s choice was to increase the per kilowatt (kWh) charge to all ratepayers so that one large “Timmies” per month became $130 per annum, pushing up the average bill on January 1, 2016 by $300! That will put the all-in rate to an average Toronto Hydro customer at 25 cents per kWh. In 2003 the all-in charge to that ratepayer was 8.8 cents a kWh—an increase of 184%!

Why didn’t Minister Chiarelli insist the “$175 and $225 million” cost of this program come out of the OCEB? The OCEB costs taxpayers $1.1 billion annually, but this money appears earmarked for a revenue grab by Finance Minister, Sousa, presumably to impress rating agencies and reduce the deficit, leaving ratepayers to pick up its cost. This will push more ratepayers into energy poverty by using Ontario’s “middle class” households to pay for something the Liberal government created.

Simply put, this government’s attempt to balance their budget on the backs of ratepayers is a tax grab labelled the “Ontario Electricity Support Program” (OESP). Reducing taxpayer spending by $1.1 billion by eliminating the OCEB, grabbing a further $175 to $225 million after-tax dollars (with $20 million for another bureaucracy) to fund the OESP, and $200 million more in HST from ratepayers is a Wynne “revenue tool” and a $1.5 billion tax grab!

When will this government understand that ratepayers are also taxpayers?

© Parker Gallant

March 28, 2015

*Editor’s note: Using expensive wind and solar power

Ontario gov’t misleads public on environmental, economic benefits of wind farms: Algoma residents

 

Wind turbine at Red Rock joins 11 at Goulais Bay and 26 at Bow Lake in despoiling Algoma environment, says community group

Sault Star, March 13, 2015

ALGOMA – The Goulais Wind Farm north of Sault Ste. Marie, is in its final stages of construction with towers and turbine blades being hoisted into place with huge cranes.

Although weather especially winds and cold has impacted this phase of the project, it will be operational this spring.

Not everyone is blown away.

Goulais River resident Gillan Richards believes the province has misinformed the public by providing them with biased information in its move to generate energy from the wind as a renewable and green resource.

“When the Ontario government decided they were going to get into big wind as a green alternative to dirty coal, which isn’t all that dirty after all, they put out these messages that have not been fair,” she said in a recent interview at her home.

If the people of Ontario decide they can endorse and live with wind farms, then that’s a democratic society at work, “but the people have never been given that opportunity, they’ve been given a biased picture of it,” said Richards.

Richards is a retired high school English teacher. As an educator she believes “it is important to present both sides of the case and let the public talk about it and decide what they can live with.”

When speaking about Northern Ontario as opposed to the south, she wonders why they would want turbines anymore than we would. Is it because the region up here is less populated?

The huge geographical region between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, excluding Prince Township, is unorganized and without local governance.

“The difficulty here for us; I can’t think of any area, any county in Southern Ontario which is unorganized,” Richards said. “Between here and Wawa there is no organized governance.”

Unorganized townships have Local Services Boards (LSB) and Local Roads Boards (LRB), which have no allowance in the statute to become involved in electricity or its transmission.

Board members are elected by the community and have specific responsibilities, such as volunteer fire services, roads and recreation.

“But there’s nothing in the law that allows these groups to act in lieu of a municipal council,” said Richards.

Richards had attended several meetings about whether or not Goulais residents wanted recycling pick up to continue

“It became evident and they were very outspoken that they did not want to become an organized township,” Richards said. “This is something they held very dear, this is why they live here.”

She agrees with this choice fully because “we are living as close as we can to the wilderness that is left and that is what we want.”

What residents want and what they end up with could well be beyond their control if the Catherine Wynne’s government continues to push on with big wind as a renewable and sustainable resource for energy production.

Wynne said that she would allow a community council to declare itself an unwilling host to industrial wind turbine (IWT) development, “she would presumably not develop turbines in that area,” said Richards.

If a municipality declares itself an unwilling host, there is a mechanism to do that through governance, but that mechanism does not exist in the unorganized areas between Wawa and the Sault.

“What we value is the wilderness here, it’s not pristine as it’s already been mined and logged. We want to keep what’s left not just for the locals but for everyone,” she said.

The tourism industry is vital in Algoma and along the route between the Sault and Thunder Bay as many well established businesses promote the “naturally gifted” and “it’s that spectacular” beauty of the area.

“But you put industrial turbines that go 500 feet in the air and you don’t really think you are in the wilderness anymore, it’s really visually jarring,” said Richards.

“Tourism is critically important. The Sault is the gateway to the Lake Superior route and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.”

Businesses and organizations are promoting ecotourism as a viable, year-round sustainable industry.

“All that carries absolutely zip weight with the Ontario government and the Environmental Review Tribunal … It is simply not allowable as a part of argument even though Premiere (Kathleen) Wynne says you can object,” Richards said.

“We are unorganized here in this region and can’t do that. It leaves us disadvantaged.”

Whether it be wind, hydro, solar, coal or nuclear, the consequences must be weighed, researched and followed. All energy sources have downsides, but many are terrified of nuclear, even though it has become safer, experts say.

“But they have to realize that without nuclear power backing up renewables in Ontario, there wouldn’t be sufficient power to meet consumer needs,” said Richards, who estimates almost 60% of the province’s power is produced by nuclear.

The planet does not have an infinite supply of rare metals to supply those commodities necessary for the production of solar panels. Eventually these metals will be gone because they aren’t renewable.

“The point I was trying to make is that there are actual, and potential, consequences to the environment no matter what present means of power generation are used as some resources on planet Earth are limited,” said Richards.

Educating consumers about energy conservation and financing research into power generation production which are not damaging to environment, humans and wildlife, is tantamount, she said.

“In my opinion, the Ontario government did not do its homework. In trying to correct an economic problem, it has in fact created a greater problem,’ Richards added.

Then there’s the issue of migratory creatures, such as insects, birds and bats. That is irreversible harm.

There is no migrant bird observatory between St. Joseph Island and Wawa, “or maybe Manitoulin Island, but there is evidence coming from Whitefish Point in Michigan,” said Richards.

The Whitefish Bird Observatory in Chippewa County, Mich., is a non-profit affiliate education and research facility of the Michigan Audubon Society, established in 1978.

Whitefish Point is a narrow peninsula that goes several kilometres into Lake Superior. Canada is about 27 kilometres away, but according to their website “the geography of this location makes it a natural funnel for migration.

Birds of all kinds migrate between their northern breeding grounds in Canada and their warmer wintering grounds to the south.

“It was considered out of scope and not acceptable to the tribunal,” said Richards. “Once you kill X number of birds per turbine, they’re dead and they’re gone forever,” she said, adding she believes is irreversible harm. You will never remove 500 tons of rebar and concrete per turbine and that is irreversible harm as far as I know, I don’t know how you would reverse that because even if nature in itself is destructive, we as humans do not have the right to damage the life of other creatures.”

Causing irreversible harm is unethical, she said. Soon, there will be an accumulated effect of 126 wind turbines between Prince 1 and 2, and another 11 at Goulais Wind Farm. Add another 26 at Bow Lake in Montreal River.

Richards said in her closing statement as a participant for the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in December 2013, that a map published by consulting firm Stantec indicates proposed wind projects for Northland Lake, Heyden, Island, Ranger Lakes and Stokely Creek.

Should another development come to fruition, the Lucinda Project on the north side of Goulais Bay, it would “literally surround the residents with turbines.”

“You come to one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and it has turbines along the coast and in the water,” Richards said.

“And if you think that’s a dead issue, think again.”

Having attended all open houses and information sessions, she said there was an overwhelming rejection of industrial wind in Algoma.

Each presenter and participant in the ERT hearing who appeared on behalf of appellant Doug Moseley, “emphasized helplessness, hopelessness, frustration and despair, associated with the building of IWT in the iconic wilderness of the Algoma District.”

Joanie and Gary McGuffin, well known adventure/photojournalists, work tirelessly to develop Algoma as a sustainable year-round ecotourism economy, argued turbines would seriously mar the landscape.

Gary has taken aerial photos of the developments “and it is visual reminder to the people that you may think not much is happening, until you see the infrastructure, roads being built.”

In the Environment Review Tribunal hearing, Karen Streich, an economist who has experience in economic development in First Nations and rural areas, said, “as long-time residents of Goulais River, both she and her husband feel their rights have been violated.”

She said the Ontario government is not heeding the plea of local people to determine their own economic destiny in a lifestyle in keeping with the rural north, and no real objective long-term assessment has been done locally.

For 32 years, Richards taught English at the former Bawating C&VS, a state-of-the-art facility closed and demolished several years ago to make way for Superior Heights C&VS.

She also worked as co-ordinator of secondary programs with Algoma District School Board.

“It was my responsibility to assist teachers to prepare their students for the Grade 10 reading and writing test,” Richards said, adding she realized that 70% of a student’s performance was not based on his or her ability to read and write but an ability to think.

“My point is that where you live can be an important factor in conditioning how you think,’ Richards said.

Many of her students came from the Heyden, Searchmont and Goulais areas.

“What I noticed over the years, and I was acutely aware that students who came from Bawating’s feeder schools, were sensitive to the features of the wilderness world they inhabited.”

They tended to be physically active, hardy, resourceful and practical.

It has been documented that proximity to IWTs can cause sleep disruption.

The issues raised in Moseley’s notice of appeal of the GWF, “are the potential health effects from exposure to infrasound, low-frequency noise, audible noise, visual impact and/or electromagnetic fields.”

“As an educator I have noted that any one, or a combination, of these factors may interfere with memory and concentration to the point where someone says, ‘I can’t hear myself think,’ ” Richards said.

Richards demonstrated the impact noise has on adolescent learners and questioned the effect of turbine noise and visual impact on “teenaged learners to concentrate, memorize and sleep.”

On April 17, 2014, ERT dismissed Moseley’s appeal of the approval of the Goulais Wind Farm. Richards said that everyone who put themselves forward as presenters, participants and expert witnesses throughout the appeal process, are not against change, but are rather looking at the fact that decisions have consequences.

Nothing is free, everything has a trade off, “and the imposition of IWTs is not a solution to the Ontario government’s perceived need to procure a greener energy and it is certainly not a solution which has its regional needs and agendas.” Richards said she believes the government’s need for green is not a solution to be imposed “on rural Ontario who’s needs and agendas have been ignored and trampled on by the Ontario government.”

Save Ontario’s Algoma Region or SOAR is a Wind Concerns Ontario community group member.

Canadian wind farm noise research supports Australian study findings

Cheriton School of Computer Science

In the News: [The Australian] Canadian research boosts Cooper’s case on turbines

NEWS RELEASE University of Waterloo  Cheriton School of Computer Science, Monday, March 9, 2015

Richard Mann, an Associate Professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, recently had work featured in The Australian, an Australian newspaper which is recognized as the country’s leading national news brand.

Mann has positioned himself as a research expert thanks to his work on Measuring Wind Turbine Coherent Infrasound. The Australian recently interviewed Mann in regards to a controversial court case between acoustics expert Steven Cooper and Pacific Hydro, a renewable energy company headquartered in Melbourne, AU.

Read the news item online [pdf]: Canadian research boosts Cooper’s case on turbines

Misleading brochure: WCO writes to Minister of Health

Wind Concerns Ontario has sent a letter to the federal Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, expressing concern about the mailing of a promotional brochure connected to the Health Canada Wind Turbine Noise and Health study.

The study results were released in a summary (no peer review, no actual report or paper) last November, but the brochure was not sent out until February 2015, by Canada Post Unaddressed Admail.

The timing is unusual, coming so long after the study results release, and coinciding with Ontario’s new procurement process for large renewable power projects. It is also very unusual for a research team to create and release a brochure.

That brochure is misleading, Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said in the letter to the Minister. “It’s not true, as the brochure says, that there are no health effects from the wind turbine noise and infrasound–there are, and the study summary* says that.  It says 16.5 percent of people studied who live within 1 km of a turbine were experiencing distress,” Wilson said.

Wind Concerns Ontario met with Health Canada/Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety staff the day after the study results were released, and advised that the draft brochure not be released. “We told them that the disclaimer on the brochure, which explained that the study results were ‘preliminary’ and unreviewed, was not prominent enough,” Wilson said. “We also asked why they weren’t going back into the study communities in person, as is normal practice for scientific research teams, rather than sending a brochure.”

Wind Concerns said that the study summary, and now the brochure, strain the credibility of Health Canada and the federal government in Ontario.

“The fact is, the conclusion being promoted in the brochure from this study–that there are no health effects–does not coalesce with the real-life experience in Ontario communities,” Wilson said. “The people of Ontario were hoping that their federal health department would pull out all the stops to find a reason for the many, many reported health problems related to wind turbine noise—instead, they got short shrift in this study, and now an unnecessary and misleading, taxpayer-funded promotional brochure that functionally supports the wind power development industry.”

The brochure has been revised from the original version to now say Health Canada has had it reviewed by its own panel, but the study results have yet to be published.

*the 16.5% figure (actually 25% at 1/2 a km) appears in a PowerPoint summary given to WCO by Health Canada

The history of wind turbine noise (not in your imagination)

 

The wind power development industry and its well-funded lobby group(s) continue to push forward the idea that anyone claiming to experience problems with the noise/infrasound/sensation produced by utility-scale wind turbines is either emotionally unstable, or influenced by “anti-wind groups.”

The current mythology is that with improved public participation, opposition (which really has no foundation) will disappear, or at least diminish.

And then, there are the facts.

Here is a very telling history of experiences with large-scale wind turbines. Note the research done by Nussbaum in 1985, which is relevant today.

See the timeline here.

Hydro One billing errors: no ‘fix’ even after a year

As if skyrocketing power rates, due in part to “renewables” like wind, wasn’t enough, billing system woes continue at Ontario’s power monopoly Hydro One, despite promises to fix the situation. Here is an update from Parker Gallant.

A year ago, on March 7, 2014, the Ontario government undertook what the Toronto Star referred to as a “shake up” following “an over-billing fiasco and a scathing Auditor General’s report.” The former referred to Hydro One’s mess after implementation of their new billing system, and the latter referred to “nepotism” along with high wages and benefits at OPG.  The government appointed Sandra Pupatello (runner-up to Kathleen Wynne in the Liberal leadership race) to right the wrongs as the new Chair of Hydro One.   She was quick off the mark stating, “We are going to fix it” (the billing problems).

It’s not fixed but hopefully, Ms. Pupatello is enjoying her $150K stipend for acting as the Chair of Hydro One while retaining her position as Chief Executive of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation which pays her about the same amount.

The same can be said for the spokespeople* at Hydro One who appear in several short videos on their website apologizing for the billing mess.  On the same page is a letter dated October 14, 2014 from Hydro One’s CEO, Carm Marcello addressed to the Ombudsman, Andre Marin.  In the letter he tells the Ombudsman he will shortly announce he is setting up a “Customer Service Advisory Panel” that consists of perhaps only one actual Hydro One customer, former Chief of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation,  Randall Kahgee!  Marcello also informs the auditor he plans to issue a draft “Customer Commitment” document!

Eighteen months after complaints started and eight months after the Ombudsman announced he was investigating Hydro One’s billing mess, the CEO suddenly became enlightened!  The CEO of Hydro One, the provincially owned monopoly electricity distributor to 1.2 million ratepayers, with a 134-page Conditions of Service agreement, suddenly noticed they had tens of thousands of billing problems!

If you venture into their “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) page about the Ombudsman’s investigation they state: “approximately 3 per cent of our customers have received estimated bills for too long and about another 2 per cent have gone for more than 90 days without receiving a bill.”

If one does quick math on the 3% plus the 2% you will quickly surmise 5% of Hydro One’s customers have billing problems.  Five per cent (5 %) of 1.2 million ratepayers represents sixty thousand (60,000) ratepayers.  While there is no admission of screw-ups in the videos or in Marcelo’s letter; reading the answers to the FAQ sure makes one suspicious Hydro One is trying to hide something!

Here are a few examples. I invite the reader to judge Hydro One’s ability to obfuscate.

1.What are the Hydro One billing issues I’ve been hearing about?  The move to the new system was required to improve customer service while replacing outdated and unsupportable technology.

2.What is Hydro One doing to fix this issue?  We are manually reading over 11,000 two-tiered meters to correct bills that have been estimated.

3.Why do I keep receiving an estimated bill when I have a Smart Meter?  The reason you have an estimated bill is that the meter is not communicating properly with our network.

4.Why is my bill so high? Unfortunately some customers have experienced inaccurate estimates. (So why does the answer to Q. 6 state:  “billing issues you may have heard about in the media are not related to meter accuracy.”)

5.Will I get a bill for an actual reading soon? Right now Hydro One is manually reading over 11,000 two-tiered meters for customers who have been billed on estimates. If your meter is part of this program, you should receive an actual bill soon.  (So, 60,000 bills messed up and only 11,000 meters being read!)   

6. Is the accuracy of Hydro One’s meters causing the billing issues?  Secondary tests are completed by Hydro One as they arrive from the manufacturer and then again we have sample testing of meters once they are ‘in service’.

7.Why has my meter been changed twice?  There have been some cases where the meter is not communicating properly with our network.

8.I use baseboard heating in my home. What can I do to conserve energy?  For homes that are heated with electricity, those heating costs make up to 60 per cent of your bill.

None of the answers admit to the screw-up with the new Customer Information System (CIS), nor to the purchase of “uncommunicative” smart meters. There is also no indication that any employee lost their job because of  these mishaps!

A full year has gone by, and the billing mishaps continue despite the promise by Ms. Pupatello to “fix it.”  The energy portfolio continues to be mismanaged without any consequences.   If an error of this magnitude occurred at a privately owned company, shareholders would demand action— but that’s not how things work at the provincially owned monopoly that is Hydro One!

© Parker Gallant,                                                                                                              March 10, 2015

* Average annual salary of the four Hydro One spokespeople on the letter and videos from the 2013 “Sunshine List” is $315,323. Lowest is $151,405 and highest is $724,917.  Hydro bills to these four are like buying a cup of “Timmies” coffee!

Editor’s note: The billing mess continues, as Parker says. In today’s Ottawa Citizen is a story of a couple who were billed $25,000 in error. A Hydro One “customer care specialist” is reviewing their account. The Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario has received 9,800 complaints about Hydro One, the Citizen reports, the most complaints ever received about a single organization.

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

 

Wind power contract nightmare: Farmers Forum

March 3, 2015 by Tom Collins, farmersforum.com

Manitoulin Island— A farmer with a wind turbine on his property could be on the hook for the costs of putting up a turbine when there is a dispute among contractors of the project.

That’s what 24 property owners feared on Manitoulin Island near Sault Ste. Marie. Court documents show that R.M. Belanger, which installed transmission lines for 24 turbines in 2013 and 2014, was owed $2.25 million plus HST. But the main contractor only paid a small portion of the bill and $2.04 million was still outstanding.

$85,000 lien per property owner

R.M.Belanger filed court documents last year to put liens on the properties with the turbines. The conflict was resolved among the contractors but not before the property owners thought they would have to cough up $85,000 per turbine.

Eric Gillespie, a Toronto environmental lawyer who has handled wind power cases, said clauses in some contracts mean property owners are responsible when a company installing the turbines is not paid. Contracts do differ between wind farm companies, Gillespie said.

“Because of the work that our office does, we’ve looked at a significant number of these agreements, and the same problem could certainly arise in many cases that we’ve looked at so far,” said Gillespie. “From our experience, Manitoulin Island would no be unique. This could certainly happen elsewhere.”

A wind turbine contract can be anywhere from 10 to 40 pages with plenty of fine print, and a clause covering responsibility for costs might be buried in the fine print, said Gillespie, who encourages farmers to seek legal help to review contracts before signing.

They can do what they want on your land

Farmers can earn $25,000 annually to host a turbine but contracts might state the wind company can move the turbine site, access roads and transmission lines, he said. So, a farmer who thought a wind turbine was going at the back corner of the farm could see the location switched.

“You sigened an agreement that says  in many cases, they can do whatever they want on your land,” said Gillespie. “That’s very disturbing.”

 

Court slashes wind farm legal bill: recognizes “public interest” aspect of the case

Lawyer Julian Falconer, appellants and supporters in London, last year
Lawyer Julian Falconer, appellants and supporters in London, last year

Global News, March 8, 2015

TORONTO – Four rural families who lost their fight against the construction of wind farms near their homes will have to pay a total of $67,000 to the companies they took to court.

The costs award is far less than the $340,000 the three wind companies were demanding because, as Ontario’s Divisional Court ruled, the families’ battle was more than a personal crusade.

READ MORE: Anti-turbine families in Ontario fight $340K legal bill from wind farm companies

Shawn Drennan, whose home near Goderich, Ont., is a short distance from a 140-turbine project, said he was pleased the ruling has cut his bill to $25,000 from more than $200,000.

“I’m feeling relieved,” Drennan said in a weekend interview. “$25,000 is not a small number but it’s manageable.”

In a decision released late Friday, Divisional Court rejected arguments from the Drennans, Ryans, Dixons and Kroeplins that they should have to pay none of the companies’ legal bills.

But the court also rejected the companies’ contention that the families had been purely selfish in launching the turbine challenge.

“Although the appellants obviously had a private interest in the litigation, their appeals contained a strong public-interest component – raising, as they did, the constitutionality of part of the legislative regime governing the construction and operation of wind farms in this province,” the court said.

“Any award of costs must reflect that strong public-interest component.”

At any rate, the court found, the amount demanded by K2 Wind, Armow, and St. Columban was unreasonably high. It also took the companies to task for failing to explain exactly how they had arrived at the amount they were asking for.

The families had argued Ontario’s turbine-approvals process was unconstitutional because it exposes citizens to a reasonable prospect of serious harm to their health. In December, Divisional Court rejected that challenge.

In asking for $340,000 in costs, the companies said the families knew the risks of losing. They also said the high-stakes fight had forced them to deploy considerable legal resources to defend projects they say are safe and properly approved.

The families’ lawyer Julian Falconer, who had denounced the companies’ initial bill as intimidation aimed at discouraging legal challenges, said the costs award captured the larger issues in play.

“The court ruling is very important because of the recognition that these cases are not all about money,” Falconer said on the weekend.

“What these families have on the line went well beyond protecting their backyards.”

The families are hoping Ontario’s top court will hear an appeal of the December ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the provincial rules and allowed the three wind projects to proceed.

 

Chiarelli promises to save us even more money!

The TEDDY award ceremony in Ottawa this week: Ontario wins!
The TEDDY award ceremony in Ottawa this week: Ontario wins!

Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli was fast off the mark when the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CFA) awarded his Ministry with a “Teddy” award granted for the “money-wasting boondoggle” the CFA attributed to smart meters.  The Minister disputed the award by claiming “the devices are lowering electricity bills for consumers in part by allowing them to switch their electricity use to off-peak times when it costs less.”

The Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk was also a critic of smart meters when she released her report in December 2015, and specifically suggested how the rate differential between on- and off-peak rates wasn’t incentive enough for people to change their electricity usage.  Minister Chiarelli also refuted the findings in her report in respect to the wasted cost.  Minister Chiarelli apparently has now got the issue firmly in hand.

He was quoted in a recent Toronto Sun article: “We did have a higher price for peakNB: when we first introduced [time-of-use pricing] and there were a lot of consumer complaints about that,” Chiarelli said. “In response to consumers, we reduced the peak price and there was less of a differential and that created less of an opportunity to save more money on your electricity rates. We’re reviewing that decision at the present time.”

It is the last quote ratepayers should be concerned about!  The Ontario Energy Board indicates off-peak rates have increased 120% since introduced in 2006,  going from 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to the current rate of 7.7 cents/kWh.

On-peak rates have increased from 10.5 cents/kWh to 14 cents/kWh, an increase of only 33%.  The price differential has therefore compacted to an on-peak, off-peak ratio of 1.8:1.   Based on the need to satisfy the contracted parties (wind, solar and biomass) under the feed-in tariff contracts, means a continuing increase in the ratepayer dollars needed to satisfy those contracts.

The conclusion and the “decision” that will come from the Ministry’s review of the TOU pricing may well mean that the initial ratio of 3:1 will become the objective.  If that happens the on-peak rate will jump from its current 14 cents/kWh to 23 cents/kWh, raising average annual energy bills by about $300.001; annually.

Just another way for the Energy Minister to increase energy poverty for those with disabilities or seniors living on fixed incomes while telling us “the devices are lowering electricity bills for consumers.”

©Parker Gallant,

March 6, 2015

NB: TOU rates introduced in May 2006 set off-peak rates at 3.5 cents/kWh and on-peak rates at 10.5 for a 3:1 price differential.  Today they are 7.7 cents/kWh for off-peak and 14 cents/kWh for on-peak.

1. Ratepayers currently consume an average of 33% of their electricity during on-peak times which translates to consumption of 3,100 kWh annually which, at an increase of 9 cents a kWh, would raise ratepayers’ bills by about $300.

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

In Ontario “green” living means…propane

30" White Off Grid Propane Range

 

A propane stove: the latest in “green” living

Home Hardware‘s spring Home At Home catalogue arrived in many mailboxes last week; one of the features was an article titled “The power to live off grid.”

“Few people think about alternative sources of energy until electricity and oil prices go through the roof,” Home says. “These situations remind us how dependent we are to [sic] a national grid and how we can be left feeling helpless…”

The answer? Go” off-grid” with propane appliances!!!!

More proof that, as unreliable and intermittent, expensive wind power is added to Ontario’s power system, causing the utility cost to skyrocket, people will make other choices—that includes burning more wood to heat their homes, and using fossil-fuel sources for cooking and home power generation.

As economics professor Ross McKitrick told Wind Concerns Ontario last week, the Green Energy Act in Ontario has failed on every objective. Wind power is backed up almost 50 percent by natural gas.

And now….living better with propane!