Environmental groups “shockingly silent” on wind farm bird slaughter: Senator

Senator Bob Runciman. (FILE PHOTO)

The Kingston Whig-Standard, November 16, 2015

A Conservative senator is calling out large environmental groups for their silence on the impact of wind turbines on bird populations.

Ontario Senator Bob Runciman, who in 2011 introduced a motion that was unanimously passed by the Senate calling for a moratorium on wind turbine developments in Important Bird Areas, said large environmental groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the David Suzuki Foundation have not addressed one of the biggest criticisms of wind energy.

“Thousands of birds are being needlessly slaughtered simply because these industrial wind farms are located in the wrong places,” Runciman wrote in a letter Monday. “Yet the very organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife have been shockingly silent. I’d like to know why.”

In an interview with the Whig, Runciman said the impacts on bird and bat populations has been ignored by groups such as the World Wildlife Fund Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation.

“Organizations that have essentially been silent on this. I think that has had a positive political impact for the government,” Runciman said. “There’s simply not the recognition levels raised and no real effort to make people aware of it or express concern themselves as an organization.”

Runciman said those groups do not want to be appear to be opposed to green energy and do not want to get on the wrong side of the Liberal government. Runciman also said larger environmental groups are based in large urban centres, such as Toronto, while wind energy projects are being proposed or built mainly in rural areas.

“I’m not talking about green energy itself, I’m talking about putting these turbines in these areas where they are going to kill thousands and thousands of birds and bats and jeopardize a significant amount of endangered species,” Runciman said.

Gideon Forman, a climate change policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation, agreed that wind turbines shouldn’t be placed in sensitive bird and bat areas. But Forman said the impact on bird and bat populations should not be used to derail efforts to introduce more renewable energy in Ontario.

“Windmills do kill some birds but you need to put that in context,” Forman said. “The greatest threat to birds, and indeed other wildlife, will be climate change so we absolutely need to ramp up properly sited renewables. We need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy source, among them wind.

“We do need to put them in the right places. An important bird area is not the right place.”

Forman said research has indicated the number of birds killed by windmills is “tiny” compared to the number killed by flying into buildings and high tension power lines, pesticide use, vehicles and house cats.

“You need to put it in that context.”

Forman said the Suzuki Foundation is a charity and is non-partisan and has members in all areas of the country.

The provincial government is currently evaluating proposals from more than 40 companies bidding for large renewable energy contracts. Of the 565 megawatts of renewable energy the contracts are expected to produce, 300 megawatts is to come from wind energy.

Wind energy projects have been proposed, approved or built for areas stretching from Prince Edward County, Greater Napanee, Amherst Island, off shore near Main Duck Island and on Wolfe Island.

by Eliot Ferguson

Tribunal to decide on bird expert witnesses at White Pines appeal

Will bird experts be able to testify at White Pines appeal? Ruling expected today
Will bird experts be able to testify at White Pines appeal? Ruling expected today

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project

November 16, 2015
by
Henri Garand, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward Count
On Day Six, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project considered a procedural motion to exclude two environmental witnesses, heard testimony from four health case witnesses, and then ruled on the proposed schedule of expert witnesses.
Eric Gillespie, counsel for appellant APPEC, proposes to call Dr. Michael Hutchinson, a director of the American Bird Conservancy, and William Evans, a nocturnal bird migration monitoring expert, in reply to two witness statements provided by wind developer/approval holder WPD.  James Wilson, WPD counsel, claimed these witnesses would either repeat evidence given by another APPEC witness or introduce new facts outside “proper reply.”  Gillespie argued that APPEC, bearing the onus of proof, has the right to reply to WPD’s experts, and the expertise of the reply witnesses does not duplicate that of primary witness Dr. Shawn Smallwood, an ecologist.
The Tribunal reserved its decision until the next day.
The afternoon was taken up by four witnesses who reside near the proposed wind project.  Each witness described pre-existing medical conditions and provided corroborative OHIP and physicians’ records.
Nora Bowlby, whose house would be 800 m from the nearest turbine, is concerned that annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, fatigue, headaches, and vertigo, all symptoms attributable to wind turbines, will worsen her psychological and neurological disorders.  She also worries that project construction and road traffic will damage the stone foundation of her 125-year-old wood-frame house.  She said that due to her medical conditions the house is a refuge, which she fears will be lost.
Ann McLurg, a South Bay resident, fears that low-frequency sound, shadow flicker, and vibration will exacerbate her post-traumatic stress. She said she has spent all her retirement savings in renovating a 160-year-old house where she feels calm and safe, and the wind project now threatens her health.
Deborah Cermack, a Royal Road resident who would live 650 m from the nearest turbine, believes that noise and infrasound would aggravate the migraines from which she has suffered since childhood.  The migraines would become intolerable in both number and severity.  Cermack said she moved to the County for peace and quiet and control of her migraines, and to “have all that taken away would be devastating.”
Andrei Sulzenko, whose County Rd. 13 house would be 600 m from turbine T 29, has suffered for nine years from periodic insomnia that triggered adverse health effects.  He submitted a letter from his sleep doctor stating that low-frequency sound from nearby turbines could cause sleep disturbance and insomnia.  He said the only remedy would be to leave his house.
All the witnesses reported that they had contacted WPD and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change but received no response to their concerns.
The day concluded with the Tribunal decision on the schedule for the balance of the hearing dates.  All parties had previously made written submissions, with the key difference being that APPEC had scheduled one expert witness per day and WPD wanted two.  The Tribunal ruled in favour of two witnesses per day.  The chair explained that it was the common ERT practice and the evidence is “nothing different from other proceedings.”
The ERT resumes Tuesday, November 17, 10 a.m. at Essroc Centre, Wellington.

Challenging ‘oppressive’ Green Energy Act: Osgoode Hall legal team

The Wellington Times, November 13, 2015

Judicial review team challenging ‘oppressive’ Green Energy Act

When government and the interests of big business align, it is often individual rights and freedoms that get trampled upon, according to the Osgoode Law School students working with a group of County residents and lawyers seeking a judicial review of the Green Energy Act (GEA).

“When that happens, we rely on the law to restore the balance,” said Sabrina Molinari. “No one is above the law—not even government.”

Molinari is one of five Osgoode Law School students working with Alan Whiteley and other County residents who believe that the GEA is badly conceived and flawed legislation that overrides citizens’ rights and diminishes environmental protections and safeguards for the benefit of developers and big business. Three of the five joined supporters of the cause at the Grange of Prince Edward winery on Saturday.

A judicial review is a legal process to examine legislation or a government order and has the power to invalidate laws if they are found to contravene higher authorities such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It is a big job. Specifically, the group wants the court to examine how provincial authorities arrived at the decision to grant a developer with a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the White Pines wind project, which comprises industrial wind turbines stretching from Milford south toward the edge of the Prince Edward Point national wildlife area.

Rule-of-law-2

They argue that the impact of the proposed project on migrating birds, animal habitat, human health, the local economy and the built heritage of South Marysburgh was not properly assessed and evaluated. Further, they argue the GEA denies residents the protections and safeguards that govern every type of development other than renewable energy projects.

One example: the developer of the White Pines project is arguing before an Environmental Review Tribunal (Tribunal) that the province erred in its decision not to approve two of the 29 turbines it proposed due to concerns about the impact on built heritage. The developer is permitted a wide range of arguments, including the fact that it won’t make as much money as it had hoped. It is permitted, too, to argue the heritage value of the properties nearby the denied turbines has been overstated. This latitude is heavily biased in favour of the developer.

When residents, environmentalists and others argue against the project at the Tribunal, they are limited to just two arguments: will it cause serious harm to humans, and will it cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. That is it.

Many believe the same issues identified in denying two turbines from the proposed 29 apply equally to other turbines that were approved. They aren’t allowed, however, to make this argument under GEA rules. Even if they made the argument, the Tribunal is barred from considering it. Similarly, South Marysburgh businesses can make a credible claim that their inns, restaurants and attractions will suffer when massive 500-foot high turbines swoosh overhead. But while the developer can argue financial hardship, local business owners cannot.

The GEA is riddled with such inequities. This is why it is being challenged. For at its core, it is a fundamentally oppressive and unjust legislation.

“Environmental issues are important to me,” said Timon Sisic, one of the five students working with Whiteley and his group on the legal challenge. “But what has become evident in the Green Energy Act is that big wind developers have co-opted the aspirations of millions of people like me. It can’t be renewable energy at any cost. That is where the law must be invoked to restore equity and justice.”

Amanda Spitzig sees the GEA as the triumph of ideology over individual rights. These are bright and accomplished students who encounter the broader issues of the public interest colliding with individual rights on a regular basis. Yet Spitzig believes human interests have been clearly derailed in favour of the interests of big developers.

“Citizens of affected communities, like this one, have not been heard,” said Spitzig. “That has to change.”

Alan Whiteley is spearheading the judicial review, along with Anne Dumbrille, Garth Manning and Allison Walker. He says mounting this challenge would hardly be imaginable without the work of the five law school students.

“We are very fortunate for their contribution,” said Whiteley. “They are highly skilled and committed. They have done some really good work.”

Whiteley says the students have produced the substance to support the various arguments the group seeks to make to the judicial review panel. The affidavits that form part of the Notice of Application total more than 800 pages and will top more than 1,000 when they are ready to be copied and delivered to the various ministries and attorneys general.

The next step will see these government agencies and authorities provide the group with the records showing how they reached their decision. From these documents Whiteley and his group will begin assembling the relevant facts and summary of legal principles.

Everyone involved knows they are tackling a very big challenge and that the outcome may be far reaching.

“We will make a statement,” said Whiteley.

Subsidies for renewables “least effective” for the environment: economist

The Montreal Economics Institute, a non-partisan non-profit organization engaged in education and research, has published a document in advance of the Paris climate change talks, entitled A Practical Guide to the Economics of Climate Change.

In it, the authors discuss various measures that might be considered. Of particular note is Chapter 2 Governmental measures and their effectiveness and the discussion of Feed In Tariff subsidies for “renewable” sources of power. Here is an excerpt:

These subsidies are among the most expensive, and
therefore the least efficient, ways of reducing GHG
emissions. In particular, they have significant economic
and social consequences. By raising the costs of electricity
for the consumers who finance them, these
subsidies generate energy poverty among the most vulnerable
households. They also hurt the competitiveness
of companies that see their rates go up. The European
experience is telling. Several countries have had to
shrink the subsidies they give out to producers of renewable
energy.

In an interview on November 13 with journalist Rob Snow at radio CFRA, co-author Youri Chassin named Ontario as an example of how FIT subsidies don’t work, and actually cause hardship for citizens. If you do a cost-benefit analysis, Chassin said, you will see, they are the least efficient way to go. (Listen to the interview here, in the first half hour.)

This is in line with what Wind Concerns Ontario has been saying: Ontario NEVER did a cost-benefit analysis for its renewables program, particularly wind (it sure won’t do one now) and, whatever your goals are for the environment, wind power is not the way to achieve them.

Proposed wind farm area should be a nature conservancy, says ERT witness

Prince Edward County's South Shore meets Environment Canada's criteria for protection. Ontario says, build the power plants! [Photo courtesy Point2Point Foundation]
Prince Edward County’s South Shore meets Environment Canada’s criteria for protection. Ontario says, build the power plants! [Photo courtesy Point2Point Foundation]
For almost 30 years, citizens of Prince Edward County have been trying to get all three levels of government to come together and create a protected area for wildlife, in this Important Bird Area which is a major stopover point for migratory birds in North America.

It never happened.

And now, Ontario has given approval for not one, but two, wind “farms” in the area, which is generally agreed will be a disaster for the environment.

Here is a report of testimony at the appeal of the White Pines project by WPD Canada, a Germany-based wind power developer. Emphasis is ours. The hypocrisy is theirs.

Report on the Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project
November 12, 2015
by Henri Garand and Paula Peel, APPEC

The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project devoted Day Five to hearing six members of the public previously awarded status as Presenters rather than expert witnesses.

Christopher Currie also sought to be qualified as an expert witness because he would be commenting, as a professional land use planner, on WPD’s application reports. But the Tribunal denied the request because Currie’s focus was on water bodies and he has no credentials in hydrology or related subjects.

As a Presenter, nonetheless, Currie gave a detailed review of the deficiencies in WPD’s assessment of water bodies on the project site. He pointed out that two fisheries biologists, not hydrologists, had carried out all the field work from June to mid-October, never during the wet season of November through April, and had used assessment standards inappropriate for alvar. Due to these and other numerous flaws in methodology, the final report was incomplete and unreliable. Excavation, drilling, and hydrofracking for wind turbine bases would cause serious environmental harm to animals and plants by permanently altering the South Shore watershed.

Area meets Environment Canada criteria for protection

Cheryl Anderson, president of Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO), described how White Pines would jeopardize the millions of birds which migrate each year through the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (PECSSIBA). Soaring birds like eagles, hawks and vultures are especially vulnerable, and a dozen species at risk breed in the project area. Moreover, PECSSIBA, which is globally significant for waterfowl and nationally significant for endangered bird species, meets all Environment Canada criteria for a location unsuitable for wind development. In light of high mortality at the nearby Wolfe Island wind project, Anderson called on the ERT to apply the Precautionary Principle.

Richard Bird of the Hastings and Prince Edward Land Trust (HPELT) told the Tribunal about the 490-acre Miller Family Nature Reserve on Hill Top Road in South Marysburgh. A 2013 Baseline Documentation Report completed for Ontario Heritage Trust identifies natural heritage features including plants, animals, wetlands, alvar and migratory stopover habitat, as well as the endangered Blanding’s turtle. Wind turbines T21 and T22 are on the lot directly adjacent to the Reserve. A proposed transmission corridor on Hill Top Road will require blasting and/or digging and leveling of trees and vegetation. Mr. Bird said that HPELT considers the Miller Family Nature Reserve a model for what should take place on the PEC South Shore. The ERT requested a copy of the Report.

Roxanne MacKenzie focused on the adverse effects of wind turbines on human health. She noted that sound travels in rural areas and the White Pines wind project is close to many homes. People living near wind turbines have suffered sleep disturbance, vertigo, and tinnitus. Shadow flicker is a serious concern, especially with children. MacKenzie also mentioned the negative impact of White Pines on the local tourism industry, property values, and even increased electricity rates due to high transmission costs and subsidized export sale of electricity.

Doug Murphy described his 200-acre century farm and its roots going back six generations to United Empire Loyalists. He told the Tribunal that Stantec data is inaccurate: T4 is 97m from his property line, and shadow flicker will be an ongoing issue between April and September. Murphy also noted the project location within Black Creek Valley Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) and the prevalence of crevices up to one foot wide and 10 feet deep that in some cases go for miles. The crevices make the area potentially unstable and unsuitable for turbines. Any blasting and/or drilling will cause problems on other properties including effects on water supply. Murphy provided the ERT with a 2012 document from WPD indicating that it plans to put 80 more turbines on 4000 acres.

Potential for adverse health effects

Brian Flack, who lives west of Lighthall Road where nine of WPD’s wind turbines are proposed, said that since the Renewable Energy Approval was granted there is increased stress in the community over property devaluation and potential adverse health impacts, including physical, physiological, and psychological harm. He noted that the Council of Canadian Academies found sufficient evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and the medical condition of annoyance. Mr. Flack asked the ERT to consider why the province did not expropriate land instead of denying responsibility for impacts on residents.

Since the Tribunal weights evidence on the basis of source and credibility, there’s no way of knowing what effect any of the non-expert Presenters will have on the ERT decision. The hearing continues next week on November 16, 10 a.m., in the Wellington and District Community Centre.

Map of Prince Edward County and South Shore where two wind power projects are approved.
Map of Prince Edward County and South Shore where two wind power projects are approved.

Big Wind bought Ontario: WCO president

SOLD

Letter to the Editor, Ontario Farmer, November 10, 2015

Perhaps a better question for Editor Paul Mahon to have asked in his “Who owns wind?” editorial (October 27) is: Who owns Ontario? The people, or the wind power corporations?

Right now, the SOLD sign on Ontario has Big Wind’s name on it.

Mahon says four parties “agree” to every wind power project. False: the Green Energy Act (designed by the wind power lobby, for wind power corporations) removed local land use planning powers (and overrode 20 other laws designed to protect Ontario including the Heritage Act and the Clean Water Act). The result is that communities can’t say “no” even though the power projects industrialize formerly quiet communities. And, while Ontario citizens are allowed to appeal under the law, the legal test set is almost impossible to meet. Ontario’s interests? Sold to wind power corporations.

Other serious concerns about wind include the fact that, as two Auditors General have said, there was never a cost-benefit analysis done for Ontario’s wind power program. We know the power these projects generate is produced out-of-phase with demand; that means, expensive wind power shows up when it’s not needed, and Ontario sells it off at a loss on the power market. At the same time, Ontario’s electricity customers pay for the difference, while also paying for “spilled” hydro, steamed off nuclear power, and idling gas plants, because Big Wind gets first rights to the grid. Ontario’s interests? Sold to wind power corporations.

Landowners are caught between the archaic “do what you want on your own land” policy espoused by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the clear need to consider neighbours and communities at large in decisions to allow installation of huge, noisy wind turbines on their property. Landowners often fail to consulting lawyers before signing the complex lease agreements, and are thus unaware of financial repercussions and the loss of property rights.

But the biggest concern is what wind power development is doing to the environment. We’re told it’s necessary to “save” the environment, at the same time as power projects are being located in important bird areas and fragile environments like the Oak Ridges Moraine or the South Shore of Prince Edward County, and killing bats (crucial for agriculture) by the hundreds of thousands. Worse, because wind power is intermittent, it must be backed up by a traditional power source, which in Ontario is natural gas—thereby adding to greenhouse gas emissions, not reducing them. Again, Ontario has been sold to Big Wind.

Mahon says we may never know whether wind power was a good idea.  I think we do right now: with $40 billion and counting invested in it, while health care budgets are cut and electricity bills rise dramatically, utility-scale wind power has not helped the environment, or the people of Ontario.

Who owns the wind? Who owns Ontario? Not us: the province has been sold to wind power corporations.

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

Did Ontario LOSE 11,000 clean energy jobs?

Environment Minister Murray: I can count, just watch me
Environment Minister Murray: I can count, just watch me

Back on June 20, 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Energy under Bob Chiarelli put out a press release that listed “Quick Facts” including this one:

“Ontario’s Green Energy Act has attracted billions of dollars in private sector investments and created 31,000 jobs since 2009.”

On November 10, 2015 the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray tweeted that Ontario is a leader in clean technology. He included a blue chart asking, “Did You Know?” followed by a list of reasons why he claims we are leading.   One of the answers to the question posed was:  “Over 20,000 clean energy jobs have been created since 2009.”

So, 31,000 jobs were there in 2013 but in 2015, there are only 20,000 “clean energy” jobs? Does this mean that, despite the addition of thousands of megawatts of wind and solar generation since 2009 and the price of electricity rising by 76 percent,1. 11,000 clean energy jobs were lost!

Perhaps it is time for the Ontario Liberal government to recognize that adding renewable energy does nothing more than impact our cost of living in a negative way, does nothing to save the world from climate change, and—apparently—is even causing clean energy jobs to be lost.

Time to call in the Auditor General!

©Parker Gallant

November 12, 2015

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

 

  1. Reference: OEB Historical Electricity Prices.

Endangered species expert alters opinion on wildlife deaths at appeal

ToughonNature

The MNR’s at-risk species expert is OK if turtles die; says “driver training” might help

What the heck happened to Joe Crowley? Seasoned herpetologist, at-risk species expert for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and mild-mannered scientist who just weeks ago testified at the Ostrander Point that it was his recommendation a permit not be granted for a wind power project there because the risk to wildlife was too great.

Joe Crowley as of November 10: everything is A-OK. His testimony was so at odds with what he said at the Ostrander Point appeal that appellant lawyer Eric Gillespie sought to have him declared an “adverse” (hostile) witness.

Here is this extremely polite report by Henri Garand and Paula Peel of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).

Report on the Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project

 The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project focused, on Day Four, on Joe Crowley, a species-at-risk expert in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MNRF).  Due to numerous procedural disputes, however, the hearing lasted from 10 a.m. till 8:30 p.m.

Crowley was summoned to testify on the basis of his evidence at the Ostrander Point ERT, and he was similarly qualified as an expert witness, specifically as a “herpetologist with expertise in Blanding’s turtles.”  At MNRF he is employed in the Species Conservation Branch, where his work includes assessment and review annually of some 70 projects affecting reptiles and turtles.  He confirmed he is the only MNRF employee with special expertise in the Blanding’s turtle, though other biologists may have general knowledge.

However, Crowley was never consulted about White Pines despite its adjacency to Ostrander Point.  Nor did he know just who was consulted in MNRF.
APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie asked Crowley whether the White Pines project could have similar impacts on the turtle population.  Crowley made clear he knew nothing about White Pines, but after reviewing a project map he admitted that Turbines 12 – 24 and 26 – 29 might be in suitable Blanding’s turtle habitat.
At several points Crowley recanted testimony made a month earlier at the Ostrander Point ERT and repudiated his own previously-held opinions:
  • Crowley said he overestimated turtle numbers at Ostrander Point and is no longer confident there is a “healthy and viable” population.
  • Crowley supposed it is “conceivable” that Blanding’s turtles could be moving along the shoreline.   Gillespie reminded Crowley of his Ostrander ERT testimony that Blanding’s turtles were known to range both along the south shore and inland 2 to 6 kilometres.
  • Despite his own references in MNRF documentation to a
    ​n interconnected

    wetland complex

    ​ on the south shore​

    , Crowley now considers that it’s only possible turtles move off the Ostrander property because their home range is typically 2 kilometres.

  • Crowley identified two critical habitats for Blanding’s turtles at Ostrander Point.  When reminded of the ERT’s finding that the entire site is critical habitat Crowley responded that it would depend on the definition of critical.
Due to nest predation and other threats, Crowley explained that a female turtle may have only one surviving offspring over 20-30 years of reproduction.  Given this low survival, he had considered at one time that Blanding’s turtle populations could only withstand mortality rates of up to 2%.  However, he now believes that as much as ​5% mortality is sustainable.
Due to the number of reversals from his testimony at the Ostrander Point ERT, Crowley was required to leave on two occasions while lawyers and the ERT panel discussed how to proceed.   Gillespie asked the Tribunal to declare Crowley an adverse witness because his testimony was couched with imprecise words such as “could,” “possibly,” and “may.”  This request would allow Gillespie to ask leading questions and speed up the process.   But the Tribunal denied the request even though counsels for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and wind developer WPD had been pressing Gillespie to reduce the time of his examination.During cross-examination by Sylvia Davis, counsel for the MOECC, Crowley discussed the need for mark-capture surveys in order to assess population size.  After further questioning by Gillespie he agreed that such studies were not done for either the Ostrander Point or White Pines projects.

Crowley also informed the Tribunal of a study demonstrating that driver training could have good results in decreasing road mortality.  When asked about this study by Gillespie, Crowley clarified that it concerned the Eastern Foxsnake and not Blanding’s turtles.

There were some positive points that came out of the testimony.   Blanding’s turtles will move from Ostrander Point into the White Pines project area.  Crowley’s 2011 statement from the Ostrander project, where he refers to interconnected wetland complexes throughout southern Prince Edward County is now on record.  The number of turtles and the quality of their habitat cannot be in dispute given the conditions set out within the Renewable Energy Approval.

The ERT resumes on Thursday, Nov. 12, 10 a.m. at the Essroc Centre, Wellington.
Map of Prince Edward County and South Shore where two wind power projects are approved. Not pictured: the magic line which Blandings turtles will not cross, according to the MOECC, MNR, and the power developer WPD
Map of Prince Edward County and South Shore where two wind power projects are approved. Not pictured: the magic line which Blandings turtles will not cross, according to the MOECC, MNR, and the power developer WPD

Ontario: cheap power exports make us everybody’s friend

Buffalo NY: keeping the lights on and luring business thanks to cheap power from Ontario (Photo: The Herd Report)
Buffalo NY: keeping the lights on and luring business thanks to cheap power from Ontario (Photo: The Herd Report)

Buffalo’s Pal: Ontario’s ratepayers

The September 2015 summary report from IESO demonstrates that once again, Ontario ratepayers picked up additional costs for exporting surplus power. The September results, gleaned from examination of the “monthly summary” indicates it cost $100 million to subsidize Ontario-generated electricity exports to New York, Michigan, etc., in September.

That totals $1.5 billion for the first nine months of 2015. The 16.2 terawatts exported in those nine months could have supplied power to 1.7 million average Ontario households for the full year.

What’s really annoying is finding out that our neighbours in Buffalo are engaged in an industry attraction effort that is meeting with some success. A recent article about the NY government subsidized building ($750 million) of SolarCity’s “gigafactory” in Buffalo to manufacture solar panels indicates they are on the comeback trail and attracting investments.  One of the reasons is because they are able to offer a “huge benefit: the electricity rate for manufacturers averages just 4.79 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is possible because of cheap hydroelectric power generated from Niagara Falls.”

Because some of our power generated from Niagara Falls1. and other sources in September was sold as surplus power for just 3.19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), we’re actually helping Buffalo offer those attractive electricity rates.

This fact should remind all Ontarians of the promises made to us by the Ontario Liberal government when it enacted Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA).  The April 8, 2009 Standing Committee on General Government transcript on Bill 150, with the then Ontario Energy Minister George Smitherman on the stand, elicited this response to a question posed about the effects of the GEA on electricity prices:

“We anticipate about 1% per year of additional rate increase associated with the bill’s implementation over the next 15 years. Our estimate of cost increases is based upon the way that we actually amortize costs in the energy sector.”

Let’s look back to September 2009, the year the Legislature passed the GEA, when Ontario demand for electricity was 10,932,000 megawatt hours (MWh) and compare to September 2015 when Ontario demand was slightly higher (+3.8%), reaching 11,362,000 MWh. IESO’s monthly summary for September 2009 indicates the “average weighted cost” (all-in) to consumers was $82.73/MWh whereas the “average weighted cost” for September 2015 was $125.35/MWh.

That translates to an increase of $42.62/MWh or 4.26 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), and cost ratepayers $453 million extra for just one month.  Looking at this in a slightly different way, the extra MWh we consumed for September 2015 versus 2009 came at a cost of $1,196 each or $11.96 per kWh, had generation and delivery costs remained the same through those six years.

It is clear costs to ratepayers have already become a multiple of the Smitherman promise … and we still have nine years left in his forecast.

The Auditor General pointed out the Energy Ministry failed to complete a cost/benefit study before implementing the GEA. There was never any acknowledgement or accounting for the intermittent nature of renewable energy, the fact power is produced when it’s not needed, and the need for renewables to be backed up with other generation (along with transmission line costs to bring it to where it’s needed) was apparently never considered.

And now, in spite of the evidence of the past six years, the march continues to add more wind and solar to the Ontario grid, whichmeans Buffalo and other jurisdictions will reap the rewards.

As Buffalo adds manufacturing jobs, Ontario is shedding them. Ontario’s electricity ratepayers are wondering, what will the next nine years bring?

© Parker Gallant, November 10, 2015

1.  Thanks to Scott Luft for his analysis on the Niagara Falls waste.

Ontario at-risk species expert to testify at wind farm appeal today

ToughonNature

We received word late last evening that Joe Crowley, at-risk species expert with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is to testify at the appeal of the White Pines wind power project in Prince Edward County today.

The hearing is being held at the Essroc Community Centre in Wellington, Ontario.

Mr. Crowley was an expert witness at the Ostrander Point appeal, currently in its fifth phase, and testified that it was his professional recommendation that the danger to the Blandings turtle and other species at the Ostrander site was so great, a permit should not be granted. Mr Crowley has also commented the Blandings turtles range over the South Shore of Prince Edward County, the site of the other proposed wind power project, White Pines by wpd Canada.

The wind power developer denies this, and the endangered turtle was not even on the company’s permit regarding the Endangered Species Act.

At issue in these proceedings, for both appeals, is the fundamentals behind the Ontario government’s approval process for wind power plants. Documents have been withheld, expert advice ignored, and government staff have been shown to play the role of supporting and encouraging the power developments, not protecting the environment or wildlife.

The Ostrander Point appeal is on hiatus but may resume at the end of November; White Pines continues this week.