Endangered wildlife key to citizen fight against Amherst Island wind power

Power developer says no turtles on Amherst Island; turtle experts and residents say there are.
Power developer says no turtles on Amherst Island; turtle experts and residents say there are.

Power developer claims no turtles were seen in its environmental assessment; experts and 30 citizens to testify with logs of turtle observations

The Whig-Standard, January 28, 2016

Elliot Ferguson

STELLA — Approximately 30 residents of Amherst Island will get to testify before the Environmental Review Tribunal about the presence of endangered Blanding’s turtles on the island.

In a conference call Wednesday, the tribunal rejected an attempt from lawyers for Windlectric Inc. to have the witness statements excluded from the proceedings.

Instead, the residents are to be presented during three days of hearings on the island next week.

Algonquin Power’s subsidiary Windlectric Inc. is proposing to build about 26 wind turbines on the island. The company’s lawyers had argued that the citizens’ statements about seeing Blanding’s turtles on the island had been falsified and photographs of the turtles were staged.

“It is important for us and we are happy that the tribunal recognized that, in fairness, that if Windlectric is allowed, through their expert, to say that people on the island are lying to oppose the project, well, we’re really, really happy that the tribunal recognized the fairness, or unfairness of that procedure,” said Michele Le Lay, spokesperson for the Association to Protect Amherst Island.

In a 2013 species at risk report prepared for Windlectric, Stantec Consulting Ltd. stated there are no Blanding’s turtles on Amherst Island.

“Over the course of all field surveys, no observations of either Blanding’s turtle or eastern musk turtle were made,” the report stated.

The opposing sides are to talk by telephone on Thursday to decide how the 30 residents could testify in three days of hearings in a manner that is fair to both sides.

Evidence that Blanding’s turtles live on the island could be critical to the project’s opponents.

 

Read the full story by Elliot Ferguson here.

Don’t sacrifice people’s health for green energy: Green Bay editorial Board

Imagine having to leave your home to protect your health. Leadership is needed, now.

Green Bay Press-Gazette editorial board statement, January 30, 2016

The most unsettling aspect of the wind turbine debate is that nothing has been settled, nor does it look to be anytime soon.

This is despite efforts over the years from those who say wind energy [sic] doesn’t affect the health of those who live near wind turbines, and those who blame it for sleep disturbance, motion sickness, headaches, nausea and more.

… The Board County Board of Health declared in October 2014 that the wind farm was a health hazard.

The result of that declaration? Nothing.

Read the full editorial here.

 

Big Wind wants energy policies tilted toward wind: letter

Wind can’t compete, which is why the corporate developer lobby wants policies shifted to favour its interest

Lethbridge Herald, January 30, 2016

In his letter “Correcting wind energy errors,” Lethbridge Herald, Jan. 23, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) befuddles his readers with statistics and technical phrases. Only those familiar with the generation and marketing of electricity might be able to detect his “spin” which is required to make wind generation look attractive.

He claims that “new wind energy generation is cost competitive,” but his own publication, “Wind Vision 2025” (www.canwea.ca), reveals that “By 2016 the average pool price is forecast to be $62.98/MWh, well below wind’s levelized cost of $84/MWh (wind) producers can only expect to earn $50/MWh from the Alberta energy market and $9.16 from emission reduction sales. That price ($59.16/MWh) will not support the construction of ANY wind power facilities in Alberta by 2025” (page 9).

In plain English, wind needs $84/MWh to break even. Wind can’t compete! CanWEA admits that. Their solution is to advocate that the playing field should be tilted in favour of wind. They want more money and preferential treatment. According to “Wind Vision 2025,” they want our government to:

1) Increase the carbon tax from $15 per tonne. Done – $30 per tonne. Now wind can get more from the sale of emission reduction credits. Coal will have to pay more to wind. Consumers will pay more for electricity and everything else.

2) Legislate a “Clean Electricity Standard” which would impose a maximum GHG emissions intensity level upon all electricity sold by retailers in the province. In other words retailers would be forced to buy wind to meet the new standard. More wind farms would be needed; extra transmission lines; more reserve capacity. Good for wind – expensive for others.

3) Support the creation of long-term contracts. I quote: “An uplift in the carbon price will improve the economics of wind-energy production – but without the ability to secure long-term contracts, it will be very challenging to secure cost-effective financing for projects.” “Long-term contracts” is the catchphrase for 20 years of guaranteed high prices. The reality of “energy poverty,” which is defined as having to choose between buying food or electricity, inevitably follows upon the heels of such contracts. German households now pay about four times the Alberta average for electricity. German industries must be subsidized. CO2 is not abated.

“Wind Vision 2025” outlines the plan. Let’s hope that our provincial government doesn’t buy it.

Shaun Ward

Lethbridge

Read more including comments, here.

Ontario Liberal advisors move to Ottawa: will bad policies go too?

The future of Canada as Ontario policy advisors take their ideas to Ottawa?
The future of Canada as Ontario policy advisors take their ideas to Ottawa?

McGuinty and Wynne governments’ policy on renewables “poorly designed and executed” says Auditor General. And now,  policy advisors are heading for Ottawa to advise the new Trudeau government.

January 30, 2016

Can taxpayers afford “Toronto-on-the-Rideau”? asks Jeffrey Simpson in the January 29th edition of the Globe and Mail. (subscription access only) Many Toronto-based Liberal advisors are now heading for Ottawa to advise the Trudeau government.

“The [Ontario Liberal] government’s whole thrust into renewable energy during the phase-out of coal, whatever else its ambitions, reflected an industrial policy built on huge subsidies for private industry. … A careful reading of the latest report of the Ontario Auditor-General, however, is a sobering, even devastating indictment of the government’s performance. Chapter after depressing chapter, Bonnie Lysyk outlined policies poorly designed and executed, often at considerable cost. … If these habits are imported to Toronto-on-the-Rideau then taxpayers across Canada are not going to like what they see….”

 

Unwilling host resolutions affected Ontario policy: research paper

not-a-willing-host

January 29, 2016

In the paper published this past week in the journal, Nature Energy, authors Fast et al. reviewed the policy behind the Ontario government’s push toward industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power, and had this to say about the “Not A Willing Host” phenomenon among Ontario communities.

“The new government [the Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne] continued to pursue wind energy development but only for communities willing to be hosts. The move backfired as 89 municipal councils (around a quarter of the province’s total municipalities*) passed ‘unwilling host’ resolutions. The planned changes for the awarding of FIT contracts were therefore never implemented. Instead, in June 2013, faced with continued criticism, the FIT programme for large wind was disbanded. Two years later, the province once again began to offer wind contracts, this time in a competitive bid system, giving preference to bids that demonstrated agreements with local governments and signed support from at least 75% of land owners abutting wind turbine sites. This marked an extraordinary reversal of the earlier tenets of Ontario’s FIT programme…”

Early in 2016, Ontario’s rural municipalities undertook another important step in warning the provincial government of communities’ opposition to its energy policy. As of this date, five municipalities have passed resolutions at Council, referring to the recent report from the Auditor General on the cost of renewables as it contributes to Ontario electricity bills and the situation of a power surplus in the province, and demanded that Ontario NOT let any more contracts for wind power development.

The government, via the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO, began a bid process in 2015 for Large Renewable Procurement; it has yet to announce the successful bids for 300 megawatts of power, having moved its announcement date from November 2015 to February or March of 2016.

*the number of unwilling host municipalities may have been about a quarter of the total number of Ontario municipalities but the figure represented a significant proportion of rural communities vulnerable to wind power projects.

wind contract banner

Galloping Global Adjustment charge on your Ontario electricity bill

Galloping Global Adjustment 

As noted in the previous posting, over the past eight years (2007 to 2015) Ontario electricity ratepayers have seen the charge for the basic commodity increase by $6 billion dollars every year — that’s like  the cost of moving 12 gas plants, every year.  This huge jump happened without a clear indication from our political leaders as to the cause, other than blaming neglect of the system on their predecessors and the objective to save the world from climate change.

So what is the real story?

The following estimates may provide the reader some clarity as to the source of most of those costs.   Please bear in mind that some of these are estimates as the information is not readily available from our less than transparent government entities.

  1. The provincial portion of the HST obviously added a lot to the costs and represents about $950 million of the $6 billion.
  2. The addition of over 2,000 MW of solar power generation added about $1.4 billion to the annual costs
  3. The addition of about 4,000 MW of wind power generation added around $1 billion to annual costs.
  4. Agreeing to allow previously unregulated hydro owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to be regulated added $250/350 million.
  5. Granting a rate increase to cover OPG pension and benefit shortfalls added $300 million
  6. Directing the conversion of two OPG coal plants to biomass added $150 million annually
  7. Creating a surplus of generation that is exported without the GA being included added $1.7 billion in costs.
  8. Paying OPG for spilled hydro, Bruce Nuclear for steaming off nuclear, wind generators for constraining, etc. probably cost $300 to $400 million
  9. Moving two gas plants amortized over, say, 20 years would cost about $50 million.
  10. Spending $4.1 billion on Big Becky and Mattagami amortized over 50 years added about $75 million
  11. Paying idling gas plants as much as $15,000 per month per MW of capacity to back up wind turbines probably added $500 million per annum.

While this actually doesn’t include all of the actions directed by the Energy Minister and also indicates a total that exceeds the $6 billion in increased costs from 2007 to 2015, some of the costs listed above have not yet entered the billing system.

Electricity rates are forecast to increase in excess of 10% in 2016 by the end of the year, meaning the cost of the raw commodity, electricity, will reflect the galloping “Global Adjustment” going forward.

©Parker Gallant

January 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Community discontent with wind power projects Fulbright lecture today

[Photo Clarkson University]

Understanding the Varying Impacts of Cross-Border Wind Development

Wind power is among the fastest growing energy sources in the world today, and is widely viewed as a substantial part of a clean energy future. However, implementation of wind energy is often controversial in areas where it is proposed, and concerns are often raised regarding potential negative impacts on local communities, including impacts on health and on property values. Some of these negative impacts may be offset by compensatory payments made by wind developers to both individual landowners who let out their land for the development and to communities. Additionally, host communities often have a say in approving the development or setting parameters. However, if the development is near borders between municipalities, states, or even countries, it is often the case that one or more jurisdictions will not have an opportunity to set such rules or demand compensation, but will, nonetheless, face some costs or impacts from the development. In such a situation, we would expect the property value impacts of a wind facility development to vary across these borders. We explore exactly this situation at the border between Canada and the United States in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.

Panelists

  • Dr. Stewart Fast, Positive Energy project and Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa
  • Tom Levy, Director of Utility and Technical Affairs, Canadian Wind Energy Association

Speaker

Martin D. Heintzelman is the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Environment and Economy at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment. He is on partial leave until April from his post as Associate Professor and Fredric C. Menz Scholar of Environmental Economics at Clarkson University, as well as Director of the Clarkson University Center for Canadian Studies. At Clarkson, he is jointly appointed in the School of Business and the Institute for a Sustainable Environment. Martin has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics and an M.S. in Natural Resource Policy and Behavior from the University of Michigan as well as a B.S. in Economics from Duke University.

Venue:
Desmarais Building (55 Laurier E), room 12102
Event-Date:
Thursday, January 28, 2016 – 04:00 to 06:00

See more and to register here

Alberta not so keen on Big Wind Fantasyland

Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung: wind power "fantasyland"?
Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung: wind power “fantasyland”?

Here is a letter to the Editor of the Lethbridge Herald. It seems people in Canada’s western provinces had an eye on the Ontario disaster, and the real situation in Europe. Wind power will not achieve any goals for the environment, and will cost citizens plenty via subsidized development contracts.

Lethbridge Herald, January 28, 2016

Re: “Correcting wind energy errors,” Jan. 23 Herald.

Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, discussed “reserves” in a failed effort to pretend all is well in wind’s fantasyland. His mission was to divert attention from the fact that Albertans will pay billions for CanWEA’s and the government’s green dreams. Hornung also failed to mention that CanWEA has asked your Alberta government for subsidies as wind can’t compete because of its abysmal performance.

The annual output of wind is an unreliable 30 per cent of its nameplate capacity, but output varies a lot. For example, the weekly report for Jan. 14 to 20 showed that wind produced a pathetic 19 per cent of its capacity. Worse still, for 50 hours that week, wind produced effectively no electricity! Read the grim statistics in AESO’s weekly reports at http://ets.aeso.ca/.

The government proposes to close coal plants by 2030, stating, “Two-thirds É replaced by renewable energy; one-third É by natural gas.” Most of the renewable electricity will come from wind. About 12,000 MW of new turbines will be needed to produce two-thirds of coal’s soon-to-be lost 44,000 GWh of power. Recently, CanWEA told our government that we need up to 15,000 MW of new renewables, including 9,000 MW of wind.

CanWEA reports that turbines cost over $2 million per megawatt. Thus, using CanWEA’s own figures, the necessary turbines will cost at least $20 billion and Albertans will pay one way or another. In addition, customers will pay billions for new transmission lines that Alberta Energy said will be needed to integrate wind. Then add a few billion for extra gas capacity and 10 billion tax dollars to buy out coal plants forced to close 30 years before the government originally planned.

We will be forced to rely solely on volatile natural gas to supply electricity during wind’s almost-daily failures. Unlike in Ontario and the U.K., Albertans do not have the luxury of a nuclear baseload. Electricity in “green” Germany costs about four times more than in Alberta, yet, they still rely on coal for 40 per cent of their power. Because of renewables’ unreliability, Germany continues to build new coal plants, the newest opening just weeks ago. Yet, our government, counselled by CanWEA, will …

Read the full letter from Clive Schaupmeyer here.

 

Energy Minister offers false hope on environment and citizen input

Well, there could be a little bit of truth in what I said. Maybe. OK, no.
Well, there could be a little bit of truth in what I said. Maybe. OK, no.

Could it be, from his statement yesterday, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has resolved his ministry’s issues in dealing with the many rural communities in Ontario declaring themselves “Not a willing host” to huge wind power projects? What he said: “all levels of government must take the time to hear from experts, community and municipal leaders, aboriginal groups, business leaders and other impacted groups to ensure that all voices can be heard during the regulatory process.”

Unfortunately, no: that press release had nothing to do with the Green Energy Act (GEA).

It was related to interprovincial pipelines, a matter in which the province has limited influence.

The Minister’s statement also rambled on about “Economic prosperity and environmental sustainability” and “our shared obligation to future generations” without mentioning the mess created in his portfolio by himself and past ministers!

The statement about our “shared obligation to future generations” is particularly galling to those affected by the GEA, as it has resulted in 12 to 13% of all households in Ontario living in “energy poverty1.”. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), controlled by the Ministry of Energy, reported over a year ago that 570,000 households now fit into that category. Those future generations have already arrived!

On the same day Minister Chiarelli issued his statement, the OEB issued a “scam” warning about the Ontario Electricity Support Program: “The OEB has received reports that individuals, claiming to be affiliated with the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), were calling to request access into consumers’ homes.”

The press release from the OEB went on to note: “OEB staff do not conduct a home audit, check furnaces or install equipment for this or any other program.” Of course, the OEB never did any of those things.

So now, the Ontario Liberal government, which is responsible for increasing electricity rates exceeding 10% annually, driving people into “energy poverty,” and creating a program to help those suffering from unaffordable electricity rates, has to warn us that we may be scammed!

Seems to this writer that the Wynne and McGuinty governments have been the cause of the scam from the start, and have refused to hear from “community and municipal leaders, aboriginal groups, business leaders and other impacted groups” on the issue of the environmental and economic impact of industrial-scale wind turbines being forced upon Ontario’s rural communities.

©Parker Gallant,

A disgruntled energy consumer

January 28, 2016

 

  1. Energy poverty is defined as spending of 10% of household income on electricity and heat.

 

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

Ontario says communities should have a voice in the Energy East pipeline project; meanwhile, 91 municipalities are now Not A Willing Host to wind power projects--still can't say 'no'
Ontario says communities should have a voice in the Energy East pipeline project; meanwhile, 91 municipalities are now Not A Willing Host to wind power projects–still can’t say ‘no’

Endangered turtle sighting testimony to be allowed in Amherst Island appeal

Spotted! (and by a lot of people) Endangered Blandings turtle
Spotted! (and by a lot of people) Endangered Blandings turtle

In spite of a move by the proponents’ lawyer to block testimony by expert witnesses called by the appellant, the Association to Protect Amherst Island, and further to disallow testimony of 30 residents of Amherst Island who have logged sightings of the endangered Blandings turtle, the Tribunal ruled today that the witness testimony would be heard.

The hearings in this matter have already begun, with a site tour on Monday and proceedings yesterday; the appeal will now likely take longer than the four days originally allowed.

The tribunal ruling is an important step in that allows actual residents of the affected community to be heard during the appeal.

For more information on the wind power project and Amherst Island, check the APAI website here: http://protectamherst.yolasite.com/