Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The provincial portion of the HST obviously added a lot to the costs and represents about $950 million of the $6 billion.
The addition of over 2,000 MW of solar power generation added about $1.4 billion to the annual costs
The addition of about 4,000 MW of wind power generation added around $1 billion to annual costs.
Agreeing to allow previously unregulated hydro owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to be regulated added $250/350 million.
Granting a rate increase to cover OPG pension and benefit shortfalls added $300 million
Directing the conversion of two OPG coal plants to biomass added $150 million annually
Creating a surplus of generation that is exported without the GA being included added $1.7 billion in costs.
Paying OPG for spilled hydro, Bruce Nuclear for steaming off nuclear, wind generators for constraining, etc. probably cost $300 to $400 million
Moving two gas plants amortized over, say, 20 years would cost about $50 million.
Spending $4.1 billion on Big Becky and Mattagami amortized over 50 years added about $75 million
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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/
The Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich is campaigning against the Wynne government’s plan this year to invite applications for an additional 300 megawatts of wind-powered electricity generation. It would take about 150 industrial wind turbines to produce this much power.
Dutton-Dunwich is located along the Lake Erie shoreline west of St. Thomas. It fears a large number of these turbines could be imposed on its residents. A green energy firm is lobbying for a wind farm in Dutton-Dunwich.
Naturalists are concerned because Dutton-Dunwich is an important, unobstructed flyway for migrating birds and bats. As well, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nations have not endorsed the project.
Dutton-Dunwich is also concerned because the Wynne government is intent on building green energy capacity at a time of declining demand in Ontario. The municipality says Ontario increased its generating capacity by 19 per cent over the past eight years while provincial demand in the same period fell 7.5 per cent.
And the capacity Ontario has added is expensive. Citing a scathing Auditor-General’s report issued in December, Dutton-Dunwich says Ontarians are paying twice as much for wind-generated electricity as other jurisdictions. The high cost of electricity in Ontario is hurting the province’s ability to compete and create jobs.
“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce reports that the escalating price of electricity is undermining their members’ capacity to grow, hire new workers and attract new investment,” the Dutton-Dunwich resolution says. “Ontario’s electricity costs are among the highest in North America, making the province uncompetitive for business growth.”
Read the full story here including comments by a Norfolk councillor that municipal councils should “stay out of provincial affairs” — even when the province inflicts its policy on local residents.
Converting the grid to solar and wind power will create more problems than it solves in Alberta, as it already has elsewhere
By George Koch | Mid-January 2016
Spain’s attempt to create a “green” electricity grid required paying wind and solar power producers up to 12 times the going rate for electricity. The initiative destroyed jobs and led to a US$29-billion bankruptcy, throwing 24,000 out of work.
Germany’s massive program to develop wind and solar power paid green energy producers up to eight times the cost of conventional power, yet still foundered due to a cloudy and calm climate in which solar and wind chronically underperform. Now Germany is building gas- and coal-fired facilities to mask the catastrophe and greenhouse-gas emissions have increased.
The U.K. made similar attempts to green its grid, with similar results. Ontarians recently learned they have paid $37 billion too much for power, largely to prop up green alternatives.
Despite this mountain of evidence, Alberta’s New Democratic Party government has opted to do the very same things. The NDP will increase carbon taxes on industrial emitters and lower thresholds to ensnare smaller companies; tax gasoline and diesel; and forcibly remove coal from Alberta’s electricity-generating equation. The NDP intends to transform Alberta’s electricity grid into one based on “renewable” power sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectricity. This is certain to impose billions of dollars in avoidable costs on a population reeling under a deep economic downturn, yet will yield not even a blip in the world’s temperature or CO2 concentrations.
Alberta has more than 1,000 megawatts of installed wind-power capacity, becoming a national wind-power leader almost 15 years ago, thanks to the previous Conservative government’s policies of deregulating electricity markets and ramming new power lines past protesting landowners – all of which the NDP opposed. Today, wind turbines provide a material although modest proportion of Alberta’s electricity – and that’s the level at which they should remain. Even in the province of “four strong winds,” wind power is unreliable, intermittent and typically runs full tilt at the wrong times.
The NDP, however, intends to stud virtually every windy ridgetop with turbines, mimicking the unsightly horrors of Germany and Britain, while adding solar farms hither and yon. It’s unclear whether anyone has explained to Premier Rachel Notley that Alberta is largely dark for six months of the year. As for hydroelectricity, the sole form of “renewable” energy sufficiently versatile and large scale to provide reliable base-load power, much of Alberta is simply too dry. Our pretty mountain rivers are relative trickles compared with the gigantic hydraulic machines created by Ontario and Quebec’s topography and climate. There is hydro potential in Alberta’s north. But the NDP spent the previous four decades opposing any northern dams for the usual overblown environmental fears.
The NDP is planning the wholesale destruction of one of North America’s most competitive and efficient electricity grids in favour of failed schemes. The costs will be ruinous and borne by Albertans. All while having no effect on the world’s climate. Alberta’s handful of coal-fired facilities are barely a rounding error in the global installed generating base plus the estimated 1,200 new coal-fired plants being planned globally (as of 2012). Unravelling the lunacy will take many years.
More of George Koch’s writing can be found at www.drjandmrk.com.