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.
Ontario’s electricity ratepayers paid more than $500 million in 2017 for nothing
With only one month left in the current year, the bad news on the electricity sector keeps getting worse.
Well before the official sources such as IESO report on how much power industrial wind turbines generated and how much was curtailed (constrained, or paid for but not added to the power grid), my friend Scott Luft has published his estimates for both the former and the latter for the month of November.
As he reports (conservatively), curtailed wind in November was over 422,000 megawatt hours (MWh) — that could have supplied 562,000 average Ontario households with free power for the month.
Instead, no one got free power; the cost of the 422,000 MWh of undelivered wind power to Ontario ratepayers was $120/MWh. That $50.7-million cost for the month was simply added to the costs of the electricity bills ratepayers will be obliged to pay, while some of it will deferred to the future as part of the Fair Hydro Plan.
Somebody’s enjoying cheap power — not you
No doubt the wasted wind power presented itself when it wasn’t needed; if it had been accepted into the grid, that extra power could have caused blackouts or brownouts, so it was curtailed. At the same time, much of the grid-accepted wind was exported to our neighbours in New York, Michigan and elsewhere, at discount prices! Curtailed wind for November 2017 compared to 2016 was almost 55% higher.
How bad is it? Let’s review the first 11 months of the current year, compared to 2016.
So far in 2017, curtailed wind is about 786,000 MWh higher (+33.8%) at just over 3.1million MWh. The cost of all the curtailed wind so far in 2017 is approximately $373.6 million, or $94.3 million more than 2016 costs.
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO Note: the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is currently reviewing documents for five more wind power projects which received contracts in 2016, totaling $3 billion more for electricity costs for intermittent wind power, produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario
MPP demands that wind power projects be cancelled over concerns about Black Shale and polluted wells
In Question Period on November 20, Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex rose to ask the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change what action was being taken for people in his riding whose well water has been rendered “undrinkable swill” during construction for a nearby wind power project.
Minister Ballard responded with, in his own words, “generalities” and specifically skipped over answering the question about the quality of well water to say that “renewable energy projects are a necessity.”*
Here, from Hansard, is what the Minister said in response to Mr McNaughton.
Mr. Monte McNaughton: My question today is for the Minister of Energy. In my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex, your ministry is pushing ahead with two new industrial wind turbine developments, the North Kent 1 and Otter Creek wind farms. These wind farms will generate electricity we don’t need and contribute to pushing hydro bills even higher than they already are.
These developments include turbines almost 200 metres high with foundations that require pile driving into black shale bedrock, rock containing heavy metals. This bedrock carries water of the aquifer. Since the start of construction on the North Kent project, 14 water wells have become turbid and undrinkable.
Mr. Speaker, we’ve seen the impact of pile driving into black shale from the North Kent project. Why is the minister allowing construction to continue there, and why is he jeopardizing the drinking water of another community by going forward with the Otter Creek project?
Hon. Glenn Thibeault: To the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Hon. Chris Ballard: I’m happy to speak in some generalities around the need for wind turbines, and the very vigorous process that our government puts in place to make sure that the turbines are sited safely and that there is good, strong consultation with the community.
Speaker, we take the concerns regarding the environment and human health very seriously. I’ll say that we adhere to a very strict renewable energy approvals process.
Thanks to clean air and clean energy—and let me speak to the fundamentals for a second—Ontario has saved more than $4 billion in annual health and environmental costs because of this government’s commitment to clean energy.
Unlike the PCs, we can’t sit idly by. Renewable energy projects are a necessity and a crucial part of our low-carbon carbon switch, and we’re not going to back down from our—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. I stand, you sit.
Mr. Monte McNaughton: Back to the Minister of Energy: These wind farms will forever end food production on some of the best agricultural land in our country. And we are talking about an environmentally sensitive area, home to 24 species at risk, and within a major flight path for migratory birds. It is fragmenting the bedrock, turning clear, clean water into dirty, undrinkable swill, yet the project is going ahead even though the government has suspended the large renewable procurement II process because there is no need for additional electricity.
When the minister made that announcement in September 2016, I said that North Kent 1 and Otter Creek should be cancelled as well. Had the minister cancelled these two projects, the long-term savings would amount to $570 million. If stopping turbine construction makes economic, environmental and public health sense, why would the Minister of Energy sign off on continuing to build industrial wind farms in my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Chris Ballard: Thanks for the opportunity to follow up on the North Kent wind farm. Again, I’m going to reiterate that our government takes these concerns regarding groundwater quality very seriously. The renewable energy approval process, in fact, requires these proponents to undertake extensive consultation with municipalities, indigenous communities and the public. Additionally, we have taken a very cautious, science-based approach when setting the standards for renewable energy projects in order to protect the health of the Ontario people.
Speaker, the proponent in this case has done extensive monitoring prior to construction, and we’re going to require them to continue to monitor the vibration data closely during construction and operation of the wind turbines. We require the company to conduct additional water quality assessments and we’re keeping an eye on this.
*WCO note: one of the key parts of the decision on the Ostrander Point wind power project, where the approval was rescinded by the Environmental Review Tribunal, is that wind power is not a “necessity” and does not trump everything. The approvals of wind power projects must achieve balance between the development of renewable energy and preservation of the environment.
As reports of contaminated well water in Chatham-Kent rise, the Ministry of the Environment is strangely silent. They can’t dodge this any longer
November 3, 2017
It must be getting harder and harder to work in Communications at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in Toronto: passing on all those media clips to management which then doesn’t respond, is not how they tell you things work in college or university.
Usually, when a company, or a government has a problem — especially with a public health issue — they meet it head on, and respond.
Not the MOECC.
A few months ago, we published a report that thousands of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines were being ignored by the Ministry, with the staggering figure of actually NO RESPONSE for more than 50% of the citizen complaints, and a resolution rate of 1 %.
And over the summer and into the fall, the reports of problems with well water in Chatham-Kent continue to mount, as residents link the failed wells to wind turbine operation and construction.
“Black water” and heavy sediment is being found in 14 water wells near the North Kent wind power project, now under construction, which residents say is linked to vibration from pile-driving for the turbine foundations.
They’re not the only ones saying that: geoscientists and hydrologists are worried too, with one retired professional actually saying, he couldn’t believe they hadn’t stopped construction to get to the bottom of this issue.
The wind power developer claims no responsibility, relying on a consultants’ report which says well water interference is impossible.
Really, said another geoscientist. Speaking at a public meeting last week in Wallaceburg (where the province is thinking of approving another wind power project on the very same geology), Keith Benn said, If you have a model with predictions that are being countered by facts and evidence, it’s the model that might be wrong, not the facts.
This is serious business and, believe it or not, it is even worse than the situation described here.
Residents say there have been problems with well water since the first North Kent power project began but because most of the people having problems were leaseholders who had signed contracts with non-disclosure clauses about negative wind turbine effects, the well water problems were not public. So, a potential public health problem has gone unreported, essentially because the government gives a pass on most things to the “clients,” the wind power developers.
The media is all over this story, with reports every week; residents are writing to the Ministry, complaining to the so-called “Spills” line, and even writing MInister Chris Ballard. Nothing but platitudes; promises to act, promises of testing, even, but no action.
Chatham-Kent’s Council is concerned, and worried about what a crisis in the water supply might mean for residents and taxpayers if the municipality is forced to supply municipal water to farms and homes formerly supplied by their own wells.
We think the Ontario government, and specifically this Ministry whose mandate it is to protect the environment and people’s health, should act.
But the Ministry has been notably Missing in Action.
The Auditor General for Ontario noted in her recent report that the government has hidden costs of electricity, and not created a fair cost reduction plan. Cancelling wind power contracts would be a good start, says Wind Concerns Ontario
Cancelling wind power contracts would bring real savings
The special report by Ontario’s Auditor General on the government’s Fair Hydro Plan not only stated concerns about the level of debt being incurred by the vote-getting “plan” it also contained this recommendation: the government should “use a financing structure to fund the rate reduction that is least costly for Ontarians.”
If the Ontario government was genuinely interested in reducing electricity bills for Ontario citizens, it would reduce costs.
It’s not doing that.
A case in point concerns the wind power projects given 20-year contracts in 2016, totaling $3.3 billion. Those wind power projects (Dutton Dunwich, The Nation, North Stormont, Otter Creek) will provide unnecessary intermittent power, and force industrial power plants on communities that are actively fighting them over environmental, health and economic concerns.
Cancelling other contracts not yet built, such as Amherst Island, Prince Edward County and North Kent, would save more than one billion, over 20 years.
Ontario has a surplus of power but more important, does not need more wind power which tends to be produced out of phase with demand. On the recently warm October 15th Sunday, for example, Ontario power demand was low, but we were forced to “constrain” almost record-breaking wind power production — we paid millions for power we didn’t need.
In fact, says a Commentary prepared for the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 per cent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted, because it is produced at night and in mild seasons. Very little of it reaches the urban areas that need power, yet the effects of industrial-scale wind power plants on rural communities are significant.
The Auditor General says the government is hiding the true cost of its politically motivated Fair Hydro Plan which pretends to bring a 25 per cent rate reduction, while actually putting off the costs to the future.
Ontario can make real savings in costs now, by cancelling contracts for unnecessary wind power.
Wind Concerns Ontario
This article appeared in Ontario Farmer, October 23, 2017.
October 15, 2017 was quite a windy Sunday. Being a mild fall day too, that meant Ontario’s demand for electricity was low according to the IESO’s Daily Market Summary. Total Ontario demand was only 313,000 MWh for the whole day.
Unfortunately for ratepayers, it was a beyond the norm windy day — industrial wind turbines spread throughout the province were spinning well beyond their yearly average of 29/30% of capacity.
According to the IESO’s daily generator report, the wind turbines could have supplied almost 84,000 MWh* of power, or about 27% of all the power consumed by Ontario’s ratepayers (approximately 83% of their capacity). As it turned out, IESO curtailed or did not accept 42,500 MWh for which wind developers were paid $120/MWh anyway, and the 41,200 MWh grid-accepted power generation got them the standard $135/MWh.
What the foregoing means is wind developers were paid approximately $10,660,000 for curtailed wind generation and grid-accepted power. That works out to a cost per MWh of $260 or 26 cents a kilowatt hour — almost double the current generation cost, for which 25% is being refinanced under the Fair Hydro Act.
As it turned out, the grid-accepted wind generation really wasn’t needed: as the IESO “Summary” report indicates, Ontario’s net exports averaged 2,110MW per hour or 50,640 MW at a negative price of $0.99. That means Ontario’s ratepayers picked up another $50K to provide our neighbours (principally Michigan and New York) with cheap power.
No doubt Ontario was also spilling hydro and steaming off Bruce Nuclear which ratepayers were also paying for on that windy October Sunday.
More proof that wind power provides costly, intermittent and unneeded power. More proof that the Green Energy and Economy Act should be tossed out!
“The Green Energy Act was the biggest con ever in Ontario” — MPP Todd Smith
October 16, 2017
Hundreds of community members in Prince Edward County marched down Picton Main Street yesterday to protest the “White PInes” wind power project, and the Ontario government’s wind power policy. The march was followed by a three-hour information session.
The project by Germany-based wpd was trimmed from 29 to 9 turbines in various appeals, but the developer is still proceeding despite questions as to whether it actually has a contract with the Ontario government, and whether the 9-turbine project makes any financial sense.
Among the speakers at the information session was Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, who reviewed the findings of the organization’s request for documents on reports of excessive wind turbine noise made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.
“We wondered, what happens to all the reports being made to the government? Here’s what we learned: The government does nothing,” Wilson said.
“This government has completely abdicated its role as a protector of the environment and people. Instead of functioning as a regulator, it is now a facilitator for huge multi-national corporations whose last concern is any benefit to the environment.”
Everybody knows there are health effects
Dr Robert McMurtry said adverse health effects related to wind turbine noise emissions, including inaudible noise and low-frequency noise, are disturbing, especially because both government and industry deny them. “Everyone’s pretending the emperor has clothes,” said Dr McMurtry, a member of the Order of Canada and a former Dean of Medicine. “There are adverse health effects and everybody knows it — that’s why we have setbacks in the first place.”
Other community members spoke on concerns for wildlife, heritage features (the nine turbines will surround the historic Loyalist settlement of Milford), and the effect on citizens’ water wells. While the power developer claimed there would be no problems as a result of sinking huge wind turbine foundations into the ground, which features fragile karst topography, Les Stanfield remarked that there are sinkholes all over the County, and there were concerns about the turbines’ effect on aquifers.
MPP Todd Smith said loudly, what no one had said was that the whole push for wind power and the Green Energy Act was “the biggest con job” ever in Ontario.” Obviously, he said, repealing the controversial act is mandatory.
Renowned vintner Norman Hardie said the power project “must not go ahead.” Eco-tourism, the County’s economy, and the entire character of the area would be irreparably damaged, he said.
Power not needed
The last speaker was Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff who said that the project must not proceed, and nothing less than 100-percent success in stopping it was acceptable. He questioned the contract with the IESO, and the feasibility of the project. “I can’t understand why [wpd] is doing this? Are they punishing our community for daring to oppose them?”
Wilson added to her presentation that at the time of the event, wind power was being constrained or held back at record levels in Ontario, according to IESO data for Sunday.
“That just adds insult to injury,” she said.
Residents last week filed notice of legal action against the Independent Electricity Systems Operator or IESO over the project, which they say has no legal contract. The first court date is November 17 in Picton. Donations accepted at the community group website.
“To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.” From the independent Wellington Times, a powerful overview of what the McGuinty-Wynne governments have done to Ontario while aiding huge corporations to build wind power plants
Mary Shelley is said to have conceived the story of Frankenstein, a manmade monster let loose upon the countryside, while under the influence of opium in the cold summer of 1816. The gothic horror story, it turns out, was the work of a dark imagination fuelled by opioids.
It begs the question: what was Kathleen Wynne and her government smoking when they let loose their own man-made monsters across rural Ontario—in the form of industrial wind developers and speculators?
Even if you buy the sentiment that their motivations were well-intentioned, the undeniable outcome of the Green Energy Act is that Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have spawned armies of amoral monstrous corporate creatures and have let them loose to roam unfettered across the province. To wreak havoc in rural communities. To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.
Worse, our government has paved the way, clearing hurdles and slashing regulations to enable these creatures to prey upon vulnerable communities, natural habitats and endangered species. Now they have lost control of their grotesque creations. Even Kathleen Wynne must know how this story ends.
Near Chatham, folks believe the wind developer working nearby has poisoned their wells—allowing toxins into their drinking supply. They have done the testing. They have spoken out. They have protested. Marched on Queen’s Park. Kathleen Wynne has ignored them.
Wynne, her government and her supporters comfort themselves believing the scourge they have unleashed—though ugly and abusive— is a necessary evil. That the greater good is being served. They ignore the folks holding up jars of black liquid, pleading with the province to test their water, drawn from wells that have become undrinkable since the wind developer began driving piles into the bedrock to secure its massive wind turbines. Even Chatham- Kent’s mayor has demanded Kathleen Wynne intervene to protect these residents. It has made no difference.
Left without the protection of the province—without the safeguards that would protect them from any other development— these folks took matters into their own hands. In August, they began blockading the construction site— neighbours joining together to form a line against the threat to their drinking water.
On Monday, in a cruel blow, the developers— a Korean conglomerate and its American partner—won a court injunction barring any further blockades of the project. The judge said he wasn’t trying to muzzle opponents, but to “prohibit unlawful acts”.
People have to prove their water has been poisoned
In Ontario’s perverse hunger for industrial wind turbines, it turns out Chatham-Kent residents must first prove they have been poisoned by the developer, before they may seek justice. By then, of course, the damage will have been done. Recourse will expensive and, for most, unattainable.
Four years ago, the giant American wind developer Next Era sued Esther Wrightman for defamation. On her website she had altered the company’s logo to NextError and Next Terror. They wanted the logos removed or they would litigate the mother of two young children into oblivion. All these years later, the legal action is still pending. Wrightman wakes up every morning with the weight of this action still weighing on her head.
In Prince Edward County, a wind developer has been barred from constructing a nine-turbine project near Milford between May 1 and October 15. This was done expressly to protect the nesting grounds and habitat of the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species in the province.
Nevertheless, crews have been busy these past few weeks clearing vegetation, preparing the site and delivering heavy equipment onto these protected lands. There are no consequences for ignoring the rules.
Families have left homes–no one will help
So, a developer ruins drinking water without penalty, another bullies a young mother into silence, and yet another crushes rules meant to save an endangered species. This is our Ontario. There are dozens more distressing stories just like these. Too many sad accounts of families forced to leave their homes because the noise and vibration from the massive machines proved intolerable.
No one is coming to help the folks in Chatham-Kent. No one from our government—those we entrust to protect us—is intervening between Next Era (market capitalization of $68 billion) and Esther Wrightman. And no one is coming to protect endangered species in South Marysburgh.
Wynne has lost control of her destructive and unscrupulous brutes. When the Liberal government eliminated the safeguards that once protected us from these threats, and cut municipalities and communities out of decision-making, they may have believed they were just streamlining processes. Instead, they unleashed wild dogs onto the Ontario landscape without oversight or the means to bring them back to heel.
Untethered by moral, ethical or community concerns, these corporate beasts consume and ravage everything they can get away with. Folks who have fought for years to protect the things our government was supposed to safeguard, have been left gasping in despair. Lacking legal remedies or protection, some have begun considering other means to protect their families, their communities and their land. If the government won’t protect them, they will do it themselves.
This is the horror Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have wrought.
Wynne government “moves the goalposts,” bends the rules to get wind power through … and nobody knows why, says prominent Prince Edward County businessman
October 3, 2017
One of the questions Wind Concerns Ontario routinely gets from the media, after we’ve detailed the lack of environmental benefit from industrial-scale wind power developments, the harm being done to the environment, and the physical harm being done by exposure to the noise emissions from wind turbines to some people, is WHY does the government persist in this policy, in the face of all the evidence — even just the questions — about it?
WHY, when the government admits it has a surplus of power (and is selling off wind power at a loss to other jurisdictions) is it continuing to sign contracts and grant approvals for new projects?
WHY, when the Minister of Energy has admitted there are problems and “sub-optimal siting” does the government have plans to inflict unwanted and unneeded wind power projects on more Ontario communities like Otter Creek, The Nation, North Stormont and Dutton Dunwich?
Our answer has been, there is something else going on here, agreements that have been made, contracts signed that we may never know about, that prevents the Ontario government from responding rationally.
That thought was echoed yesterday in an interview Jerry Agar of CFRB 1010 did with Norm Hardie, owner of the renowned Norman Hardie Wines in Prince Edward County.
On the sensible side, Hardie says in his interview, the government could pay $500,000 to get out of the White PInes contract and save $100 million in costs to electricity consumers … but it won’t. They know all the objections, Hardie says, but he can’t help but feeling “there is a back-handed deal …there is something creepy going on we will probably never know about … something is not right.”
Despite the money being lost, the damage to the environment, community and potentially to the local community in Prince Edward County for example, Hardie says, “they are intent on destroying us.”
The impact of the well above normal temperatures Ontario has been experiencing for the past several days in September was seen in hour 17 (5 pm) yesterday, September 25, 2017.
From all appearances, hour 17 set the record for high peak demand in the province for the current year as businesses and homes had air conditioners and fans blasting away, drawing power from the grid.
Peak demand for hour 17 was 21,639 MWh.
Nuclear and hydro along with gas generated 20,091 MWh during that 60 minutes and was supplemented by net imports of 1,221 MWh from Manitoba and Quebec.
Where were “renewables” (excluding hydro), wind, solar and biomass? Together, they generated a miserly 307 MWh. In fact, wind power generators probably consumed more then they contributed with a minuscule 67 MWh. That 67 MWh represented about 1.5% of their grid connected capacity of 4,213 MW.
Put another way, wind power contributed .3% of peak demand!
All this simply proves industrial wind turbines (IWT) are unreliable and intermittent. If they can’t be counted on when we need the power, why does our Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault and Premier Wynne continue to support them? Why not cancel contracts for wind power plants that have not commenced construction?
The time has come for the Ontario Liberal government to admit that industrial-scale wind turbines deliver nothing more than unreliable, intermittent power that must be backed up with reliable power in the form of nuclear, hydro and gas.
Scottish electricity customers are upset that they are paying millions to wind power producers not to produce — Parker Gallant says Ontario has that beat … by a long shot.
Here’s his latest on how Ontario pays millions (added to our electricity bills) to wind power producers, because wind power is produced when it’s not needed.
And the winner (loser) is … Ontario
A recent article appearing in Energy Voice was all about the costs of “constraint” payments to onshore industrial wind developments in Scotland. It started with the following bad news:
“According to figures received by Energy Voice, the cost of paying wind farm operators to power down in order to prevent the generation of excess energy is stacking up with more than £300million* paid out since 2010.” (£300 million at the current exchange rate is equal to about CAD $500 million. )
What Scotland refers to as “constrained” Ontario calls “curtailed,” but they mean exactly the same thing. Ontario didn’t start constraining/curtailing generation until mid-September 2013, or almost three full years after the article’s reference date for Scotland. Curtailment prevents the grid from breaking down and causing blackout or brownouts.
The article from Energy Voice goes on: “In 2016 alone, Scottish onshore wind farms received £69million in constraint payments for limiting 1,048,890MWh worth of energy”.
Ontario in 2016, curtailed 2,327,228 MWh (megawatt hours). That figure comes from Scott Luft who uses data supplied by IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) for grid-connected wind power projects and conservatively estimates curtailed wind for distributor-connected turbines to compile the information.
What that means: in 2016 it cost Ontario’s ratepayers CAD $$279.2 million** versus £69 million (CAD equivalent $115.2 million) for Scottish ratepayers. So, Ontario easily beat Scotland in both the amount of constrained wind generation as well as the subsidy cost for ratepayers who in both cases paid handsomely for the non-delivery of power!
The article went on to note: “By August 2017, the bill had already reached in excess of £55million in payments for 800,000MWh”!
Once again Ontario’s ratepayers easily took the subsidy title by curtailing 2.1 million MWh in the first eight months of the current year, coughing up over $252.5 million Canadian versus the equivalent of CAD $92 million by Scottish ratepayers.
In fact, since September 2013, Ontario has curtailed about 5.5 million MWh and ratepayers picked up subsidy costs of over $660 million.
Ratepayers in both Ontario and Scotland are victims of government mismanagement and wind power industry propaganda, and are paying to subsidize the intermittent and unreliable generation of electricity by industrial wind turbines.
(C) Parker Gallant
* One British Pound is currently equal to approximately CAD $1.67.
**Industrial wind generators are strongly rumored to be paid $120 per MWh for curtailed generation.