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.
From SooToday reaction to the Ontario government’s approval of the Goulais Bay wind power project.
Goulais wind farm approved, opponents consider next steps
Saturday, October 12, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
The Save Ontario’s Algoma Region (SOAR) group is clearly disappointed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) October 4, 2013 decision to approve construction of the Goulais Wind Farm project. A Renewable Energy Approval (REA) has been given to SP Development Limited Partnership to build, install, operate and eventually retire a renewable energy facility, consisting of 11 wind turbines , with a total capacity of 25 MW, in the unorganized Townships of Pennefather and Aweres. The wind facility will be connected to Great Lakes Power’s distribution system. The REA comes with a long list of conditions, which include requiring SP Development Limited to construct and install the facility within three years of the date of approval, compliance with the MOE’s noise emission limits, keep an eye on storm water management, sediment and erosion during and after construction, the effect of the project on wildlife (such as birds and bats), establish a community liaison committee with members of the public, and properly decommissioning of the facility upon its retirement. SOAR’s Executive Member and spokesperson Gillan Richards, in an e-mail to SooToday.com, stated: “SOAR and Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) will now consider what action to take in response to the Goulais Project Approval.” The group, if it decides to file an application to appeal the MOE’s Goulais Wind Farm project approval, must do so within 15 days. SOAR has long been opposed to the project, and has maintained that the whirring of wind turbines, for example, is detrimental to human health, and that the presence of more wind farms in Algoma would be an all-round disruption to the environment and wildlife in the area. Also ranking high among the group’s concerns is that, in its view, the project will create an eyesore on the area’s famous Group of Seven landscape, disturbing “the natural beauty of Algoma from industrial intrusion.” SOAR states the public in general has never been keen on wind turbine developments, claiming “Algoma residents and visitors are already annoyed and dismayed by the intrusion of the Prince Wind Farm turbines.” SOAR has also long insisted not enough public input has been gathered from the province and the developer regarding the Goulais Wind Farm project (along with other wind projects, proposed by other developers, for the Algoma region). The group agrees with criticism from The Fraser Institute (a Canadian think tank based in Vancouver) that forecasts Ontario’s energy prices will increase dramatically (40 to 50 percent) in coming years, putting the blame for that on the use of wind and solar farms, and insisting that wind turbines are simply inefficient in producing electricity. SOAR agrees with critics who state Ontario could have gone with cheaper alternatives, such as natural gas or nuclear power, when it sought to move away from coal-fired plants and brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009. The Ontario government has said the Green Energy Act, despite higher costs for electricity, will ensure “cleaner” electricity for future generations.
Here from The Sachem and Glanbrook Gazette, resident Betty Ortt writes a letter to the editor. We point out again that the Auditor General for Ontario noted in 2011 that NO cost-benefit analysis or business case was ever prepared for wind power in Ontario, and the impacts–both social and economic–have NEVER been assessed by the Ontario government.
Don’t taint my fond memories
A wind project is not a farm. A real farm produces food to feed our population and real farmers are stewards of their land. That name was coined by wind developers to make Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) sound acceptable to a farming community. The only thing turbines have to do with a farm is that they are taking up farmland. They are clearly industrial. Don’t taint my fond memories of being raised on a farm. The article said that they are sending “about” 124.4 mega watts (MW) of power to the grid. The descriptor “about” is definitely needed when production will be a far cry from that. According to the Auditor General’s 2011 Annual Report: “We analyzed the performance of all wind farms in Ontario in 2010 based on IESO data. Although the average capacity factor of wind throughout the year was 28 per cent, it fluctuated seasonally, from 17 per cent in the summer to 32 per cent in the winter.” One recent production example of NextEra’s project in Haldimand was Friday, October 4, 2013 when the IESO hourly generator report showed a range of 0-13 MW being produced each hour, far from 124 MW. As to the jobs wind projects create, as we saw in the article, the permanent jobs are few (seven) and other jobs were short term as we warned council in September 2011 when they passed the Vibrancy Fund agreement after hearing over 40 speakers until near midnight and much to the disgust of a packed council building. Mr. Hewitt once said that we would lose our passion of fighting the turbine issue after the last provincial election, but he was wrong. Council gave up. As to the economic benefits to the county, those too are short term. Did the CEO consider the economic losses to Haldimand? Our county is now contributing to the economic poverty of our province because of the government’s Green Energy Act with electricity prices that will keep going up and now property value losses. How much are short term economic benefits worth when some people and animals in Haldimand are already having health effects since the first project of turbines started up?
Here from the international energy industry magazine Recharge, is an interview with Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. Note the timetable for the large-scale procurement process, the fact that the government plans to continue with wind and solar, and there is no chance whatsoever of returning local land use planning power to Ontario’s communities.
Ontario’s governing Liberals had hoped that it would never happen. But it did.
On 19 December last year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the local-content requirement in the province’s landmark renewable-energy programme violated international trade laws. Canada appealed on Ontario’s behalf, but in early May, lost the case. The policy, which the Liberals say attracted about C$37bn ($35.9bn) of investment, created 30,000 jobs and contracted almost 8GW of renewable energy, would have to be changed. To avoid trade sanctions, Canada agreed to a 24 March 2014 deadline for the province to end discrimination against foreign suppliers for procurement of goods and services. The ruling, which is not retroactive, came at a politically delicate time for Ontario’s first female premier, Kathleen Wynne, who had formed a minority government only three months earlier, following the resignation of fellow-Liberal Dalton McGuinty. He had been the driving force behind the 2009 Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which linked feed-in-tariff (FIT) eligibility to local production of equipment — at least 60% local content for solar projects and 25% for wind. Already struggling to address economic, healthcare and other problems inherited from McGuinty, she now had to come up with a new strategy to advance her party’s green-energy ambitions while staying on the right side of international law. Meanwhile, critics were up in arms, demanding to know why the Liberals could not copy the likes of the EU and Japan, which — despite making the successful WTO complaint against Ontario — managed to create policies favouring local industries that did not get them into trouble. Wynne asked her energy minister, Bob Chiarelli, the former mayor of Ottawa, to spearhead the government’s response and chart a path forward. He wasted little time. Soon after the WTO decision, the government announced it would replace the FIT for wind and solar projects over 500kW with a competitive procurement process that FIT administrator, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), would devise. It also slashed domestic content criteria to a maximum of 25% for large renewables projects as an interim step towards WTO compliance.
At his constituency office in west Ottawa, Chiarelli tells Recharge that the OPA has submitted interim recommendations to him and that final guidelines are likely to be released in late October or early November. “We will then open procurement for large wind and large solar,” he says. (Separately, the province has also agreed to procure 800MW from small projects over the next four years.) The timing will also hinge on his ministry completing a review of the Long-Term Energy Plan adopted in 2010, which envisaged a need for 10.7GW of renewable-energy capacity by 2018. If all projects now awarded under the FIT’s 20-year contracts are completed, they commit the province to purchasing just under 5.8GW of wind and almost 2GW of solar power. “I don’t want to pre-empt the review, but it’s highly unlikely that solar and wind will not be continued in the system,” says Chiarelli. “It’s a question of how much and when.” Wynne’s cabinet must sign off on any proposed changes, which may include several new nuclear plants. “The big question is to what extent the WTO ruling will impact job creation? We’re assessing that,” Chiarelli says. The Liberals estimate their green polices created 31,000 jobs. McGuinty had promised 50,000 by 2012. Chiarelli acknowledges that the local renewable-energy supply chain will now be under pressure. “Some manufacturers will need to sharpen their pencil and become more competitive,” he says. That includes the many foreign companies lured to the fast-growing Ontario market amid expectations they would receive preferential treatment for the foreseeable future. The WTO action will also accelerate the current trend of lower green-energy prices in the province. Since 2010, cheaper component imports have helped reduce average prices for wind and solar projects by 15% and 50% respectively. The political opposition blames sector subsidies for the perceived high costs of Ontario’s electricity, which have been rising steadily since 2008. Jacob Andersen, who heads Siemens’ wind operations in Canada, is unperturbed by whatever new rules for procurement may emerge. “Any manufacturer will need to be competitive regardless of what the political structure is,” he says. “We will be.” Earlier this year, Siemens opened a plant near the quaint town of Tillsonburg, Ontario, that produces 49-metre rotor blades for 2.3MW wind turbines and 55-metre ones for 3MW direct-drive machines. Both are produced using its proprietary one-piece casting process, which utilises fibreglass-reinforced epoxy. “Given the size of these components, the fact you have local manufacturing is a sure cost benefit,” Andersen adds. The bustling industrial facility looks out of place in a surrounding rural landscape of cornfields, wooded countryside and small homes. Formerly an automotive parts plant that had been vacant since 2008, it now employs 250 people, with more being hired. About 133km to the east, near the city of Welland, REpower recently brought a blade plant on line, its first in North America. For now, the 150 or so workers will fabricate 45-metre blades for the 2.05MW MM92 turbine. Plans call for equipping it to produce 59.8-metre blades for the 3MW M122 low-wind-speed turbine. “We are now fast-tracking to bring it to North America and will launch it in Ontario,” Helmut Herold, chief executive for Canada, tells Recharge. Canada has become a core market for REpower, which has won initial orders in Ontario after huge success in Quebec. The company invested more than C$10m in the plant because it thought the Ontario wind market would develop favourably in the future. Herold believes that remains the case and that the government is committed to supporting a robust wind sector.
Nevertheless, he is concerned that challenges could result if the market is completely open to competition. That would allow companies to be aggressive with pricing if they use a supply chain outside Ontario. “At the same time, I hope there will be some kind of appreciation for companies who have invested so far in employing people in this province,” he adds. Another big change for the industry is that wind developers will now be required to engage aboriginal communities, stakeholders and municipalities to identify appropriate locations for projects, with siting requirements taking local needs and considerations into account. Developers cannot qualify to bid for a project without a “significant arrangement” with a host municipality. “We’re not looking at the world with rose-coloured glasses,” says Chiarelli. “The Green Energy Act was a tremendous success story, but there were things that needed adjusting. One of those was siting of some renewable energy.” Under the FIT, developers were given contracts without pre-arranged sites. They were required to consult with municipalities, but many communities complained they were given little input. “It was not a strong regime, if I can put it that way,” Chiarelli comments. However, the rule change does not constitute a veto over projects, which is what municipalities that oppose wind development are demanding. “We can’t have an electricity generation and transmission system that way,” says Chiarelli. The McGuinty government’s decision to wrest land-use planning power for large renewable-energy projects from Ontario’s 444 municipalities helped galvanise what is now the largest rural anti-wind movement in North America. At least 62 municipalities have passed resolutions declaring that they are not willing hosts for wind farms. “It’s a strong minority, but a minority,” says Chiarelli. “There is still a lot of tremendous support for wind and solar.” Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a non-profit coalition based in east Toronto, says the Liberals wanted to quickly bypass the patchwork of municipal regulations in the province, viewing them as an obstacle to wind development. Wilson says some groups in her non-profit coalition don’t oppose renewable energy. “It’s the way it was done. No local cost-benefit analysis. The impact of large-scale industrial wind development was never studied in any way,” she alleges. There are more than 1,200 turbines in Ontario. Opponents link turbines to sleep deprivation, and assert they have destroyed house prices or made property difficult to sell. In an ugly turn, so-called “wind wars” have erupted in several regions — rural landowners filing lawsuits against their neighbours who agree to accept turbines, fraying the traditionally close social fabric in farming communities. To ease hostilities, the ministry is retroactively changing property tax rules to give municipalities that have or will host wind turbines a larger slice of the fiscal pie. It will also give special consideration to projects where developers work in partnership with districts, municipalities, hospitals, schools or universities. This would help broaden their tax base. Despite the ups and downs of green-energy politics, Chiarelli remains optimistic about wind and solar. “It’s exciting,” he says. “The stakeholders from these sectors are reasonably happy with what we have been able to create so far.” Ontario’s installed capacity Nuclear 2002: 8.74GW | 2012: 12.998GW Hydro 7.615GW | 7.939GW Coal 7.564GW | 3.293GW Oil/gas 3.780GW| 9.987GW (gas only) Biomass/landfill gas 66MW | 122MW Wind zero | 1.511GW Note: Data omits generators that operate within local distribution service areas, except for those that participate in the Independent Electricity System Operator-administered market
From Sarnia area local business paper First Monday, an opinion piece by Brian Keelan. (Who needs correcting on the notion that wind power generation is “carbon free—wind needs a real source of power such as natural gas behind it.) We especially appreciate Mr Keelan’s observation that the Liberal government’s energy policies have effectively resulted in “civil war” in Ontario. Read on…
I am furious green
Here in Sarnia Lambton we have been hearing that Nova is considering building a new polyethylene plant to go along with the three plants they already have (and which employ about 830 of Sarnia/Lambton’s taxpayers in what are widely believed to be great jobs). But… that polyethylene plant is also being considered for the Gulf coast of the USA due to a much better energy price; instead of paying 3.5 to 4 cents a kilowatt hour down there, the Ontario Government is asking them to pay over 10 cents a kilowatt hour up here… and these guys use a lot of kilowatts. This project is therefore at risk due to the high cost of energy here in Ontario so, Nova – along with the residents of Sarnia/Lambton – is looking to the Ontario government to do something about it. But the Ontario government is reluctant to do anything since if they give Nova a ‘break,’ they are just going to tack the ‘break’ on to all the citizens of Ontario’s electricity bills They don’t want the voters in their precious 416 and 905 area codes upset because the government caters to them due to their voting power. Why give a break for those of us out here in the 519 area code who don’t regularly vote for them? Thus we are being punished and/or ignored. Nova has what I think is a neat way to solve this dilemma without the Province of Ontario having to do anything more than use their head. Let them build their own electrical generation plant right here in Sarnia to power their three existing plants plus the new polyethylene plant and we get a new power plant to boot this means more good jobs and taxpayers for Sarnia/Lambton. But the fly in the ointment is that Nova would have to cross a public road with their transmission lines and they are legally forbidden to do that since that is the “domain” of Ontario Power Generation who in effect are telling them, “We know you can do it more efficiently than we can but we need you to pay the going rate.” At this point I’d like to tell Kathleen and her crew something my dad told me many, many years ago that served me well: “You’re a fool if you think anyone is ever going to pay even five cents for the privilege of doing business with you. Sure, your service has to be great and so do your people and your products but if you aren’t there when it comes to price, you are dreaming.” I don’t even know who to get mad at for that since our electricity costs involve so much voodoo math. As simply as I can figure it: our rates are determined by the Ontario Energy Board (the OEB) who regulate the Time Of Use plan (the TOU) as well as the Regulated Price Plan (the RPP) to determine our electricity rates. The basic cost of electricity consists of two elements; the Hourly Ontario Electricity Price (the HOEP) which comes from Ontario Power Generation (the OPG) and a vague catch-all factor known as the Global Adjustment (the GA). The GA is where OPG would add the cost of the price-break they would give to Nova (if they want the business). By law, OPG can only make this GA/HOEP price adjustment twice a year and they don’t even have to raise rates unless they really need the money. Sadly for us, they really do have to do it because the Ontario government is way too deep in their own bottomless money pit to help them out. But does it really matter where the money that the OEB gets comes from anyway? “Ask not from whom the money comes… it comes from thee stupid.” While they rob Peter to pay Paul and then rob Paul to pay Peter back, it will ultimately be passed on to you (thee) and me and then our kids as we try to get out of this financial quagmire due in large part to Ontario’s financially flawed Green Energy policies which have led us to this Financial Energy Crisis or as I like to call it, the FEC.
Shelburne has been living with industrial wind turbines since 2006 so when the people there say wind power is affecting communities negatively, they have a point–they know what damage has been done. Now, the Shelburne mayor is reacting to the government’s plan to pay for curtailed production. If you can cancel gas plants, he says… Here is the Orangeville Banner story.
Shelburne mayor asks premier to cancel wind turbine projects
Wind turbine projects should be cancelled in the same manner as power plants in the Greater Toronto Area, according to Shelburne Mayor Ed Crewson.
At county council on Thursday (Sept. 12), Crewson urged his fellow councillors to support a motion asking Premier Kathleen Wynne to cancel wind projects still in the development stage and reimburse investors.
His motion, which will appear on the county’s next council agenda, follows an announcement from the province that wind farm operators will be paid to not generate electricity.
“Someone’s got to say ‘This has got to stop’,” Crewson said. “This is not viable. It is not sustainable.”
Since 2006, Ontario has generated a surplus of electricity and wind farm operators were paid for power regardless of need.
As of Sept. 11, when supply exceeds demand, wind farm operators will be paid a reduced rate to cease generating power.
Crewson questions why the province is allowing new projects to develop, despite the lack of need for more energy.
“We don’t need the electricity and we’re paying a premium to get it,” Crewson said. “It’s our province and it’s our money.”
If the province is able to spend more than $500 million on cancelling power plants in Mississauga and Oakville, the government should do the same for project such as Dufferin Wind in Melancthon, according to Crewson.
“They should get paid too,” Crewson said. “The people who’ve invested the money to date should be compensated as those who invested money in constructing the gas powered facilities.”
Currently, wind power generates about 2,100 megawatts of electricity province-wide. However, that number will nearly triple when all wind projects connect to the grid.
“The cost of this is going to be just incredible as all these wind farms come into production,” Crewson said. “We’re the ones paying the cost.”
Dufferin Wind spokesperson Connie Roberts declined to comment on Crewson’s motion before receiving a copy from the county.
However, the company planning to construct 49-turbines in Melancthon endorsed the province’s announcement.
“Regardless of which political wind you listen to, the Ministry of Energy is ‘getting it right’ and making sure wind energy plays its part,” Roberts said in an email to The Banner.
She added reduced payments during times of oversupply are “an effective tool” for gas-fired, nuclear, and hydroelectric suppliers.
“The inclusion of wind energy as a dispatchable source of generation in the province’s electrical supply is a smart choice for Ontario and Ontarians,” Roberts said.
According to the Ministry of Energy, paying wind farm operators to not generate electricity will save Ontario at least $200 million every year.
“Supply and demand conditions vary throughout the course of a day,” said ministry spokesperson Andrea Arbuthnot in an email to The Banner. “We have to ensure that our electricity system is flexible enough to respond to changing conditions.”
The Ontario Power Authority will continue to honour existing renewable energy contracts to fill a possible upcoming void.
“Wind generators provide power for 20 years and will be an essential source of electricity for Ontario during the nuclear refurbishment period,” Arbuthnot said.
Here from the Manitoulin Expositor, a nice summary of recent Ontario government announcements and policy context. Manitoulin, or Great Spirit Island, is currently being scarred by wind power development.
ONTARIO September 18 —Ontario’s Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli announced last Wednesday that the province would begin to pay wind power generators not to produce energy in an attempt to save taxpayers upwards of $200 million annually.
Since 2006, Ontario has seen a surplus in energy but until September 11 the government has paid for all generated electricity, needed or not. Paying producers not to do just that is nothing new for the Ontario government as it currently pays Bruce Power to not churn out energy in times of surplus. “It’s unbelievable,” said Ray Beaudry, spokesperson for the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA) from his home just below the site of the 24-turbine wind development on McLean’s Mountain currently under construction. “The province is broke and hydro rates continue to escalate. Why are they still proceeding with this mandate?” Mr. Beaudry questioned. “The province is climbing into energy poverty.” He said he is doubtful the government will cancel any of the green energy projects it has signed contracts with for fear of political retribution similar to the Ontario Liberals’ gas plant scandal. “There’s no escape clause to get out of it and it’s the consumers that pay,” Mr. Beaudry added.
“It’s a flawed energy policy, but they can’t get out of them,” he continued. “It’s just not economically viable to continue with these projects.”
Peter Tabuns, NDP energy critic, told The Expositor that last week’s announcement brings wind in line with nuclear, as so far this year Bruce Power has been paid $60 million to not produce energy. “Liberals have heavily overbuilt wind generation,” he said, noting that he doubted whether the $200 million was just for wind, when one factors in the $60 million figure for Bruce Power alone. There are currently 2,000 MW of wind in the system that has a capacity of 4,000 MW, he added. “I think they’re building a lot more wind and nuclear than we need,” Mr. Tabuns said. He said that one day, some of the province’s reactors will come to their end, either becoming too expensive to retrofit or simply in need of shutting down with the reduction in power finally meeting the province’s demands.
“New rules from the Independent Electricity Operator enabling the “dispatch” of wind generation in Ontario’s electricity system came into effect on September 11, 2013,” Beckie Codd-Downey, press secretary for the Ministry of Energy, told The Expositor in a statement prepared to answer questions posed by the paper. “The new rules allow wind turbines to be turned off when their generation is not needed. These new rules will provide significant ratepayer savings. For example, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator, making wind dispatchable is expected to save Ontario ratepayers at least $200 million every year.”
“Most other sources of energy in the province already have this dispatch ability,” Ms. Codd-Downey continued. “Because supply and demand conditions vary throughout the course of a day, we have to ensure that our electricity system is flexible enough to respond to changing conditions. That includes some compensation to power producers—including nuclear, gas, biomass, and wind—at times when their generation is not required. This approach is used in other jurisdictions and will help ensure that Ontarians continue to benefit from a reliable and clean supply of electricity.” “Investments in renewable technology, like hydro, wind and solar, have helped the province to move away from dirty coal, protect our environment and improve our health,” she added. “The excellent supply conditions in Ontario today are in stark contrast to the shortages witnessed about a decade ago.” “As of June 2013, the Ontario Power Authority was managing 123 wind contracts, representing a total of over 5,700 MW,” Ms. Beckie Codd-Downey continued. “Of this total, 58 contracts (representing over 2,100 MW) were in service and 65 contracts (representing over 3,500 MW) were under development. The OPA will continue to honour existing renewable energy contracts.” “Well don’t worry, they weren’t generating much anyway,” joked Vic Fedeli, Progressive Conservative energy critic and Nipissing MPP. “This is a complete and utter admission that the Green Energy Act is a complete failure,” he added. “They’re trying to alleviate the criticism and account for the fact that we’ve paid so much money to the States. Half a billion we’re paying to have that surplus power.” “This is just an absolutely ridiculous new ruling that’s going to cost money,” Mr. Fedeli said. “I was on Manitoulin with my megaphone, I know the community does not want those turbines—they’re an awful blight on the landscape,” he continued. “There’s nothing green about the Green Energy Act. Water power, the cleanest power there is, has been cut from 25 percent to 22 percent with an added three percent of wind. After billions of dollars spent, 25 percent of the total is still green energy—nothing has changed.” “And when they say they’re going to save $200 million, don’t believe it—we don’t believe any amounts the Liberals give us,” Mr. Fedeli concluded, pointing to the gas plant scandals plaguing the province’s leaders. Minister Chiarelli has answered Mr. Fedeli’s criticism by saying that Ontario is making a net profit of up to $6 billion a year on importing and exporting electricity, a turnaround from a decade ago when the province paid $500 million to import power because it didn’t have enough to meet demand. While it isn’t unusual for neighbouring jurisdictions to sell each other electricity, Ontario would frequently have to pay Quebec or New York State to take the excess power off its hands. Alicia McCutcheon
On November 23, 2010, Ontario’s then Minister of Energy, Brad Duguid, issued a directive via an Order In Council to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), with instructions on the “smart grid”:
“…it is desirable that the Province and the Ontario Energy Board move forward together with a plan to implement the advanced information exchange systems and equipment that together comprise the Smart Grid (“Smart Grid”), as defined in the amendments to the Electricity Act, 1998 made by the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009…”
The Duguid directive was a direct result of the Dwight Duncan directive of 2004 to the OEB instructing them to arrange the installation of “smart meters” throughout the province.
Co-incidentally(noted by Tom Adams), the Duguid directive is dated the same day as the e-mail exchange between Alicia Johnston (formerly a senior political staffer for Energy Minister Brad Duguid, later promoted to the Premier’s Office) and Ben Chin (a senior Ontario Power Authority executive).That e-mail exchange contained Ms Johnston’s suggestion to engage Tyler Hamilton, acontributor to Toronto Star, as an “expert” to counter theAdams and Gallant duo who “are killing me” ; Chin agreed. Shortly after, Hamilton received a contract from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for a report on the smart grid.
The fact is, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO had already started work on the “smart grid” as noted in the Financial Post article on July 6, 2010 — costs of development were estimated at $1.6 billion.IESO had awarded a contract to IBM according to a January 15, 2007 press release; the purpose of the contract was defined as:“the development and operation of Ontario’s Meter Data Management/Repository (MDM/R).”
A culture of conservation
The MDM/R is explained as: “a core part of Ontario’s Smart Metering Initiative to drive a culture of conservation, enabling the billing of Time-of-Use rates and encouraging consumers to shift more of their energy use to off-peak periods.” The initiative would apply to 4.7 million customers of local distribution companies, involving more than “100 million transactions every day.“
More than six years later, that “Repository” has yet to generate reports on either shifting consumer habits or “imbedded generation.” (Embedded or distributed generation is usually a small scale production of power connected within the distribution network and not having direct access to the transmission network. These generators are typically located close to the electricity consumer.)
But that hasn’t stopped IESO from awarding IBM yet another five-year contractfor $68.5 million for the same “repository” with an option to extend the contract seven to ten years. With an estimated 100 million data feeds daily from “smart meters” one would expect that data to be accessible to determine what production comes from embedded generators such as rooftop or ground-mounted solar, to reinforce the “culture of conservation” and identify shifts in consumer habits.
Is this a missed opportunity for a cost/benefit analysis?
On July 16 of this year, Energy MinisterBob Chiarelli arranged a press release about conservation and claimed that “Ontario has saved billions of dollars through conservation, and we have a clear opportunity to do more. By investing in conservation before new generation, where cost-effective, we can save ratepayers money and give consumers new technology to track and control energy use.”
What caught my eye in that press release were the endorsements: they were not from the usual climate change chorus such as Environmental Defence, CAPE,or the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. The last one was“Sheldon Levy, President, Ryerson University.”What would possess the President of Ryerson University to jump on this band wagon?
A month later, we have the answer: on August 26, 2013a news release announced that Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Energy(CUE) “will build an innovative smart grid laboratory” with support from the province.The press release doesn’t say how much the province is coughing up but does say “Building a smarter grid is an important part of the Ontario government’s plan to modernize the electricity system in the province and provide clean, reliable and affordable power to consumers.”One can assume President levy’s endorsement of the July conservation announcement was sought by the Ministry as a condition of support forthe smart grid laboratory.CUE was launched in 2010 with $7 million in grants from taxpayer-owned Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and the Ontario Power Authority.
AGlobe and Mail article dated October 17, 2012, called “The tricky business of funding a university” carried the following comments about Ryerson’s CUE:
“Some schools have tiptoed the line successfully. Toronto’s Ryerson University launched its Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) two years ago using $7-million in contributions from three partners – Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and the Ontario Power Authority – and is now hoping to enlist new collaborators such as Siemens and General Electric.”
It appears that President Levy knows exactly how to “tiptoe the line.” CUE’s intentions to collaborate with GE and Siemens are also interesting.An announcement by Minister Chiarelli on July 2, 2013indicates that the $50-million “Smart Grid” fund has already provided grants to GE, Siemens and IBM.
Just asking: did the grants to GE and Siemens carry a proviso that they collaborate with CUE and did they both seek those grants?It is not clear why IBM would need a grant as they have been awarded two long-term, multi-million dollar contracts from IESO.The press release indicates the IBM grant was to create a centre “that will use and analyze smart meter data” which is what they are already supposed to be doing for IESO under the terms of the contract(s)!
Government grants to huge corporations
So, we hand out grants to multi-billion dollar corporations such as GE, Siemens and IBM andaward them government contracts.The first two entities are entrenched in the renewable energy business (turbines and blade manufacturing) so, to an extent they are dependent on commitments to more wind power by the Ministry of Energy. And, IBM won two contracts related to the data analysis of 4.7 million smart meters installed throughout the province.
(I checked the Ontario Lobbyist Registry and could only find GE with registered lobbyists.)
As noted above, the original estimate to create the smart grid was $1.6 billion, to be paid by Ontario’s ratepayers.IESO stick-handled the first smart grid rate application through the OEB and ratepayers have paid for it since May 1, 2013.It is included, but hidden, with the delivery costs charged by your local distribution company (LDC).It is a charge of .79 cents per month and referred to as a “Smart Metering Entity charge.”Your LDC will collect this for the next five and a half years.Doing the math on this rate hike indicates that it will cover $245 million of that $1.6 billion —so be prepared for further “hidden” increases as spending is ramped up.
As noted, the MDM/R definition it is really all about conservation and enabling those 72 LDCs to bill on a Time-of-Use basis.Those “smart meters” and “smart grid” will cost ratepayers $4 billion and will not produce one kilowatt of new power.I suspect that Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller doesn’t consider the above costs or the costs of the smart meters, when he presents his annual report to the Minister of the Environment.The Commissioner’s cost/benefit study uses only the annual spending of the Ontario Power Authority (media advertising, free fridge pickup, coupons to purchase CFL bulbs, etc.) which paints the cost of “conservation” as only three cents per kilowatt hour.
In addition, a posting on Scott Luft’s website indicates that time-of use pricing has shifted consumers’ energy use to what used to be “off-peak” periods (noted as an objective of the MDT/R). As a result, those periods have now become “peak” demand periods for ordinary consumers, beginning at 7 PM, rather than mid-day.Ontario’s ratepayers are now trained to eat our supper and wash our clothes later, not because we want to, but because electricity has become so costly we only use it during the off-peak hours!
Perhaps the Dalton McGuinty government should have simply doubled the price of electricity when they came to power in 2003 and we would have immediately started to conserve.Think of the money we could have saved, the countryside we would not have despoiled with industrial wind turbines, the harm to health not caused, the birds and bats not killed, and the property values that would nothave fallen!
Too bad politicians don’t grasp the simple law of supply and demand.
September 11, 2013
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.
Here from the Guardian an interesting report from Australia: almost no mention of renewable sources of power, plenty of focus on fossil fuels, a promise to look into thorium as a power source, and once again, a promise to conduct a health study into turbine noise.
Coalition energy document focuses almost entirely on fossil fuels
Only reference to Australia’s $20bn renewable industry is repeat of promise to hold another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms
The Coalition on Thursday unveiled its new energy and resources document, which focuses almost entirely on fossil fuel developments, promising to restore coal-fired power stations to profitability, boost exploration for oil and gas, and to produce another “white paper” on energy. Other proposals in the document prepared by opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane include an investigation into the use of thorium as a potential energy source of the future, and support mechanisms for the use of LNG as a transport fuel. “Australians have a choice between a Coalition government that will give industry policy certainty and stability or a Labor government putting investment, jobs and economic growth at risk with erratic policies and taxation burdens on Australia’s most important industry,“ the document says. However, the only other reference to the country’s $20bn renewable industry is the repeat of a promise made last December to hold yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms, and confirmation of a previously leaked commitment to require “real time” monitoring of wind turbine noise – a move that wind energy groups say would involve “crippling” costs. There is no mention of renewables – least of all the “solar revolution” that state energy ministers admit is sweeping the country. However, separate costing documents reveal sharp cuts to renewable support measures. This includes stripping the Australian Renewables Energy Agency of $150m over three years to fund the Coalition’s million solar roofs program, cutting a planned $40m program to support geothermal and ocean energy developments in regional towns, and cutting $185m from a “connecting renewables” program designed to support transmission infrastructure for renewables. The million solar roofs program – targeted for low income earners – will now feature a $500 rebate instead of a $1,000 rebate because of the fall in the cost of solar PV modules. On wind, the energy document – in an apparent gesture towards the anti-wind members of its constituency – says: “Some members of public have serious concerns over the potential impacts of wind farms on the health of people living in their vicinity. “The lack of reliable and demonstrably independent evidence on the subject of wind farms both adds to those concerns and allows vested interests on either side of the debate to promulgate questionable information to support their respective cases. “We will implement a program to establish real-time monitoring of wind farm noise emissions to be made publicly available on the internet.” The renewables industry has previously said that real-time monitoring would impose unbearable costs on the wind industry, and would be almost useless because of the inability to separate other noise in real-time. Despite the fact that there have been 19 separate studies into wind farm health, including one by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Coalition said it would establish either an independent NHMRC research program or an independent expert panel to examine and determine any actual or potential health effects of wind farms. A previous study by the NHMRC in 2010 found that “there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines”. A Senate inquiry into wind farm health fell largely along party lines, although it said it was unable to establish a direct link between ill health and the noise generated by wind farms. The Coalition has said that the inquiry would be made in response to demands from anti-wind senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon, who may hold the balance of power in a new Senate. “This panel will be modelled on the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development,” it says. The new energy white paper will address issues of “energy security” and transparency that the Coalition says had not been addressed in the previous document. It would also investigate the role of alternative transport fuel sources, including but not limited to biofuels, LNG, CNG and LPG, and another white paper would look at how the government would support Australia’s “world leading” expertise in petroleum and mining services industries. The document says the Coalition would look into formalising the sale of uranium to India, and would also examine the potential use of thorium as an energy source, noting that Australia possesses an estimated 18.7% (489,000t) of the world’s identified resources. “The primary source of thorium in Australia and globally is the mineral monazite. Thorium can be used as an alternative source of fuel for energy generation and possesses an energy content that can be utilised almost in its entirety,” it says. Thorium is often touted as a future energy source, although most experts say it is decades away from deployment. Among other initiatives, the Coalition says it will provide $100m in incentives to boost mineral and petroleum exploration, and would convene an “urgent meeting” of state governments, gas explorers and producers and gas consumers to set in place “a workable gas supply strategy for the East Coast gas market to the year 2020”. This follows widespread warnings of a sharp jump in gas prices as the LNG terminal in Queensland begins exports, and of a potential gas shortage in some areas such as NSW. The Coalition document noted that electricity generators across Australia have faced “huge losses” in value thanks to the carbon tax. It said these losses meant higher costs for consumers and taxpayers, although it didn’t explain how. “The O’Farrell government has made it clear that its black coal-fired power stations will suffer a loss in value of at least $5 billion because of the carbon tax,” it said. “This is a cost that will be paid by New South Wales taxpayers already struggling with rising cost of living pressures.” Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables initiative says the anti-wind farm stance of some Coalition members is out of touch with mainstream views. “All available public polling shows strong public support for wind farms,” says Ewbank. “The Coalition desperately needs to make a wind energy friendly policy announcement to reaffirm its commitment to Australia’s most affordable renewable energy source.” • Giles Parkinson is editor of RenewEconomy.com.au
Three bills in three weeks from Hydro One and a new line on the bill: “Miscellaneous Adjustment” got this writer wondering, why?The first bill came with an insert with the heading “Important Information about your enclosed Hydro One bill” and went on to explain that after they had “changed the meter at your premises, we experienced an issue which prevented the data from your meter from being processed in a timely manner in our system.”The meter they changed was a “smart meter” Hydro One installed a few years ago, so I assume this is a “smarter” meter.Calling the number on the insert allowed me to confirm with Hydro One that the meter change was due to a “communication problem.”
The upsetting part of the final bill is that when the all-in price of my power is calculated (including the costs of electricity, delivery, regulatory and debt retirement charge) it turned out to be 29 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) and when I looked at my bill from November 2008 the all in charge was 16.5 cents a kWh.So in less than five years, the price had risen by 81%.
We’re doing our best to be responsible power consumers: we consumed less power than before and 71% of the billed electricity was in “off-peak” hours.
If one looks back this is what then Premier McGuinty said in his Throne speech of October 12, 2005 about smart meters: “Consumers can look forward to getting smart meters that will help them save money by telling them when they can pay less.”
An 81-% increase? Sounds like another broken government promise!
Those who have Hydro One as their local distribution company (LDC) will recall that only a few months ago, they sent another insert about a “new billing system”which allows them to bill on a “real time” basis.In effect this was a $160-million grab from ratepayers, perhaps to ensure their profits grow and that they can continue to pay dividends to the Province ($370 million in 2012).Profitability however, doesn’t cover off employee pension and benefit requirements as noted by DBRS, the Canadian bond rating agency, who listed Hydro One as # 8 on their recent list of worst funded pensions in Canada. Perhaps they should be funding their pension fund instead of making big dividend payments to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, but that might force Finance Minister Sousa to make some tough spending decisions.
My comments on “smart meters” are not new: back in July 2010I pointed out that in a 3,400-page submission by Hydro One for a rate increase, the installed cost per smart meter was $700.54. That was confirmed by an exchange with a Hydro One officer.Now, the smart meters are having to be replaced? And not for the first time: Hydro One has needed to replace smart meters back in 2010 when the Newmarket Eracarried an article about meter replacement in Keswick, Sutton and Mount Albert. My suspicion is that the form letter in our recent bill wasn’t the only one: who else in Prince Edward County and other parts of the province got it?
So, now, one wonders about the promises made for those smart meters. At $700.54 cents per meter the cost of replacing the old analog meter at our place is now $1,400.00; the Hydro One 2012 Annual Report indicates they are charging $1.52 per month as a recovery cost.At that rate, it will take them 76 years to recover their costs. Will Hydro One be spending hundreds of millions each year on “smart meters” instead of upgrading the important infrastructure such as transmission lines, transformers, etc.?
An interesting story recently came out of Germany: the German Federal Ministry of Economics published a studyby Ernst & Young which basically concluded, no rollout for smart meters.Why? Ernst & Young did a cost/benefit study and concluded:
“The study comes to the conclusion that smart meters in particular for small consumers are not cost-efficient, as the potential savings would be well below actual costs of smart meters and their operation.”
Cost-benefit analysis and other studies: not necessary for decisions by the Ontario government
In Ontario we seem to do things differently as was pointed out by the Auditor General in his 2011 report. Jim McCarter said that the initiatives behind the Green Energy and Green Economy Act were not based on a cost-benefit analysis.While not speaking directly to the issue of “smart meters” and their installation throughout the province this writer believes that the conclusions of a cost-benefit analysis would have reached the same endpoint as the Ernst and Young study completed for Germany.
When the McGuinty government gave its Throne Speech in 2005, the Ontario Energy Minister (Dwight Duncan) had already issued a directive to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) dated July 14, 2004to Howard Wetson, Chair, of the OEB (the Ontario Power Authority did not exist at that time) which instructed them to “implement a plan to achieve the government’s objectives for the deployment of smart electricity meters.”
No cost-benefit study was considered and Minister Duncan’s directiveto the OEB simply had to be “formalized” before the media picked up on the government’s manipulation of the electricity sector without going through the legislature or a hearing before a legislative committee! With a single signature Duncan committed Ontario’s ratepayers to pick up a bill for at least $2 billion!
Several years after that 2005 Throne Speech and the Dwight Duncan directive, Tyler Hamilton (the “expert” commentator as noted by Alicia Johnston in e-mails recently released by the government and commented on by Tom Adams) wrote an article for the October 7, 2010Toronto Star.The article was all about “smart meters” and the wonders they would perform for all of the ratepayers in Ontario.It contained quotes from an IBM “technology consultant” including this one:“ ‘Right now, Ontario is a world leader in the smart grid and smart meter systems,’ he explained. ‘Dozens of utilities around the world are watching what’s going on here. In a way, we have become a micro lab for the rest of the world.’ ”
Later on in the article Hamilton makes this comment:“With smart meters…we have a tool that helps us to at least manage our electricity bill and help offset electricity rate increases.”
Did Tyler Hamilton, the “expert” commentator, really understand what he was endorsing? I believe most ratepayers in the province have received absolutely no benefit from either “smart meters” or the “smart grid” –neither one has done nothing to improve the aging infrastructure in the Province or “help offset electricity rate increases.”
Germany, whom we copied on the FIT and MicroFIT programs apparently didn’t see it with the clarity of Tyler Hamilton or that IBM technology consultant.
Mr. McGuinty is now at Harvard and presumably living in Massachusetts where the average cost of power is about half of what I am being charged. I wonder if he and former Minister Duncan now appreciate the “green” mess they created.
Worse, power utilities around the world must now be laughing up their sleeve at the wasted money Ontario’s ratepayers are forced to absorb.The “microlab” referenced by the IBM technology consultant has turned out instead to be an incinerator for our hard earned dollars!
September 7, 2013
Next time, we will look at the “smart grid”
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent policies of Wind Concerns Ontario.