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.
Here from the Manitoulin Expositor, a couple of letters to the Editor, which are emblematic of the feelings throughout the sacrificial zones of rural/small urban Ontario. First letter is here: Second longer letter is here.
Author feels for retirees. I was reading the letter from August 21 (‘Tax losses from wind turbine project already starting to add up, page 5) that these retirees are now sorry that they bought this land on Manitoulin and it’s because of these windmills. A lot of retirees come to the Island to get away from industrialization and I was sharing this with one of my family members that Manitoulin might go bankrupt because of these windmills and this is also a tourist area—it’s not meant to be industrialized, but these people do not think before they do something without thinking of the consequences because they are just too greedy. Little Current might become a ghost town just to get away from the noise those windmills may cause and if this should happen who’s to blame? Well, the leadership and the government and then there is the environmental damages that are going to be done on the Island because these people are very good at conning you to believe them and we all know that there is more land in southern Ontario. But these rich people did not want them in their own backyard because they knew better not to accept and they knew the damage these windmills do to their health and well-being and also degrading the land value. Time will tell.
Second longer letter is here.
Here is a link to a CBC story on the recent Association of Ontario Municipalities conference. We should add here what Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott said: “a year from now, in August 2014, wind power is going to be the hot topic in the Ontario municipal elections.”
Turbines in Windsor-Essex region
Amherstburg, as well as several municipalities in Lambton County, have put their foot down when it comes to wind turbines. Amherstburg is among 64 communities that are on an “unwilling hosts” list. Those municipalities don’t want any more wind turbines going up. Another 33 municipalities have “expressed concern” about turbines. Leamington is on that list. Currently there are more than 100 hundred wind turbines in the Windsor Essex Region and like Amherstburg – Leamington may soon join the “unwilling” list as well. A recent proposal to ban wind turbines in the Leamington area was brought to council last week. Along with solar power, wind energy is hailed as the way of the future but this type of power generation has many in the province divided. Until a recent trip to Ottawa, the Ontario government may not have been listening to the concerns of municipalities, according to Leamington mayor John Patterson. “We had no authority, no power to say where solar farms or wind turbine products could be located,” said Patterson. “Now we have a say … but if the government determines that it’s viable they will probably approve the farm.” But after attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference last week, Patterson says the government is willing to listen to concerns from across the province. Patterson was glad to hear that, because some residents say turbines are a drag on the municipality. “Property values are driven down because wind turbines are established everywhere and driving down our tax base. There’s an argument on both sides of that point,” he said. “Knowing past discussions on this when there was a proposal to put 750 turbines out in Pigeons Bay, it caught the attention of every tax payer in both communities. I suspect the same kind of feeling may exist on council in regards to turbines on the land.”
Here is a letter to the Editor of the Manitoulin Expositor, which details an aspect of wind power that neither the provincial government, nor municipalities have thought about in detail: as property values decline and the quality of community life disintegrates with the industrialization by wind power projects, what happens to the tax base? The paltry amounts provided by the wind developers don’t make up for the terrible loss to Ontario’s rural and small urban communities.
NEMI has turned its back on a great potential tax base and a lifeline for the community: retiring Baby Boomers. We retired and moved to the Strawberry Channel in December 2011. Almost a year later, we found that 24 Northland Power Wind Turbines (the largest in Ontario: 422 feet high) will be built in our backyard. Had I known, I would not have looked at this area as a place to purchase our dream retirement home. Our retiring friends have now decided to look instead to Lake Nipissing. Another couple will settle in Parry Sound rather than live near wind turbines. We are all retired from industrial areas like Espanola and Sudbury and our objective is to get away from industrial messes. I have been told that Northland Power will contribute a paltry $10,000/year to the tax base and possibly three long-term jobs. Our property taxes for 2013 are $4104.26. We don’t have sewer or water or garbage pickup. We plow our own road. We have good retirement incomes, with good benefits and we spend all of it here. The loss of our two friends is greater than Northland Power’s contribution to the community. Driving through Michigan, I was distressed to see town after town boarded up beneath wind turbines. I don’t know the answer, but I will pose this question: Were the wind turbines built there because the towns were dead or did the towns die because the wind turbines were built?
Editor’s note: regrettably, the 422-foot turbines being built by Northland Power are NOT the largest and most powerful in the province. Turbines being built in southwestern and eastern Ontario are larger and more powerful. For example, South Branch project turbines will be 512 feet and North Gower (Ottawa) will be 626 feet, or twice the height of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.
NextEra is among the exhibitors at the 2013 Association of Municipalities of Ontario convention, being held right now in Ottawa. In a completely brazen effort to portray their gigantic wind turbines to municipal officials as benign benefits to the community, the company is handing out little toy turbines. Too bad they are about 1000th the size of the real things, which are despoiling Ontario with the pollution of environmental noise and vibration, causing health problems, and causing property values to drop. And the real things are toys, too—wind power is unreliable and inefficient. There has never been a cost-benefit study done for wind power in Ontario.
The Government of Ontario has announced that it wants to hold “consultations” on its poverty reduction strategy. As health care professionals are well aware, poverty is one of the key determinants of health. Those of us who are following the economic effects of governments’ dallying with renewable power sources around the world, are aware of something else: energy poverty. With Ontario’s electricity bills rising dramatically, and no end in sight, this is a critical issue to comment on. More information on the government’s process and on how to provide comment, or even organize your own community consultation event, go to the website, here:
Those of us in the know about the workings of the predatory wind power developers who have invaded Ontario to take advantage of the government’s generous (and poorly thought out) subsidy program, will not be surprised by the opinion of one analyst, that the developers’ rosy profit picture might come with substantial risk. Here from today’s Globe and Mail, an opinion on Northland Power. But it could just as easily be Algonquin Power (whose claims of 40% efficiency rate across the board for their 20-year contract at Amherst Island are just plain nonsense), or other wind power developers active in Ontario. Factor in the pending and potential legal actions from injuriously affected property owners across Ontario due to the huge impact of wind power projects, and suddenly these developers don’t look quite so promising. Kevin O’Leary remarked several years ago that he would “never” invest in wind power: “It’s not a real business,” he said.
Beware Northland Power’s lofty yield
John Heinzl The Globe and Mail On the surface, Northland Power looks like a tempting investment. The company produces electricity – something everyone needs. It has a healthy pipeline of solar, wind and hydro projects. And the stock sports a 6.9-per-cent yield – more than twice as high as the yield on the S&P/TSX composite index. But when a yield gets that high, you need to ask why. In Northland’s case, there are several risks to keep in mind. Dividend is high – but not growing Perhaps the most troubling sign is that Northland hasn’t raised its dividend – currently 9 cents a month – since August, 2006. Given the company’s aggressive dividend payout ratio and future investment plans, don’t hold your breath for an increase any time soon. For fiscal 2013, Northland estimates that it will pay out 80 to 90 per cent of its free cash flow as dividends. But the company also acknowledged that the true payout ratio is actually much higher – 115 to 125 per cent – if you include dividends that are paid in shares, instead of cash, under the company’s dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP). Northland says the lofty payout ratio is largely a timing issue, reflecting “the level of spending on growth initiatives and payments of dividends on equity capital already raised for construction projects for which corresponding cash flows will not be received until future years.” But judging by the stock’s 20-per-cent slide since early May, some investors are apparently losing patience. Payout ratio could remain elevated When Northland released second-quarter results on Aug. 7, it said the board and management are committed to maintaining the current dividend of $1.08 annually. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the payout ratio will probably have to remain above 100 per cent to keep those fat dividend cheques coming. Northland had hoped to bring the payout ratio below 100 per cent in 2014, helped by a new natural gas-fired plant in North Battleford, Sask., that came into service in June. However, analysts say that if Northland proceeds with a proposed $400-million investment in the Gemini offshore wind development, located in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands, the payout ratio will likely exceed 100 per cent at least until the project’s estimated completion in 2017. Going ahead with Gemini would almost certainly put the kibosh on dividend hikes “for the foreseeable future,” Nelson Ng, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities, said in a recent note in which he cut his price target on Northland to $17 from $19. The shares closed Tuesday at $15.71 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Dividend not the only worry Apart from the lack of dividend growth, investors are concerned about the perceived risks of developing offshore wind power, said Mr. Ng, who has a “sector perform” rating on the shares. Rising bond yields and delays faced by several of the company’s wind, solar and hydro projects aren’t helping the stock, either. But one of the biggest uncertainties facing Northland is still years away – namely the expiration of long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) at two Ontario gas-fired plants, in Iroquois Falls and Kingston. The PPAs, which were signed at a time of much higher power prices, together account for nearly one-third of Northland’s estimated 2014 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, said Darryl McCoubrey, an analyst with Veritas Investment Research. The expiration of the Iroquois Falls and Kingston PPAs in January, 2017, and December, 2021, respectively, “is the key risk factor underlying the [Northland Power] story,” he said in a recent note. While Gemini “could more than compensate for the potential lost profit” if the Ontario plants renew their PPAs at lower rates, the move into offshore wind power – a new technology for Northland in a new jurisdiction – is “unsettling,” he said. Nonetheless, Mr. McCoubrey maintained his “buy” rating on the shares, citing the company’s strong management team and track record of developing new assets. As for the dividend, he doesn’t see any “near-term risk” of a cut. If you’re tempted by Northland’s juicy yield, just remember that it’s high for a reason.
Here from the Toronto Sun, an opinion on the Ontario government and so-called “environmentalist” organizations, and their support for large-scale wind power. The entire article is here
Turtles, not known for ferocity, have won a battle in Ontario. The battle is an important hill won in the war for a sensible energy policy in Ontario. Their enemy is a coalition of the Liberal government and radical environmentalists. If the green energy movement wasn’t so costly and ineffective, even in its own stated purpose, it would be more amusing than it is to watch various factions try to co-ordinate their conflicting issues. That’s where the turtles come in. In Ontario, turtle-saving environmentalists have trumped wind turbine-building environmentalists, sparking a debate over which is the “true” environmentalist. Governments have embraced inefficient technologies and wasted billions on failed green energy products to — they say — provide a sustainable future, even though most of the results show that it costs too much and doesn’t achieve the environmental returns promised. Across the globe, nations are realizing wind and solar promises were a lot of hot air blown in the sunshine, and are backing away from financially supporting those losing projects. But in Canada green still holds a lot of sway with politicians. Ontario’s Liberal government in particular has backed green energy without a care to the costs to the taxpayers and ratepayers or the communities affected by the contentious wind turbines. They have forced the turbines onto local communities with no consultation with local authorities and residents.
Here from U.S. energy analyst Glen Schleede is a comment on a statement made by a top-ranking official with the U.S. Department of Energy.
August 7, 2013 Misleading DOE August 6, 2013, Press Release and Report on Wind Energy The highly misleading August 6 DOE press release and report claiming that, in 2012, wind was “the fastest growing source of power in the United States” raises two questions: 1. Why does the highly trained scientist heading the US DOE allow such a misleading claim to be issued by his Department? 2. Why do some many reporters and editors repeat such misleading claim? Electricity Generation vs. Capacity. With respect to question 1, Secretary Moniz must know that there is a huge difference between wind generating CAPACITY (measured in megawatts – MW) and the amount of electricity that wind turbines actually GENERATE (measured in megawatt-hours — MWh). There is a huge difference because wind turbines produce electricity only when the wind at the turbine is blowing at the right speed (i.e., in a range of roughly 6 to 55 MPH). In fact, the output of electricity from wind turbines is, therefore, intermittent, highly variable, and unreliable – unlike the output from reliable (dispatchable) generating units powered by natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear energy and, perhaps, biomass. In fact, natural gas – not wind – was the “fastest growing” source of electricity generation in 2012 as clearly demonstrated in the table below which is based on data from the US EIA. Electricity Price per kWh vs. Value. The misleading DOE press release and LBNL report also claimed that the price of electricity from wind under 2011 and 2012 power purchase contracts “…averaged 4 cents per kilowatt hour – making wind competitive with a range of wholesale electricity prices seen in 2012.” Secretary Moniz must know that the VALUE of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced by wind turbines is much less than the VALUE of a kWh of electricity from reliable generating units because: a. Wind turbines tend to produce electricity at night and in colder and shoulder months, NOT on hot weekday afternoons when electricity demand and true VALUE is high. b. As indicated above, wind turbine output is intermittent, volatile, and unreliable. c. “Sale price” for electricity from wind does NOT take into account the huge federal and state subsidies for “wind farm” owners that permit them to sell their electricity at artificially low prices – which subsidies are much higher per KWh for wind that for conventional energy sources. The sale price of electricity per kWh produced by wind turbines cannot validly be compared to the price of electricity from reliable generating units that can be counted on whenever needed, including during peak demand periods when the output of wind turbines is often at or near zero. Quite likely, Secretary Moniz also knows that the claimed $25 billion “investment” in wind turbines (heavily subsidized by taxpayers) could have purchased a lot more generating CAPACITY and electricity GENERATION if it had been invested in combined cycle generating units. They would also have provided many more jobs over a much longer period and the final cost of the electricity to electric customers would have been less. Further, the generating units could be built near populated areas where the electricity is needed, thus avoid the need, cost, and adverse environmental impact of transmission lines that would be required to move wind generated electricity from remote areas. The media With respect to question 2, it’s a sad fact that many reporters and editors either don’t have the capability to evaluate claims made by government officials, lobbyists, and/or organizations producing biased reports and press releases. Instead, they repeat misleading claims and help mislead the public, other media, and government officials that make policies that add unnecessarily to costs borne by ordinary citizens, consumers and taxpayers. Glenn Schleede Ashburn, VA