Wind power approval process must change, says Wind Concerns Ontario

Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity while approval under appeal. That appeal was eventually partially successful. [Photo: APPEC]
Wind Concerns Ontario says Ontario’s Renewable Energy Approval process is not protective of the environment. Pictured, devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized pre-construction activity while its power project approval was under appeal. That appeal was eventually partially successful.  [Photo: APPEC]
November 1, 2016

Comments filed on Renewable Energy Approval process

“The litany of failures is astounding,” says president of community group coalition

Wind Concerns Ontario filed comments with Ontario’s EBR yesterday, with recommendations on revisions to the Technical Guide for the Renewable Energy Approval process for industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power projects.

Basically, WCO said, the guidelines for the power industry are not protective of the environment … and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

In short, the requirements in place for companies to get approval are not adequate, there is not enough proper oversight by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (or even, capacity to do fulfill that role), and there is no check on compliance with Renewable Energy Approvals post-operation.

  • Findings from the ERT decisions and other legal activities have shown that the current process is not adequate to assess the expansion of renewable energy generation while upholding the government’s commitment to protecting the environment.
  • The process contains no provisions to discuss the creation of clean energy jobs and encouraging energy conservation.
  • The proposed process does not reflect decisions from the Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT)

“The fact is, almost every single wind power project that received an approval in Ontario has been appealed on the basis of protecting the environment and human health,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “And four of those appeals have been successful. The Ministry should be embarrassed that ordinary citizens are not only taking on this protective role, but that they find information about these projects and the damage they will cause, that Ministry staff were not aware of.”

Wind Concerns not only recommended more stringent requirements for a Renewable Energy Approval, the coalition of community groups and Ontario families repeated its call for municipal support to be a mandatory requirement for wind power project approvals.

“Municipal governments are the local voice of the people and communities,” says Wilson. “And they know best what kind of development is appropriate and sustainable. They are also aware of conditions locally that logically should prevent a wind power project — but those voices are not listened to under this process.”

Thousands of noise complaints have been made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Wind Concerns Ontario says, which is a clear indication of the failure of the REA process. Moreover, MOECC protocols for measuring wind turbine noise emissions – when they do measure at all as follow-up – are not adequate and do not capture the full range of problematic environmental noise.

“In fact, the litany of failures of this process is astounding,” says Wilson.

The method in which projects are announced to communities is secretive and municipalities are forced to approve with almost no information on the impact of the power projects. Public “meetings” are a sham, consisting mainly of poster presentations and incomplete project information.

Post-operation, the numbers of bat deaths and bird kills far exceed what was expected from the wind turbines, noise complaints are being made more frequently as a result of more powerful turbines, and wind power companies have abused their approvals by removing trees from protected woodlands, for example, or placing turbines on sites not consistent with the approvals.

“Premier Wynne professed to be surprised recently at the removal of over 7,000 mature trees in the Niagara area for the huge power project there,” Wilson says. “Does the government not know what is really going on? The people of Ontario see the environmental damage being done and the effects on people’s health from high-impact wind power development — this process has to change.”

Wind Concerns Ontario

November 1, 2016

Trees being cut down along  1 km of the former old unopened road allowance and pioneer nature trail  known as Wild Turkey Road on the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area designated High Aquifer Vulnerability, a Significant Recharge zone, where two streams that support trout habitat and 12 species at risk as well as species at risk butternut trees adjacent to the Fleetwood Creek natural area are being destroyed and/or endangered to make way for new access roads for the Sumac Ridge wind facility. Photo sent to Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble.]
Trees being cut down along 1 km of the former old unopened road allowance and pioneer nature trail known as Wild Turkey Road on the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area designated High Aquifer Vulnerability, a Significant Recharge zone, where two streams that support trout habitat and 12 species at risk as well as species at risk butternut trees adjacent to the Fleetwood Creek natural area are being destroyed and/or endangered to make way for new access roads for the Sumac Ridge wind facility. Photo sent to Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble.]

Ontario government sees citizens as ‘enemies of the state’ says newspaper editor

Premier Wynne: fighting you ... with your own money
Premier Wynne: fighting you … with your own money

Rick Conroy, editor of the independent Wellington Times says the Ontario government has “turned against its people.” He cites the numerous examples of citizen groups forming and paying for legal actions to protect their communities against the government, and more recently, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne labeling Ontarians as “bad actors” when it comes to the environment.

In his editorial, he asks why, why it comes to huge wind power projects, “… What drives elected officials to use the state’s power and resources against those working to protect the natural world it has abandoned?”

We got a glimpse last week when Kathleen Wynne defended her government’s cap and trade emmissions scheme. She told a business audience in Niagara Falls that Ontarians are “very bad actors” in terms of per capita emissions of greenhouse gases. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue—or offhand remark. These words were part of a scripted speech.

Fortunately for the wretched folks in this province, we have a premier who understands good and bad—better than we do. She has unveiled the selfish and narrow view through which we see the world around us. Kathleen Wynne will be our better selves.

In this morality play your provincial government has decided it will not work in your interest— but rather what it believes your interest ought to be. It knows this better than you. Kathleen Wynne, and Dalton McGuinty before her, believe they know what is best, and cling to the hope that history will judge them better than Ontario’s weak and myopic voters do now.

Maybe.

But untethered by accountability to its voters and deaf to its ministries’ advice and counsel, provincial Liberals have made a terrible mess of the energy supply system in Ontario. It will take decades to fix. It has squandered billions of dollars chasing schemes unworthy of a Nigerian postmark. It has pushed manufacturing jobs out of the province. And it has rendered electricity bills that are unaffordable for many of its poorest rural residents. Meanwhile, it has made a select group of developers very, very wealthy.

In turn, they have dutifully filled her parties’ coffers— to arm her for the next election.

How is it that the most righteous tend to be the most susceptible to corruption and misdeeds? There is something distinctly Shakespearean in this tragedy.

 

Read the full article here.

Wind power’s ‘shocking double standard’

Wind power not held to the same rigorous standards for health and safety as other forms of development Jillian Melchior says, writing in Forbes. No health effects? “That wind power lobby claim isn’t honest,” she says

Even as Rhode Island makes history as the first U.S. state with an offshore wind farm, its people are not so fond of wind turbines sprouting up on land near where they live. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Wind’s double standard

October 21, 2016, Jillian Melchior

In September, 11 Wisconsin residents living near the Shirley Wind Farm filed notarized statements describing how nearby wind farms have abjectly affected their health. They noticed a marked difference when the wind farm powered off for a few days.

“I could finally sleep in my own bed,” said one resident, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I slept less and woke up earlier with more energy…it was as if a great weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

The wind farm’s neighbors have a simple request for the Brown County Board of Health: Simply do a bit more research to see if the science backs up what they’re saying they’ve experienced. Unfortunately, they face an uphill battle.

Welcome to the world of renewable energy, which has embraced a shocking double standard.

The environmental left has been unrelenting in its insistence that the federal government, states and academia exhaustively scrutinize all possible health risks from traditional energy extraction and generation. But when it comes to green energy, they don’t want the same standard of scientific inquiry.

“Wind energy enjoys considerable public support, but wind energy detractors have publicized their concerns that the sounds emitted from wind turbines cause adverse health effects,” says the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the trade group representing this largely subsidized industry. “These allegations of health-related impacts are not supported by science.”

That wind-lobby claim isn’t honest. The science examining wind energy and public health is still developing, yielding mixed, ambiguous evidence that merits further, unbiased inquiry. But the wind industry and its green allies are trying to shut down conversation and stagnate research by claiming the science is settled.

For instance, AWEA cites a report from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), claiming that it “refutes” claims of health consequences from wind turbines.

But that’s not an accurate characterization of the report, which actually found “no consistent evidence” of an adverse affect—and concluded that “given the limitations of existing evidence and continuing concerns expressed by some members of the community, NHMRC considers that further high-quality research on the possible health effects of wind farms is required.”

AWEA also points to a similar 2010 report by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health. But though that study says the research has not yet established a “direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health affects,” it also notes that “some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and sleep disturbance.”

Three years after the AWEA-cited Canadian report’s publication, an Ontario-based study, published in the official publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, documented how many residents near wind turbines “experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression and cognitive dysfunction.” …

Read the full article here.

 

Power developer to hold open house for 100-megawatt project

South Dundas councillors and staff, spokesmen from EDP Renewables and local residents chat about the proposed South Branch Wind Farm II project during an open house Aug. 5, 2015 at Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

North Stormont is an unwilling host community … but a foreign power developer got a contract anyway [Photo Cornwall NewsWatch]

October 21, 2016

Portugal-based power developer EDP Renewables has scheduled an Open House in Finch, Ontario, for its 100-megawatt,  “Nation Rise” wind power project in the Township of North Stormont.

The power project could have as many as 30 industrial-scale wind turbines; it will cost the people of Ontario more than $436 million over the 20-year contract period.

The contract was one of five awarded earlier this year through the Large Renewable Procurement process by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The IESO has since suspended the contract process planned for 2017 saying Ontario has a surplus of power and more is not needed.

North Stormont is officially an unwilling host or Not A Willing Host community, one of almost 100 in Ontario.

Community members have formed a group, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont and have vowed to fight the power project which they say is not appropriate for their community, will raise Ontarians’ electricity bills (the fastest rising in North America) even higher, and will result in no appreciable benefit to the environment.

 

Road Map for Finch Community Centre (North Stormont Arena)

 

 

Aviation safety, endangered wildlife win Fairview appeal

In January 2014, John Terry, the lawyer for the well-funded wind power development lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) told the panel of judges in an Ontario court at the appeal of a decision at Ostrander Point, that their decision was very important for the future of wind power development in Ontario because, he said, “This [a successful appeal] was never supposed to happen.”

One might think that he meant the approval process was so rigorous that wind power projects should pose no danger to the environment or to people and that’s why “this,” the successful Ostrander appeal shouldn’t have happened. But no, what he meant was, the rules and procedures attached to wind power development were supposed to be so iron-clad that mere citizens acting on behalf of the environment, wildlife and their own health, could have no hope of success. Lawyers acting for appellants have said, the test set up by Regulation 359-09 to prove serious harm to human health and serious and irreversible harm to wildlife was impossible to meet.

Except, now, that test has been met.

Four times.

The successful appeals at Ostrander Point, White Pines, Settlers Landing and yesterday, Clearview, show that when proper attention is paid to the requirements to preserve the environment and actually balance development against potential harm, the wind power developments can be demonstrated to be in the complete wrong place.

But the wind power development industry, coached and encouraged by their huge lobbyist and the very compliant Ontario government, felt entitled to propose wind power projects wherever they found willing landowners. Such was the case at Clearview where the eight, 500-foot turbines were to be located near not one, but two aerodromes, the Collingwood Regional Airport and a private airstrip. WPD Canada felt so entitled to success and money that it believed it could locate huge turbines even where pilots’ safety would be in danger and where wildlife would almost certainly be killed.

The Environmental Review Tribunal decision was released Friday, October 7: yes, there would be serious harm to human health because of the risk to aviation safety and yes, there would be serious and irreversible harm to the endangered Little Brown Bat.

Paragraphs [149-151] are interesting: the appellants’ expert witness arguments were “informed and reasoned” the panel wrote, finding they had established “the evidentiary base to support their qualitative assessments.”

Although a remedy hearing is possible, the Tribunal expressed doubts as to the effectiveness of any measures proposed.

The Tribunal used very strong language in places in the decision, saying “it would be trite to say …” or “it is obvious …” and they noted the federal Ministry of Transport’s carefully crafted opinion letter on aviation safety at the airport.

The people of Ontario have despaired at times as wind power projects have been put in fragile environments, too close to people’s homes and workplaces, without any real demonstration of environmental benefit. Millions have been spent by ordinary citizens as they took on corporate Big Wind to defend—what? The environment against their own Ministry of the Environment.

One lawyer for the Ministry has often been heard to say “wind trumps everything.” She is wrong, as this latest decision demonstrates.

Actions taken in the name of preserving the environment must really do that, and not rely on ideology-based trite statements for justification. Ontario has still never done a cost-benefit analysis on its wind power program even though clearly, wind power has a high impact on the natural environment, on communities, and on the economy, without actual demonstrated benefits.

Clearview was a victory for all Ontario, and the environment.

Jane Wilson

(Volunteer) President

Wind Concerns Ontario

More action needed on hydro bills, say Ontario mayors

The Mayor of North Frontenac has written to Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault on behalf of all the 115 municipalities demanding change to the Large Renewable Procurement process. While relieved the next round of bids is “suspended,” he says, the municipalities say more can be done to stop the dramatic rise of Ontario electricity bills.

NorthFrontenac

October 5, 2016

Mayors across Ontario who united together as  a result of a resolution being supported to have municipal support mandatory for industrial wind turbines are relieved that procurement of future wind power has been cancelled for now. The Mayors still feel however that the government needs to take very aggressive actions to address the ongoing crisis caused by high electricity costs in this province. Taking steps to not add $2.45 per month in 2020 does not address the real hardship being felt by our residents now.  It is also not clear that the other measures announced by the government will even offset the ongoing increases in hydro rates that can be expected in the short term unless additional changes are made.

It was important that the Minster of Energy’s statement confirmed that the province has a “robust” supply of electricity and the procurement process could be cancelled without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.  This provides room for more aggressive actions that will address increasing costs. Our tracking of wind turbine contracts shows that there are still many wind turbine projects in the pipeline that will add at least another $7.9 billion to electricity generating costs.  This is equivalent to another $82 per annum for each Ontario electricity user. Seven of these projects are under construction but will not be connected to the grid until sometime this fall or in 2017.  Another five have not been issued ‘Notices to Proceed’ as they are, or have been until recently, involved in Environmental Review Tribunal proceedings or other legal appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals. The final six projects are in the pre-MOECC submission stage.  These include the five contracts issued in early 2016 plus one outstanding project from earlier FIT offers.

In all of these cases, the IESO has the option of terminating the agreement for any reason with very limited cost liabilities relative to the 20 year commitment to electricity that is not required.  We respectfully ask that all industrial and solar wind projects be cancelled to avoid ongoing costs to our residents.

Ron Higgins

Mayor, North Frontenac

Councillor, County of Frontenac

Phone 613-884-9736

Email ron.higgins@xplornet.com

Twitter @HigginsRon

Facebook

 

See the letter sent to the Energy Minister, here. lettertoenergyminister-oct52016

 

Mayor Higgins (Photo CBC)
Mayor Higgins (Photo CBC)

Wynne government reverses on airport wind turbines

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has insisted that there is no danger to two Collingwood airports from a wind power project, despite expert testimony at an appeal that danger was certain. Suddenly, the government has reversed its position. Is it enough?

The owners and pilots association can't believe anyone would put turbines at an airport
The owners and pilots association can’t believe anyone would put turbines at an airport

Simcoe.com, October 3, 2016

Wasaga Sun

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is pulling its support for two turbine locations at the Fairview Wind project because of safety concerns at the Clearview Aerodrome.

Dr. Raymond Cox, a risk assessment expert in public safety, energy, and transport, as well as fluid dynamics and turbulence, testified during the hearing in June the two locations were without a five-rotor-diameter distance from the Clearview Aerodrome approach centreline.

“As it was the opinion of all expert witnesses, who opined on turbine wake … that there was an unacceptable safety risk where turbines are located within five rotor diameters from the centreline approach, the director can no longer support the locations of turbines 3 and 7 as currently approved,” wrote MOECC counsel Sylvia Davis and Andrea Huckins in their closing submission to the tribunal in August.

Clearview Aerodrome owner Kevin Elwood, who is one of the appellants to the MOECC’s  decision to approve WPD Canada’s renewable energy application, said it calls to question all eight turbines.

Elwood said in his correspondence with the ministry prior to the project’s approval, he was assured that Transport Canada and Nav Canada were being consulted, and a thorough technical review would be conducted to ensure there were no risks to human health through aviation.

“That’s what they always said, over and over. Now, they can no longer support two locations due to the risk to human health through an aviation accident; what assurances does the public have the remaining six turbines are not also a safety risk,” Elwood questioned. “If two were missed through that comprehensive review by the director, the other six were assessed the same way, in my mind, I question whether the ministry did a risk analysis of all eight turbine locations respecting Clearview Aerodrome and the Collingwood Regional Airport.

“All eight impact my airport; they just went for the two closest.”

As to the other turbine locations, Davis and Huckins wrote there was no risk to human health.

“The appellants have argued that the turbines combined with bad weather, poor visibility, a distracted or inexperienced pilot, and\or mechanical difficulties, will combine into a tragic confluence of events,” the lawyers stated. “However they have not provided any quantitative analysis of the probability of each of these events occurring during the lifetime of the project, either separately or together.”

Otherwise, the province stated in its closing argument, the appellants have failed to meet the test the turbines pose a health or environmental risk.

“The appellants have offered nothing more than a series of concerns and hypothetical situations which, if a number of variables align, may result in a collision or crash. That is not the test,” wrote Davis and Huckins. “Evidence which merely speculates rather than providing a quantitative risk analysis does not meet the burden of proof facing the appellants.”

WPD Canada has not yet responded to Simcoe.com for a request for comment.

A decision by the tribunal is expected in October.

Ontario suspends Large Renewable procurement

September 27, 2016

Moments ago, the Wynne government announced it is suspending its controversial Large Renewable Procurement program for sources of power such as wind and solar.

“Ontario will immediately suspend the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II) process and the Energy-from-Waste Standard Offer Program, halting procurement of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and energy from waste projects. …

On September 1, 2016, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) provided the Minister of Energy with the Ontario Planning Outlook, an independent report analyzing a variety of planning scenarios for the future of Ontario’s energy system. The IESO has advised that Ontario will benefit from a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demand.”

Wind Concerns Ontario (and two Auditors General for Ontario) has been saying for years that a cost-benefit analysis of the renewable energy program was never done, and should have been.

“Now, the impacts of this program are clear,” says President Jane Wilson.”We have unsustainable and punishing rises in electricity bills for the people of Ontario, with a corresponding rise in rates of energy poverty, while there is no evidence of any environmental benefit. In fact, there are widespread concerns about the damage being done to the environment from this high-impact form of power generation.”

Wind Concerns Ontario says that in addition to suspending the Large Renewable Procurement program, contracts for power projects not yet under construction need to be cancelled immediately.

“The government admits it has adequate power,” Wilson says. “There is no need to continue this assault on Ontario citizens, on our economy, and on the natural environment for little or no benefit.”

 

president@windconcernsontario.ca

Billion-dollar burden: how Ontario bungled green energy

Wind turbines near SS Marie: power supply saturated by Ontario buying more wind. (National Post photo)
Wind turbines near SS Marie: power supply saturated but Ontario buying more wind. (National Post photo)

Worthy of a repost, from the National Post, this opinion from a renewable energy insider.

September 2, 2016

Ontario set an all-time peak electricity demand of 27,005 megawatts (MW) 10 years ago this summer. At the time, rising demand and plans to retire its coal-fired power plants dominated provincial energy policy. What followed was optimism for a new energy policy, focused on the ambitious procurement of large wind and solar installations. I felt great pride in helping to lead an industry that would make Ontario’s power system clean, responsive and cutting edge.

What a difference a decade makes. Intrusive policy and poor implementation are largely responsible for the energy market debacle Ontarians face today. But there is no excuse now for buying more mega-projects when our power supply is saturated and hydro bills are skyrocketing.

Coal-fired power generation effectively disappeared after 2010, by which time Ontario’s electricity demand had already started to plummet. Demand has fallen 13 per cent in the past 10 years, including consecutive reductions in each of the past five years. In 2016, Ontario will consume less electricity than in 1997.

Peak demand exceeded 23,000 MW only one day this summer, despite parts of the province seeing 35 days with temperatures above 30 C. Yet our installed capacity approaches 40,000 MW. The system will have reserves above extreme summer peaks well into the 2020s. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reinforced this point recently when it confirmed “Ontario will have sufficient supply for the next several years.”

Against this troubling background, the Ontario government is procuring an additional 1,300 MW of large wind and solar generation under the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program. This decision is indefensible. It makes the frequency of negative pricing (paying our U.S. neighbours to take Ontario energy during periods of low demand) and curtailment (paying wind developers for energy production even when the grid can’t use the power) even worse. These problems have become billion-dollar burdens for Ontario electricity customers.

Sweet contracts, painful electricity bills

Offering sweet contracts to large renewable energy developers while demand stagnates has helped push hydro bills higher. Electricity prices have increased by seven per cent a year since 2009. Costs have risen faster than Ontario’s inflation rate in each of the past several years. The province’s electricity rates are increasing faster than any other jurisdiction in North America.

It’s clear that change must begin with the renewable industry, since our industry alone benefits from the continued overprocurement of electricity. The fact is large wind and solar developers have been pampered by Queen’s Park for far too long. Although solar installation costs dropped 70 per cent in the past decade, the government froze prices for years at a time. When permitting delays enabled projects to be built as much as five years after contracts were awarded, multi-millionaires were created overnight.

Today, with no logical reason to build more wind and solar mega-projects in Ontario, renewable developers must confront the economic damage they are doing to their families, friends and neighbours, and to the next generation of citizens who will bear the brunt of this green corporate welfare.

Renewable energy companies must confront the economic damage they are doing.

We need to make four changes. First, Ontarians must demand a return to basic electricity policy principles: safety, reliability and cost effectiveness. Second, the government should revisit the IESO’s legal obligations associated with the current LRP process and exit this procurement process without paying the ransoms that characterized Ontario’s gas plant debacles. Third, the IESO should restrict renewable procurement to the smaller rooftop and distributed energy projects that actually benefit customers. Fourth, Ontario renewable energy firms must learn to export their pioneering expertise and target new domestic and international markets.

The global renewable energy revolution has just started. Solar energy is increasingly the cleanest, cheapest and most environmentally sustainable option. The advent of battery storage, smart grids and the Internet of Things will catalyze innovative economies that embrace change. Renewables have a bright future in this world, but we need to regain control of Ontario’s failing electricity policies — and do it soon — to ensure we seize the energy opportunities of the 21st century.

National Post

Jon Kieran is a Toronto-based renewable energy consultant. He is  a member of the Canadian Solar Industries Association’s board of directors. He declines LRP work from clients.

Overkill: Ontario actions to replace closed coal plants cost billions every year

The annual cost of closing Ontario’s coal plants 

Part II of Parker Gallant’s series on how Ontario continues to mismanage the energy file.

The cost of over-replacing the limited capacity of coal power generation blows away the supposed health care savings
The cost of over-replacing the limited capacity of coal power generation blows away the supposed health care savings

The previous article in respect to Ontario’s decision to close our coal plants examined the MW (megawatt) capacity and the type of generating capacity added to our electricity grid since 2011. The added capacity replaced the 4,484 MW of coal-fired generation at the end of 2011 in anticipation of increasing demand.

What I’ve done is approximate the costs of the added capacity versus the 4.1 TWh generated by the 4,484 MW of coal-fired plants, which cost only $135 million (3.3 cents/kWh) in 2011. 

Nuclear instead of wind and solar

As an example, the 1,532 MW of emissions-free Bruce Nuclear refurbished generation, at a capacity factor of 90% supplying 12.08 TWh, easily covered the loss of 4.1 TWh of coal-fired generation and left 8.7 TWh for added demand due to its flexibility to steam off or bypass the turbines. The 12.08 TWh could have supplied most of the 2015 solar generation of 3.04 TWh and the 10.2 TWh of wind, which proved to be unneeded.   The latter two alone in 2015 added an additional $2.7 billion to generation costs before curtailment (wind) costs of $88 million.

Bruce Power supplies from the 1,532 MW would have cost ratepayers $800 million, reducing the ratepayer burden by almost $2 billion annually.  Additionally “nuclear maneuvers” (reductions),  of 897 gigawatt hours added about $60 million during surplus baseload periods, caused mainly by (unreliable) intermittent power generation from wind.

Too much gas? 

Let’s look at the gas plant addition of 602 MW:  In 2011 the 9,549 MW of gas generation produced 22 TWh,  operating at a capacity factor of 26.3%.  Fast forward to 2015: the 10,151 MW generated 15.5 TWh  operating at a capacity factor of 17.5%.  Gas plants are quite capable of operating at a capacity factor of 40% to 60% (combined or single cycle).  In either case, they are regarded as peaking plants and for that reason investors know they will be called on when needed. Their contracts pay them for simply being “at the ready.”  Those costs vary but generally payments are $7,000 to $15,000 per MW per month.  The additional 602 MW of gas added about $100 million annually to the costs.  With gas generation falling from 22 TWh in 2011 to 15.5 TWh in 2015, ratepayers were burdened with the costs of the drop of 6.5 TWh at a cost of approximately $100 million per TWh, raising the cost of gas generation by $750 million since 2011.

Adding costly hydro

The bulk of the 754 MW added to the grid since 2011 came from the Niagara tunnel, (“Big Becky”) with a promise of 150 MW, and the Mattagami expansion added 438 MW of run-of-river hydro. Both of these projects by OPG were hugely expensive, costing ratepayers $4.1 billion plus interest on the money borrowed to fund the projects. If one amortizes those costs over 50 years it adds about $80 annually to ratepayer bills and the interest costs annually add about $120 million at 3% per annum. So that is $200 million for those two projects, without adding their OMA (operations, management and administration) costs.

As well, OPG is frequently forced to “spill” water under SBG (surplus baseload generation) periods mainly due to excessive intermittent wind and solar generation. In 2015 the latter was 3.4 TWh which cost ratepayers $150 million.  The other event affecting hydro costs was an amendment to change “unregulated” hydro to regulated pricing.  This change added $474 million to ratepayers’ bills for 2015 for the 30.4 TWh generated by OPG versus 2011.  So hydro costs in the four years from 2011 jumped from a cost of $37.7 million/TWh to $53.3/TWh.  The total additional costs of hydro (OPG only) in 2015 was therefore over $800 million.

Coal conversion 

The Ontario Energy ministers also issued directives instructing conversion of the 200-MW Atikokan and the 300-MW Thunder Bay coal plants operated by OPG.  A 2005 directive from Dwight Duncan was the first and told OPG to convert Thunder Bay “to operate using a fuel source other than coal”.  Later on when Brad Duguid sat in the energy chair he ordered it converted to gas but in the end it became a shareholder direction from Bob Chiarelli, ordering it to be converted to “advanced biomass” and agreed to cover the annual $30 million operating costs.  As disclosed by the Auditor General, if Thunder Bay produces any power, it will cost $1,500 per megawatt hour (MWh).  In respect to the conversion of Atikokan it may produce cheaper power in the 20 cents/kWh range but will probably operate at 10% of capacity and generate an annual cost of about $35 million.  So collectively, both of these conversions will produce almost no power but will add approximately $65 million annually to ratepayers’ bills.

Conservation is expensive 

The long-term conservation budget for 2015-2020 is $2.6 billion, meaning IESO will allocate spending of $433 million annually to local distribution companies (LDC) to reduce consumption by 7 TWh.   Should the LDC be successful, their delivery revenue will drop.  Assuming the delivery charge represents about 35% (on average) the revenue drop for all LDC would be approximately $300 million.  Then the LDC will be entitled to apply for a rate increase based on the drop in revenue, meaning the $300 million may be fully recovered.  Adding that to the monies spent annually convincing us to reduce our electricity consumption via the “conservation budget” adds another $483 million annually ($433 million + [$300/6 years = $50 million] = $483 million).

$4 billion … a year

So the cost of replacing the 4.1 TWh of coal generated at a cost of about $135 million in 2011 is in excess of $4 billion annually.

Confirmation of the foregoing cost can be simply calculated. If one reviews the “average” cost of a kWh on the OEB “Historical Electricity Prices” as of November 1, 2011 was 7.57 cents/kWh versus 10.70 cents/kWh on November 1, 2015.  The increase of 3.13 cents/kWh (+41.3%) translates to an increase of $31.3 million per TWh and applied to the 143.6 TWh consumed in 2015 provides an annual cost increase of $4.5 billion to ratepayers since 2011.

The cost blows away the purported healthcare costs supposedly caused by coal generation.   At the same time, it removes about $1,000 of after-tax money from the pockets of the 4.5 million ratepayers in the province every year.

This is a sad commentary on what the Ontario Liberal government has done to Ontarians.

Parker Gallant,

August 29, 2016

Also available at Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives.