New Ontario wind turbine noise compliance protocol falls short

Way short.

As in, little or no understanding of the problems with wind turbine noise emissions.

New noise protocol misses all the problems

 

On Friday, April 21, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a new protocol document intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.”

While in the absence of guidance for staff, and the complete lack of compliance audit information from wind power developers and operators, this is a step forward, the truth is, the protocol doesn’t change much.

Here’s why:

  • the protocol still relies on audible noise only, when many of the complaints registered with the MOECC concern effects that are clearly linked to other forms of noise
  • the protocol does not take into account lower wind speeds, which is where problems are being experienced, particularly with newer, more powerful turbines
  • there is no comment on any sort of transition between the protocol that existed before and this one

Improvements:

  • the Ministry’s action in producing this protocol is an indication that they know they have a problem
  • the description of Ministry response is a good step forward
  • requiring wind power companies to actually have, and to publish, compliance audit documents could be a sign of expectations of greater accountability among the power developers/wind power project operators.

This table outlines the critical gaps in the new protocol document.

 

Issue     Protocol Requirements Actual Experiences
Wind Speeds Assessment of noise at wind speeds between 4 m/s and 7 m/s MOECC testing indicates problem noise starts below 3 m/s which is outside of wind speeds involved in the protocol.
Ambient Noise Narrow time period assessed Wide seasonal variations while wind turbine noise constant
Location Only test outside of home Very different inside noise conditions
Tonal Assessments Uses criticized techniques Narrow band analysis shows tonal noise present.
Resident Input None Resident concerns drive other MOECC procedures
Frequencies Excludes Infrasound Elevated levels of infrasound in homes

 The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise, and accept that it must play a role as a government agency charged with protecting the environment and people in it — preparing an industry-led document may look like a positive step, but this document does not meet the needs of the people of Ontario forced to live with wind turbines, and their noise emissions.

Wind Concerns Ontario

 

Wind power cost Ontario $20 million for just 3 days

Parker Gallant and Scott Luft have put together the numbers for the electricity sector over the Easter weekend … and it’s nowhere near as pretty as an Easter bonnet.

Demand is so low that 99,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power had to be “curtailed” or constrained at a cost of $11.9 million for the three days, and the total cost of wind power was estimated to be $20 million. That brings the cost of delivered wind power to 33.5 cents per KWh.

Here is the article from Parker Gallant, posted today on his Energy Perspectives blog.

Wasted, unneeded power

 

The nice weather on Easter weekend in Ontario disguised the fact that April 14th, 15th and 16th were really bad days for electricity customers.

Scott Luft’s daily reports detailed the bad news, even before the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO got out their daily summary for April 12th.   Some of the information in Scott’s reports are estimates, but they have always proven to be on the conservative side. These three reports paint a disturbing picture of what’s going on, and how badly the Ontario government is mismanaging the electricity file.

Here are a few of the events that our Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault and Premier Wynne should find embarrassing. They also confirm what many of us have been telling them for several years.

First, Thursday April 13th saw a disclosure from the Energy Ministry that Ontario paid out $28,095,332 including about $240,000 in interest to Windstream Energy to satisfy the award made to them under the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) tribunal, due to cancellation of  a 300-MW offshore industrial wind turbine project.

Wasted, unneeded wind power

Second, the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market, traded all of Ontario’s generation over the three days at “0” (zero) or negative value. While total demand for electricity was 1,031,448 MWh over the three days the HOEP market valued it at -$869,220 or an average of -.84 cents/MWh.  The “0” and negative values for the HOEP lasted 77 continuous hours, breaking a prior record of 62 hours.

Third, during the three days, ratepayers picked up the bill for 99,109 MWh of curtailed wind which exceeded the transmission (TX) and distribution (DX) connected wind by 60.2%. Curtailed wind at an estimated $120/MWh alone cost ratepayers $11.9 million, driving the price of delivered wind (61,882MWh) to a cost of $335.34/MWh or 33.5 cents a kWh.  Total wind costs were $20.8 million.

Fourth, solar power over the three days generated and curtailed (1,124 MWh) 35,539 MWh at a cost of   $16.8 million, which works out to $472.86/MWh or 47.3 cents/kWh.

Fifth was the cost of gas which in three days produced 18,433 MWh, but the cost was $12.5 million and $676.56/MWh or 67.7 cents/kWh.  The 9,943 MW of IESO grid-connected gas operated at 2.6% of actual capacity during the three days.

Sixth was the generosity shown to our neighbours in New York, Michigan and Quebec who took delivery of 157,768 MWh of free power along with a payment of $132,525.

The quick math on the above indicates a cost of wind, solar and gas generation plus the payment for exported power comes to $50.2 million.

Nuclear and hydro was all we needed

That’s bad enough, but if you look at nuclear and hydro generation during those three days, clearly the $50.2 million was “money for nothing” paid for by Ontario’s ratepayers.  Nuclear (including steamed-off of 49,118 MWh) was 688,981 MWh and combined with hydro generation of 324,001 MWh of could have provided 1,012,982 MWh versus Ontario’s demand over those three days of 869,232 MWh leaving 143,750 MWh of surplus.  Three days of nuclear and hydro cost $61.9 million or 6.1 cents/kWh.

Bottom line? Ontario ratepayers picked up the bill for not only the $28.1 million paid to Windstream for a canceled offshore wind project, but also another $50.2 million, making the past four days very expensive for everyone.

The $78.3 million could have been better spent on health care or so many other pressing needs!

It’s time to kill the Green Energy Act and cancel any uncompleted wind and solar contracts before all our weekends turn out like this one!

(C) Parker Gallant

 

New noise audits recommended for K2 wind farm neighbours

MOECC admission of ‘tonality’ a step forward but more action needed

K2 Wind: testing shows noise above regulations … and more? [Photo by Owen Sound Sun-Times]
April 8

(C) Wind Concerns Ontario

Residents living near the K2 wind power project in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh have received a report from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change following noise testing done at their property, Wind Concerns Ontario has learned.

WCO received a copy of the MOECC report and other correspondence from the residents, who are members of the coalition of Ontario community groups and individuals in Ontario concerned about the impact of wind turbines on the economy, natural environment, and human health.

The noise testing was done at their request, connected to complaints made to the MOECC about excessive noise and sound pressure or vibration being emitted from industrial-scale wind turbines at the K2 power project.

The MOECC report’s Executive Summary states that

Based on the results of the analysis, it is acknowledged that sound from the wind turbines was audible during the measuring campaign at levels that appear to exceed the applicable sound level limits, and based on C3 measurements conducted at a nearby receptor (the distance is about 1250 m from R876; where the same turbine(s) within 1500 m distance impact both receptors) it was further concluded that there is a possibility that sound from the nearby turbines could be tonal. To confirm compliance, it is recommended that a tonal audibility assessment and detailed noise audit be undertaken in accordance with Part D of the draft Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbines Noise, NPC 350, 2017.

This is remarkable as it is the first time MOECC supervisory staff have admitted to “tonality” in wind turbine noise emissions. And also because, in previous noise testing by the MOECC, the Ministry claimed results were “inconclusive” due to other noises such as birds chirping and tree leaf movement.

A tonal audibility assessment is a step forward.

Is it enough?

No.

The Ministry needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise emissions, and in the case of this particular report and recommendation, immediate action is required, including comprehensive testing including for infrasound which was excluded by the equipment used for these tests.

It is time for government to accept responsibility for its wind power program and the impacts on people who were given no choice but to live with them.

Wind Concerns Ontario

 

 

 

MPPs from all parties speak to wind turbine resolution at Queen’s Park

The sitting Liberal government persists in “green” ideology despite energy poverty, no environmental benefit from industrial-scale wind turbines

Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara-West Glanbrook, put forward a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislature yesterday, proposing the government halt all wind power approvals in unwilling host communities.

Oosterhoff: the government has made mistakes

An excerpt from his speech:

Industrial wind turbines are one of the reasons people are facing a choice between heating and eating. Expensive and counterproductive power subsidies for turbines we don’t want or need have contributed to the soaring hydro prices that are among the greatest burdens the people of Ontario have to face.

Whether they are spending billions of dollars to stretch out future debt payments or handing out rich subsidies to industrial wind turbine operators, this government will always stick Ontarians with the bill.

I’m not just tilting at windmills like Don Quixote, but a comparison is in order. Cervantes, in his famous novel, wrote about a dreamer of no substance who could not perceive reality—sounds a lot like the Liberals and their hydro plan. This government’s scheme does nothing to address the root cause of the Ontario energy affordability crisis: the Liberals’ Green Energy Act. We call it the bad contracts act because it was designed to benefit Liberal corporate donors, and locks taxpayers into a 20-year contract for overpriced wind and solar power. It’s also for energy we don’t need.

Since 2009, Ontario has given away $6 billion—$6 billion—in surplus energy to US states. States that have lower energy costs than Ontario are getting electricity from us at discount prices. We’re giving businesses across the border a competitive edge over our own Ontario businesses. Truly, Premier Wynne is the best Minister of Economic Development the United States has ever had.

Speaker, I’d like to remind everyone that although the NDP also like to complain about high hydro costs and say that they too are on the side of local communities, they were complicit in setting the stage for industrial turbines being forced down the throats of rural municipalities across Ontario. The NDP joined the Liberals to pass the bad contracts act that enabled the government to sign contracts with big hydro companies that aren’t transparent and can’t be examined. Municipal governments also say that their planning authority was eliminated by this provincial legislation. …

The Minister of Energy has acknowledged that this government has made mistakes with the energy file. The Premier has acknowledged that there are serious issues on the energy file that her government is going to be working on. Yet they don’t seem willing to address the fundamental reasons behind those mistakes. Today, I’m giving them a chance, and I hope they’ll take up the chance that this government can make remedy. If they’re actually sorry, they will vote for this motion. If the Liberal government is actually willing to listen to rural residents, to listen to municipalities and to follow up on the words of their throne speech, I hope their caucus will vote in favour of my motion.

 

Several other MPPs spoke as well, including Jim McDonell, PC Energy Critic Todd Smith, and Michael Mantha and Gilles Bisson for the NDP.

Read the transcript and the results of the recorded vote here.

Read the letter from Mothers Against Wind Turbines (Inc.) here: MAWTI letter of endorsement Oosterhoff Motion to halt IWT 2017

Municipalities support calls for MOECC to do testing for turbine noise

Testing being done for audible noise alone–residents’ symptoms indicate other problems

Two Ontario municipalities are supporting the call for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to do comprehensive testing for the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines.

Last night, Kincardine Council supported residents Norma and Ron Schmidt, who have been forced from their home because of adverse health effects from the noise and pressure produced by turbines near them, in sending a letter to the Ministry.

The situation echoes that of Port Elgin where hundreds of complaints have been filed with the Ministry about the turbine on the property owned by Unifor. The municipality of Saugeen Shores has repeatedly asked the Ministry to conduct the necessary investigations, to no avail.

“The government said they were safe”

See the video by CTV London reporter Scott Miller here.

http://london.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1095468&binId=1.1137796&playlistPageNum=1

 

OMB criticisms apply to Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal

Judge says OMB offers limited justice—is the same true for the ERT?

ERT hearing in Ameliasburgh: citizens paying to protect the environment from well-funded developers and the Ministry of the Environment.

Recently, lawyer and retired Ontario judge Peter Howden published a book on the Ontario Municipal Board, titled, The Ontario Municipal Board: From Impact to Subsistence 1971-2016.

Howden, a judge for 20 years, also served for 10 years with the OMB.

According to a review of the book by Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely, Howden’s opinion of the OMB is that killing it off would be better than leaving it to function as it is.

In our view many of Howden’s comments about the OMB (which was a key factor in approval of Ontario’s early wind power projects against community wishes) can also be applied to the Environmental Review Tribunal or ERT. Both are administered under ELTO or the Environmental and Lands Tribunal Ontario branch of government.

Howden says:

The people who staff the OMB are “unknown entities, people largely without any public profile who seem to do whatever they want without criteria, limiting elements, or ability to define why one group won and the others lost.” Further, Howden says, OMB members’ decisions may be one-page rulings that are issued after days of detailed testimony, or they are rambling documents in which rationale is buried.

“The price to be paid,” Howden writes, “…is the continued progressively worsening public cynicism and the record over the past 10 years of insufficient deliberation and writing time, inconsistency in policy and outcomes, reliance on part-time members …”

Howden also says the set-up of these tribunals is a problem and interferes with their mandate: the adversarial nature of the hearings, not unlike court battles, is unfair for residents fighting well-funded developers.

“Most homeowners these days are simply trying to maintain their homes and families. They do not have the thousands of dollars it takes to round up a team of professionals….This kind of inequality erodes any sense of justice.”

Lack of justice is emblematic of the hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal where Ontario citizens spend hundreds of thousands of after-tax dollars to protect their communities and the environment, ironically from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, which has a special, supportive relationship with the wealthy wind power developers it appears alongside in the hearings.

Countless appeals were mounted in Ontario by well-meaning dedicated citizens who took their fight for their community and environment to the Tribunal, without benefit of legal counsel at all, while wind power developers were represented by lawyers from Canada’s top law firms.

Millions spent by citizens

A recent informal poll of Wind Concerns Ontario member community groups reveals that communities have spent over $3 million in legal costs to mount appeals before the ERT, and that number is almost certainly understated.

Moreover, citizen evidence presented at the hearings, paid for by citizen dollars, is often critical to wind power project operations—even in appeals that have been unsuccessful, the evidence presented has resulted in changes to the proposed power projects. This evidence is usually indications of risks to the environment, facts that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change would have been aware of, if they did any oversight or checking on Renewable Energy Approvals … which they do not.

For example, the evidence presented on the danger to species such as the Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat –paid for by citizens who raised money through spaghetti suppers and garage sales—won the day for the environment in several appeals. The appeal of the Ostrander Point project, which took years of work by Prince Edward County naturalist and community groups, not only resulted in overturning the approval for the project in a fragile environment, but also caused the Tribunal to refocus its aims, and conclude that, contrary to claims by the MOECC and developer lawyers, wind power was not necessarily a “greater good” that outweighs everything—balance must be achieved in protecting the environment.

In the fight at Clearview, citizen evidence showed not only was there danger to wildlife from the proposed wind power project, but there was a clear danger to human life from a project planned close to not one, but two airports.

Judge Howden concludes that the OMB should be a body worthy of respect.

We say, the ERT should be that, too.

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

London area residents protest Invenergy wind power project

No “green” benefits, power not needed, community opposed, and a First Nations member says it’s not helping the environment

Oneida Settlement member Darryl ChrisJohn speaks with Dutton Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam: they have no right. [Photo: DDOWT]
London Free Press, March 23, 2017

By Jonathan Juha, Postmedia News

 

DUTTON – A year after it was approved by the province, residents of a London-area rural township are still fighting against a wind farm that’s going ahead despite an overwhelming local vote against such projects.

Thursday, more than 60 people gathered at the Dutton Community Centre during one of two public meetings, organized by Chicago-based Invenergy, to protest against what they say is another broken promise by the Liberal government and a violation of their rights.

“Everything about it is a slap in the face, especially when you look at what is happening to our hydro bills,” said Dave Congdon of Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, a community group opposed to the project that organized Thursday’s demonstration.

“As a democratic society we voted in opposition of this (project) and yet here we are still fighting them . . . it doesn’t seem to matter that we don’t want (the turbines).”

Dutton Dunwich, in Elgin County, in 2014 became Ontario’s first municipality to hold a referendum asking residents their opinion on such mega-projects.

More than half the residents took part, with 84 per cent voting against the wind farms.

Last year the province gave Invenergy the green light to proceed with the project, called the Strong Breeze Wind Farm, in part thanks to the support of six Ontario First Nations groups, one of them located 1,000 kilometres and a time zone away from the municipality.

One local First Nations man at the rally said outside aboriginal communities have no business in Dutton Dunwich’s affairs.

“They have no right and no say in bringing corporations to this land,” said Darryl Chrisjohn, a member of the Oneida Settlement near Dutton Dunwich.

Protestors say the provincial Liberals are ignoring residents.

“That’s what bugs people the most,” Dutton Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam said. “They don’t want to have, as I call it, the ‘province of Toronto’ dictating to rural communities what to do.”

James Murphy, vice president of business development for Invenergy, defended the project, saying it has received 75 per cent support from adjacent landowners to the site.

“We are well aware of the sentiment in the community and we are doing everything we can to help address it,” he said.

Murphy said the company is still in the permitting process and is expected to present a final application to the province this summer. If everything goes as planned, the company would begin in 2019 the construction of 16 to 20 wind turbines capable of generating a combined 57.5 megawatts of green energy, with the facility going online later that year.

Last fall, the Dutton Dunwich group circulated a petition among residents asking the government to reverse its decision of approving the project. Congdon said his group collected more than 1,400 signatures and the petition was sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“We have to continue to believe that we can stop it from happening, and it’s not something just for our community but for everyone in Ontario,” Congdon said.

The government “has admitted already many times that they have made mistakes when it comes to the energy sector, so hopefully, they will wake up and realize this is another mistake.”

NOTE: DDOWT is a community member of Wind Concerns Ontario

Where did the $50B that spiked hydro bills actually go, Premier?

Energy Minister and Premier Wynne: What they’re not saying, Where the $50 billion went [Photo: Toronto Star]
Parker Gallant looks at recent promises made by the Energy Minister and Premier and still has a question: where did the money actually go?

 

Last September 13, Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault issued a press release announcing the  Ontario Liberal government would reduce electricity bills for five million families, farms and small businesses.  The relief granted was equivalent to the 8% provincial portion of the HST. The press release also claimed Ontario had “invested more than $35 billion” in new and refurbished generation.

Fast forward to March 2, 2017 and that $35 billion jumped to $50 billion in a press conference the Premier jointly held with Minister Thibeault. An increase of $15 billion in six months!

The press conference was to inform us the 8% relief announced by Minister Thibeault would be added to, with a further 17% reduction. A Toronto Star op-ed Premier Wynne wrote March 7, 2017 reaffirmed the $50 billion investment claim made the previous week, and further claimed: “By delivering the biggest rate cut in Ontario’s history and holding rate increases to inflation for at least four years, this plan provides an overdue solution.”

That made history alright, but not the way she meant. What the Premier forgot to say was that her government had brought us the biggest rate increases in Ontario’s history.  In March 2011 the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) website shows the average electricity rate was 6.84 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and on May 1, 2016 it had increased to 11.1cents/kWh.  In just over five years, the price of the commodity — electricity — increased 62%, a multiple of the inflation rate during that five years, which added about $400 to the average consumer bill.

Electricity price goes down, your bills go UP

From 2010 to 2015 Ontario demand fell by 5 TWh (terawatt hours) to 137 TWh.* That is enough to provide electricity to 550,000 “average” Ontario households for a year, yet the price for residential consumers increased 62%.   The increase was not driven by the trading value via the hourly Ontario electricity price (HOEP) market.  In fact, the market treated Ontario generated electricity badly as it fell from an average of 3.79 cents/kWh in 2010 to 1.66 cents/kWh in value for 2016 —  a 56.2% drop.

As to how they were achieving this “relief,” Wynne and Thibeault told us they were pushing the payback period for the 20-year contracts (wind and solar) out another 10 years. Those generation sources are the principal cause of the increase in electricity prices.  (For further proof of that, read  Scott Luft’s recent analysis on the costs of “other” generation in 2016 which confirms its effect on our rising electricity rates.)

Where did the money go?

What the Wynne/Thibeault announcement means is, ratepayers will pay for the intermittent and unreliable power for their 20-year contracted term(s), and continue to pay for the same contracts which, by that time use equipment that will be heading for, or already in the scrap yard.

It is time for Minister Thibeault to disclose what is behind his claim of $35 billion invested and for Premier Wynne to disclose the details of the $50 billion she says went to “necessary renovations” to rebuild “the system.”

Time to come clean.

(C) Parker Gallant

* Ontario consumption remained at 137 TWh in 2016.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent policy on Wind Concerns Ontario

Editor’s Note: The Ontario government has $5 billion in new wind power contracts that have not yet been added to consumers’ electricity bills.

 

Where did the $50 billion go? Two days of wind, millions lost

From Parker Gallant’s Energy Perspectives, a view of how much wind power is costing Ontario.

Premier Wynne: just shifting the costs, not reducing them [PostMedia photo]
Almost a week after Premier Wynne announced her plan to reduce our electricity bills by 25%, the wind was blowing!  On March 8th, six days after the cost shifting  announcement (from ratepayer to taxpayer), potential power generation from wind was forecast by IESO to produce at levels of 80/95% of their capacity, for many hours of the day.  IESO was concerned about grid stability and as a consequence, curtailed much of the forecasted generation.

When the Premier made her announcement about reducing hydro bills, she also claimed “Decades of under-investment in the electricity system by governments of all stripes resulted in the need to invest more than $50 billion in generation, transmission and distribution assets to ensure the system is clean and reliable.”

It is worth noting that much of that $50 billion was spent acquiring wind and solar generation and its associated spending on transmission, plus gas plants (to back them because the power is intermittent), and distribution assets to hook them into the grid or embed them with the local distribution companies. It would have been informative if Premier Wynne had had Energy Minister Glen Thibeault provide an accounting of exactly what the $50 billion was spent on.

As it turned out the amount of curtailed wind generated on March 8th was 37,044 megawatt hours (MWh) was just short of the record of 38,018 MWh set almost a year ago on March 16, 2016 (estimated by my friend Scott Luft).  The curtailed wind on March 8, 2017 cost Ontario’s ratepayers $120/MWh or $4,445,280.

The cost on March 16, 2016 was $4,562,160.

What does it mean? Curtailing or restricting power output but paying for it anyway means a portion of the $50 billion spent was simply wasted money. It went to the corporate power developers that rushed to sign those above-market contracts for renewable power.

Millions here, millions there= a whole lot of wasted money

The other interesting aspect of the surplus power generation on March 16th, 2016 and March 8th, 2017 is revealed in IESO’s Daily Market Summaries: the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP)  March 16th, 2016 was negative at -$1.25/MWh and on March 8th, 2017 was also negative at -.49 cents/MWh. This meant ratepayers paid for surplus exports sold to our neighbours in New York and Michigan, etc. Net exports (exports minus imports) on March 16, 2016 were 52,368 MWh, and on March 8, 2017 were 37,944 MWh. Total costs of their generation (HOEP + GA) fell to Ontario’s ratepayers along with the cost of any spilled hydro, steamed off nuclear and idling gas plants.

So, bear with me here, if we price the cost of the net exports at $110/MWh for those two days, ratepayer costs were approximately $9.8 million with $5.7 million for March 16, 2016 net exports and $4.1 million for March 8, 2017 net exports, not including the $84,000 we paid our neighbours to take our power.

How much did it cost you? Two days out of 729 (2016 was a leap year) cost Ontario ratepayers about $18.1 million for power not delivered (curtailed wind) or needed (net exports).

I hope this helps Minister Thibeault in his calculations for a long overdue accounting of where the other $49.982 billion went.

(C) Parker Gallant

What’s driving up hydro bills? Ontario’s renewable energy disaster: Tom Adams

OPINION: Ontario’s renewable energy ‘disaster’ is what drives up the cost of your hydro

Wind and solar energy can’t be delivered on demand so we pay twice to back it up with gas power

Bloor West Villager

Is renewable energy responsible for driving up Ontario’s electricity costs?

With the Ontario government introducing a new program severing the link between the cost of power and the price of power so it can shift 25 per cent of household power bills today to future generation by way massive new debts, it seems like a good idea to know why Ontario’s power rate crisis developed.

Ontario’s power rates were relatively stable until 2008, when they started steep yearly increases. With the fastest rising rates in North America since then, Ontario’s rates surpassed the U.S. average years ago. The largest single factor driving this increase has been new generating capacity from wind and solar renewable generation.

The Ontario government and its supporters commonly report the costs of different types of generation counting only payments made directly to particular forms of generation.

But, when renewable energy costs trickle down to consumers, those costs are much more than just payments to renewable generators. While it is true that the payments to generators for wind power – 14 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) – is cheaper than for gas power — 17 cents/kWh – not all electricity has equal value. (For context, the average rate households pay for the commodity portion of their bill is about 11 cents/kWh.)

Why don’t we replace wind power with gas power, save money and cut emissions?

Where gas power is delivered on demand, wind is fickle. Eighty per cent of Ontario’s wind generation occurs at times and seasons so far out of phase with usage patterns that the entire output is surplus and is exported at a substantial loss or squandered with payments to generators to not generate. Gas power in Ontario backs up unreliable wind and solar, a necessary function if the lights are to stay on, but we pay twice for the same service.

Direct payments to solar generators average 48 cents/kWh, but the output is similarly low value. Except for a few days per year, Ontario’s peak usage of power is just as solar panels shut down – in the evening.

Not only is Ontario’s renewable energy production driving massive losses to subsidize exports and payments to generators to not generate under the terms of contracts that obligate consumers to buy even useless power, but it is also driving costly but low-value “smart grid” projects required to accommodate renewables.

Rising power rates have driven down usage. Spreading rising costs over declining sales has amplified the pace of rate increases.

Again, government and its supporters have pumped their claim that using less will save us money. What has actually happened is that conservation in Ontario is indeed saving money but mostly for utilities and their customers in Michigan and New York State on the receiving end of our subsidized exports.

But didn’t renewables enable Ontario to get off coal, saving us from smog days, and slash health-care costs? Although endlessly repeated by the government and its supporters, none of these claims bear scrutiny.

Coal’s replacement in Ontario was achieved with increased output from nuclear and gas generators. Improvement in air quality in recent years has been the result of a massive conversion to gas power in the mid-western states upwind of Ontario as well as improvements in transportation fleets and industry. Most of the coal power Ontario produced in its last years came from plants with good new scrubbers, delivering effectively smog-free energy. Predicted health-care savings from the coal phaseout never materialized.

But isn’t the cost of renewable energy plunging?

Ten years ago, the average payment to Ontario wind generators was around 8.3 cents/kWh. Taking into account inflation, the average today is up 50 per cent.

THE OPPOSING VIEW: “Don’t blame renewable energy for Ontario’s electricity costs”

Wind and solar aren’t the only renewable energy ripoff. Recent additions to Ontario’s hydro-electric capacity have added billions in new costs but no additional production. Ontario’s most costly generator is a converted coal-fired station in Thunder Bay, now fueled with a wood product imported from Norway.

A bad smell emanates from renewable politics at Queen’s Park. Renewables developers who made the biggest donations to the provincial Liberals have tended to win the biggest contracts.

Ontario’s renewable energy program is not the only disaster on consumers’ bills. Excessive payroll costs and wasteful conservation programs also lurk, but no single factor has contributed more to the compounding semi-annual increases in rates since 2008 than renewables.

Most of the punishing cost consequences of Ontario’s radical renewables program are locked in with 20-year contracts. Children today will be paying these irresponsible contracts long into the future, along with current costs that the Wynne government has now decided will be added to this future burden.


Tom Adams is an independent energy and environmental advisor and researcher focused on energy consumer concerns, mostly in Eastern Canada. He has worked for several environmental organizations and served on the Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator Board of Directors and the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy Board of Management.

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