US wind turbines kill 600,000 bats a year–and birds too

Here from International Science Times, an account of the devastation to wildlife inflicted by wind turbines in the United States, and what the probable result will be—more pesticide use.
  Our own Parker Gallant learned all this in preparation for Wind Concerns Ontario’s presentation as a Participant at the Environmental Tribunal hearing the appeal of the Ostrander Point wind power project by Gilead. He learned that in spite of the fact bats fly hundreds of meters, the Ontario regulations only consider harm to these animals within 50 meters of a turbine. In other words, there is no protection at all for bats in Ontario, despite the importance of these animals to our ecosystem, and to agriculture.
  The pro-wind movement will instantly counter the stats on birds with their communications team-manufactured response that housecats kill more birds. That’s true. But, housecats aren’t killing Bald and Golden Eagles and other raptors so important to the ecosystem, and whose life expectancy can be as much as 20 years, during which time they produce generations of raptors.

US Wind Turbines Kill Over 600,000 Bats A Year (And Plenty Of Birds Too)
By Josh Lieberman on November 8, 2013 12:06 AM EST
wind turbine
Wind turbines killed at least 600,000 bats in the United States in 2012, according to University of Colorado researcher Mark Hayes. (Photo: Reuters)

Wind turbines killed hundreds of thousands of bats in 2012 in the United States, according to an article by Mark Hayes of the University of Colorado. Hayes took the number of dead bats from 21 wind turbine locations and inferred the number of nationwide bat deaths, arriving at the conservative estimate of 600,000 bats killed in 2012. But the real toll, Hayes notes, may be as high as 900,000.  
Like Us on Facebook
Bats are killed by collisions with wind turbine blades or from air pressure changes caused by the blades, the latter being the real danger. Similar to the bends in scuba divers, barotrauma causes bats to pop from the inside.
“There are bats with no broken bones or other evidence of blunt trauma, that have pulmonary and middle ear hemorrhages which implies that they had suffered barotrauma,” Melissa Behr, a vet at the University of Wisconsin told the Telegraph in September (Behr wasn’t involved in Hayes’s research). “In one case 46 percent of the bats that were seen had no physical sign of trauma, but 100 percent had pulmonary hemorrhage.”
Because bat populations are also under threat from climate change and white-nose syndrome (a fungal infection that has killed millions of bats since 2007), and because most bats only give birth to one young per year, Hayes says the addition of wind turbines to the bat-killing mix is worrisome. Although few people have a love for bats, they’re the primary consumers of insects in some regions. Bats are particularly beneficial to farmers, who spend billions of dollars a year on insect suppression services, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Fewer bats means more insects and higher pest-control bills.
It isn’t just bats wind turbines are killing in large numbers. In a study published earlier this year in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, author K. Shawn Smallwood estimated that 573,000 birds were killed by U.S. wind turbines (as well as 888,000 bats). In another 2013 study, published in the Journal of Raptor Research, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that wind turbines have killed 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years.  
Hayes’s article, titled “Bats Killed in Large Numbers at United States Wind Energy Facilities,” was published in the latest issue of BioScience.

Energy Minister Chiarelli says municipal support needed for Ottawa wind project

North Gower residents demonstrate Not A Willing Host at Ottawa City Hall in April; PC Energy critic and Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod in front row

In an interview with Ottawa-area radio station CFRA, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli stated that it will now be very “difficult” for a wind power proponent to get approval, without “significant” support from the hosting municipality. Ottawa is where a 20-megawatt wind power project has been proposed for over five years, and where residents of the North Gower community have been working on a petition to be recognized as “Not A Willing Host,” as the potential “host” community within the City of Ottawa.
  Speaking on CFRA this morning, Ottawa Wind Concerns chair and Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said the community needs to see what the new application rules are, in black and white, and determine what “significant” support from a city would look like.
  When told by the CFRA host Steve Madely that there is pushback on Council to a motion being put forward by the councillor for the area, she said, “I would hope that Ottawa City Councillors would do the right thing for all citizens of the city.”
  The report on the interview with Minister Chiarelli is here.

Chiarelli: approval not likely for North Gower wind farm without city support
By: Alison Sandor

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says without the city’s consent, it’s unlikely Prowind Canada will be able to build a wind farm in North Gower.
   Chiarelli told CFRA they’ve changed the regulations for companies applying to build wind turbines.
“We have set up a process for wind farm applications now that require the proponent, the energy proponent, to actually have an engagement with the municipality and have some level of consent or cooperation with the municipality before they can actually even submit an application for the approval,” said Chiarelli.
   Several city councillors have expressed worry about wind farms being built within city limits.
Opponents of wind farms say the turbines have negative health effects.

Cdn Taxpayer Federation: we’re paying for bad energy policies

Candice Malcom of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, writes in the Huffington Post that Ontario taxpayers are getting hit hard because of politically-motivated decisions, and the “ill-conceived” Green Energy Act.
Here is her post:

We’re paying for bad energy policies

November 5, 2013

It’s tough competition for headline space in the media lately. Tax policy and energy price adjustments just don’t have the same appeal as a mayor smoking crack or secret cheques to cover fraudulent housing expenses.
However, the boring stuff has far more impact on our lives than the circus that follows the eccentric and scandal-plagued leaders in our country.
Not all scandals are equal.
The Ontario Liberal’s political decision to cancel gas plants in vote-heavy ridings, on the other hand, actually affects our bottom line. The consequences of the gas plant boondoggle are now coming to fruition, as evident in the drastic rate increase in our power bills starting on November 1st.
The price for off-peak power has increased by 7.5 per cent per kilowatt-hour, and 4 per cent during peak hours. Compare that to the rate of inflation, which is currently about 1.2 per cent. Our off-peak power rates — the time of day we were previously told to use energy to save money — has been hiked by more than six times the rate of inflation!
Political interference from the premier’s office is responsible for the exasperated price tag of the cancelled gas plant, which could actually exceed the estimated cost of $1.09 billion. The recent auditor general’s report states that $625 million of that tab will be passed on to electricity ratepayers in Ontario, who will foot the bill over the next 20 years.
And, as of November, we will fork over more of our after-tax income to the Ontario Power Generation.
Politics often boils down to concentrated benefits and diffused costs. The Liberals — who benefited significantly from cancelling these plants by saving at least four seats during an election where four seats really mattered — are hoping that no one will notice this rate increase.
When thirteen and a half million Ontario residents split the tab and pay it off over 20 years from both their tax bill and energy bill, it’s less noticeable. That is diffused costs. And that is how our politicians get away with such blatantly partisan, self-interested decision-making.
Unfortunately for this government, that isn’t the only factor contributing to rising energy prices in Ontario. The cancelled gas plants are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mismanagement of the energy file.
The costly and ill-conceived Green Energy Act, which saw billions of taxpayer dollars go to corporate welfare and subsidies to foreign firms, also drives up costs for electricity ratepayers.
Meanwhile, taxpayers pay for a billion-dollar-a-year subsidy known as the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, a 10 per cent discount to household energy bills to cover the skyrocketing price tag for green energy.
Yes, taxpayers subsidize both the production and the consumption of green energy.
It gets better. Our government also pays some green energy producers not to do anything at all. We learned earlier this fall that Ontario pays some of its wind turbine farmers not to produce energy.
Ronald Reagan must have been talking about Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s policies when he explained how government works: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers will be stuck for the tab for the incompetence and mismanagement of our energy ministry for years to come. We may not always see it in the news, but we certainly see it in our electricity bills and on our pay stubs.

West Lincoln: positioned against the Green Energy Act

Here from the Welland Tribune, how one council is carrying out its responsibilities to its citizens.

West Lincoln’s tough stance on green energy has shut out solar power, claims a furious Niagara green energy developer.
Albert Zappitelli of Umbrella Energy says his $300,000 plan to install 100,000 watts of solar panels on a client’s Moote Rd. barn is dead. He alleges it’s a casualty of the township’s battle against wind energy.
But township staff say aldermen have agreed not to give support to any feed-in tariff project — support Zappitelli said is critical to winning a green contract from the province. And they said Zappitelli’s bid to speak Monday at township council was shot down because he didn’t give 10 days’ notice.
“The message I got was you’re beating up a whole industry to get back at another,” Zappitelli said.
“We’re a victim of a protest that has nothing to do with us.”
West Lincoln planning and building director Brian Treble said aldermen endorsed a staff recommendation in February asking staffers to tell developers township council won’t grant them its support. He said the township is concerned about the lack of local control over green projects.
West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner said the township believes the rules allow developers to change a project unilaterally after aldermen have given it their blessing.
“This is a process thing,” he said. “This is process. This is the process not helping out our planning in West Lincoln yet again.”
He said West Lincoln has no issue with green energy beyond the province’s handling of applications.
Treble said, “I don’t think council has taken a position against solar. They’ve taken a position against the Green Energy Act.”
Under new rules, a council endorsement can grant points towards a project’s application for a contract.
West Lincoln’s situation is a case of the rules working as intended, said Ontario Environment Minister Jim Bradley. He said the province did not grant municipalities a veto but said it’s unlikely a project could be approved without municipal support.
“The new program really places a great deal of power and responsibility with the local municipality,” he said. “This is what they were asking for.”
“It’s incumbent on the developers now to gain the approval of the local municipality for specific projects.” …

Read the entire article here.

PC Energy Critic Macleod: Ontario communities, businesses suffering

With today marking the first day of Ontario’s new rates for electricity use for both business and consumers, it’s appropriate to repeat a few words from PC Energy Critic Lisa MacLeod, at Queen’s Park yesterday.

 
In the few seconds I have left, let me talk about North Gower. They’re a community that is living this hydro nightmare because they are going to be forced to deal with these wind turbines. They’re not a willing host, and they know that their neighbours down the road in Bells Corners…struggling to stay in business are going to have to pay for high hydro hikes as a result of the government’s disastrous green energy policy. That is, I think, a perfect example of the Green Energy Act assaulting rural communities, and just 15 minutes down the road, businesses going out of business. I couldn’t make that point more clearly.”
 
 

Minister Chiarelli answers questions about siting wind power plants. Sort of.

Here from The Independent, is the responses received by the newspaper to a set of questions put to Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, on the new procurement process for large-scale wind power projects. The announcement of the new process has been delayed.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli answers turbine questions

Posted : Business, Featured, Front Page, News.

wind turbines and lines

Editor’s note: The Independent recently requested an interview with Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli about the concerns about industrial wind turbines. We submitted five questions and here are the unedited responses forwarded by the minister’s office.
When will the province outline how it will handle FIT program?
The Large Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program is being replaced with a new competitive procurement process for renewable energy projects.  We asked the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to develop a new competitive procurement process for future renewable energy projects larger than 500 kW, which will take into account local needs and considerations before contracts are offered.
The OPA has engaged with the public, municipalities, Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders to help inform the identification of appropriate locations and siting requirements for future renewable energy projects.  The OPA has reported back to the government with interim recommendations and additional engagement activities will occur later this year.
We need to make sure our approach is balanced and considers the views of local communities while ensuring the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s electricity system. We expect to have more information on this once the province has updated its Long-Term Energy Plan later this year.
Is it deliberately ignoring those opposed to wind energy projects?
We’re moving forward with renewable energy in a balanced (way).  We listened very extensively to the public and we’re changing the way we procure renewable energy projects to respond to community concerns while continuing to encourage a strong renewable energy sector in this province.
Will the government return planning authority to municipalities on Green projects?
The Ontario government is making key changes to increase local control over the siting of renewable energy projects. As a former Mayor and Regional Chair, I understand how important it is for communities to be involved in decision making from the beginning.
Our government wants to ensure that future renewable energy projects will be built in the right place at the right time. That’s why we are replacing the current Feed-in-Tariff program for large renewable energy projects with a competitive bidding process, tailored to the needs of communities. Potential developers will need to work directly with municipalities to determine appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy project.
Our government will also provide up to $90,000 for municipalities to develop Municipal Energy Plans. These plans will help municipalities better integrate energy, infrastructure, growth and land use planning to support economic development, increase conservation and identify energy opportunities.
Finally, we’ll work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers.
If municipalities declare themselves “Not Willing Hosts” is it a guarantee there will not be wind energy projects in their municipalities in the future?
Recent changes will ensure that municipalities have more say over renewable energy projects.  Through the priority points system municipalities will have increased influence over the siting of projects through the prioritization of applications that have demonstrated municipal support.  Developers that work closely with municipalities and have broader support will receive points during the application process, helping those projects move forward.  During the recent round of Small FIT contract awards, over 98 percent of the successful applications received municipal council support resolutions.
These recent changes also gives municipalities more tools and enables them to participate directly in the FIT program
Municipal energy plans will give municipalities a much stronger role in identifying local energy needs and opportunities. Municipal Energy Plans are comprehensive strategies to align infrastructure, energy and land use planning.
The competitive procurement process will ensure that renewable energy developers work directly with municipalities, before contracts are awarded, and that large renewable energy generation is targeted regionally, based on system needs.  This process will better integrate renewable energy into our communities and economy, encouraging growth in the renewable energy sector and respecting communities.
Will there be a moratorium on the [wind] current projects until the two-year federal health effects study is complete as many municipalities have asked?
The government is committed to protecting the health of residents in communities that are home to renewable energy projects.  We have taken a cautious approach when setting standards for wind turbine setbacks and noise limits to protect Ontarians.
Large-scale wind energy projects in Ontario are subject to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) regulation, which includes minimum setbacks for wind energy projects, and minimum requirements for environmental studies and community consultation activities.  Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King undertook a review of the potential health effects of wind turbines. Her 2010 report stated that there is no scientific evidence to date to support claims that wind turbine noise cause adverse health effects.
The Ministry of the Environment continues to review emerging scientific, health, acoustics and engineering studies to ensure Ontario’s REA regulation remains in line with the latest and best in science. The ministry also continues to support further research by funding, through an agreement with the Council of Ontario Universities, a Research Chair for the ongoing study of Renewable Energy Technologies and Health.

….
Translation: if we decide your community is getting a wind power project, you’re getting a wind power project. You can have “say” but the word “no” will not be allowed.
Obviously, at the time some person in the communications warren answered The Independent’s question, the results of the Renewable Energy Technologies and Health were not known—it will be very interesting now to see  what the Minister does with that, keeping up as he is with the “latest and best in science.”
See also the blog Smithville Turbine Opposition Party for more comment. http://smithvilleturbinesoppositionparty.ca/news/energy-minister-bob-chiarelli-answers-turbine-questions/

Green energy: not playing the role it was supposed to

Here from the Lucknow Sentinel, an opinion on what is being done to our fair province…and its fortunes.Lucknow is the location of the ongoing Drennan appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval.

Green energy not playing the role it was meant to

Tracey Hinchberger
By Tracey Hinchberger, Kincardine News Freelancer

A Wind Concerns Ontario 'STOP' sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)
A Wind Concerns Ontario ‘STOP’ sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)

Is this what “green energy” is supposed to look like? This is a question I keep asking myself, and would like to pose to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.
As a writer of an environment-themed column I should be pleased to see the fruits of the provincial government’s Ontario Green Energy Act sprouting up all over our municipality.
Instead, as yet another wind farm project has been approved for the area, I find myself dismayed. I am also heartsick for the residents who have fought so hard to oppose these developments and who will be impacted the most by their presence.
While I realize wind turbines utilize an unlimited resource and produce energy that does not create pollution (at least the operational turbine itself) I have never been convinced they are the Holy Grail of clean energy. There are too many cons, such as unstudied health risks, environmental impacts and effects on energy costs.
But some of the biggest concerns I have with the “green energy” the provincial government has been installing in Ontario are the unquantifiable costs.
What I think Queen’s Park has been ignoring is the impact this program is having on Ontarians’ lives.
By denying municipalities the right of refusal in their jurisdictions, and seemingly disregarding opposition to wind projects, an environment of distrust and anger has been created. Unwilling host communities have lost trust in the process, in the government and the corporations who are developing these installations.
By not giving a meaningful voice to individuals who are impacted by neighbours’ decisions to option land, animosity and distrust have been created between former friends.
Communities have been divided.
Too many reports of ill health effects and lives disrupted have come to the forefront. Too often these same families are left unable to escape because of their inability to sell properties that fall within the boundaries of wind developments.
Pro-wind agents will argue that no health effects have been proven. However, even if no physical impacts truly exist (which I’m not convinced is the case) what about the emotional and psychological effects on these families? What about the anguish people have faced, the feelings of helplessness as massive mechanical structures are erected around their properties, and the stress in knowing their homes are now largely unsellable?
The Kincardine area is already inundated with wind development. To the south there are the 38 turbines of Ripley Wind, to the north 115, when combining the towers of Enbridge Bruce and the handful from Huron Wind. From some vantage points in the municipality there are turbines in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
The recently approved Armow Wind project will see another 92 towers erected in the north east of the municipality, almost doubling the number of turbines already in existence north of town. Compounding this is the fact that these towers will be markedly bigger than those already in place.
What the government refuses to acknowledge is that these benignly labelled “wind farms” are in reality large industrial installations, huge pieces of machinery being erected in great numbers across our rural landscape, amongst people’s homes. The province is essentially turning our municipality into a big factory.
Lives in host communities are being impacted significantly, whether it is health-wise, financially or socially.
If I could, I would invite Premier Wynne and Minister Chiarelli to actually stand amongst the turbines, take it all in and attempt to comprehend the impact of masses of towers sprawling off in every direction, with scores more to come.
I would then ask them to look at every one of the lives that have been so wrongly disrupted, imagine their own loved ones in the same position and ask “is this really what green energy is supposed to look like?”

Goldstein: Ontario making energy policy ‘on the fly’

Here from Sunmedia columnist Lorrie Goldstein, an analysis of Ontario’s completely daft energy policy, or lack of same…

Ontario’s Liberal government is making up its energy policy on the fly, for its own political ends

lorrie-goldstein

By ,Toronto Sun

First posted:
melancthon
Ontario’s electricity demands are largely handled by nuclear power from facilities like Darlington — last year providing 56% of our power needs. Wind power’s contribution is limited, and solar power is fractional in comparison to nuclear generation. ONTARIO MINISTRY OF ENERGY

In explaining why Ontario’s Liberal government scrapped its previous intention to build two new nuclear reactors, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli offered up that the province now has a “comfortable surplus” of electricity.
That’s a strange way of describing the decimation of Ontario’s manufacturing sector — in part due to the uber-high electricity rates the Liberals have contributed to with their insane rush into expensive and unreliable wind and solar power.
Indeed, the main reason Ontario now has a “comfortable surplus” of electricity — whereas a mere decade ago we were worried about shortages and rolling brownouts — is not because our supply is better but because our economy is worse.
Simply put, when there are fewer manufacturers producing fewer goods, electricity demand goes down.
If and when our manufacturing sector recovers, electricity demand will rise again, and that’s when we’ll need adequate sources of it if we’re not to return to the dire situation of just 10 years ago when Ontario was routinely described as “power starved” by energy experts.
That’s what makes the decision of Premier Kathleen Wynne to reverse the policy of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, on the issue of nuclear power inexplicable, at least if we’re talking about common sense versus politics.
Simply put, nuclear power is the backbone of Ontario’s electricity sector and has been for more than four decades.
Last year, nuclear power supplied 56% of Ontario’s electricity needs. Every time you turn on a light switch in this province, chances are better than one out of two the reason your light goes on is nuclear.
As I’m writing this article on Friday afternoon, nuclear power is providing 69% of Ontario’s electricity needs, or 10,709 megawatts out of a total system demand of 15,595 megawatts.
By comparison, the Liberals’ heavily subsidized and unreliable darling, wind power, is providing 4% (630 megawatts). Solar contributes so little power to the grid it’s not even worth mentioning.
Contrary to what the Wynne government would like you to believe, nuclear power isn’t an unpleasant afterthought when it comes to meeting our energy needs.
It’s the workhorse and if it isn’t properly looked after and maintained, the whole system will come crashing down on our heads when we need electricity the most.
Further, nuclear power doesn’t emit pollution or greenhouses gases. If 69% of Ontario’s electricity needs were being met by coal today instead of nuclear, Toronto would like Beijing on many days.
The McGuinty-Wynne Liberals, who in 2003 promised to phase out Ontario’s coal use by 2007, now promise to do it by 2014.
But, contrary to their absurd propaganda, they aren’t replacing coal with wind.
Wind power can’t replace coal because it can’t provide base-load power to the grid on demand, and, ironically has to be backed up by natural gas power in Ontario.
What the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals are actually doing is replacing coal power with natural gas which emits less pollution and greenhouse gases.
McGuinty let that Liberal secret out of the bag, when, in defending his decision to cancel the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants prior to the 2011 election he said, “We got 17 gas plants more or less right, but we got two very, very wrong.” In other words, the Liberals have been building gas plants like stink to replace coal, except in Mississauga and Oakville, where it would have cost them five Liberal seats.
So there, they cancelled them, at a public cost of up to $1.1 billion. Meanwhile they imposed expensive and unreliable wind turbines on rural Ontario, despite widespread community opposition.
If you’re getting the idea this is no way to run an electricity system, and that the Liberals are making their decisions on the fly and for their own political benefit, rather than on the basis of logic or common sense, then you understand their energy policies perfectly.
Chiarelli says the Liberals will unveil a long-term energy plan later this year which will include the refurbishment of a couple of existing nuclear reactors, but which will de-emphasize nuclear power.
In so doing, the Liberals will again be ignoring the advice of their own experts, who have told them to maintain and expand nuclear power as the backbone of Ontario’s electricity system.
Instead, the Liberals have thrown in their lot with radical greens, many of them leftovers from the 1960s, who still associate nuclear power with nuclear war and who wax hysterical about Fukushima and Chernobyl, which have nothing to do with the safety record of nuclear power in Ontario.
And we’ll be paying for their mistakes for generations to come.

Behind closed doors: who is really setting energy policy in Ontario?

Parker Gallant on Energy Probe, today.

Parker Gallant: Who really sets Ontario’s Energy Policies?

(October 7, 2013)
In Ontario it’s a well-known fact that the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) was developed because a small group of people convinced a past Energy Minister, George Smitherman, it was needed. That group, the Green Energy Act Alliance (GEAA), even claim they helped him write the Act!

   Several ministers later and things haven’t changed even though current Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli has talked a lot about engaging communities, smaller municipalities and other stakeholders in revisions to the siting of gas, wind and solar generating plants. Minister Chiarelli has even invited input on revisions to the Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). Despite the rhetoric however, it still appears that the time spent by all but the environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) will fall on deaf ears.
   The writing was on the wall from the first announcement by Minister Chiarelli on April 16, 2013, when he was the keynote speaker at the Ontario Power Conference, where he told all present that revisions to siting, the feed-in tariff (FIT) program and the LTEP would shortly occur and that Ontarians would have a chance to provide input. Since that announcement the renewable energy approvals (REAs) issued by the Ministry of the Environment have not stopped. All have been issued without the consultations that were promised by Minister Chiarelli back on that April day!
   In keeping with the way the ENGOs had influenced previous energy ministers, it came as no great shock that OSEA (Ontario Sustainable Energy Association – the ENGO behind the GEAA) had had a one-on-one meeting with Minister Chiarelli in early June and posted their letter of thanks to the minister on their website!
   The foregoing discovery led to a freedom of information (FOI) request to the Ministry of Energy by the writer, sent August 26, 2013, shortly after an article in the Ottawa Citizen. The article in the Citizen carried the story about how 62 communities (now 69)  had declared themselves “unwilling hosts” for any industrial wind turbines at a meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). The article went on to say that Premier Wynne had approached OSEA: “Wynne has asked the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association to raise awareness in communities slated for the turbine projects about the benefits of hosting, including the financial gains that can come from being power generators in a cash-strapped economy.”
   Interestingly enough the Wynne engagement of OSEA would seem to be nothing more than a PR endeavour with OSEA launching a program they call “Green Energy Doors Open” which, on October 5 showcased the iconic small, useless Exhibition Place wind turbine as well as another group of events meant to convince communities of the wonders of renewable energy. It is unlikely that the 69 “unwilling host” communities will buy into what OSEA is selling.
   The FOI asked for a copy of Minister Chiarelli’s diary in respect to any meeting(s) he had with any ENGOs from the date of his April 16, 2013 announcement. The response was received a few days ago.
As it turns out, the minister met with several ENGOs. The first meeting occurred on April 18 and the last on June 26, 2013. The first meeting was with the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and doesn’t identify who the minister met with but expect that it would have been Jack Gibbons and perhaps Angela Bischoff who show up on their website as the only staff. We note that the OCAA does not appear to be registered with the Ontario Lobbyist Registry.
   As a matter of interest the OCAA show total revenues for their 2012 year were a shade over $120,000. Considering the expense associated with having an office in downtown Toronto there wouldn’t be much left to pay those two employees! Do these two staff work for free like the people fighting to keep industrial wind turbines away from their communities?
   The second meeting with Minister Chiarelli was with three individuals from Environmental Defence whom he met with on May 7 and again on June 26. In the latter case, it appears that only Gillian McEachern, the campaign director, attended. I would note that Ms. McEachern is not listed as an ED’s representative on the Lobbyist Registry. The third meeting that Minister Chiarelli had was on June 3with three members of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). A search of the Lobbyist Registry came up blank for CAPE. Tagging along for that meeting were the two members of the Asthma Society of Canada (not found in the Lobbyist Registry) and one representative (senior economist Kim Jarvi) of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario who were registered but Mr. Jarvi was not listed as their representative. The meeting with OSEA occurred on June 4.
   The question now becomes, exactly how much influence will those meetings (each a minimum of 45 minutes in length) have on what we will see in the way of changes to the siting of industrial wind turbines or gas plants and changes in the FIT program or the LTEP?
   In the latter stages (July 16, 2013) of the Energy Minister’s announcements came one that jumped on the “Conservation” bandwagon, which has been aggressively promoted by those who met with Minister Chiarelli. These ENGOs did exactly that in their testimonials, putting “conservation” first. The support came from: CAPE, OCAA, Pembina, Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA), Ryerson University and the Electricity Distributors Association (EDA). One would expect that the CAPE, OCCA, CEEA, Pembina ENGO crowd would be quick to add their support but what of the latter two? Well, one can only suspect that Ryerson University’s, President, Sheldon Levy, knew that endorsing the “conservation” movement would result in a favourable announcement on August 26 that would disclose Ryerson was chosen to receive provincial funds to establish a “smart grid laboratory”. In respect to the endorsement by the Chairman of the EDA, perhaps the fact that Chiarelli has done absolutely nothing about the recommendations contained in the Ontario Distribution Sector Review Panel’s report may have been sufficient for him to endorse the concept.
    Now if one delves further into the various relationships between the ENGOs that add their weight by endorsing Minister Chiarelli’s announcement, one should go to an August 2013 study released by “BLUE GREEN CANADA” posted on the Environmental Defence website: “BLUE GREEN CANADA is an alliance between Canadian labour unions, environmental and civil society organizations to advocate for working people and the environment by promoting solutions to environmental issues.”
   BLUE GREEN occupy the same premises as Environmental Defence and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and their members are identified as: United Steelworkers Union, Environmental Defence, CEP (Community, Energy & Paperworkers Union), Columbia Institute (an offshoot of Working Enterprises– a group of union enterprises), Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada, an offshoot of Tides Canada. The “BLUE GREEN study does not identify the authors but is full of unsupported rhetoric; promising 25,000 jobs, reduction of the Provincial and Federal deficits by $1-billion each, cutting global warming pollution by 9% and the biggest lie in the study: “We use less energy and pay lower bills as a result.”
   The unfortunate part of this whole ministerial exercise is that the ENGOs have set past policies for the Energy Ministry and appear to have the current energy minister firmly under their control.
   The policy changes we are likely to see later this fall, (after the Auditor General releases her report on the costs of the Oakville gas plant move), will be reflective of what the ENGOs have recommended to Minister Chiarelli. We should not expect any radical change to the GEA or any deviation from the original targets for wind and solar generation that formed the backbone of the LTEP.
   Minister Chiarelli is well aware that the Ontario Liberal Party is dependent on donations from the unions and the many corporations that rushed to Ontario to erect industrial wind turbines and plant solar panels. In 2011 they collectively donated $1.4 million to the OLP and the unions, via Working Families, along with Environmental Defence and OSEA and other ENGOs spent millions condemning the Ontario PC party because of their promise to kill the GEA.
   Ontario’s ratepayers will be stuck with the same energy policies that George Smitherman promised us would only raise our electricity rates by 1% – which has become one of the Liberal’s biggest lies.
   Keep on smiling; only two years left before the next provincial election or sooner, if Andrea Horvath decides to finally pull the plug!

Parker Gallant is a retired bank executive and a former director of Energy Probe Research Foundation. As with all independent bloggers on this site, Parker’s views do not necessarily reflect those of Energy Probe.

Ontario’s electricity bills: rising costs or a regressive tax? You decide


On September 10, 2013, when the temperature hit 34 degrees in Toronto, demand for electricity in Ontario peaked at 8 PM when we were consuming 22,417 megawatts (MW) of power.  At that point according to the Adequacy Report from the IESO, we still had excess capacity8,437 MW in fact, or enough to power over seven million average Ontario homes. 

So the question becomes, if we have power to spare, why do we continue to add expensive sources of power generation like wind and solar to the electricity grid?   Surely the addition of that expensive generation that must be backed up will do nothing more than drive electricity prices up. 
Has our electricity system turned into nothing more than a form of wealth transfer or, perhaps, a regressive tax?   The latter is defined as: “A tax that takes a larger percentage from low-income people than from high-income people. A regressive tax is generally a tax that is applied uniformly. This means that it hits lower-income individuals harder.
As it turns out, the management of our electricity system by the Liberal government during the past 10 years has been both.   Consider the following points and see if any of them were meant to keep our electricity prices competitive with other markets, and that might have helped to create jobs in Ontario. Job creation may have resulted in tax revenue that could have been use to reduce our deficit, improve health care, built better transit, or provide better government services. 
Reality in Ontario today
Here is what ratepayers must accept:
§     Paying for smart meters and resulting time-of-use pricing–we eat supper after 7 PM and do our laundry in the middle of the night
§     Paying to replace smart meters because they “don’t communicate”
§     Paying for the development of the “smart grid” which turns out to be not so smart.
§     Subsidizing very large energy consumers by picking up a chunk ($200/400 million) of what they would have to pay if they were a household, just to keep remaining manufacturing jobs
§     Paying huge Net Revenue payments to gas plant electricity generators for sitting idle
§     Paying wind generators to not produceelectricity
§     Paying solar generators to not produce electricity
§     Paying to erect meteorological stations to measure how much wind generators might have produced so that we can pay them for not producing
§     Paying for “steaming off” perfectly clean nuclear power from Bruce Power
§     Paying for the Ontario Power Authority to run ads on TV, radio and the newspapers to tell us to conserve electricity, racking up average annual spending of $300 million
§     Paying for costs of operating the Ontario Power Authority, which we were told was a temporary long-term planning agency
§     Paying to get the local distribution company to pick up old refrigerators and being told it’s free
§     Paying to move two gas generation plants at a cost of about $1 billion
§     Paying to have the school boards in Toronto and elsewhere put solar panels on their roofs so they could generate money to fix some of the roofs
§     Paying for grants to people that can afford to purchase new expensive electric vehicles (EVs)
§     Paying to put in charging stations for those EVs that use the streets but don’t pay gas taxes
§     Paying for someone else to use coupons to purchase CFL or LED light bulbs
§     Paying for grants to small and medium sized companies to retrofit their lighting systems
§     Paying for expensive electricity generated by solar panels placed on your local municipally owned arena
§     Paying for grants so your municipality can exchange incandescent and halogen street lights to LED lights
§     Paying your local distribution company extra money each year because their revenue deteriorated because you conserved electricity, so they asked for and got a rate increase blessed by the Ontario Energy Board
§     Paying to connect wind and solar generators to the transmission system run by Hydro One, a wholly owned provincial monopoly
§     Paying the cost of electricity produced by your neighbour for those solar panels on his roof for which he gets 80 cents a kilowatt hour
§     Paying for the costs of solar power produced by corporations like Loblaws, Canadian Tire,  IKEA, etc., which they sell into the electricity grid at 70 cents a kilowatt hour, but buy the power they need at the same (or lower) price that you pay
§     Paying forever for “residual stranded debt” that should have been paid off 5 years ago.
§     Paying for the sale of surplus electricity to New York, Michigan, etc. at a price 75/85% below its cost
§     Paying HST on our electricity bills which automatically added 7% to its cost and generates well in excess of $1 billion for the province’s coffers
Now look over these 28 points and think about which represent “wealth transfers” and which represent a “regressive tax.”   Review them again and pick out any that added cost-effective new generation.  Hint: you will probably have trouble finding the latter!    
Ontario’s legacy
Energy Minister Chiarelli recently bragged about the reputed $35 billion in new investment attracted to the province by the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and the 31,000 jobs that it supposedly created. Those 31,000 jobs (most are relatively short term construction jobs) will cost the ratepayers of the province over $3 million each.
What Minister Chiarelli didn’t say was that the $35-billion investment will cost ratepayers well over $100/120 billion by the time those 20-year contracts have ended, and most of that will be extracted from the pockets of many Ontarians who cannot afford the “regressive tax” it has become. Many are discovering they can’t afford to turn their lights on for fear of being unable to buy groceries. 
What a legacy for the McGuinty/Wynne team.
Parker Gallant,
October 3, 2013
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily Wind Concerns Ontario.