Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
“Assertions are complete nonsense … only wilful blindness would suggest that wind and solar are low cost”
Recently, energy analyst and occasional columnist for The Financial PostParker Gallant wrote that the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) was hitting back at allegations that wind power was contributing to Ontario’s rising electricity bills.
Ontario representative Brandy Gianetta said wind power was a low-cost energy source, and she referred to University of Waterloo professor Jatin Nathwani for support.
Trouble is, she was wrong.
Professor Nathwani took the time to correct CanWEA’s statements in an email to Parker Gallant, published on his Energy Perspectives blog today.
Here is Professor Nathwani’s email:
Dear Mr Gallant:
In your Blog, you have cited Ms. Giannetta’s post on CanWEA’s website on April 24, 2017 as quoted below:
Her article points to two articles that purportedly support the “myth” she is “busting,” but both require closer examination. She cites Waterloo professor Natin Nathwani’s, (PhD in chemical engineering and a 2016 “Sunshine list” salary of $184,550) article of March 6, 2017, posted on the TVO website, which supports Premier Wynne’s dubious claims of “a massive investment, on the order of $50 billion, for the renewal of Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure.” Professor Nathwani offers no breakdown of the investment which suggests he simply took Premier Wynne’s assertion from her “Fair Hydro Plan” statement as a fact! It would be easy to tear apart Professor Nathwani’s math calculations — for example, “The total electricity bill for Ontario consumers has increased at 3.2 per cent per year on average” — but anyone reading that blatant claim knows his math is flawed!
First and foremost, the record needs to be corrected since Ms Giannetta’s assertions are simply incorrect and should not be allowed to stand.
If she has better information on the $50 billion investment provided in the Ministry of Energy’s Technical Briefing, she should make that available.
The breakdown of the investment pattern in generation for the period 2008-2014 is as follows:
Wind Energy $6 Billion (Installed Capacity 2600 MW)
Solar Energy $5.8 Billion (Installed Capacity 1400 MW)
Bio-energy $1.3 Billion (Installed 325MW)
Natural Gas $5.8 Billion
Water Power $5 Billion (installed Capacity 1980 MW)
Nuclear $5.2 Billion
Total Installed Capacity Added to the Ontario Grid from 2008-2014 was 12,731 MW of which Renewable Power Capacity was 6298MW at a cost of $18.2 Billion.
For the complete investment pattern from 2005 to 2015, please see data available at the IESO Website.
In sum, generation additions (plus removal of coal costs) are in the order of $35 billion and additional investments relate to transmission and distribution assets.
I take strong exception to her last statement suggesting that the 3.2 percent per year (on average) increase in total electricity cost from 2006 to 2015 in real 2016$. The source for this information is a matter of public record and is available at the IESO website.
Ms Giannetta’s assertion is complete nonsense because she does not understand the difference between electricity bill and generation cost. Let Ms Gianetta identify the “blatant flaw.”
As for the electricity bill that the consumer sees, there is a wide variation across Ontario and this is primarily related to Distribution.
The Ontario Energy Board report on Electricity Rates in different cities provides a view across Ontario:
For example, the average bill for a for a typical 750kWh home Ontario comes is $130 per month.
In Toronto it is $142, Waterloo at $130 and Cornwall at $106. On the high side is Hydro One networks is $182 and this is primarily related to cost of service for low density, rural areas.
Your Table 2 Total Electricity Supply Cost is helpful and correctly highlights the cost differences of different generation supply.
Only wilful blindness on Ms Giannetta’s part would suggest that wind and solar are coming in at a low cost.
Jatin Nathwani, PhD, P.Eng
Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy
Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE)
Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Environment Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA)
Glenn Thibeault claims his energy policies saved lives. Photo: Darren MacDonald Sudbury.com
In a recent interview, Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault spoke in defence of his government’s energy policies, which he admits have been responsible for escalating electricity bills and creating “energy poverty” in the formerly prosperous province.
The Minister claimed that his government didn’t self-promote the benefits of its policies often enough, and offered some public health figures as proof.
“When I talk about energy,” the Minister said, “we don’t [talk] about the fact we haven’t had a smog day in three years. Our air pollution hospitalizations are down by 41 per cent, deaths are down 23 per cent.”
Parker Gallant took the initiative to query the Minister’s office on the source of those dramatic figures and learned that whoever provided them to Mr. Thibeault for “talking points” had actually taken them from a report which in turn referenced another report, which had nothing whatever to do with energy and electricity generation in Ontario.
The figures actually came from a report by Toronto Public Health on air pollution in that city, Gallant says in his Energy Perspectives blog.
Here is the relevant excerpt:
These estimates include the impact of pollution originating in other parts of Ontario and the United States and represent a decrease of 23% in premature deaths and 41% in hospitalizations as compared with 2004 estimates. Air pollution in Toronto comes mainly from traffic, industrial sources, residential and commercial sources, and off-road mobile sources such as rail, air, and marine sources. Of these sources, traffic has the greatest impact on health, contributing to about 280 premature deaths and 1,090 hospitalizations each year…”
To be sure, air pollution is a major concern in public health, but for a Minister of the Crown to misappropriate figures to bolster policy in another area entirely is unacceptable, and deceitful.
We recall again the fact that two Auditors General for Ontario chastised the government for having implemented a green energy program including highly invasive wind power projects in quiet rural communities against their wishes, with no cost-benefit analysis. The truth about health benefits might have shown up, if a real independent analysis had ever been done.
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.
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!
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.
From Parker Gallant’s Energy Perspectives, a view of how much wind power is costing Ontario.
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.
Energy analyst Steve Aplin takes aim at an Op-Ed piece published recently in the Toronto Star, on his website Canadian Energy Issues.
The Star article, which contained a hilarious error right in the headline, was written by Bruce Lourie, whose connections throughout the Liberal Party of Ontario and the renewables industry are legendary.
“The body of the op-ed constitutes about the worst litany of error-laden BS I have come across in my forays through the Ontario electricity file,” Aplin writes. “It was written by Bruce Lourie, a former director of the Ontario Power Authority and Independent Electricity System Operator, and most importantly, drafter of the Ontario Green Energy Act.”
“It is rare to encounter propaganda that contains a falsehood in just about every paragraph. The Lourie op-ed contains twelve paragraphs. Each one contains at least a minor falsehood, and at least seven contain major ones.”
Aplin also directs readers to a 2012 article on Mr Lourie and his connections written by Parker Gallant, and an analysis by Scott Luft of some of Mr Lourie’s statements.
“We can make electricity cheap again,” Aplin says, “by cancelling the contracts Bruce Lourie got us into.”
Rural residents and farm owners attended a meeting in Goderich with the Hydro One Ombudsman and told her hydro bills have to come down.
January 25, 2017
The Hydro One Ombudsman Fiona Crean recently attended a meeting in Goderich, hosted by MPP Lisa Thompson where she heard a lot of stories from Ontario’s farmers about hydro bills, and the government’s electricity policies.
Time of Use rates for power make no sense for agricultural operations, she was told. Power use is driven by requirements — if the weather is hot, barns must be ventilated or livestock will be lost. And growers must harvest crops when they are ready, not when it might be cheaper to run equipment.
People in agriculture are being harmed by the increasing electricity bills and are now choosing other options to run their operations. Grain growers are converting their drying equipment to propane or natural gas, and many are converting or supplementing their home heating with wood. These moves run counter to the government’s policy goal to get off fossil fuel use.
Other residents commented on the unfairness of the low-density residential rates and delivery charges.
The Hydro One vice-president of Customer Relations also attending that day had some interesting responses: people just don’t “understand” their electricity bills, Warren Lister said, and relief is coming for low-density customers. He also said that now, an “independent” Hydro One represents its customers to government.
Here’s the message Hydro One should give the Wynne government: you must get costs down.
While the Energy Minister proudly claims that Ontario is now a “net exporter” of power because we have a surplus, what he fails to explain is that we pay a premium price for renewable energy, which is usually produced out of phase with demand, and we then sell it off at a significant discount. This past November, for instance, Ontario bought power for $169 million, then sold it for a “profit” of $21 million. Ontario’s electricity customers picked up the difference of $147 million – that is a cost that we must reduce.
It’s worth noting too, that the surplus electricity sold last November would have powered half of Ontario’s customers’ homes for the month.
The Minister has promised rate relief, including change for rural residents living in low-density areas, via the RRRPP or Rural or Remote Electricity Rate Protection Program. True, reducing rural customers’ bills might add up to several hundred dollars a year, but where is the money for the $116-million cost coming from? It, like the other costs, is being added to your bill in the regulatory line.
Similarly, the Ontario Electricity Support Program or OESP is being paid for by electricity customers.
Meanwhile, the government gave out contracts last year for five more large-scale wind power projects, for power we don’t need, that will cost ratepayers over $3 billion over 20 years. That cost has yet to hit our electricity bills.
Ironically, the government’s green energy program isn’t even achieving its stated goals. According to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, wind power has “relatively little economic value” and because of its intermittent nature it needs back-up from natural gas, which means more fossil fuel use for power, not less.
Rather than telling us we don’t “understand” our bills, and spending money on costly conservation advertising that claims to save us money, the Ontario government needs to take bold steps to get costs down. That means cancelling wind power contracts awarded in 2016, cancelling the entire wind power procurement program, and taking a hard look at all other contracts to determine whether buying them out is a better option than losing millions selling surplus power off cheap.
Parker Gallant is a former international banker who now analyzes Ontario’s electricity sector. He is vice-president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
Electricity sold off cheap could have powered 50% of Ontario homes; wind clearly not needed
The line of poetry “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good” was a reality in November for Ontario ratepayers. The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) finally released their November 2016 Monthly Market Report on Friday, January 13, 2017 and there was not much good news in it.
While net exports* were down compared to the same month in 2015, it wasn’t related to the amount of wind power generated and curtailed (estimates of the latter from Scott Luft); that exceeded November 2015 by about 152,000 megawatts (MWh) and clocked in at 1,363,000 MWh. Generated and curtailed power exceeded Ontario’s net exports in 2015, representing 102.7% versus 72.9% the previous year. One should suspect November 2016 also saw spilled hydro and steamed off nuclear, but at 102.7% of our net exports, it is obvious that power generation from wind was clearly not needed.
November 2016 was not the month with the highest combination of generated and curtailed wind, but rather the second highest. The highest, according to Scott’s estimates, was December 2016, but we will save that report for another day.
Exported power could have served half of Ontario
Net exports in November 2016 were equivalent to the power that approximately 150,000 “average”** Ontario households would use in a year, or to put it another way, was sufficient to supply 2.4 million of those same households for the whole month of November. That is slightly more than 50% of all Ontario households.
The net exports of 1,326,960 MWh in November 2016 cost Ontario ratepayers $169 million to generate and sold at an average price of $16.69 per/MWh, resulting in income of $21.4 million. What that means is, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers subsidized the sale, picking up the difference of $l47.4 million, along with another $30.8 million for the 254,000 MWh of curtailed wind. Past and present Energy Ministers in the Wynne-led government would probably claim the deeply discounted sale price for those exported MWh was actually a “profit” but most ratepayers recognize that claim to be untrue.
Cancel the contracts
Current Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has a chance to make his mark by halting all planned acquisition of wind power generation in LRP I and LRP II, as well as cancelling any wind power projects that have not commenced construction, or which have passed their critical “operational” dates.
Time to treat industrial-scale wind power development as that “ill wind”!
Parker Gallant on his Energy Perspectives blog, has summarized some of the comments made to the Ontario Ministry of Energy, when it requested input for the new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).
Predictably, the wind power trade association and lobbyist said more wind power is needed, but other organizations such as the Canadian Taxpayers, the professional engineers, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have different ideas. They think the new plan should focus on cost — otherwise, as the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters warned, investment and jobs will go elsewhere.
The comments from Strategic Policy Economics were pointed: wind doesn’t work.
Marc Brouillette’s excellent submission on behalf of Bruce Nuclear also carries some sane observations such as “Wind generation has not matched demand since its introduction in Ontario” and, “Over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supply capability.” And this one, which is becoming more evident as ratepayers are forced to pay for curtailed generation: “Wind generation will not match demand in the OPO Outlook future projections as 50% of the forecasted production is expected to be surplus.”
WCO vice-president Parker Gallant and president Jane Wilson speak on Ontario’s mismanaged electricity sector, energy poverty, wind turbine noise regulation, and what’s ahead for 2017
Wind Concerns Ontario
Q:You’ve been telling people about the impact of renewables, specifically wind power, on Ontario’s electricity or hydro bills. How much of our electricity bills is due to the wind power/renewables program in Ontario?
Parker Gallant: I recently reviewed the cost of wind and solar generation relative to its contribution to Ontario’s demand for electricity and its impact on our electricity costs is shocking. Wind and solar in the first six months of 2016 delivered 8% of our generated power and represented 35% of the Global Adjustment which appears set to average over $1 billion per month. That represents a cost of over 36 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh), including the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP).
Q: Parker, you’ve also been telling people about the Global Adjustment or GA, which is where a lot of charges are hidden. Do you think these charges should be detailed on our bills, or is that even possible?
Parker Gallant: While I believe in principle the GA should be revealed on our monthly bills, in practice, that would require reams of paper. How will the local distribution company explain how much you are billed for curtailed wind generation or the meteorological stations that measure the amount of curtailed wind that might have been generated? How to explain, say, the cost of spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear or the water fuel fee, or how to tell the ratepayer how much they are subsidizing the rates for large industrial clients, or what it is costing under the rural and remote rate plan (RRRP) that transports diesel fuel to remote First Nations, among dozens of other items included in our monthly bills?
Q: The Premier and Energy Minister are now saying that parts of their policies have been a “mistake” and that they need to get bills down. Wind Concerns is saying that canceling wind power contracts is necessary for that to happen. Can you explain? How much are the 2016 contracts worth?
Parker Gallant: Interesting they are now admitting a “mistake,” but when George Smitherman was Energy Minister he was provided with a long-term energy plan that had been carefully developed by “experts” within the crown agencies. He chose to cancel the plan and instead, impose one developed in conjunction with outsiders who were NOT experts. Previous Energy Ministers (Dwight Duncan comes to mind for his “smart meter” for every ratepayer) made mistakes, as did those who followed such as Brad Duguid and were roundly criticized by both the media and by ratepayers. The canceling of wind power projects not yet built or even contracted is only “step one” and will slow the climb in our bills. The current Minister, Glenn Thibeault has only suspended Large Renewable Procurement or LRP ll, and needs to cancel it, as well as LRP I and any of those contracts now past their agreed-to start date. There are ways to reduce costs almost immediately.
Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a detailed document for the IESO on the Long-Term Energy Plan, suggesting ways they could save $1.7 billion annually. That would have an immediate cost reduction impact.
Q: The Energy Minister says that now, Ontario is a “net exporter” of electricity like that’s a good thing. He claims we’re making money: is that true?
Parker Gallant: Being a “net exporter” of 16.8 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 is simply a demonstration of being a bad planner and manager of the system. If one adds the spilled hydro and curtailed wind to the net exports, the 21.2 TWh could have provided over half of all average Ontario households with power for a full year, yet we sold it 2.36 cents/kWh while we paid 10.14 cents/kWh for its generation. Ontario contracted for far too much intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power creating a domino effect the increased our costs of generation. Paradoxically, if Ontario ratepayers consumed more of the annual excess power (15.5% in 2015) it would help reduce our per kWh cost.
Q: What is WCO’s stance on climate change?
Jane Wilson: Our position is that everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment, whether that is preventing air pollution or using the most efficient forms of power generation — but that isn’t industrial-scale wind. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or OSPE says that the proliferation of large-scale wind will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, therefore not achieving the government’s stated goals. In the OSPE’s most recent report, they say “Wind generation offers less GHG reduction value in Ontario because base-load generation is already carbon-free and wind generation often displaces hydroelectric and nuclear base-load generation.”
Q: Why does the Ontario government continue to force wind turbines on communities that don’t want them?
Jane Wilson: The government is acting on an ideology that is not supported by fact and to do that, it erased communities’ right to local land-use planning with the Green Energy Act. We think that’s wrong, and are supporting the now 116 municipal governments that have demanded a return of that control and also that community support be mandatory for wind power contracts. There is a concern too about communities in the North where there may not be elected municipal governments, where contracts can be awarded for wind power projects that have a significant negative impact on the natural environment, for little or no benefit.
WCO worked with Ontario municipalities on the mandatory support resolution.
Q:Can the government really cancel wind power contracts? Can a new government cancel the subsidy programs?
Jane Wilson: Yes. There are clauses in the contracts under LRP I that are “off-ramps” in the case of cancellation, and which set out the financial steps needed to do that. For example, the contract with EDP for the “Nation Rise” project south of Ottawa in North Stormont, worth $430 million over 20 years, would cost $250,000 plus reimbursement for development costs that must be justified, to a maximum of $600,000. And yes, government can cancel subsidy programs. The LRP II, now “suspended”, should be cancelled outright.
The other opportunity is to cancel wind power projects that do not have a “Notice-to-Proceed”: this is straightforward. WCO has also suggested to the IESO that the government look seriously at all contracts and review them for opportunities to cancel. Even costly negotiated buy-outs will reduce hydro costs significantly, due to the high cost of disposing of surplus power.
Q: What is WCO doing to help people already living with wind turbines, and the noise they produce?
Jane Wilson: We support the public health investigation being done by the Huron County Health Unit, and hope that other municipalities will take similar action. We are also looking at how research can be done to help change the Ontario regulations on noise –which are not based on current science and in fact, are completely inadequate to protect health. We prepared a detailed document on how to revise noise enforcement regulations, another on how the approval process must be changed to protect health, and we submitted a document to the World Health Organization which is preparing global noise regulations for wind turbines. In short, we take every opportunity possible to explain the situation for people living in communities where wind turbines and their noise emissions have been forced, without consent, on the people of Ontario, with the goal of having regulations and processes changed.
Q: What’s ahead in 2017?
Jane Wilson: It’s a very different world for wind power now, than in 2009 when the Green Energy Act was passed. People are genuinely questioning the benefit of high-impact, large-scale wind power development, especially when there seem to be few, if any, benefits, and we are seeing the shocking results of the government’s complete mismanagement of the electricity sector such as lost jobs and rising energy poverty. We believe the government will have to take dramatic action if it is serious about getting electricity bills down. The fact that Ontario municipalities are speaking out on this issue and taking action will also have results, we believe. We are hoping for a complete halt to the ongoing damage of the government’s policies, and that there will be help for people already living with the noise and other impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines.
As for Wind Concerns Ontario, we are not stopping our work.