Wynne government: keeping truth in the dark (or disguised)

WEEKEND READING

 

Randall Denley writes in the Ottawa Citizen about the current ad campaign by Ontario Power Generation (started in advance of the latest increase announcement). Eliminating coal was done in the most expensive way possible, Denley says. But here’s the kick: with wind and solar needing backup by natural gas, Ontario is still producing greenhouse gases (we’ll produce more with wind and solar, Ontario’s engineers say) but it’s done by private companies, so the government’s hands are “clean.” Read the story here.

Community engagement in wind power siting is a myth, says columnist and veteran journalist Peter Epp in the current edition of Ontario Farmer.[Not available online]

Here is the column:

“Unwilling”or not, it’s a go

Peter Epp, for Ontario Farmer

The Ontario government is spouting fiction when it suggests that the renewable energy projects it approves are welcomed within the communities in which they are to be developed.

In the most recent round of approvals [WCO editor’s note: the projects are not “approved” they have contracts, but …] announced in early March, three of the five wind projects were approved for municipalities that have been consistent in their formal rejection of such projects, each of them adopting status as an “unwilling host.”

They include the Town of Lakeshore in Essex County, the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich in Elgin County, and the Municipality of North Stormont in Eastern Ontario. [Editor’s note: the Municipality of Nation also got a contract and is also an unwilling host.]

Yet Ontario Energy Minister Chiarelli continues to pretend that these projects  are welcomed. Earlier this year he said the government has changed the way in which it consults with communities, “and ensures that only the most cost-effective and locally supported projects get built.”

But that can’t be the case when 60 per cent of the most recent round of approved wind projects were awarded to jurisdictions that don’t want them.

Dutton Dunwich on the phone again? Warwick too? Kawartha Lakes? Prince Edward County? Aw geez...
Dutton Dunwich on the phone again? Warwick too? Kawartha Lakes? Prince Edward County? Aw geez…

Chiarelli used the same line on April 5 when his ministry announced it would be launching its next round of wind, solar and other renewable energy contract bids [procurement] this summer. A request for qualifications for 930 megawatts of renewable energy …is to be issued by August 1. The contracts for successful bidders are to be issued no later than May 1, 2018.

“By putting the emphasis on price and community support, the next phase of renewable energy procurement will save customers money by putting further downward pressure on electricity prices,” Chiarelli said in a press release.

Planning for renewable energy is in Toronto, and continues to reside there

This is again fiction. There has never been any emphasis on community support. When the Ontario Green Energy Act was approved in 2009, municipalities were purposely excluded from any participation in the approval process. Planning authority was concentrated in Toronto, and that authority continues to reside there.

The government did give a small concession to local governments three years ago, allowing them to contribute to the planning discussion, while suggesting that municipal support for a renewable energy project would contribute to its approval.

But at no time has the government ceded its real authority.

It still makes the final decision: even if that decision doesn’t have local support.

That Chiarelli would continue in this charade is curious, given the strong opposition that some municipalities continue to provide…Dutton Dunwich even held a referendum on wind farms, in which 84 per cent of its residents cited their opposition.

90 communities opposed–and they’re not going quietly

Like Dutton Dunwich, Warwick Township in Lambton County is one of almost 90 “unwilling hosts” in Ontario, and yet there are nine wind turbines within its boundaries. Its mayor on April 5 said it would continue to remind Chiarelli and his ministry that Warwick doesn’t want any more turbines.

“We were very strong sending that message during the last phase, and we’ll continue…”

 

Editor’s note: Last month North Frontenac passed a resolution demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement in the procurement process, not just a means for bidders to get more points and a higher price. Other municipalities are expected to join in.

Weekend reading: energy policy, Ontario, and more

A selection of articles from the week gone by.

When energy policy goes bad, Financial Post, April 7.

Canada can build pipelines and wind turbines to build public confidence: federal Minister of Natural Resources, Financial Post, April 6

Green energy in Germany: green is the new colour of “sleaze” Blog posting [Note we would like to post the original article but the international edition of Der Spiegel did not include it}

Motion for stay in White Pines wind farm granted by ERT

Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity this week[Photo: APPEC]
Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity this week[Photo: APPEC]
April 8, 2016, 5:45 PM

Just a few moments ago, the Environmental Review Tribunal released its decision in the matter of a motion for a stay of construction activities by power developer WPD Canada.

The decision is as follows:

“The Tribunal grants APPEC’s motion for an interim stay of the REA until the resolution of APPEC’s motion for a stay, with reasons to follow.”

The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) will have a statement soon.

 

 

New federal budget to spend billions on ‘green infrastructure’

money

News media and others are puzzling over the new federal budget this morning, assessing what the proposed expenditures mean.

Of note for those watching how electricity is generated in Canada are statements about “green infrastructure” and actions to curb air pollution and fight climate change.

See a summary of Budget 2016 prepared by The Hill Times, here. SUMMARY FEDERAL BUDGET 2016

Ontario communities banding together to fight new wind power contracts

This is from the wind power industry’s own publication, North American Windpower

NAW Staff, March 8, 2016

Fifty-one Ontario municipalities are endorsing a resolution recently passed by the Township of Wainfleet Council that calls on the government of Ontario to stop awarding feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts for power generation from wind.

The resolution, passed in January, was based on December’s auditor general report that claimed Ontario has a surplus of power generation capacity and, under existing contracts, is paying double what other jurisdictions are paying for wind power, explains the Township of Wainfleet.

Thus, adding more surplus generation capacity would add to the already high costs of disposing of surplus electricity, says the township, which adds that the cost of electricity is a key concern for many Ontario residents.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has also reported the impact of high electricity costs on their members’ ability to grow their businesses and create jobs in Ontario. Thus, says Wainfleet, this suggests the need for a full, cost-benefit review of the renewable energy program before committing Ontario electricity users to even more surplus power.

According to Wind Concerns Ontario, the resolution also calls attention to the fact that wind power projects cause damage to the environment by killing wildlife.

April Jeffs, mayor of the Township of Wainfleet, is pleased with the support that her council’s resolution is receiving from across the province: “This quick response from other municipalities to the circulation of the resolution indicates that wind turbines are still front and center as an important issue in rural Ontario,” she says.

According to the township, Jeffs reports that at least one of the two projects in the area is the cause of citizen reports of deteriorating health. She is particularly concerned about the second project currently under development in her area – which involves 77 3.0-MW turbines in Wainfleet, West Lincoln and eastern Haldimand County.

The township says the more powerful turbines are located in areas with a sizeable residential population with an estimated 2,000 households living within 2 kilometers of the towers. The project will operate under one of the older, expensive FIT contracts criticized by the auditor general; the Wainfleet resolution asks the government to review options under the contract to cancel the project.

Now that coal-fired power plants have closed, says Wainfleet, the government should have met its carbon-reduction goals for the electrical power system in Ontario – which is now largely based on carbon-free hydroelectricity and nuclear power. This gives the province an opportunity to assess renewable generation alternatives that have less impact on the host communities, according to the township.

In addition, clauses in the 2015 RFP documents issued by the Independent Electricity System Operator do not commit the government to issue any wind contracts, so the government is protected against lawsuits from the bidders should it change course at this time, Wainfleet adds.

“Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “According to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, that can mean more greenhouse gas emissions, not less, because of the need for backup by natural gas power plants. Everyone wants to help the environment, but utility-scale wind power is not the answer.”

Brandy Giannetta, the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) regional director for Ontario, calls the resolution a “political statement at the municipal level.”

Although it’s “unfortunate that it’s out there,” Giannetta tells NAW, she notes the importance of the province’s Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process in showing the cost-competitiveness of wind power. The process calls for the procurement of utility-scale renewables projects; specifically, the LRP I requested up to 300 MW of wind.

The LRP, led by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), aims to “strike a balance between early community engagement and achieving value for ratepayers,” according to the IESO. Giannetta says the LRP contracts will be awarded as soon as this week.

In March 2015, when the first request for proposals under the LRP was issued, Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, said, “An important part of the RFP process will be early and meaningful community engagement. Effective community engagement is fundamental to the success of wind energy projects, and the wind industry values the right of individuals to have an important role in discussions about developments in their community.”

A full list of the municipalities supporting the resolution can be found here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of this writing the number of municipalities is now 59. See the list here.

Ontario municipalities call for no new wind power contracts

Wind Concerns Ontario, the coalition of community groups and individuals concerned about the impact of utility-scale wind power projects on Ontario’s economy and environment, and on human health, has issued a statement of support for the 50+ municipalities endorsing the Wainfleet Resolution, which calls on the Wynne government to not issue wind power contracts for the 2015 bid process, as planned.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) plans to announce successful bids for 300 megawatts of new wind power generation soon. Ontario’s Auditor General pointed out in the recent report that Ontario pays double for wind power compared to other jurisdictions, and that a surplus of power means losses as the power is sold off cheap. The report also expressed concerns about environmental impacts, such as the effect on migratory birds, and the need for fossil-fuel generation back-up because power from wind is produced intermittently.

“Everyone wants to do what they can for the environment,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, “but with all the negative impacts, utility-scale wind power is not the answer.”

See the news release at Canada Newswire  March 7, 2016

 

Wind power developer sues Ontario over contentious project

The Thunder Bay area project was opposed by the Fort William First Nation and the community

Another beautiful Ontario location: perfect for power machines, right?
The Nor’Wester Escarpment–Another beautiful Ontario location: perfect for power machines, right?

Wind farm dead, but law suit alive

Chronicle-Herald, February 10, 2016

BY CARL CLUTCHEY NORTH SHORE BUREAU chroniclejournal.com

The Toronto energy company that proposed to build an ill-fated wind farm on the Nor’Westers escarpment is proceeding with a $50-million lawsuit against the Ontario government, despite having dropped an appeal of a provincial decision against the project.

“Upon careful consideration, we have decided to not appear before (Ontario’s) Environmental Review Tribunal, and instead pursue a remedy at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,” Horizon Wind spokeswoman Nhung Nguyen said Tuesday in an email.

Horizon withdrew its appeal to the tribunal on Jan. 25. The appeal had been launched last fall, after the Ministry of Environment said the proposed 16-turbine wind farm south of Thunder Bay couldn’t go ahead over lingering concerns over potential impacts on moose habitat.

In its lawsuit against the ministry, Horizon claims the province committed “negligent misrepresentations and misfeasance of public duty.”

None of the allegations in the suit’s 33-page statement of claim have been proven in court.

The lawsuit alleges that the ministry was “unlawfully influenced by the Ontario cabinet and the premier’s office” when it delayed the issuing of the project’s approval. …

Read the full story here.

First Nation, community group applaud power developer withdrawal

Environmental impacts from Thunder Bay area wind “farm” would have been significant and irreversible

 

TB Newswatch, February 9, 2016

By Jon Thompson, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY — Horizon Wind has withdrawn its appeal to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, effectively ending its decade-long pursuit of a wind farm on the Nor’Wester escarpment.

The company filed the appeal in July of 2014 after the Ontario Power Authority terminated its Feed-In-Tariff contract, citing a lack of progress on the proposed 32-megawatt wind turbine farm.

Horizon had been fighting a Fort William First Nation court injunction over land rights and the company had to drop a $126-million lawsuit it filed against the City of Thunder Bay over the project’s location.

It was also facing outspoken opposition from Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro and a grassroots mobilization of neighbours and conservationists.

Nor’Wester Escarpment Protection Committee president John Beals estimates his group has spent $150,000 and countless volunteer hours to oppose the wind farm.

“Fort William First Nation has done the lion’s share of the work with their concerns and we’re proud to take our hat off to them and say, ‘job well done,'” Beals said.

“Their rights are being acknowledged today.”

Read the full story here.

Electricity costs up 97 percent in Ontario: power surplus exports rising

wind contract banner

Ontario gives away $4.5 billion ratepayer dollars; persists in directive to add more wind and solar

The GA or Global Adjustment first made its appearance on IESO’s Monthly Market Report in January 2007. As noted in the chart below, that year, the GA finished 2007 at $3.95 per megawatt hour (MWh) which means it cost Ontario’s electricity ratepayers about $600 million for the full year. In, 2015 the GA was just shy of $10 billion.

To be fair, the GA includes the price of “contracted” power, less the value given to it on the hourly Ontario electricity price (HOEP) market. As a result of Ontario’s high surplus of generating capacity and the intermittent presentation of wind and solar in periods of low demand, has resulted in the HOEP showing declining values. Despite declining values the cost of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity increased from an average of 5.43 cents/kWh to 10.7 cents/kWh from November 1, 2007 to November 1, 2015 — up 97%. The upsetting part, and a driving force behind the 97% increase is surplus generation sold to our neighbours. We sell excess output to New York and Michigan, etc. without inclusion of the GA. The GA lost on those sales is charged to Ontario ratepayers and has become increasingly large. The chart indicates the “intertie flows” (exports/imports netted) initially cost Ontario ratepayers $20 million for 2007, but that has increased, and representing more $1.3 billion for 2015.

It is anticipated the annual cost of subsidizing surplus exports will continue to climb.

Scott Luft notes results for January 2016 are 20% higher than January 2015 for the cost of electricity as the HOEP was lower despite what Ontario’s Liberal government says about pricing stabilizing. With plans to add 500 MW of capacity for wind and solar, the climb will continue for at least another two years. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli recently stated: “Our government’s focus is now on preparations for the next long term energy plan and the ways in which we can continue to drive down costs for Ontarians”. (Note to the Minister: a 97% increase does not “drive down costs”!)

Further reference to the chart points out addition of more wind and solar over the past nine years has driven up the percentage of renewables exported. The “Net Intertie” (net exports) increased from 19.6% in 2007 to over 57% in 2015.

What the Energy Minister needs to accept is this: we don’t need more intermittent and unreliable power.

That message is not getting through, despite evidence presented by the Auditor General of Ontario on several occasions and by numerous critics in the media.

Costing ratepayers $4.5 billion in after-tax dollars to help our neighbours is what’s happened. Perhaps Minister Chiarelli could suggest to Finance Minister Charles Sousa, that the money extracted from ratepayers provides no benefits to Ontarians. Perhaps a tax receipt is in order — that would help cash-strapped citizens, but there is a better idea.

The Energy Minister needs to immediately recall his directive to the IESO to acquire another 500 MW of contracts for intermittent wind and solar power.

© Parker Gallant,
February 7, 2016

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

Year Net Intertie 1. Global Adjustment Cost to Ratepayers % of Renewables to Wind Solar &
TWh 2. Million of $/TWh GA X Net Intertie Net Intertie Biomass generation
(millions)
2015 16.86 TWh $77.80 $1,311 57.20%        9.65TWh
2014 15.15 TWh $54.59 $846 47.00%        7.12TWh
2013 13.40 TWh $59.22 $794 48.50%        6.50TWh
2012 9.90 TWh $49.23 $487 59.60%        5.90TWh
2011 9.00 TWh $40.48 $364 56.70%        5.10TWh
2010 8.80 TWh $27.18 $239 46.60%        4.10TWh
2009 11.30 TWh $30.56 $345 31.00%        3.50TWh
2008 10.90 TWh $6.12 $67 22.00%        2.40TWh
2007 5.10 TWh $3.95 $20 19.60%        1.00TWh
       Totals 100.40 TWh $4,473     37.00TWh