Wind power profits don’t stay in Ontario

April 15, 2018

Follow the money … out of Ontario

A profile of who’s who in Ontario wind power development

Tax benefits and subsidies were important incentives to foreign companies

By Wind Concerns Ontario

 

The rainbow didn’t end in Ontario after all

 

April 15, 2018

With the recent announcement that the Canada Pension Plan decided to purchase some of U.S. energy giant NextEra’s wind and solar portfolio (a $741M CAD deal that also involves assuming $800M in debt), many people are suddenly noticing ownership of Canada’s renewable power sector.

A popular view of the wind industry in Ontario is that it is composed predominantly of Canadian companies in an “infant industry” that needs government subsidies to survive. The reality only becomes clear when one looks behind the scenes at the actual participants in the industry.

Ontario’s industrial wind generators enjoy the benefits of many federal and provincial programs, all of which were intended to ease their access to financing and improve investors’ returns. The list of special incentives is a long one, but here are the five most important:

 

  • The implementation of special feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates far above the market rates received by conventional energy producers; these rates started at $135 per megawatt hour (MWh) and have only recently declined to $125 per MWh;
  • The guarantee of these rates for the twenty-year life of the contracts;
  • Granting wind and other renewable energy sources priority access, or “first-to-the-grid” rights, requiring the Independent Electricity System Operator to take their production whenever it was available, even when that meant curtailing the purchase of other generation or dumping surplus energy at distressed prices on export markets;
  • Special tax benefits, including the federal government’s accelerated capital cost allowances and the Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expenses allowance and the Ontario government’s cap on the property taxes that industrial wind turbines pay to local municipalities;
  • Other subsidies, including the federal government ECOenergy for Renewable Power Program, $1.4 billion over five years in Budget 2017, and continuing large research and development assistance.

 

As a result, the Ontario wind industry, in general, has found the “pot of gold”, a level of income and wealth that far exceeds its general image. To illustrate this, let us examine some of the most prominent firms in the industry.

Here is a summary of the companies active in Ontario both as developers and operators, with financial statistics gleaned to the best of our knowledge and ability.

 

Non-Canadian developers/operators

Acciona: With headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Acciona develops and builds power projects for itself and third-party companies in 20 countries worldwide. In Ontario Acciona operates the 76-MW Ripley wind power project. As part of its “wind power value chain” the company also manufactures some turbine components. Revenue in 2017 was €7.2B and net income was €220M or $350M CAD. Chairman is José Manuel Entrecanales; no compensation data is available.

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners: Headquartered in Bermuda with an office in Toronto, Brookfield is “multi-technology, globally diversified, owner and operator of renewable power assets” which includes more than 70 wind power projects around the world. In Ontario the company operates the 189-MW Prince project, Comber (165 MW) and Gosfield (50.6 MW) Brookfield also owns 51% of US-based Terraform Power, which operates the Raleigh Wind Farm. North American revenue in 2017 was $1B USD. CEO is Sachin Shah; 2016 compensation was $3.8M USD. 

Capstone Infrastructure: Capstone Infrastructure is a subsidiary of U.K.-based Irving Infrastructure, and owns and operates thermal and renewable power facilities. Headquarters for Canada are in Toronto. In Ontario, projects are: Erie Shores-Port Burwell-Malahide (99 MW), Skyway 8 (9.5 MW), Goulais (12.8 MW), Grey Highlands (18.5 MW), Grey Highlands ZEP (10 MW), Ganaraska (8.8 MW), Snowy Ridge (5 MW) and Settlers Landing (4 MW). Revenues for 2017 were $154M CAD. CEO is David A. Ave, whose 2016 compensation was $500K CAD.

EDF Renewables: This company is associated with EDF or Electricité du France, the Power utility in France. Headquarters for EDF Renewables is in San Diego, California; the company operates in Canada as EDF EN Canada (EDF Energie Nouvelles). EDF EN Canada currently has a contract for the 60-MW Romney Wind power project, which was the first of the LRP I projects to receive Renewable Energy Approval on April 16, 2018. CEO is Tristan Grimbert. No further financial data is available.

EDP Renewables : EDPR is a division of EDP or Energias du Portugal. The company’s headquarters are in Oviedo, Spain. EDPR claims to be the world’s fourth largest wind power developer. In 2017, the company states, it produced 27,600 GWh of power from wind. In Ontario, it operates the 30-MW South Branch project between Ottawa and Cornwall, and currently has a contract for the 100-MW Nation Rise project in North Stormont, south of Ottawa. Revenues in 2017 worldwide were €1.6B or $2.5B CAD. CEO of EDPR is Joᾶo Manso Neta; there is no compensation data available for the CEO. In June 2017 it was announced that the CEO of parent company EDP was being investigated on corruption charges related to power contracts; the CEO of EDPR was also being investigated, but there has been no news since of any charges.

Engie: Based in France, with North American Headquarters in Houston, Texas, and an Ontario office in Markham. This company bought AIM Power Gen (operated by Mike Crawley who is known to many Ontarians, and is now VP at Northland) which had become GDF Suez; it now operates the wind power projects at Cultus-Clear Creek Frogmore (30-MW), Harrow (40 MW), Erieau (99 MW), East St. Clair (99MW), Plateau (27 MW), and Point Aux Roches (49 MW). Revenues company-wide for 2017 were €65B or $101B CAD. CEO is Isabelle Kocher, whose 2016 compensation was €2.8M or $4.4M CAD.

Horizon Wind: See EDPR. The Horizon “Legacy” company operates the 10-MW Ernestown Wind project near Kingston.

Invenergy: This U.S.-based company has its headquarters in Chicago, and offices in Toronto, Denver and Mexico City plus a European office in Warsaw. It currently manages or has developed 82 wind power projects. Net worth is approximately $1B USD. Current Ontario project: Strong Breezes Dutton Dunwich (57.5 MW). Invenergy also developed the 78-MW Raleigh Wind project, which it sold to TerraForm and Sun Edison. Invenergy had proposed a project in North Perth, but the contract with IESO was terminated when it became impossible for the company to meet the contracted amount of power generation, due in part to citizen action and community opposition.

Longyuan Canada Renewables/China Longyuan Power Group: With 10,000 wind turbines worldwide in its portfolio producing 17,000 MW of power, the China Longyuan Group is the world’s largest wind power developer. The company also produces power from coal, and has minor interests in thermal, biomass and solar. Wholly owned subsidiary Longyuan Canada Renewables is headquartered in Toronto with nine employees, and operates the 91.4-MW Dufferin Wind power project (Melancthon). President is Zhu Dong; no compensation data is available. The company recently applied for an amendment to its renewable energy approval, to install optimization software which will increase power output but not exceed its nameplate capacity of 99MW. Operating profits for China Longyuan in 2017 were CNY 8.3B ($1.7B CAD), up from 2016 due to higher prices for coal. The President/General Manager is Li Enyi whose 2016 compensation is reported by Bloomberg as CNY 1,074,00 ($219,000 CAD)

NextEra Energy: NextEra Energy Canada is a division of NextEra Energy Inc. The company’s headquarters are in Juno Beach, Florida FL with a Canadian office on Bay Street in Toronto. NextEra operates the following Ontario wind power projects under contract to the provincial government: Conestogo (22.9 MW), Jericho (149 MW), Adelaide (60 MW), Bluewater (60 MW), Summerhaven (124.4 MW), Goshen (102 MW), Cedar Point II (100 MW), Bornish (73.5MW), and East Durham (22 MW). Income of the parent company was $5.3B USD; president and CEO James Robo earned a base salary in 2016 of $1.3 M USD but topped it up with incentives, bonuses and stock options for a total compensation package of $16M USD. On April 2, 2018, it was announced that the Canada Pension Plan had agreed to purchase four NextEra wind facilities, plus two solar projects, in Ontario; the deal is subject to Canadian regulatory approval and if approved, may close in the second quarter of 2018.

RES Group, operating in Canada as RES Canada: Headquarters are in the UK with a Canadian office in Montreal. RES’ slogan is “Power for Good.” The company boasts a portfolio of more than 7,000 wind turbines and asset management of 2 GW of wind power generating facilities. RES Group was the subject of a BBC documentary called “Blown Apart” which featured an RES employee “Rachel” who infiltrated a village community with dreams of a green future for her community, only to be revealed eventually as a corporate operative trying to get people to sign wind turbine leases. In Ontario, RES was involved in construction of South Kent Wind, Brooke-Alvinston, Grand Valley 3, and Gunn’s Hill, and as a developer, has a contract for the 32-MW Eastern Fields in The Nation, near Ottawa. RES bills itself as a full-service provider, offering asset management and project design services. No data found on earnings, and no information on compensation for CEO Ivor Catta.

Pattern/Pattern Energy Group: The company’s slogan is “Transitioning the world to Renewable Energy.” Headquarters are in San Francisco; the company operates the Belle River (see Samsung), and North Kent projects in Ontario, is a partner in K2 Wind, and is constructing the Henvey Inlet 300-megawatt project. 2017 revenues were $411.3 million USD. CEO/President is Michael Garland, whose 2016 compensation was $2.7 MM ($430.7K salary, $456K bonuses, and $1.8MM stock).

Prowind: Prowind is a very small player but managed to attract attention for its 18-MW Gunn’s Hill project near Woodstock, which it claims is a totally community endeavour. In fact, the lone community member in the investment leadership group went on to be president of Prowind Canada, and other “community” members were Toronto-based environmental organizations. The community launched an appeal of the REA, but was not successful. Prowind is a subsidiary of Prowind GmBH of Germany; president and CEO in North America is Frank Mascia and chair is Johannes Busmann. No financial data is available.

Samsung Renewable Energy: The company is a division of Samsung C&T Investment Trading Group. Samsung C&T is headquartered in Korea; there is an office in Canada located in Mississauga. Samsung developed the huge K2 Wind project (with Pattern and Capital Power, 270 MW) but has since sold its interest to a consortium which includes insurance giant ManuLife, the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund and Toronto-based equity fund manager Axium. Samsung operates Belle River (100 MW) , Armow (180 MW), and South and North Kent (270 and 100 MW respectively). Samsung, also known as “the Korean consortium,” was given an extraordinary contract by the Ontario government in 2010 to buy $9.7B CAD worth of electricity. The contract amount was slashed by a third in 2013; the government claimed Samsung had missed some deadlines, but the fact is, that much power was not (is not) needed. Canadian vice-president is Steve Cho; Samsung C&T president and CEO is Chi H. Choi; no compensation data is available. Samsung C&T operating profits in 2017 were 881.3B won or $1.05B CAD.

Saturn Power: Saturn operates the 10-megawatt Gesner project. It is a private company so no financials are available; headquarters are in Baden, Germany.

Terraform Power: Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Terraform is the “owner and operator of a 2,600 MW diversified portfolio of high-quality solar and wind assets, primarily in the U.S., underpinned by long-term contracts” which includes the 78-MW Raleigh Wind project, which it purchased from Invenergy. Revenue for 2017 according to the company pro forma was estimated to be $585 M USD. CEO is John Stinebaugh; no compensation data available.

Veresen Inc.: Veresen was the owner and operator of the 20-MW Grand Valley 1 wind power project; the company was recently acquired by Pembina in 2017 for $6.4B CAD.

WPD Canada: This is a wholly owned subsidiary of WPD Europe/WPD AG, a private company headquartered in Bremen, Germany. The Canadian office is in Mississauga. The company is active in 18 countries and says it has installed 1,700 wind turbines. In Ontario, WPD operates the Springwood (8.2 MW), Whittington (6 MW), Napier (4 MW) and Sumac Ridge (10.25 MW) projects, and has a contract (currently being disputed in the courts by a citizens’ group) for the 18-MW White Pines project in Prince Edward County. WPD Power’s CEO is Dr. Gernot Blanke; no compensation data is available

 

Canadian companies

Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.: Algonquin is described as a Canadian utility involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of power. The headquarters are in Oakville, Ontario. At present in Ontario, the company’s wholly owned subsidiary Windlectric Inc. sold half its lone wind project to Newfoundland-based construction company Pennecon to build a 75-MW wind power project on Amherst Island. Algonquin Power is estimated to have $10B CAD in assets. With a five-year return of 73% the company has been the darling of Canadian investors but has tumbled with a more recent 1-year return of 2.06%. CEO of Algonquin is Ian Robertson, whose 2016 compensation was $3.5M according to Reuters; Pennecon’s president is David Mitchell for whom no compensation data is available.

BluEarth Renewables: With headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, BluEarth is described as a “private independent” company whose major shareholder is in fact the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. It operates two wind power projects in Ontario: Bow Lake Wind (60-MW), and St Columban (33 MW). In February 2018, BluEarth announced a deal with Veresen in which it would acquire an interest in three Ontario wind power projects, with a view to own and operate, in the long term.   Net worth is estimated at $10B CAD. President and CEO is Grant Arnold; no compensation data is available.

Boralex: Boralex was created in 1990 as a joint venture between the leaders of three companies; the name Boralex is derived from the names of these companies: LaduBOR, ALbany Oil (U.S.) and EXar (U.S.).  Headquarters are in Kingsey Falls, QC. Boralex is active in Canada, France and the U.S. Ontario Projects are Port Ryerse (10 MW) and the proposed/contracted Otter Creek (50 MW). The company was involved in the development of the Niagara Region Wind Farm (230 MW) and acquired at least part of the project from Enercon in 2017. Revenue from energy sales in 2017 to September 30 were $285M CAD. Total equity: $2.7B USD. Compensation for CEO Patrick Lemaire was $1.2M CAD in 2016.

Capital Power: Based in Edmonton, Capital is involved in a variety of power generating enterprises, including wind; Capital is a partner in K2 Wind, and operates the 40-MW Kingsbridge project in Ontario, and the 104-MW Port Dover and Nanticoke facility. Revenues in 2017 were $1B and net income was $144M. CEO is Brian Vaasjo whose 2016 compensation was $2.9M.

Enbridge: The company is best known as a producer of fossil fuels in Canada. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta the company says it transports, generates and distributes energy, in that order. It operates 16 wind power projects in North America, including the Talbot (98.9 MW) and Underwood (181.5 MW) power facilities in Ontario. Adjusted earnings for 2017 were $3.2B CAD of which “green power” earnings were $101MM. CEO until recently was Al Monaco who is listed as one of Canada’s 100 highest paid executives with a base salary of $1.377MM and total compensation of $11.391MM.

Kruger Energy: Kruger is a family-owned company headquartered in Montreal that is involved in paper, paperboard recycling, and energy. Kruger Energy was founded in 2004 to develop power projects in Canada, and currently operates the 101.2-megawatt facility at Port Alma, and the 99.4-MW Kruger Chatham Wind Farm in Ontario. The company also put forward a proposal in 2015 for another Chatham-Kent facility. The company is privately held by the Kruger family. CEO is Jean Roy; no compensation data is available.

Northland: Northland is a rare bird in wind power development in Ontario, with headquarters in Toronto. The company operates two wind power projects at present: McLean’s Mountain on Manitoulin Island (60 MW), and the Grand Bend facility in Zurich (100 MW). Profits for 2017 were up 37% to $1.2B CAD, with net income up 45% to $276 MM. Northland is involved in two offshore wind projects in Europe and owns 100% of the Nordsee wind power project. Northland is also involved in solar projects in Ontario. CEO is John Brace whose 2016 compensations was $1.9MM CAD ($473K salary, $1MM stock, and $9,000 “other”). Also on Northland’s executive team is Mike Crawley, former CEO of AIM PowerGen and also famously chair of a McGuinty government panel that looked at a mix of energy resources for Ontario, and he was later president of the Ontario Liberal Party, and subsequently, the Liberal Party of Canada. Mr. Crawley’s 2016 compensation was $923K.

Suncor: The company describes itself as an “integrated energy company.” With headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Suncor currently operates four wind power projects in Canada, one of which is the Adelaide power project. But the company used to own more: in 2015, however, Suncor announced it was divesting almost all its wind assets, particularly in Ontario, and so sold off Ripley and Cedar Point as well as its share in the Kent Breeze project. Funds from operations in 2017 were $3B CAD. CEO is Steven Williams who is also listed by Canadian Business as one of Canada’s 100 highest paid executives. His base salary in 2017 was $1.375M, and total compensation was $11.482M.

TransAlta: Based in Calgary, TransAlta owns and operates the wind power project on Wolfe Island (famous for being one of the wind power projects with the highest number of bird kills in North America) and phases 1 and 2 of the Melancthon project in Shelburne (199 MW). The company claims production of 2,300 megawatts of power, of which 54% is from wind, in 18 facilities around the world. Wolfe Island and Melancthon 2 receive payments not only from their power purchase agreements with Ontario but also federal ECOenergy payments. Revenues for 2017 were $2.3B with operating income of $138M. The President and CEO is Dawn Farrell whose compensation came under fire in 2017 at the shareholders’ meeting; they objected to the 60% rise in compensation. Ms Farrell was paid $7.4M, which included a base salary of $960,000 plus stock options and bonuses.

 

Ownership at a glance

Developer ownership Megawatts in operation/planned Ontario
Non-Canadian 4,130.95
Canadian 1,212

More than 75 percent of Ontario’s wind power projects are owned by non-Canadian companies

 

Wind power development suppliers:

Enercon Canada:  Enercon Canada is a subsidiary of Enercon GmbH of Germany, which is the fourth largest turbine manufacturer in the world. Its Canadian offices are in Montreal. Enercon Canada developed and had the majority interest in the 230-MW Niagara Region Wind Farm until selling at least a 25% stake to Boralex in 2017. CEO is John D. Richardson; no compensation data is available.

Senvion Canada: Senvion Canada is a division of Germany-based Senvion S.A., one of the world’s leading turbine manufacturers. The company began operating in Canada in 2009 and now has more than 660 turbines installed. Senvion Canada is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, with offices in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. Senvion’s 2017 revenue was €1.8M ($2.8 CAD), sales or “order book” were €5B ($8B CAD). Senvion is owned by Centerbridge Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. CEO is Jurgen Geissinger; no compensation data is available.

GE Renewable Power is a division of GE or General Electric, which is aiming to profit from the renewables sector by manufacturing equipment including turbines. GE headquarters are is Boston, Massachusetts. In Canada, GE manufactures wind turbine blades at a plant in Gaspé. Profits have been down lately for the company, with a 1-year return on investment of -54%. In 2017, operating cash flow was $10B USD. CEO of GE Renewables is Jérôme Pécresse; no compensation data is available.

Vestas Wind Systems: Based in Aarhus, Denmark, publicly owned Vestas is perhaps the best known among wind turbine suppliers. According to one 2015 industry article, Vestas is the number one company in the world for turbine installations. Annual revenues for 2017 were €9.9B or $15.5B CAD, and operating profit was €1.6B or $2.5B CAD. CEO is Anders Runevad, who came on board in 2013 to help shift the company back to good fortune. Mr. Runevad maintains a low public profile and there is no compensation data available.

Siemens Canada is a division of worldwide engineering firm, Siemens AG, headquartered in Munich, Germany. Siemens Canada claims expertise in the fields of electrification, automation and digitalization and is involved in sustainable energy, “intelligent infrastructure,” healthcare and manufacturing. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a foremost supplier of power generation and power transmission solutions. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment and laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. With Headquarters in Canada in Oakville, Siemens Canada has approximately 5,000 employees, 44 offices and 15 production facilities from coast-to-coast. Siemens AG assets as of 2017 were €134B or $214.6B CAD; revenue was €83B ($9.61B CAD); operating cash flow was €6B ($132B CAD). Siemens Canada President and CEO is Faisil Kazi; no compensation data is available.

Aecon: This Canadian construction company is engaged in infrastructure and energy projects throughout Canada. The company is currently in negotiations to be sold to Chinese company CCCC International, but the sale is under review by the federal government on the grounds of national security interests. Aecon has headquarters for various regions but the Canada East office is in Toronto. Financial results were presented under Infrastructure and Energy—we’re not sure where the company’s work for wind power developers fits. Results for 2017 are: Infrastructure revenues $685M CAD and operating profit was $32.5 M CAD; Energy revenues were $395.7 M, and operating profits were $23.1M. Total assets for Aecon were $2.5B. President and CEO is John M. Beck whose 2016 compensation was $3.6M.

 

 ***

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

The information is complied from publicly available information. It is not an exhaustive list of Ontario wind power projects but we have elected to include developers of power projects 10-megawatts and more. Sources: company financial reports, Bloomberg, Reuters, Canadian Business

Thanks to energy economist Robert Lyman and energy commentator Parker Gallant for their input.

WCO expresses concern over CPP purchase of Ontario wind farms

Are wind farms the problem-free “green” investment the CPP should buy for Canadians’ future?

Why buy wind power projects when Ontario has a surplus of power and when wind power is a factor in higher electricity bills leading to energy poverty, Wind Concerns Ontario asked in a letter. And why is Canada’s public pension fund investing in projects that are producing environmental noise?

 

April 4, 2018

Wind Concerns Ontario, the coalition of more than 30 community groups and hundreds of families and individuals concerned about the impacts of industrial-scale wind power development, has written a letter to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, expressing concern about an announcement to buy four Ontario wind power projects from US-based NextEra Energy.

The CPPIB announced it was buying for wind power projects and two solar facilities in Ontario for $741M CAD, and further assuming NextEra’s debt of over $800M.

In a letter to President and CEO of the CPPIB Mark Machin, sent to the Board’s office in Toronto, Wind Concerns noted that Ontario is in a situation of surplus power, which is costing Ontario citizens millions.

“The surplus power is either sold at below-cost rates or given away to neighbouring jurisdictions,” WCO said,  “a practice that has caused Ontario’s electricity costs to balloon and is contributing to the energy poverty situation now being faced by many of the pensioners that your plan supports.”

There is also the troubling fact that the four NextEra wind power projects (Summerhaven, Jericho, Bluewater and Conestogo) have been the source of more than 120 official reports of excessive noise and vibration, some including staff notes on health impacts, made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. WCO obtained the Master Incident files under the Freedom of Information request process.

Citing one Master report from the Conestogo project in which MOECC staff noted that the mandated emissions and imissions audit were “incomplete at the time of submission” and also, that the Ministry had not provided resources for Provincial Officers to visit sites after hours and confirm or deny compliance, staff had no choice but to close the Incident Report file.

” Th[at] excerpt is typical of how noise reports are managed: there is no resolution, and the project is not compliant with key terms of its approval,” Wind Concerns Ontario told Mr. Machin.

WCO also referred to the Investment Board’s stated commitment to “Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors” in investment choices, and said, “We would think you would share local residents’ concerns about the operation of these projects. In short, there are other factors in this investment decision beyond the financial.”

“A critical factor will be resolution of these [noise] reports,” Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson concluded in the letter, “management and resolution of citizen health impacts, and liability for property value loss and other negative effects.”

 

Contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

Wind power exec accused of defamation against expert witness

October 28, 2017

Citizens of Dutton Dunwich oppose the Invenergy wind power project: is the company engaging in slander in the U.S.?

A qualified professional real estate appraiser in Illinois alleges that an executive with U.S. wind power developer Invenergy is conducting a campaign of defamation and slander against him, in an effort to have him disqualified from testifying as an expert witness on wind turbines and property values.

Michael McCann wrote a letter on October 20th to the County Supervisors in Palo Alto, Iowa, to counter statements made about him by the Invenergy employee, Michael Blazer, who is both a company vice-president and chief legal officer.

Apparently, Blazer filed an online complaint with the Illinois licensing board that governs the practice of real estate appraisers in that state, then took a screenshot of his complaint and filed that as proof that Mr McCann was “under investigation” by the licensing board. There was no public documentation of any complaint.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation did process the online submission but found it to be without merit, and dismissed any complaint against Mr. McCann. His license is not in fact under review.

Nevertheless, McCann alleges in his letter, months later Invenergy and Blazer continue to repeat the story that McCann is under suspicion, in an attempt to prevent McCann’s testimony about “injurious” effects of the presence of wind turbines on property values.

“This was a blatant attempt by an Invenergy officer and attorney acting as complainant, judge, jury and firing squad to advance his corporate interests by sullying my reputation, and apparently to try to prevent me from testifying regarding my well documented findings regarding the significant impact of wind turbines on neighboring values.”

Read the letter by Michael McCann to the Palo Alto County government here. McCann letter to Palo Alto County Iowa October 20 2017  Mr. McCann is currently seeking legal advice on future actions.

“This attempt to discredit an expert witness by a wind power developer is very worrying,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It is hard enough for ordinary citizens and community groups to achieve any kind of justice against these huge, wealthy power developers, without active campaigns to slander and discredit witnesses.”

Ontario Environment Ministry set to repeat mistakes if new power projects approved

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

NEWS RELEASE

ONTARIO ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO REPEAT WIND POWER MISTAKES

August 22, 2017

Wellington, Ont. —

Applications for approval of new, huge wind power projects now being filed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate should be denied, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

“There have been so many problems and mistakes with the government’s wind power program that not a single new project should be approved,” says Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson.

Recently, problems with well water have been revealed in the Chatham-Kent area, where vibrations from turbine construction and operation have disturbed the shale bedrock resulting in toxic heavy metals such as arsenic contaminating water, making it undrinkable.

On August 21st, Chatham-Kent council voted to demand a halt to construction of a new wind power project.

The Otter Creek project by French power developer Boralex is proposed to be built on the same geologic formation and there are questions as to whether it could also create water problems.

Turbine noise is an ongoing concern: Wind Concerns received MOECC documents earlier this year showing that the ministry has had thousands of complaints about excessive noise and vibration from operating wind turbines, but has not resolved any of the problems. Complaints about noise emissions from the turbines continue, often beginning as soon as the power projects begin operation. Citizens affected report sleep disturbance for weeks at a time, and other health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and cardiovascular symptoms.

“The Ministry doesn’t seem to be learning anything from reports of problems created by wind power projects,” says Wilson. “Their own field officers have documented issues with existing noise regulations and observed health effects, and now we have people with formerly pure well water turning black, but the MOECC continues to receive and approve these huge power projects based on the same regulations that have proven to be flawed.

“If the MOECC were a private business, they would acknowledge these mistakes and problems, and work to resolve them — that’s not what this government is doing.”

Wind Concerns filed a document recommending the Otter Creek project, now in review, not be approved. The turbines proposed have never been used and there are no actual noise output measurements for them, WCO says of the project which will operate immediately north of Wallaceburg.

“The modelling documents filed with their approval request are just estimates based on estimates,” says Wilson. “That’s not good enough to assure citizens of Wallaceburg their health will be protected.”

WCO says that projects not built yet should also be halted, such as the North Kent II, where water problems persist, and Amherst Island, to name two, where a tiny island community will be exposed to noise emissions from 26 50-storey high wind turbines and endangered wildlife will be affected.

The damage to the environment and to human health is inexcusable, WCO says, especially when the power projects are not needed. According to a report by the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 percent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted as it is produced out of phase with demand, and Ontario has a surplus of electrical power.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind Concerns Ontario comment to the MOECC on the Otter Creek project: CommentsOtterCreek-August18

Home in Huron County: thousands of noise complaints remain unresolved — yet government approving more projects? [Photo Gary Moon]
Turbines will cause devastation of Amherst Island heritage community, endanger wildlife — project should be cancelled, says WCO [Map: Wayne Gulden, Wind Farm Realities]

Math lesson on power costs for Minister Bob Chiarelli: Parker Gallant

Don't despair Mr Chiarelli: Parker Gallant explains it all nice and slow
Don’t despair Mr Chiarelli: Parker Gallant explains it all nice and slow

Math lesson # 2 for Bob Chiarelli—Calculating the cost per megawatt hour of Ontario’s power

January 5, 2016

Open “Tongue in cheek” letter to:

The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy, Queen’s Park, Toronto
Dear Minister Chiarelli:

First, I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Second, I hope you found the time to make it through the exercises I described in my recent letter so you now understand the difference between “profit” and “loss” in respect to the energy portfolio.

With that behind you, I believe it’s time for a second math lesson. We will again use the chart for November 12th, 2015 prepared by my friend Scott Luft. See below.

This lesson is focused on allowing you to understand how the cost per megawatt hour (MWh) by generating source can be calculated using the chart Scott prepared versus the IESO daily summary which is not at all as transparent as Scott’s.

Let’s start! Note the second portion of the chart with the subject line “IESO Transmission (Tx)”.  The first heading “Nuclear” is a reflection of the generation source and on this day it provided 58.1% of all generation.  How to get that calculation is simple.  Look at the first line; add the “Ontario” column of the generation of 429,668 MWh to the 2nd line “est. Distribution (Dx)1. giving you 447,177 MWh. Divide it into Nuclear total of 259,444 MWh and you get 58%!  Including curtailed it becomes 61.8%.

Now let’s calculate the cost of each megawatt hour of Nuclear generation. We will include “est. Curtailed” in our calculations as it is generation that could have been delivered, but because IESO was concerned with the grid crashing it was “curtailed” i.e., not produced.  Bruce Nuclear has the ability to “steam off” and that is what they were told to do, because wind/solar was generating too much power at a particular point in the day. Now the total of nuclear generation plus the curtailed (steamed off) nuclear is 276,301 MWh and that should be divided into the last line “Cost ($000s)” of $18.062 million —which demonstrates each MWh of nuclear cost $65.37/MWh.   Still with me, I hope!

OK, so let’s calculate the cost per MWh for hydro: that was 86,965 MWh + est. Distribution (Dx) of 1,867 MWh and curtailed (spilled) of 208 MWh for a total of 89,040 MWh. Divide that into the “Cost” of $4.671 million and you will see the cost per MWh was $52.46.  Hydro contributed 20.2% of Ontario’s total generation (ignoring curtailed generation) this day, so combined with nuclear those two sources generated or curtailed/steamed off 78.2% (365,341 MWh) of all electricity generated in the province, and 100.4% of total Ontario demand (refer IESO daily summary) of 363,960 MWh.

Hope you are paying attention Bob. Here’s why: our exercise up to now doesn’t include generation from wind, solar, gas, biomass or biofuel sources, yet they were were completely CO 2 free!   Worth pondering, eh?

Now, time to look at costs of those other sources of generation. Let’s start with gas and its role in providing “peaking power”!  On this day, gas provided 5.5% of Ontario generation (including “est. Distribution (Dx).”  The calculation: 24,511 MWh divided by 447,177 MWh = 5.5%.  The cost of those megawatt hours is simply: divide the “Cost” of $5.360 million by 24,511 MWh, giving a shocking total of $218.68/MWh!

Contracting for gas plants is to back up wind and solar generation when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine!

Here is an example that requires some math calculation so read this carefully before trying the calculations. Specifically let’s review  the TransCanada 900-MW gas plant (planned but canceled) for Oakville (most of the $1.1 billion cost) and moved to Bath!  The OPA contract (negotiated by the OPA) will pay them $15,000 per MW per month to be “at the ready.” The annual cost of the 900 MW is $162 million (900 MW X $15,000 X 12 = $162 million).

Bob, what the foregoing means is that if that plant produced just one (1) megawatt hour of electricity in a year, the cost would be $162 million.

Now let’s do a “what if” exercise: assume it will operate at 10% of rated capacity of 900 MW which means it will produce 788,400 MWh (10% X 900 MW X 8760 [hours in a year] = 788,400 MWh).  Actual generation costs from the gas peaking plants are based on the cost of the natural gas fuel plus a small mark-up but we will ignore those latter two costs in the next calculation just to keep it simple.  Here we go: if you divide the annual cost of $162 million by 788,400 MWh, your answer should be $205.50/MWh.  Pretty expensive, eh?

The requirement to back up industrial wind turbines is old news as noted in a Memorandum submitted to the U.K. Parliament which stated:  “Dr Paul Golby CEO of E.On UK, says 90% whilst Mr Rupert Steele of Scottish Power says, “Thirty Gigawatts of wind maybe requires twenty-five GW of backup.”  In other words, that means, if you contract for 1,000 MW of industrial wind generation you need a 900 MW gas plant to “back-up” its capacity!

So, doing math is important: you can see that you are almost doubling up on the cost of producing a single MWh of electricity.

That brings us to the actual cost of wind generation on the chosen day in November.

On November 12, 2015 (refer to Scott Luft’s chart) wind produced 63,203 MWh, i.e., the lines “IESO Transmission (Tx)” + “est. Distribution (Dx)” equals 63,203 MWh. On this day wind produced 14.1% of Ontario’s generation at a cost of $153.55/MWh (based on the calculations applied above) —or at least this is what one would assume.  That is an assumption you shouldn’t make though, Bob, and I will try to explain why.  Adding curtailed wind production (13,500 MWh) to the 63,203 MWh produced would reduce the per MWh cost to $126.52/MWh, but, and it’s a big but—it doesn’t include gas back-up costs.   Now pay attention!

The outstanding contracts for gas generation total about 9,000 MW of capacity and the contracts guarantee them (including the 2,100 MW of  Lennox owned by OPG) a monthly price similar to the TransCanada contract mentioned above.   So, knowing that, let’s assume the “average” contracted price is only $10,000 per MW per month.  Bearing that in mind the backup for wind (solar to a lessor extent) is costing Ontario ratepayers $1.080 billion annually to be on “standby”!  In other words, if they produced one (1) MWh in a year the cost would be $1,080,000,000.   Shocking eh?  If operated at 100% of rated capacity (which they can’t) they would produce almost 79 TWh (terawatts2.) or over 50% (9,000 MW X 8760 hours in a year) of Ontario’s annual consumption.

OK, now back to Scott’s chart of November 12 and let’s figure out the full cost. On November 12, gas generators operated at around 11.3% of capacity (79 TWh divided by 365 days in a year = 216,438 MWh and 24,511 MWh divided by 216,438 MWh = 11.3%).  The cost of that day’s gas generation combined with wind generation would be $171.75/MWh, i.e., combined cost of $15,065,000 divided by combined generation of 87,714 MWh (ignore the curtailed generation) = $171.75/MWh.  Now that cost coupled with the losses of $7.9 million from our exports of 74,352 MWh (cost of $108 per/MWh3.) Nov. 12th, produces a combined cost of $279.75/MWh or 4.3 times the cost of nuclear generation.

At this point, Bob, I hope you have grasped the math so I won’t go through the exercise for Scott’s other headings of biofuel, solar etc. I will leave you to work those out on your own.

I certainly hope this exercise gives you sufficient math skills to at least understand the basic steps you should go through before making either rash remarks or issuing directives to IESO telling them what to do. Instead perhaps you could instruct them to produce information similar to what Scott Luft produces.  The latter would also back up your leader’s wishes or intent to be “transparent” for the taxpayers and voters in Ontario.

Good luck with the math exercises and with demonstrating your Ministry’s intention to become more transparent.

Regards,

 

©Parker Gallant

  1. Distribution (Dx) reflects the generation sources (principally small wind and solar) hooked up directly to local distribution companies (LDC).
  2. One Terawatt hour is equal to 1,000,000 MWh.
  3. Refer letter of November 17, 2015.
(C) Scott Luft
(C) Scott Luft

Listen to experts on turbine noise to protect health: Wind Concerns Ontario to MOECC

November 24, 2015

Wind Concerns Ontario has written to the Green Energy Approvals section of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, following testimony from acoustics experts at the appeal of the White Pines wind power project last week. We demanded that the MOECC review the testimony of the witnesses, specifically that Ontario’s noise regulations are inadequate to protect health, and apply the information to the current review of noise regulations for wind turbines in Ontario.

The letter has been received and acknowledged.

The letter follows.

 

Stephanie Liu

Senior Program Advisor

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

Environmental Programs Division, Modernization of Approvals Branch, Green Energy Approvals,

135 St. Clair Avenue West Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5

November 20, 2015

RE: NOISE GUIDELINES FOR WIND POWER PROJECTS

We are aware that the comment period for the proposed amendments to current noise guidelines for wind power projects has closed; however, there is testimony being given at the appeal of the White Pines project in Prince Edward County that is germane to your review, and should not be overlooked.

Several experts in acoustics, who have technical experience measuring the noise and low frequency noise emissions from wind power projects, have testified over the last few days to the following key points:

  1. The Ontario regulations are inadequate to protect health
  2. The Ontario regulations rely heavily on A-weighted measurement which is not adequate or appropriate (this fact was already mentioned in the federal government funded report from the Council of Canadian Academies)
  3. Wind power developers’ predictions for noise are not always accurate and again, seek to conform to the inadequate regulations of the Ontario government
  4. The Health Canada study of wind turbine noise and health clearly shows there are problems after 35 dB

 

What follows is a citizen report of testimony given by Dr Paul Schomer, an eminent acoustics professional.

APPEC’s health appeal continued on Day 10 with expert witness Dr. Paul Schomer testifying before the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) on the White Pines wind project.  The remainder of the day was spent making adjustments to the schedule following WPD’s abrupt announcement that it was dropping an appeal of the disallowance of two turbines (T7 and T11) by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

Dr. Schomer, a former Standards Director of the Acoustical Society of America with 48 years’ experience in noise measurement, was qualified by the ERT as an expert in acoustics.  He told the Tribunal that all residents in the White Pines project area will be affected by audible and inaudible sound and a number of residents will be seriously affected.  The effects reported by people living near wind projects are similar in nature to the effects experienced by participants in a 1985 University of Toronto study on infrasound. 

At lower levels and at higher levels of pure tone some participants experienced nausea and dizziness.  However, when overtones were added at higher levels, participants experienced headaches and fatigue. Dr. Schomer considers that internationally-accepted noise standards and protocols are being flouted in Ontario.  For example, A-weighting is not supposed to be relied on when sounds have low-frequency content such as those emitted by industrial wind turbines.

  Canada is one of the countries that voted for this rule.  He also calls for changes in current Ontario regulations to adjust up to 10 db(A) for wind turbine noise in rural areas.  Other suggested adjustments include up to 3 db(A) for weather conditions and 3 to 4 db(A) for locations downwind of turbines.   

Dr. Schomer is highly critical of WPD’s current predicted average sound as it merely indicates that 50% of the time 50% of the residents will be exposed to sound above or below the limit.  The wind industry should be held to a higher level of accountability: db(A) limits should be met 95% of the time.

Dr. Schomer pointed to a very important figure in the Health Canada Report.  Only 1% of people are shown to be highly annoyed at 30 – 35 db(A) sound levels.  However, at 35 – 40 db(A) the number jumps to 40%.  Dr. Schomer sees this as evidence of a community response to wind turbine noise, and that what Health Canada says, what independent acoustic experts say, and what communities say should carry weight in Ontario.

Through experience Dr. Schomer has found that when community responses disagree with the physics, the physics is usually wrong.  This has been confirmed by his involvement in six studies of wind farms, including the 8-turbine Shirley Wind Farm in Wisconsin where three families abandoned their homes and about 60 other people reported adverse health effects.   

We would ask that the Ministry be certain to review and consider this important evidence in its review of the noise guidelines for wind power projects, which are in no way “farms.”

Just this past week, Wind Concerns Ontario has learned of seven families forced to leave their homes in the area of the Goshen project; another half-dozen families are leaving their homes behind in West Grey. This is all due to the noise experienced.

This is a matter of grave concern, and we hope the government is sincere when it says its mission is to “protect the environment” which also means, the environment people live in.

Thank you.

Jane Wilson, RN

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

windconcerns@gmail.com

PO BOX 509 250 Main Street Wellington Ontario

 

OPINION: U.S. subsidies for renewables staggering

WEEKEND READING

Ottawa energy economist Robert Lyman has looked at the amount being spent (taxpayer dollars) by the United States to support renewable energy development, including wind power.

The dollar amounts are simply staggering. Look too at the amount of power generation being achieved, for the taxpayer money spent.

               United States Subsidies for Wind and Solar Electricity Generation

How much do electricity consumers and taxpayers in the United States pay to help companies that produce industrial wind turbines and solar power equipment sell their products to electrical utilities? Some useful information on this subject came to light in March 2015, when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) published a report entitled Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Fiscal Year 2013.  The report can be read online here:

http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf

The report was prepared in response to a request from the U.S. House of Representatives. It focuses on both U.S. federal government subsidies to electricity production in general and subsidies to federal electric utilities. It does not include information on the programs of the U.S. states governments, 33 of which now impose Renewable Energy Standards that require electrical utilities to increase energy production from renewable energy sources. The report aims to provide data, not to draw conclusions or discuss policy issues. Most of the data compares the subsidy levels in 2013 to those in 2010, the date of the last EIA report on this subject. All figures are in U.S. dollars.

Here are the highlights.

  • In 2013, subsidies to fuel and technologies used for electricity production totaled $16.1 billion, compared to $11.7 billion in 2010. Subsidies to transmission and distribution totaled $1.2 billion in 2013, compared to $10.9 billion in 2010.
  • Subsidies to renewable energy for all uses totaled $15.0 billion in 2013, compared to $15.6 billion in 2010.
  • Wind and solar energy are the two largest recipients of subsidies.
  • In 2013, wind energy received $5.9 billion, of which $4.3 billion was in the form of direct expenditures (i.e. grants and contributions), $1.6 billion was tax expenditures (e.g. deductions and write-offs), and $49 million was research and development.
  • In 2013, solar energy received $5.3 billion, of which $3.0 billion were direct expenditures, $2.1 billion were tax expenditures, and $284 million were R&D.
  • Electricity-related subsidies increased 38% between 2010 and 2013, from $11.8 billion to $16.1 billion, largely as a result of a $4.2 billion increase in support for solar energy.
  • Wind energy received the largest share of direct federal support in 2013, accounting for 37% of total electricity-related subsidies.
  • Support for Smart Grid and electricity transmission represented the largest portion of electricity-related R&D subsidies. Nearly 39% of 2013 R&D expenditures were devoted to researching the electricity grid’s capability to accommodate larger shares of electricity from intermittent sources.
  • Renewables, excluding biofuels, received 72% of all electricity-related subsidies in 2013, yet accounted for 13% of generation capacity and 4% of actual generation. 

Supporters of renewable energy often compare subsidies to renewable energy to those for nuclear energy and for oil and natural gas.

  • In 2013, U.S. federal subsidies to nuclear energy totaled $1.7 billion, down from $1.9 billion in 2010. Of the 2013 figure, $406 million were spent on R&D and $1.1 billion were tax expenditures.
  • Nuclear energy accounted for 1141 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity generation in 2013, 28% of the U.S. total.
  • In 2013, subsidies to oil and natural gas totaled $2.3 billion (down from $2.7 billion in 2010), of which almost all were tax expenditures.
  • Tax expenditures are largely incentives to invest and often involve the involve the deferral of taxes to later years conditional on reinvestment.

Robert Lyman

Ottawa

August 12, 2015

Wind Concerns Ontario questions grant to large wind power project

NEWS RELEASE

Federal government grant to wind power project questioned

Wind power forcing electricity bills up and business out of Ontario

Toronto, July 22, 2015

Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) has written a letter to Tony Clement, MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, questioning the rationale for a $3-million grant of taxpayer funds to a large wind power generation project near Parry Sound in his riding.

The announcement came less than a week after the Fiat-Chrysler CEO visited Ontario and chided Premier Kathleen Wynne on the province’s lack of competitiveness for manufacturing. Renewable power sources such wind and solar are widely credited with causing Ontario’s electricity costs to soar, while providing an unreliable, intermittent source of power.

Wind Concerns estimates that the Henvey Inlet project will cost Ontario $2.3 billion over the 20-year contract for the project.

Wind power also does not create the number of jobs promised: most are short-term during the construction phase.

“We’re asking for clarification of the government’s policy on wind power,” says WCO president Jane Wilson. “On the one hand, we have countless reports, including two Ontario Auditors General statements, that say we desperately need a cost-benefit analysis for Ontario’s renewables program, and then we have two federal studies that point out potential health impacts from the noise emissions from the large-scale wind turbines, and on the other, we now have more taxpayers’ money going to support another project.

“What’s the government’s policy on wind power?”

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups and individuals concerned about the impact of large-scale wind power development on the natural environment, the economy, and human health.

See the letter to MP Tony Clement here: WCOletterTonyClementJuly20

Time for the TRUTH on wind turbine health effects

Scientific knowledge of wind turbine noise emissions is advancing rapidly. [Photo: Bloomberg]
Scientific knowledge of wind turbine noise emissions is advancing rapidly. [Photo: Bloomberg]
July 3, 2015

Wind Concerns Ontario has prepared a brochure on the question of health impacts from the noise and sound emissions from utility-scale or large-scale wind turbines used to generate power.

Scientific knowledge of the emissions from these turbines is advancing rapidly, the coalition of community groups and individuals says; it is now time for the wind industry to stop using outdated studies like the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s 2010 report to deny the adverse health impacts  that occur as a result of exposure to wind turbines.

“The Health Canada study is being used in Open Houses for wind farm proposals throughout Ontario right now as developers try to assure communities there are no health impacts from their power developments,” says Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario. “The truth is, the Health Canada study did report a significant response relationship between wind turbine noise and high annoyance–annoyance meaning stress or distress, which is an adverse effect in itself.”

These and other studies mean that the Ontario setback of 550 metres is not adequate to protect health, and neither is the regulated noise level of 40 dBA.

“It’s time to act to protect health in Ontario,” Wilson said.

The Wind Concerns Ontario brochure is WCO-BrochureFINAL.

 

WCO president misquoted in Ontario Farmer

To subscribers of Ontario Farmer, please take note: in the opinion column by Tom Van Dusen on a wind power information meeting held recently in Finch, Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson is quoted as saying Ontario ought to put wind “farms” in isolated areas where they won’t bother anyone. Mr Van Dusen then quoted the CanWEA representative Tom Levy as rebutting the statement, citing transmission costs when power is transported over great distances.

Mr Van Dusen’s recollection of the remarks is false: what Wilson said, in response to a question from the floor about why wind “farms” aren’t simply located in the North, was that people live there too, and the significant environmental damage done by wind “farms” was a factor, everywhere, including the North. Mr Levy did add the issue of transmission costs.

Wind Concerns Ontario will be sending a letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer to correct this misstatement by Mr Van Dusen.