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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Electricity price goes down, your bills go UP

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

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

Where did the money go?

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

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

Time to come clean.

(C) Parker Gallant

* Ontario consumption remained at 137 TWh in 2016.

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

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

 

Independent researcher Carmen Krogh to speak at U Waterloo March 29

Carmen Krogh: research challenges

Invited Talk

TITLE:   Industrial wind turbines can harm humans
PRESENTER:  Carmen M Krogh

DATE:  Wednesday, March 29, 2017. 10:00am.
LOCATION:  DC 1302 (Davis Centre), University of Waterloo

ABSTRACT:
The topic of the risk of harm to human health associated with wind energy facilities is controversial and debated worldwide. On May 7, 2014, Carmen Krogh presented a seminar at the University of Waterloo which considered some of the research dating back to the early 1980s. A snapshot of some of the current research available in 2014 was provided. The research is challenged in part by the complexities and numerous variables and knowledge gaps associated with this subject. This presentation will explore some of these research challenges and provide an update on the growing body of evidence regarding human health risk factors. Included will be the emerging research indicating risks to those working in this field.

BIO:
Carmen M Krogh is a full time volunteer and published researcher regarding health effects and industrial wind energy facilities and shares information with communities; individuals; federal, provincial and public health authorities, wind energy developers; the industry, and others. She is an author and a co-author of peer reviewed articles and conference papers presented at wind turbine scientific noise conferences. Ms Krogh is a retired pharmacist whose career includes: senior executive positions at a teaching hospital (Director of Pharmacy); a drug information researcher at another teaching hospital; a Director of a professional organization; and a Director (A) at Health Canada (PMRA). She is the former Director of Publications and Editor in Chief of the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS), the book used by physicians, nurses, and health professionals for prescribing information in Canada.

 

Selected publications by Carmen Krogh as author or co-author:

Carmen Krogh appearance at IdeaCity: http://www.ideacity.ca/speaker/carmen-krogh/

Carmen Krogh and Dr Robert McMurtry in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: https://cmajblogs.com/health-canada-and-wind-turbines-too-little-too-late/

Carmen Krogh with Dr Roy Jeffery and Brett Horner in the Canadian Family Physician: http://www.cfp.ca/content/59/5/473.full

What Kathleen Wynne isn’t telling you about hydro bills

Premier Wynne says she’s being ‘fair’ but she’s not telling you everything… [PostMedia photo]
The Premier of Ontario put out a news release on March 2, claiming the government was going to reduce Ontario’s electricity or “hydro” bills substantially.

“I’ve heard from you loud and clear,” Kathleen Wynne said in her statement. “Nobody should have to choose between keeping the lights on or buying groceries.”

The Ontario Liberal government still claims the high electricity prices were because of improvements it “had to” make to the system. The news release concluded with these statements.

“We are – and always will be – committed to making Ontario a fairer and more inclusive place for everyone. And fairness means ensuring government investments don’t disproportionately affect today’s electricity ratepayers. One generation of ratepayers should not have to pay for the sins of the past and for a system that will benefit Ontario for decades to come. So our plan reduces costs today and stretches out costs over the long term so rates are fairer for everyone.”

Fairness. We’ve heard that before, like “transparency.” But again, the government is being disingenuous. Its latest move is simply stretching out the costs of its policy decisions, not taking action to reduce costs. (Our favourite pronouncement on this comes from electricity analyst Bruce Sharp who calls this tactic, “delay and pray.”)

Not reducing costs

The truth is, the government has signed more expensive wind power contracts for power the province doesn’t need.

At the moment, these six contracts, awarded in 2016,  total $3.3 billion in costs over 20 years. In addition, there are five more contracts for wind power projects that were approved but which are not yet on the grid –including White Pines, Amherst Island and Fairview Wind which are all in legal contests– that add up to another $1.8 billion.

The total for wind power contracts awarded, which represents new costs no yet on Ontario electricity ratepayer bills, is $5.1 billion.

That is not “reducing costs today”.

The government needs to cancel the 2016 wind power contracts (which contain clauses for pre-construction liability should the government cancel), and buy out of other contracts.

 

2016 Contracts and 20-year costs

Otter Creek Chatham-Kent– $218 million

Romney Wind Chatham-Kent– $$261 million

Strong Breeze Dutton-Dunwich — $250 million

Eastern Fields The Nation Twp — $$139 million

Nation Rise North Stormont — $436 million

Henvey Inlet Parry Sound — $$2 billion

Source: IESO

***

Related Stories: Kevin Libin in The Financial Post: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/kevin-libin-kathleen-wynnes-sleazy-desperate-hydro-ploy-to-fool-ontarians-is-well-brilliant

Steve Aplin: http://canadianenergyissues.com/2017/02/23/torstar-inadvertently-hamfists-a-headline-thats-true-they-had-it-right-the-first-time-no-one-cant-you-read-that-right-cant-make-electricity-cheap-again/

Video of Kathleen Wynne announcement: http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/national-post-view-kathleen-wynnes-liberals-bail-themselves-out-with-public-money-again

 

 

Nova Scotia welcomes wind farms; Ontario? Not so much

A study done by a PhD student at Western University shows that Nova Scotia, which allows communities more say in wind power project siting, is more welcoming of the power projects, but in Ontario where the Green Energy Act totally stripped communities of local land-use planning, the situation is split communities and lengthy legal battles.

Wind farms more accepted in Nova Scotia

Ontario Farmer, February 28, 2017

By John Miner

[Excerpt]

Known for splitting rural Ontario communities and fuelling lengthy legal battles, wind farms are being far more welcomed in Nova Scotia, a Western University study has found.

The study by researchers in Western’s geography department concluded that support for wind farms was three times higher in Nova Scotia, with the difference in community acceptance having a lot to do with different approaches taken in the two provinces.

In Nova Scotia, communities were given more say over whether projects were allowed to go ahead and nearby residents had more opportunity to share in the financial rewards.

“People like to be in control of developments in the community,” said Chad Walker, lead researcher in the project and a PhD candidate at Western.

The research paper, Toolkits for Turbines, suggests communities considered for wind farms be allowed a vote on the projects.

That would be a sharply different approach than taken by Ontario at the outset of its push into green energy when in 2009 it stripped municipalities of local planning power over wind and solar farms.

For their research, Walker and his colleagues studied three communities in Ontario — Adelaide-Metcalfe west of London, Norwich Township in Oxford County, and Wainfleet in the Regional Municipality of Niagara.

In Nova Scotia, seven communities with wind farms were studied.

The research included in-depth interviews with people living within two kilometres of a wind farm, as well as developers and provincial politicians. Surveys were also mailed to more than 1,300 homes within two kilometres of wind turbines.

While wind farms in Ontario have mainly been developed by large corporations, many foreign-based, Nova Scotia has required wind farms to be at least 51 per cent owned by people of the province.

While more community participation, more transparency and a wider spread of the financial benefit could improve acceptance of wind farms, Walker said it was clear there was no magic bullet that would satisfy everyone.

Mandatory municipal support

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of groups opposed to wind farm development, said it was heartened to see the research paper’s recommendation calling for mandatory support from a community before a wind power contract was awarded.

“Our position is that communities have valid reasons for not wanting power projects, especially if there will be negative effects for people, the environment and the economy and, as is the case in Ontario now, the power is not even needed,” Wilson said.


NOTE: Wind Concerns Ontario provided a detailed comment on a draft version of the research paper, which is available here: UWOToolkit-commentFINAL

To read the “Toolkit” document, go to: http://coarep.uwo.ca/documents.php

 

Wind turbine noise research needs to be current, WCO to acoustics journal

Wind turbine near Ridgetown ON. Advice to researchers: assume complaints are valid

In the January edition of respected publication Sound & Vibration, is an article “Health Effects from Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise & Infrasound,” published by four authors billed as :”very experienced independent investigators.”

The debate about adverse health claims has “raged for at least a decade,” the authors write, “and is now at an impasse.”

“Permitting authorities for new projects must evaluate adverse health effect claims presented as proven factual data by opposition forces, countered by project advocates who state that no physical link to health effects has ever been demonstrated”.

The lead author, George Hessler of Virginia, USA, says that all four authors “do not doubt for a moment the sincerity and suffering of some residents close to wind farms and other low-frequency sources…this is the reason all four would like to conduct, contribute or participate in some studies that would shed some light on this issue.”

“It must also be said,” Hessler continues, “that it is human nature to exaggerate grievances …”

The full text of the article is available in PDF here: 2017 Schomer et al on Wind turbine noise and health 2017

Responses are being developed by various individuals, including colleagues involved in acoustics, and citizen groups, which we will publish when available.

Wind Concerns Ontario sent a letter to the editor expressing concern that although the word “health” is in the article title, and is the focus of the paper, not one of the four authors has any medical expertise. Moreover, WCO said, the methodology proposed by the authors fails to “include current directions of research on the rapidly changing understanding of wind turbine noise.”

“Based on the reports of the impact of wind turbines on the people living among the many Ontario projects,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote, “we know that the emissions from wind turbines are challenging existing methodologies and analysis paradigms used by acousticians.  The range of sound pressure waves emitted by wind turbines are multi-dimensional; a full understanding of the issue can come only from acousticians who are willing to move outside of existing procedures and investigate complaints without preconceived notions of answers when working on the topic.

“It is not clear that the authors of the article were willing to do this.”

Wind Concerns suggested to the Editor, and the authors, that a good starting point is to “assume that people’s complaints are valid”; we also referred to the work done in Australia by Steven Cooper. As well, reliance on A-weighted noise measurement is no longer adequate to really assess the type of noise emissions produced by industrial-scale wind turbines.

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s letter to the Editor of Sound & Vibration here:S&V LetterToEditorFeb25

Wind power in Ontario’s North: environment and economy at risk

A common response to objections to industrial-scale wind power development in southern Ontario is, Why not put them up North then? Nobody lives there. The members of Save Ontario’s Algoma Region* know the reasons why wind power development is inappropriate for Ontario’s North, too.

“A national treasure” – Photos Gary and Joanie McGuffin

February 21, 2017

The municipalities of rural Southern Ontario have soundly opposed and stalled the attempt of the government to initiate a new round of Request for Proposals for Large Renewable Procurements. This opposition has been based primarily on the harm wind turbines create for human health.

The Northern Ontario objection to wind-generated electricity is quite different from that of the South. The health of the Northern economy is the primary opposition issue to wind turbine developments. The Northern economy, which once relied on its primary resource-based industries, is currently facing an economic decline in those industries. This is in part due to the high cost of energy which has forced the closure of many sawmills, pulp and paper mills and fibreboard mills. Northerners are currently examining the potential for developing an expanded eco-tourism based economy. The Northern view is that its future prosperity can be restored utilizing the inherent values offered through its last remaining asset, an uncompromised wild landscape and natural environment.

Despite regional differences, Southern Ontario and Northern Ontario are both strongly opposed to the generation of energy by industrial wind installations. However, unlike the South, Northern Ontario’s low population provides no voting power to impact government decisions. Much of rural Northern Ontario is unincorporated and has no official municipal voice to object. This requires support for the North from those in the Southern regions as opposition is only stronger with a unified approach.

Here’s why Requests For Proposals in the North should also be stalled.

  1. The Right to Self Determination
  • Because of the geographic differences between Northern and Southern Ontario, Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario have a right to determine their own economic destiny according to their regional values and available resources.
  • Although Northwestern Ontario is “A Place to Grow Electrically”, this vision does not include wind energy. The Big Thunder Wind Park proposed for Thunder Bay has already been scrapped in part because of First Nation objections to the impact on the natural environment.

 

  1. Ontario does not need to generate more power in Northern Ontario
  1.  Unfavourable Economic Outcomes for the Consumer
  • Generating electricity in remote northern locations requires long transmission to major consuming centers in Southern Ontario. This long transmission leads to energy loss.    The technical term for this is “line loss.” Line loss has the effect of making wind –powered electricity 30% percent more expensive than if it is generated near the ultimate users in densely populated urban centres.
  • Moving more electricity from the north to the south will require a huge investment in transmission infrastructure. This investment will be reflected in further increases in the line item called “delivery charges” on consumers’ monthly power bills.
  • The construction of more intermittent wind capacity will require the construction of more off-setting natural gas powered generation. That will have to be built where natural gas supply is already available, which won’t fit with remote northern locations.  If natural gas generation facilities are placed in the North, then more pipelines to move the natural gas to those facilities will be required, and of course, the electricity will still be subject to the 30%-line loss cost boost when it is sent south.
  • The terrain of Southern Ontario (vast areas of flat farm land) makes it easier and less costly to construct wind installations than on Northern Ontario’s rocky terrain. Algoma Power Inc. (API) has the highest electricity rates in Ontario. The vast rocky plateau of the Canadian Shield is really hard on API vehicles—a cost which is passed on to their customers.
  • Power generation from wind cost Ontario’s ratepayers over $1.7 billion (approximately 12% of total generation costs) in 2016 for just over 6% of demand. Further development of wind generation—especially from the remote North—will continue to increase ratepayers’ electricity bills.

 

  1. First Nations Treaty Rights
  • Northern Ontario wind power developments must be viewed in the context of the treaty rights of First Nations. Three of the most important treaties in Northern Ontario involve the Robinson-Huron Treaty, the Robinson-Superior Treaty and Treaty 3. These treaties cover an enormous geographic region of the province.
  • The treaties are viewed differently by the Crown and First Nations. The Crown (provincial or federal) believes that it has the ultimate authority over a treaty and that the First Nations are subordinate. Crown decisions over resource development therefore are paramount.
  • First Nations—especially the Anishinaabeg people who signed the Robinson Treaties—maintain that their traditional lands and waters and the resources therein were never surrendered, but exist today in a sharing agreement with the Crown. Hence all resource development on traditional lands must involve First Nations in agreement and management decisions.
  • Suggesting that the North is largely unoccupied and therefore an easy mark for future industrial wind development ignores the huge issues that will arise from a lack of understanding of First Nations’ claims over their territorial lands. First Nations are now exercising their right to demand their fair share of profits derived from wind generation on these traditional lands. These profits from their partnerships with wind industries are currently raising the cost per Kw Hour proportionally according to the percentage of their ownership.

 

  1. Eco-Tourism—A Natural Fit for a Sustainable Economy in the North
  • In a “green” world, eco-tourism must form an increasingly significant part of sustainable job creation in Northeastern Ontario. The imposition of wind turbine installations on coastlines (and perhaps in Lake Huron and Lake Superior) will seriously erode the value of eco-tourism as a sustainable economic base in regions which already rely heavily on year-round tourism.
  • Algoma and Thunder Bay Districts have a vision of a sustainable economy driven by eco-tourism—a vision which has been supported by a million-dollar Trans Canada Trail Grant in the creation of a Lake Superior Water Trail to be officially opened in June 2017 at Gros Cap in Prince Township north of Sault Ste. Marie. (For evidence of this see: http://ijc.org/greatlakesconnection/en/2017/02/building-water-trail-lake-superior-community/#.WKPJFRmbEIs.mailto)

 

As the photographs in this article reveal, the Lake Superior Basin is a national treasure which all Canadians and visitors to Canada have the right to enjoy in its natural state.

The people of Ontario have as a common goal the protection, conservation and restoration of the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations (Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993).

The natural unspoiled state of the shores and coastal highlands of the Lake Superior Basin is the legacy we leave for the benefit of tomorrow.

 

The authors of this article are members of the Save Ontario’s Algoma Region (SOAR) Writing Team.

*SOAR is a member of Wind Concerns Ontario.

New academic wind farm toolkit disappoints

The need for mandatory community support and proper mitigation of harmful effects from wind turbines is acknowledged, but there is still no definition of who is “local” or a community, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

February 13, 2017

Map of municipalities formally demanding change to the IESO wind power bid process, to July 14, 2016 — a lot of unhappy communities

A Western University PhD candidate and a professor at the university have produced a “toolkit” on wind power development in Nova Scotia and Ontario, which purports to summarize social responses to wind power projects, and offer a set of recommendations.

The document is based on a survey of residents living near several selected wind power projects. It was prepared in association with Communities Around Renewable Energy Projects or COAREP, a “project”  designed to “produce original research and outputs to contribute to constructive and sustainable dialogue within and between rural communities and other wind turbine stakeholders.” COAREP is funded by the Metcalf Foundation.

The authors Chad Walker and Jamie Baxter explain the “toolkit” initiative: “The toolkit also explores some novel forms of planning mechanisms and benefit packages based on the preferences of those residents. We find high levels of support for systems that would allow for independent experts during planning stages, investment opportunities for local residents, and discounts on electricity for those living close to turbines. The paper closes with a list of nine principles which are intended to summarize the key points of the document.”

The “Toolkit” may be downloaded here.

Significant differences were noted between the people surveyed in Nova Scotia and Ontario, the authors noted.

Wind Concerns Ontario had the opportunity to view the toolkit in draft form several weeks ago; we were very concerned about the complete lack of any discussion of adverse health impacts, property value loss, and the fact that the wind power program in Ontario was launched without any cost-benefit or impact analysis (a fact pointed out by two Auditors General) — the situation in Ontario today is that the province has a surplus of power, the cost of signing expensive contracts for renewables like wind power has been a significant factor in driving electricity bills up, yet communities are being forced to “host” the power projects with little or no benefit locally, or to the province.

Wind Concerns Ontario also noted that there was very little real community consultation performed as part of the toolkit development process.

The authors acknowledged Wind Concerns Ontario’s contribution: “Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a 23-page report in response to the toolkit, outlining a range of issues not covered in much detail in the toolkit, but highly relevant to the issue of wind turbine facility siting. We have edited the toolkit considerably as a result …”

“While the creation of a ‘Toolkit’ is a worthwhile objective, it needs to be aligned with the realities being experienced by the host communities if it is to be useful as a framework for assessing interactions with these communities,” Wind Concerns Ontario said in its comment paper to Walker and Baxter.

“It is a concern to us that the work done in developing this ‘Toolkit’ seems to have included very limited communication with Ontario communities. To understand the full impact of wind turbines on a community, the contents of the current draft suggest that the authors need to have more direct contact with the people who are being affected by wind turbines. These are the people that are coming to WCO for information and assistance and forming local support groups to deal with the problems being created.”

While the Toolkit authors maintain that better communication (and money) is all that stands between communities and acceptance of wind power projects, WCO said that for the communities forced to lived with the power plants, the false mythology of wind power has been disproved.

“Over the past six years, the government claimed a number of benefits from the green energy program, including the following:

  • The investment in wind turbines allowed coal plants to be closed. Fact: the Asthma Society this year presented a certificate to Bruce Nuclear in Kincardine recognizing the role of the refurbished nuclear facilities in allowing this change to be implemented.
  • The investment in renewable energy technology creates jobs. Fact: Most jobs created are lower-skill, short-term construction jobs. In the 2011 report, Ontario’s Auditor General warned that studies in other jurisdictions which showed two to four jobs were lost due to increased electricity costs for every job created.
  • Surplus electricity is being sold to other jurisdictions at a profit. Fact: the IESO’s reporting shows that the revenue recovered is below the rates provided for in the wind turbine contracts. Neighbouring jurisdictions are now promoting their lower electricity rates to lure Ontario businesses to relocate.”

WCO pointed out flaws in the research behind the Toolkit development, in particular the fact that the power projects studied were small compared to many developments in Ontario. The use of the Gunn’s Hill wind power project was particularly questionable, WCO said, because while nominally a “community” group invested in the power project, in fact few locals were in the investment group—at the same time, residents fought the project from the beginning, even launching an appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal.

“It is odd to suggest that this outside group hiding behind the façade of a community organization, will change local population’s perception of the project,” WCO wrote. The situation is confirmed by the survey results which indicate that the project, even in its new format, does not have community support.  Concerns about impact of the noise emissions on the nearby resident population take precedence over sham organizational structures.

This situation raises the question of how the authors have defined ‘community involvement’ in its analysis of the benefits. To be considered as having an impact on project acceptance, it would seem appropriate to include only groups that are located within a limited distance of the wind turbine project.  There also should be some measure of how the group reflects all the residents in an area.  In many wind turbine projects, a small group of landowners agree to participate and impose a project on a community despite the wishes of the wider community.  Creating a ‘community’ structure around these landowners does not change the basic relationship.”

Perhaps as a result of the WCO comment submission, the authors added an eighth principle to the document, related to adverse health effects and other issues with industrial-scale wind turbines:

Principle 8: Financial benefits are not a replacement for proper mitigation

Though residents living near turbines are dissatisfied with the amount of benefits and particularly how they are distributed among the people living closest to turbines, this does not mean that paying residents will quell concerns. Addressing the mitigation of negative impacts from turbines e.g., noise, vibration – and clearly establishing the need for new facilities – should still be viewed as priorities.

Principle 6 also acknowledges support for mandatory community support as part of the wind turbine siting process (i.e., as WCO says, contracts should not be awarded without community support as a mandatory requirement) and further, that any discussion in a community about he possibility of a wind power facility should occur BEFORE lease negotiations. In Ontario, the practice is to sign up leaseholders and by the time the community is aware of a potential power development, all the documents have been signed.

We remain disappointed that many in the academic world seem to be unmoved from the ideology of wind power development, while the real world community experience provides a different view.

Read the Wind Concerns Ontario critique of the draft Toolkit here: UWOToolkit-commentFINAL

 

The bluster about Ontario’s ‘community’ wind farm

February 6, 2017

Last week, the wind power communications machinery was touting the virtues of the Gunn’s Hill wind power project which they claim is Ontario’s first real “community” wind power project, half-owned by the local community.

The project’s success was owed to its partners, the Oxford Community Energy Cooperative, a (non-local) First Nation, and Bullfrog Power as well as the Germany-based power developer, Prowind.

The story was repeated on CBC’s Ontario Morning.

Community-based? Not so fast.

Retired engineer William Palmer wrote to correct the CBC on their assumptions, with this letter.

I listened with interest this morning as Wei Chen spoke with Miranda Fuller, Communications Director of the Gunn’s Hill Wind Project about this “community project” of the Oxford Community Energy Cooperative.

We learned:
– it is a project with 49% community ownership
– 33% of the members of the cooperative live in Oxford County

We heard also learned of the other owners, ProWind Canada, and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation.

Let’s look a little deeper at this community involvement.

The Cooperative Web Site says, “The present membership consists of 160 individuals and organizations that live in the project vicinity, Oxford County and all of Southern Ontario,” to whom $9 million in shares and debentures were sold.  Yet, to be a member of the cooperative the minimum share is $100, so not every member needs to be a major investor. It is interesting to read who some of the other members of the cooperative are – including the project developers. Elsewhere the website says there are 186 members.

So that means there are about 33% of 186 = 62 members of the cooperative that live in Oxford County … which Wikipedia tells us had some 105,719 residents in 2011, so we can see that 0.06% of the county population are supporters. It’s not exactly a wide support base in the county.

You might be interested in knowing that at the Environmental Review Tribunal the Township of Norwich Councillor for the impacted ward, Mr. Wayne Buchanan spoke of the Township of Norwich’s past and ongoing objections to the Project. He presented three letters to the Tribunal, one from the Township to Premier McGuinty asking for a moratorium on wind turbine developments, one to the Approval Holder (developer) asking for a delay in the development until noise and health studies are available, and one to Premier Wynne noting that the Township of Norwich was an unwilling host of industrial wind turbines.

You might also be interested in knowing that the office of the participating Six Nations of the Grand River Development Agency is located over 50 km from the wind turbines. It is a financial investment, but not exactly in their neighbourhood.  (A similar case occurred in the community of Dutton Dunwich, where the participation of First Nations groups included First Nations located near the Manitoba Border or James Bay, but not the local First Nation.) “Points” are received by the Ontario Renewable Energy Approvals process for “community involvement, or for First Nations involvement, even if they are not from the impacted community.

Now, why would folks invest in such a development?  Well, the 10 turbines of Gunn’s Hill will be paid some (10 x $135 a MWh x 1.8 MW x 8760 hours a year x 24% capacity factor) = $5,108,832 a year for the estimated 37,843 MWh they will produce – whether the electricity they produce is needed or not (as wind developers can be paid to curtail operation or not produce when the electricity is not needed).  Interestingly, had the power been produced instead by Bruce Power, the payment would have been less than half as much.  That $5 million a year for a 20 year contract, is pretty good return for a project with a total investment of perhaps $40 million. Few other (government supported) investments will return some 12.5% a year on a guaranteed basis for 20 years. Sadly, the power consumers of Ontario, including those who cannot afford to pay their electricity bills, are the payees of that investment return.

Wei Chen started to ask a question that deserved an answer … about how people will think when their electricity bills arrive. Ontario simply cannot keep paying twice as much for a product that is delivered best at times when it is not needed … and then pay Michigan or New York State to take the excess off our hands (or at the very least give them the electricity for free to power their industries) without adversely impacting power rates in Ontario. It is no wonder that Ontario rates are climbing so rapidly.

I thought that Wei Chen or other Ontario Morning staff might be interested in scanning  what concerns I would have presented to the Environmental Review Tribunal where I was accepted as an expert witness, had they chosen to accept all my testimony. (They did not, and what was presented was only a fraction of what was initially prepared for them). A copy of my presentation as initially offered to the Environmental Review Tribunal is attached, and signed as a Professional Engineer.  I note that many others in the community also made presentations – again with only partial acceptance by the Environmental Review Tribunal.

I have blind copied a few of the local participants and interested bodies who may not have heard your interview this morning and who may wish to contact you to confirm if what you were told was accurate that “once the turbines are in operation the project is accepted” or as Miranda Fuller noted, people see the turbines as “majestic.”

One of the Gunn’s Hill wind turbines. Photo taken from a non-participating, non-consenting and not happy neighbour’s home.

The only real hydro bill relief is to get costs down: WCO

Rural residents and farm owners attended a meeting in Goderich with the Hydro One Ombudsman and told her hydro bills have to come down.

Ontario Farmer

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.

Wind farm contract gag clauses prevent release public health info, say C-K residents

Water from Dover area wells showing sediment. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
A resident of Dover Centre in Chatham-Kent is calling for leaseholders in wind turbine projects to be released from the non-disclosure or “gag” clauses that are preventing full awareness of the situation regarding contaminated well water in the region, says a resident writing in the Sydenham Current.

When the recent appeal of the North Kent 1 wind power project was dismissed, the only expert advice offered was the technical report completed by Golder & Associates, paid for by the wind power developer.

“What if accepting the wind developer’s Golder report the Mayor and Mr. Norton put all of Chatham township’s property at risk from an environmental stigma?” asks letter writer Peter Hensel.

” A stigma that the aquifer below would be contaminated with vibrations and is no longer capable of providing safe clean water. You think your property won’t drop like a stone in value? Think again.

“What if accepting the Wind developer’s Golder report the Mayor and Mr Norton allowed pile driven turbine foundations that increased the heavy metal concentrations in the source water – the water in the aquifer below Chatham township? What price do you put on your families’ health?”

The Environmental Review Tribunal refused appellant Kevin Jakubec time to have other experts review the Golder report, which jeopardized his appeal.

“It was only because the MOECC [Environmental] Tribunal Branch refused a time extension to let Mr. Jakubec bring in well test results from Dover into the Trubunal’s final hearing did Mr. Jakubec make the best of Tribunal process and took what gains he could get from the mediation.

“Ask Mr. Jakubec if he stopped investigating Dover,” says Mr Hensel. “Ask Mr. Jakubec if the Tribunal process is fair and that everything is neatly wrapped up now as Mayor Hope and [C-K legal counsel] Mr. Norton would want you to believe.”

Read the entire letter here.