Can renewables save the economy? History says, No

October 13, 2020

Canada’s federal government–deep in debt from policy decisions and now the COVID-19 pandemic–has pointed toward a focus on renewable energy as a way to “build back better” and strengthen the economy.

But will it work?

Wind Concerns Ontario took a look at what government incentives did in Ontario, when the McGuinty government had the same goal in 2009. Their aim was to make up for the devastating losses in the auto industry by fostering a new one: Ontario would become a world leader in green energy and benefit from a chain of economic endeavors from manufacturing wind and solar power components to generating “clean” “green” power.

The vision was to help “fledgling” companies grow and thrive.

What happened?

Not that.

Research on the companies that actually participated in the early days of wind power development in Ontario shows they were hardly “fledglings”. Names like Samsung, Enbridge, Suncor, SunEdison and more indicate, as the Wind Concerns Ontario report shows, companies from around the world flocked to Ontario to take advantage of lucrative, above-market contract rates. And then, many of them left. Today, much of the province’s wind power capacity is held by pension and investment funds who bought into the high yields from the rich contracts.

Jobs? No.

Manufacturing? No.

Prosperity for all? No. Ontario now has a new catch phrase: “energy poverty” as it watched manufacturing businesses hit the road for locations with more advantageous electricity rates.

Read the Wind Concerns Ontario report here Wind Power Development and Ownership Ontario-October-2020

 

 

North Stormont community, Attorney General announce no further legal action on Nation Rise wind power project

June 19, 2020

The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont announced today that it will not pursue further legal action regarding the Nation Rise wind power project; Ontario’s Attorney General has determined that it will not appeal a court decision made a few weeks ago.

The community group negotiated several conditions with the power developer, including a fund to help people who perceive noise or other effects, a bat mitigation strategy that is planned to prevent bat deaths, and funding for wildlife research to be done by an Eastern Ontario research institute. As well, the community group’s considerable legal fees will be paid by the power developer.

The news release is as follows:

Resolution Reached between community and Nation Rise wind power project

June 19, 2020 – North Stormont

An agreement has been reached between community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS) and the developer of the Nation Rise Wind Project. CCNS appealed the project approval before the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal over concerns about the environment and wildlife; that appeal was dismissed. The Minister of the Environment subsequently revoked the Renewable Energy Approval on direct appeal from the community group but that action was recently reversed by the Ontario Divisional Court.

The Ministry of the Attorney General has now indicated the Minister will not be seeking leave to appeal the Court decision.

The negotiated agreement recognizes and respects that the project as proposed will have the most stringent bat mitigation of any wind power project in Ontario.

The agreement includes the creation of a community-based home improvement fund which will allow local residents to apply for up to $5,000 from a $150,000 fund, established primarily for noise and visual mitigation for homeowners who perceive impacts.

The agreement also provides for $50,000 to the St. Lawrence River Institute, based in Cornwall, Ontario, to fund independent bat-related research.

The agreement further provides for payment of fees and disbursements incurred by CCNS.

For additional information, please contact counsel for CCNS Eric Gillespie at 416-436-7473 (telephone/text) or by email egillespie@gillespielaw.

Green Energy Act contracts costing $4B a year: Scott Luft

Consumer reaction? The Green Energy Act was launched by Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2009. Didn’t work out so hot.

May 4, 2020

Energy analyst and Ontario government historian Scott Luft has just published an important analysis of energy contracts post the Green Energy and Green Economy Act passed in 2009, and has made some starting calculations: those above-market contracts cost us plenty, and still are.

Read his post here.

An excerpt:

The good news is that the increase in the costs incurred by the GEA contracting slowed significantly after 2016. Additional costs are still to come as the largest, most expensive, single feed-in tariff contract only entered service for the last third of 2019: a full year of operation will add another $75 million. Hydro output from sites contracted under the HCI and HESA initiatives have been producing less in the past couple of years, while global adjustment cost components reported by the system operation (IESO) for this group have been fare higher than my estimates – so I suspect the system operator is hiding payments for curtailment. I have not accounted for biomass contracts, although some exist: over 80% of contracted generation from biofuels is either on FIT contracts or is the converted-from-coal Atikokan Generating Station. Reporting on the global adjustment shows biomass responsible for $230 – $287 million annually over the past 5 years.
Precision is elusive, but I am confident the current annual cost from procurement programs initiated in 2009 is over $4 billion a year.
Wind and solar contracts are for 20 years. A handful of smaller hydro facilities have contracts for less than 20 years, but most are 40 and the largest, most expensive contracts are for 50 years (for facilities on the Lower Mattagami river). By multiplying $4 billion (per year) by 20 years it’s clear the entire cost will be more than the $80 billion.

This is bad news for the current Ontario government that promised lower electricity bills—hard to do when you’re locked into lucrative contracts for years to come yet. But this is interesting for people who complained about cancellation of the 758 new energy contracts last year—we didn’t need that power, and we certainly don’t need the cost of intermittent, weather-dependent power, produced out of phase with demand.

 

Wind power lobby vs. Ford government in court

The wind power lobby alleges the Ford government has an “anti-green energy” agenda. Fact: the Wynne government halted procurement for new wind power, and even cancelled wind power projects [PostMedia photo]
April 19, 2020

People who enjoy watching shows like Law and Order or The Good Fight on TV would find real court hearings quite dull. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of drama—that was the case last Friday when Spain-based power developer EDPR faced off against the Minister of the Environment no less, in a battle over approval of an Ontario wind power project.
EDPR, developer of the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project, applied for a judicial review of the decision by the environment minister in Ontario to revoke the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for that project. The Minister issued his decision last December, following a direct appeal.
Nation Rise was one of five wind projects that received REAs in 2016; almost all the others were cancelled, in 2018.
The court challenge is remarkable in that a power developer (and the industry lobbyist) is alleging the minister had no authority to make a decision for his own department.
The EDPR lawyer, John Terry of mega law firm Torys, claimed that the current government was “implementing its anti-green energy platform” and that the decision was not warranted. He claimed further that the appeal to the minister brought by community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS) was not proper, that the minister’s decision was not “reasonable,” that in fact he showed bias (they quoted a statement by Mr Yurek in the Legislature in support of his own community’s fight against a wind power development), and that he “simply revoked the REA” without a remedy hearing.
Mr. Terry said if only EDPR could have presented its mitigation plan to prevent bat deaths, that remedy “will completely take care of it [the threat to wildlife].” He said Minister Yurek in fact had “no authority” to do what he did.
The lawyer for CanWEA told the court that the community group appeal to the minister was an attempt to hold a new hearing; moreover, the Minister’s powers are “confined,” he said and there are very limited circumstances in which an REA can be revoked.
Not so, said the Ontario Attorney General lawyers acting for the minister who countered that “The Minister has broad, discretionary authority to consider the matter before him in the ‘public interest.’ “
They also disputed the applicants’ claims that the minister was biased and unfair, and that the applicant never got a chance to present its mitigation proposal:
“The Minister provided the Applicants with more than the minimal content of procedural fairness…they were provided an opportunity to be heard, including when the Minister sought additional submissions, specifically with regard to harm to bats.”
Last, lawyers Kathleen Coulter and Eric Gillespie, appearing for the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, asserted that the Minister had applied the “correct legal test” in his actions, he was able to act “in the public interest” and last, that allegations of bias are “completely unfounded.” Lawyer Eric Gillespie argued that the application should be dismissed, and told the panel of judges that, “The evidentiary record before this Honorable Court also establishes that, with respect, many of the factual assertions relied upon by the Applicants [EDPR] and the Intervenor CanWEA are incorrect. This results in both the Applicants’ and the Intervenors’ submission failing to provide grounds for judicial review to be granted.”
The matter is now before a panel of three judges.
This matter is important to everyone in Ontario, as the wind power lobby seeks to establish that the environment minister can’t revoke Renewable Energy Approvals, can’t act in the public interest, and must always give over to the importance of wind power.
Let’s help CCNS fight this! Their legal bills are piling up. Here’s how:
*go to the website and use the DONATE button
or
*send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, 14950 County Rd 9, Berwick ON   K0C 1G0
This fight affects the government’s ability to stand up to wind power developers everywhere in Ontario.
contact@windconcernsontario.ca
Concerned Citizens of North Stormont is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition

New research: wind turbine noise heard as far as 3.5 km

Cruel joke: Ontario’s 550 metre setback and government/industry notion that it is impossible to hear turbines past 1500 metres 

March 3, 2020

New research from Australia has been published in the Journal of Sound and Vibration which shows that wind turbine noise goes a lot farther than the wind power lobby and turbine manufacturers would have you believe.

A lot farther.

Ontario’s setback, supposed to protect people from sleep disturbance and other effects of environmental noise pollution, is just 550 metres. This was suggested to the McGuinty government by the wind power lobby, after the Ontario government proposed a setback of 1 km.

The Australian research demonstrates that indoor low-frequency tone was detected 20 percent of the time at distances up to 2.4 km; the noise dissipated somewhat but was still perceived 16% of the time at a distance of 3.5 km. The authors note that complaints made to the South Australian Environmental Protection Agency came from people living as far away as 8 km!

Here is an excerpt from “Prevalence of wind farm amplitude modulation at long-range residential locations”:

Overall, it is important to determine how often AM is present at residential locations near a wind farm. In this view, Australian researchers from the Flinders University: Dr. Kristy Hansen, Phuc Nguyen, Dr. Branko Zajamšek, Prof. Peter Catcheside, in collaboration with Prof. Colin Hansen at The University of Adelaide studied the prevalence and characteristics of wind farm AM of a certain windfarm in Australia. Their goal was to determine how often AM occurred at various distances from the wind farm and to assess the suitability of the IOA ‘reference method’ for detecting low-frequency AM of a tone that is generated by wind turbines. Their research work is currently published in Journal of Sound and Vibration.

Their approach involved outdoor measurements for a total of 64 days at 9 different residences located between 1 and 9 km from the nearest wind turbine of a South Australian wind farm, which at the time of measurements was made up of 37 operational turbines, each with a rated power of 3 MW. The motivation for their analysis was to investigate the prevalence of a low-frequency ‘thumping’ or ‘rumbling’ noise that had been mentioned in complaints from residents.

… In summary, the study investigated the prevalence and characteristics of wind farm AM at 9 different residences located near a South Australian wind farm. Their work showed that, despite the number of AM events being recorded to reduce with distance, audible indoor AM still occurred for 16% of the time at a distance of 3.5 km. At night-time, audible AM occurred indoors at residences located as far as 3.5 km from the wind farm for up to 22% of the time. In a statement to Advances in Engineering, Dr. Kristy Hansen pointed out that the adopted approach was successful, although more research was needed to quantify the annoyance and sleep disturbance potential of the recorded type of tonal AM.

In Ontario, wind turbines are approved using a noise assessment protocol (developed by acoustics consultants often contracted to do work for wind power developers), using a computer-generated predictive model of the noise. As well, Renewable Energy Approvals require post-operational audits, many of which are incomplete, or have not been submitted at all.

The environment ministry has held the belief that it is impossible to hear turbine noise at 1500 metres and callers to the ministry District Offices or Spills Line are told their complaint is not accepted, and their files are closed, Wind Concerns Ontario has discovered in reviews of Incident Reports provided under Freedom of Information requests. Wind Concerns ONtario has so far tracked 5,200 formal records of complaints held by the government. How many would there be if people had not been told their complaint was impossible?

See a summary of the research here: Summary of Prevalence of wind farm amplitude modulation-2019

The actual paper is available here for a fee.

P.S. Thanks to U.S. acoustics expert Robert Rand for publicizing the existence of this research.

 

 

The hidden and obvious costs of Ontario’s wind power

Wind power’s negotiated “first rights to the grid” mean other clean power is wasted–but paid for. By you.

March 2, 2020

The wind power lobby in Canada is busy crowing about “low-cost” and “free fuel” but the truth is something else. Entirely.

Sure, it’s fast and easy the whack up wind turbines, faster than building new nuclear (though not small modular reactors, but that’s another story) but there are many costs to wind that are both visible and invisible.

Parker Gallant documents the costs in his most recent article*, here. An excerpt:

An article posted February 10, 2020 highlighted how wind generation, on its own, represented a cost of $12.760 billion over the ten years from 2010 to 2019 to Ontario ratepayers. Industrial wind turbines (IWT) delivered 83.3 TWh and curtailed 10.5 TWh over that time.  The combined cost of the generation and curtailment represented an average delivered cost per kWh of 15.32 cents—without factoring in costs of gas plants being at the ready when the wind wasn’t blowing or spilling clean hydro.

Over the same ten years, exports of surplus power to our neighbours cost ratepayers about $12.5 billion dollars. Wind’s habit of generating power in the middle of the night and spring and fall when demand is low drives down the market price, the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price), resulting in export sales at prices well below contracted rates. This results in ratepayers having to pay the difference.

Last weekend (February 22 and 23) was no exception.  The wind was blowing for the two days but Ontario Demand was low, averaging 341,800 MWh.  IWTs however, were generating power we didn’t need with grid-accepted wind at 148,175 MWh and 14,900 MWh curtailed.  The cost of both was $24 million or 16.2 cents/kWh. IESO was busy exporting surplus power of 141,648 MWh or 96% of grid-accepted wind.

On top of that we were probably spilling water (and paying for it) at the same time.

The question is, how much were we paid for those exports?  Exports sold February 22 were at the average price of $1.99/MWh and $1.64/MWh on February 23, so total revenue earned was a miserly $239,000 versus a cost to ratepayers and taxpayers of the province of over $24 million just for what the IWT delivered.  Our US neighbours must love us!

Wind’s hidden costs

While the foregoing confirms IWTs are unreliable and intermittent and require backup from gas plants, they have other bad habits.  One example is their killing of birds. The Audubon Society has suggested it is anywhere from 140,000 to 328,000 annually. They also kill bats in large numbers. Bird Studies Canada in 2016 estimated the kill rate in Ontario was 18.5 kills per turbine (over 50,000 annually). Many killed are on the endangered list!  Additionally, tourism areas may also be negatively affected by IWT as noted in a poll in Scotland by the “John Muir Trust found that 55% of respondents were ‘less likely’ to venture into areas of the countryside industrialised by giant turbines”.

A recent report from Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) raises many other negative issues related to IWT.  The report is a synopsis of complaints about IWTs submitted by rural residents of Ontario living within close proximity.  Those complaints were submitted to the MOECC (now the MECP) in 2017. The report titled: “Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints” analyzed 674 complaints made during 2017.  The shocking issue revealed is: “Only nine of the 674 complaints, or 1.3% of total records, indicated there was a field response” [from the MOECC].  What that suggests is the MECP’s field offices are either not equipped to deal with complaints or believe the IWT-contracted parties will somehow resolve them.  In excess of 5,200 complaints have been logged by WCO since IWT first started to appear in the province and most of them were related to audible and inaudible (infrasound) noise levels. Other complaints have been associated with aquifer (water) contamination, shadow flicker, ice throws, etc.

Approximately 15% of the population will experience negative health effects from the proximity of IWTs, a similar percentage to those who suffer from motion sickness [on a ship or vehicle].  The effects of audible and infrasound noise will produce nausea, headaches, anxiety, ringing ears, feeling of exhaustion, etc.  Those individuals will naturally contact their doctors or other health care professionals for treatment, adding to the cost of Ontario’s health care system. Those costs are not attributed to the cause, which are the IWTs!

Let’s summarize the visible and invisible costs of IWT:

      1. Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
      2. Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
      3. Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
      4. Increased surplus power from IWT often means other clean sources must either spill (hydro) or steam off (nuclear) power which adds costs to our electricity bills.
      5. IWT kill birds and bats, many of whom are “species at risk” meaning insects, damaging to crops, are not eaten and farmers must spray their crops with insecticides adding costs to produce.
      6. IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
      7. IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
      8. IWT cause property values to fall affecting the realty tax base where they operate and the value of the property should the occupants try to sell after the installation of those IWT has occurred.
      9. IWT lifespan is relatively short (20 years at most) compared to traditional sources of electricity generation and when unable to perform, create costs of remediation and disposal of recyclable and non-recyclable materials they consumed when built and erected.

 

 

*This is provided for information purposes only and does not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy; the views and opinions are the author’s.

 

 

Wind turbine noise complaints mount, documents show

“Unbearable torture…please help us”

Wind Concerns Ontario releases a report on Ontario government records of 2017 wind turbine noise complaints

A report released today by Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) shows that the government under Premier Kathleen Wynne did little to respond to citizen reports of environmental noise pollution by industrial-scale wind turbines. And, when government staff in the environment ministry offices did try to enforce Ontario noise regulations, they were rebuffed by corporate wind power operators.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report is a review of almost 700 noise complaints from people living inside 23 wind power facilities across Ontario. The total number of complaints records received by WCO now exceeds 5,200.

Response by the environment ministry was recorded in only 1.3 percent of the records in 2017; 54 percent of the files were marked “No” response by government staff.

Adverse health impacts were noted in staff notes and recorded comments by citizens calling in or emailing in 42 percent of the files, and 16 percent contained description of symptoms suggestive of exposure to low-frequency noise which is not audible but can cause harm.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report comes after a 17-month wait and several appeals to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner following the initial request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act. The noise complaints were made to the MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change during the pro-wind power Wynne government’s last full year in office.

Excerpts from the citizen complaints are included and provide a “litany of suffering” according to the WCO report.

“We find no peace … the assault is the same and at times greater in low wind speeds. [We have had] a thumping noise through our heads, long and steady, all day,” was one comment from someone living near the single turbine in Port Elgin, owned by the union Unifor.

“The noise has been bad for 24 hours,” said another resident, living inside the 140-turbine K2 Wind power facility. “I am exhausted from not sleeping.”

Another K2 Wind neighbour reported that the noise “drives a person insane when it goes on for hours…We are being impacted health-wise and are extremely agitated with the noise.”

“Unbearable … torture,” said another person. No response from the environment ministry was recorded on the file.

The corporate power operators are required by the terms of their Renewable Energy Approvals or REAs to act on these complaints, and to investigate the cause of complaints, take action, and ensure the complaints are not repeated. The Environmental Protection Act gives specific power to the environment ministry to take action.

In practice, however, Wind Concerns Ontario found in its review, the power operators were delinquent in filing audits to confirm compliance, and refused to take action when called upon by ministry staff. When the Owen Sound District Office, for example, demanded the operator of K2 Wind respond to noise complaints and implement noise mitigation until their (overdue) audit was filed, the company wrote back from its Texas headquarters with a refusal, stating “It is the Company’s view that the current circumstances do not objectively establish reasonable and probable grounds to require interim mitigation measures.” The operator, Pattern Energy, referred to its computer-generated predictive modeling for noise and said the modeling “is accurate.” In other words, our models say this can’t happen, therefore it isn’t.

The situation is unacceptable, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

“We’re recommending that the current Ontario government take action to enforce the regulations immediately,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It’s time to get rid of the outdated and non-protective protocol for measuring noise, stop letting the corporate power operators police their own operations, and re-invest and support our trained Environmental Officers—let them do the job they were supposed to do, and help the people of rural Ontario who have been forced to live next to these power generating machines.”

The Wind Concerns Ontario report on 2017 noise complaints is available here: Wind Turbine Noise Reports to MOECC in 2017-FINAL (3)

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the negative impacts of industrial-scale wind power development on the environment, the economy, and people’s health.

Environment minister revokes approval for Nation Rise

Minister Revokes Approval for Nation Rise wind power project

Controversial wind power project will cause irreversible harm to wildlife minister says in revoking approval; decision made in context that the power isn’t needed

Farm near Berwick Ontario; 31 huge wind turbines were planned for the quiet rural communities in North Stormont [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]
December 9, 2019 OTTAWA:

Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks issued a decision revoking the Renewable Energy Approval for the Nation Rise wind power project under construction in North Stormont, near Ottawa.

The Minister’s decision was in response to an appeal filed by community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont of a quasi-judicial decision supporting the project approval.

In his decision, the Minister concluded that the wind turbines would cause serious and irreversible harm to endangered bat populations in the area. The potential for harm to wildlife was considered in the context of the contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply in Ontario, which would be minimal; the Minister concluded that it was in the public interest and a precaution to protect the environment to revoke approval for the power project.

Margaret Benke, representing the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS) welcomed the Minister’s decision. The group had raised many concerns about the environment in its appeal. “Now,” she says, “the environment, wildlife and human health will be protected from the harmful effects of wind turbines.”

Benke thanked the many people who supported the Concerned Citizens group financially and with submissions of information for the original appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal and subsequent appeal to the Minister.

“This power project has been very divisive for our community; now North Stormont can again be a good place to grow.”

The Nation Rise project consisted of up to 33 turbines located near Finch, Berwick and Crysler in Eastern Ontario. The project was planned to generate up to 100 MW of electricity under a 20-year, $400-million contract awarded by the IESO.

CCNS is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

CONTACT: Wind Concerns Ontario at contact@windconcernsontario.ca or president@windconcernsontario.ca

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont: macbenke@aol.com

Letter from Minister Jeff Yurek: Nation Rise – Minister’s Decision wrt the Appeal

Wind power in Ontario: policy backfired badly, says Fraser Institute report

Generating Electricity in Canada from Wind and Sunlight: Is Getting Less for More Better than Getting More for Less?

New from the Fraser Institute is a report on renewable energy and the consequences of political encouragement of variable power sources.

The abstract is below but be sure to read the full report. A paragraph of page 6 is particularly damning of Ontario’s energy policy:

” … proponents of wind and solar power intentionally misrepresent the advantages of these technologies by focussing attention solely on the costs and benefits obtained whenever electricity is being generated. The costs of wind and solar power are considerably higher and the environmental benefits much lower when account is taken of the impact these technologies have on an entire electricity system. Ultimately, consumers do not pay for electricity generated using wind and sunlight but for electricity that is delivered to them continuously by the electricity system as a whole. Therefore, when VRE is introduced into an electricity system, ratepayers are interested in its system-wide impact, not just the cost of the wind and solar power entering the grid. The additional conventional generating capacity required to provide back-up electricity supply when VRE capacity is not generating electricity because of a lack of wind or sunshine is a significant incremental cost to the system.”

 

Generating Electricity in Canada from Wind and Sunlight: Is Getting Less for More Better than Getting More for Less?

Using wind and sunlight to generate electricity is controversial. Advocates urge increased reliance on these variable renewable energy (VRE) sources because they are seen as a low-cost way of mitigating a looming climate-change crisis. Critics take the opposite stance, claiming wind and solar power are costly, and the environmental benefits negligible at best. Some Canadian provinces have gone to considerable lengths to encourage adoption of these technologies, but the results have been mixed.

This study shows that both positions contain elements of truth. Electricity generated using wind and sunshine is relatively inexpensive. However, once the capacity is in place, it is only available at certain times of the day and/or when the weather cooperates. But consumers require a reliable electricity supply and integrating VRE into existing electricity systems while maintaining a continuous and reliable supply is complicated and costly, both financially and environmentally. Electricity consumers and taxpayers are interested primarily in the financial burden that results from efforts to increase electricity generating capacity using VRE sources. This includes the costs wind and solar power impose on the electricity system as a whole, not just the cost of the VRE-generated electricity supplied to the grid.

The incremental financial costs to the system fall into three basic categories: first, augmenting existing conventional generating capacity so that it is able to compensate for the unreliable supply of wind and solar power. Second, ensuring that the necessary investment in conventional generating capacity is forthcoming although the VRE in the system makes it impossible to use this capacity efficiently. This requirement is usually satisfied either with a capacity market or contracts with suppliers of conventional generating capacity. Third, adding transmission grid capacity and the configuration of grid services required to integrate VRE into the electricity system. Each category has repercussions for the environment. Cheap electricity from wind turbines and solar panels paradoxically results in larger bills for electricity users and taxpayers. Higher utility rates for businesses and households and higher taxes and cutbacks to public services dampen economic activity and reduce living standards.

Compared to conventional power sources, small and variable amounts of electricity are generated when wind and solar energy are captured and transformed by a dispersed array of VRE installations. Large areas of land, often in remote locations, are required. This inevitably results in significant additional costs in terms of delivery infrastructure (for example, high-voltage power lines) and back-up power generation (for example, natural-gas-powered turbines) that would not otherwise be incurred. The first part of this study examines how electricity systems work in order to evaluate the contradictory claims made about VRE. Whether or not wind and solar power are clean and cheap depends on how the evaluation is framed. Critics point out that the economic and environmental costs of the electricity generated using wind and solar technologies can be quite different from the impact of this source of electricity on a system-wide basis.

The second part of the study shows how the system-wide costs and benefits of adding wind and solar power to an existing electricity system are affected by the policies of provincial governments, the cost of electricity, the conventional generating assets already in place, and the structure of the electricity system. Comparing experiences with VRE in different provinces illustrates the importance of these factors.

Cross-Canada comparisons show that electricity utilities themselves are usually best placed to determine whether or not the system-wide cost of these technologies is justified. Prior to 2015, Alberta demonstrated how a competitive wholesale market for electricity determined the extent to which wind and solar energy is economically feasible. Neither is the involvement of provincial governments necessarily a bad thing. Prince Edward Island has successfully integrated a substantial amount of wind power into its electricity system under unique circumstances: a provincial Crown corporation operates several wind farms but the rest of the electricity system is privately or municipally owned. Problems arise when dramatic increases in wind and solar power receive political sanction and the economic consequences are underestimated or ignored. A bold initiative to increase wind and solar generating capacity in the Ontario electricity system backfired badly, leading to soaring electricity rates for both consumers and manufacturers. Between 2015 and 2019, the Alberta government worked towards installing even more wind and solar capacity than had proved politically and economically unsustainable in Ontario, but the electorate allowed that government only a single term in office.

A policy should be judged by whether or not the chosen means have delivered the promised ends. Our review of Canadian wind and solar energy policy shows that they led to consequences consistent with those in other jurisdictions: ramping up electricity production using these power sources results in increased costs for taxpayers and consumers when account is taken of the impact these technologies have on the electricity system as a whole and, when done on any significant scale, generally negative and unnecessary environmental consequences.

 

Energy, Environment ministers promise action on wind turbine problems

“We get it” ministers tell community leaders from Ontario rural communities

Minister of Environment Rod Phillips tells rural residents the government is taking action on Ontario’s wind turbine problems: it won’t happen overnight, but we are working on it. L-R MPP Daryl Kramp, Energy Minister Greg Rickford, Environment Minister Rod Phillips, WCO president Jane Wilson, MPP Goldie Ghamari [Photo courtesy MPP Goldie Ghamari]
June 2, 2019

Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Northern Development Greg Rickford attended an event at Queen’s Park sponsored by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and hosted by Wind Concerns Ontario this week with his colleague Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Minister Rickford said the two are working together on responding to citizen concerns and reports of noise and other adverse effects from the thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines that were forced on Ontario communities by the McGuinty-Wynne governments.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Minister Rickford said, but we are dedicated to helping communities with concerns and problems with wind turbines.

In recent days, the environment ministry has determined that two large wind power projects are not in compliance with provincial noise regulations. K2 Wind is out of compliance and now the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan within the next two weeks, and further, to establish firm dates for new audits to demonstrate compliance to the revised noise protocol by mid-July.

The Director has also stipulated that K2 Wind, which is owned now by Axium Infrastructure, must review resident complaints as part of its response.

The Order, the requirements for immediate noise abatement, and the acknowledgement of resident concerns mark a significant departure from how complaints were managed by the previous government, which treated the wind power operators as their “Client” and failed to respond to the majority of complaints. Response to complaints about noise and other effects is a requirement of Renewable Energy Approvals.

The “Windlectric” project on Amherst Island was also determined to be out of compliance; Wind Concerns Ontario is unaware of a Director’s Order for that project.

The Energy Minister said that cancelling the contracts with wind power operators was difficult and likely not possible, but the government was taking other action to deal with problems. Minister Phillips said they are very aware of the problems being experienced.

“We need more material from you,” he said, speaking to community leaders from across Ontario.

Many of the MPPs who have wind turbines in their ridings attended the event including Lisa Thompson (MInister of Education), Rick Nicholls (Deputy Speaker), Laurie Scott (Minister of Labour), Sam Oosterhoff, Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation) and of course, Daryl Kramp, who sponsored the information event. Other MPPs attending were Daisy Wai, Belinda Kalaharios, Michael Parsa, Robin Martin and Effie Triantafilopolous (both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Health), Dave Smith, Doug Downey, Goldie Ghamari, Logan Kanapathi, Vijay Thanigasala, Will Bouma, Jim McDonell, and Jane McKenna.

Senior staff members for MPPs also attended the event.

“When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised action to address any concerns about health and safety associated with wind turbines,” said WCO president Jane Wilson. “That’s not what happened — today, we have thousands upon thousands of complaints filed with government about noise and other effects, and the former government did almost nothing.”

Minister Lisa Thompson, who was environment critic while the PC party was in Opposition, told WCO president Jane Wilson, “I think about this every single day–I have been with you from the beginning.”

MPP Rick Nicholls, who has many turbines in his Chatham-Kent riding, said the reality of wind turbines has resonated with the public which no longer believes the mythology about impact-free, “green” wind power generators. He referred to the defeat of the pro-wind Chatham-Kent mayor as a sign of the public’s changed attitude.

“I think they get it that there are concerns,” said Stewart Halliday of Grey Highlands, who is vice-chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, and who came to represent municipal concerns about noise and safety issues. “They reassured us and now they are starting to take action with K2 and Amherst Island.”

Posters were presented around the room, outlining major concerns and suggestions for government action. A slide show featured pictures from wind turbine projects all over Ontario including Amherst Island, Bow Lake, K2 Wind, Bluewater, Belle River, and Chatham-Kent.

A WCO member and resident of West Lincoln wrote to WCO after the event to say “spirits were uplifted” for area residents after the ministers’ statements and recent actions by the MECP.