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.

Environment Commissioner dead wrong on wind turbine health impacts

A pro-wind lawyer, now Ontario’s Eco Commissioner, makes unsupported statements on the health impacts of wind power generation facilities

The ECO ignored international evidence on wind turbine noise and health, and has failed the people of Ontario

April 10, 2018

Ontario’s Eco Commissioner or ECO, environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe, long known for her support of wind power development, has issued a very unusual and interestingly timed report.

Making Connections: straight talk about electricity in Ontario is an unabashed defence of the Ontario government’s energy policy, even with its criticism that government has not done enough.

We will leave it to others to comment on the statements about electricity demand, the supply mix, and whether selling off surplus power actually costs Ontario taxpayers and electricity ratepayers, but when it comes to the issue of the health impacts of wind turbines, we have no choice but to call out the Commissioner’s (deliberate) exclusion of the facts.

While acknowledging that there are some negative impacts from wind turbine construction and operation, such as the building of access roads, and the effect of turbines on bird and bat populations, when it comes to effects on humans, the ECO relies on a lawyer’s view of the evidence, which to her, is strictly the results of appeals before the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal or ERT.

“After extensive expert evidence, and having considered numerous studies from around the globe, the ERT has consistently dismissed appeals based on alleged harm to human health,” says the ECO. “The noise impacts of wind on people are controlled through noise limits in the REAs, and through mandatory setbacks established by the Environmental Protection Act.” (page 153)

What ECO Saxe neglects to say is that the basis on which to win an appeal on health before the ERT is virtually impossible.

One of the prime effects of exposure to the range of wind turbine noise emissions is sleep disturbance or sleep deprivation, which is widely acknowledged as a source of health problems such as high blood pressure, altered blood sugar levels, and annoyance or distress, which is in itself an adverse health impact. The situation in Ontario is that the moneyed wind power interests could afford to hire expert witnesses to support their side, while the appellants in these cases could usually only manage to have beleaguered citizens with their anecdotal reports of health effects. Any health care professionals who did venture forth to support these claims were badgered and had their professional qualifications questioned, sometimes merely on the basis of where they lived.

ECO Saxe asserts that there is extensive evidence and that there are numerous studies from around the world supporting the claim that there is no link between wind turbine noise and health effects.

This is false.

One expert witness, Dr Alun Evans, a professor emeritus, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines in Australia, and noted “A recent systematic review considered 154 published studies, eventually including 18 on the basis that they examined the association of wind turbines and human distress and were published in peer-review journals in English from 2003-2013. All found between wind turbines and human distress with levels of evidence of four and five (Bradford Hill Criteria). In addition, two of these studies showed a dose response relationship between distance from wind turbines and distress. Thus there is a consistent relationship between the proximity of turbines and human distress.”

In Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario obtained thousands of reports from people living near wind turbines (in some cases, among them) via a request under the Freedom of Information Act process. WCO received over 4,500 records (though this number is almost certainly not complete) of complaints filed with the government since 2006.

The number of complaints is significant, but so too are staff notes in these documents. In total, explicit reference to the presence of health impacts from wind turbine noise emissions or environmental noise from the turbines was present in 35 percent of the reports we received.

We cannot help but question the political nature of this document. The ECO actually says, “the ECO strongly believes that fossil-fuelled generation, including the gas-fired generation that operates in Ontario, is more harmful to the environment than other electricity sources.” (page 150) In other words, there might be some problems but we have to accept them because the alternative is worse.

This is preposterous and flies in the face of the government’s mandate to protect both health and the environment.

Indeed, as a team of academics noted in their 2016 paper published in Nature Energy on how wind power problems were handled in Ontario, Ontario “public policy takes an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ view of [wind turbine noise and health] evidence rather than a more precautionary approach. … there is epidemiologic evidence t sustain various interpretations of wind turbine impacts on well-being.) Fast et al, Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes, page 2).

One of the ECO’s goals is to ensure that the government of Ontario receives “fair, balanced and accurate information”.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has failed in that goal, and failed the people of rural Ontario who have been forced through political ideology to live in the midst of huge power plants that do produce environmental noise, and are linked to serious health impacts.

 

To contact the ECO: commissioner@eco.on.ca  or 1075 Bay Street, Suite 605, Toronto, ON M5S 2B1

To contact us: Wind Concerns Ontario contact@windconcernsontario.ca

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

 

 

Canada Pension Plan buys wind power projects

U.S.-based NextEra reaps cash for valuable “guaranteed price” Ontario wind contracts as the CPP pays millions and even assumes almost $1B in debt

April 3, 2018

Florida-based NextEra Energy has sold off a significant portion of its Ontario renewable power portfolio to the Canada Pension Plan in a deal that nets the company over $700 million CAD in cash, and also sees the Canadian public pension plan assume debt of almost $900 million.

Here is a report from wind industry publication, Windpower Engineering and Development. The Canadian Pension Plan also released the information here.

NextEra selling Ontario wind & solar assets

NextEra Energy Partners, LP announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for the sale of its portfolio of wind and solar generation assets in Ontario, Canada, for a total consideration of about $582.3 million. This includes the net present value of the O&M origination fee, subject to customary working capital and other adjustments, plus the assumption by the purchaser of approximately $689 million USD in existing debt.

Wind turbines

The transaction includes the sale of six fully contracted wind and solar assets with an average contract life of about 16 years.

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with CPPIB for the sale of our Canadian portfolio, which we expect will be accretive to NextEra Energy Partners’ long-term growth,” said Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer. “The sale of these assets, at a very attractive 10-year average CAFD yield of 6.6%, including the present value of the O&M origination fee, highlights the underlying strength of the partnership’s renewable portfolio.”

 

 

An affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources will continue to operate all of the facilities included in the transaction under a 10-year services agreement with CPPIB.

“As discussed during our earnings call in January, we expect the sale of the Canadian portfolio to enable us to recycle capital back into U.S. assets, which benefit from a longer federal income tax shield and a lower effective corporate tax rate, allowing NextEra Energy Partners to retain more CAFD in the future for every $1 invested. We expect to accretively redeploy the proceeds from this transaction to acquire higher-yielding U.S. assets from either third parties or NextEra Energy Resources,” added Robo.

The transaction includes the sale of six fully contracted wind and solar assets, with an average contract life of approximately 16 years and 10-year average CAFD of $38.4 million. Located in Ontario, the portfolio has a combined total generating capacity of approximately 396 MW and consists of:

  • Bluewater, a 59.9-MW wind generating facility;
  • Conestogo, a 22.9-MW wind generating facility;
  • Jericho, a 149-MW wind generating facility;
  • Summerhaven, a 124.4-MW wind generating facility;
  • Moore, a 20-MW solar energy generating facility; and
  • Sombra, a 20-MW solar energy generating facility.

NextEra Energy Partners expects the sale to close during the second quarter of 2018. The transaction is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Prince Edward County citizens ask Enviro Commissioner for review of White Pines environmental impact

Blandings turtles: still in danger [CBC photo]
March 12, 2018

The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (Wind Concerns Ontario community group member APPEC) and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) submitted a Joint Part IV Application to the Environmental Commissioner’s Office (ECO), regarding the White Pines wind power project.

The power project has faced numerous appeals and legal actions over the years, and has been reduced from 29 turbines to 27, and is now at nine. The community had thought that the reduced capacity would result in cancellation of the contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) but the IESO simply cut a new contract for the power developer.

Concerns about environmental impact remain, however.

“Basically, we are asking the ECO to conduct a formal review based on the concerns and evidence we have provided relating to the Blanding’s turtle, the Little brown bat and migratory birds,” says APPEC Chair Gordon Gibbins.

“It was important for us to submit the Part IV Application before going forward with any appeal to the Divisional Court.  Our Application sets this process in motion, and in fact includes almost all the same issues we had planned to raise at the ERT hearing before our appeal was dismissed,” Gibbins explains.

“The ECO has everything it needs to make a decision on whether or not to conduct a review.   We’ve been told that the ECO will forward this evidence to the MOECC and to the MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) as well as make their own conclusions.”

The White Pines project has also been fraught with accusations of violations of its Renewable Energy Approval, as the power developer engaged in land clearing and road use outside of signed agreements.

For more information, go to: https://appec.wordpress.com/

#MOECC

 

 

Unifor turbine not compliant: MOECC

Noise abatement plan to be in place by March 18

Unifor turbine: Years of procrastination and failure of the regulator to regulate

March 5, 2018

Owen Sound District Manager for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Rick Chappell told West Grey Council and a packed room of citizens today that the controversial single wind turbine in Port Elgin owned and operated by Unifor, is not compliant with provincial noise regulations.

A noise abatement plan has been ordered by the Ministry and must be in place by March 18.

The Unifor turbine has resulted in hundreds of complaints of excessive noise over the years, several TV news stories, and statements from the local municipality to the effect that the MOECC is failing in its role as a regulator.

West Grey Council, which had asked Chappell to appear to answer questions about why wind turbine noise complaints were not being resolved, accepted the news, and one councilor demanded that the MOECC now personally call everyone who had filed a report, and give them the news.

Councillors remarked that the decision to test the Unifor wind turbine noise output was the result of citizen complaints; a councilor advised residents to “keep complaining.”

Wind Concerns Ontario has reports provided by the MOECC that show 236 reports were filed up to the end of 2014. In the years 2009-2014, over half of the noise reports received by the MOECC got no response.

 

Wind turbine construction destruction: “the rules are just made to be broken”

March 5, 2018

Roads blocked without notice on Amherst Island: breaking all the rules and getting away with it (Photo: Brian Little)

“All the rules are made to be broken”

Representatives of three community groups where wind turbine projects are currently under construction, addressed the Wind Concerns Ontario conference in Kingston this past weekend, and told hair-raising stories of violations of Renewable Energy Approvals, disobedience of municipal orders, ignoring conditions of road use agreements, and more.

Anne Dumbrille, chair of the County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE-Naturally Green) and Orville Walsh of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), both based in Prince Edward County, detailed the abuses of the Renewable Energy Approval and IESO contract by Germany-based wind power developer wpd in construction of the contentious White Pines wind power project.

The White Pines project was originally planned to produce electricity for Ontario’s surplus-laden power grid via 29 huge wind turbines. A successful appeal based on heritage aspects of The County reduced the turbine number to 27; another appeal (Hirsch v. MOECC) was partially successful and saw the project reduced from 27 to 9 turbines, based on harm to endangered species.

“We had been operating under the belief that having to meet the 75 percent of power requirement in the contract with the IESO [Independent Electricity System Operator] actually meant something,” said Walsh. “It turns out, it doesn’t. Contracts don’t mean anything — they can do whatever they want.”

Dumbrille echoed that with a litany of abuses. The White Pines project is way past its specified commercial operation date, she said, which should mean the IESO could terminate the contract, but it hasn’t. “The Long Stop Date has no meaning or relevance, despite being in the regulations,” she said. “The decision appears to be political.”

The public also expected that while the power project was being appealed, construction work would not be allowed, particularly in the areas presented as habitat for the endangered Blandings turtle, but in fact, both the MOECC and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry allowed it. Only when citizens took action in court was a stop work order achieved.

“Why must citizen groups rather than government protect habitat destruction?” Dumbrille asked.

The land clearing in turtle habitat continued after the appeal for the nine remaining turbines outside the limits imposed by the Environmental Review Tribunal. Again, citizens went to court, and again a stop order was issued, but not before habitat was destroyed. A transmission station is planned to be built in a stream bed which is against regulations and will require the taking of water. Again, the MOECC appears to side with the power developer on all issues.

“All the rules are made to be broken,” said Dumbrille, “to benefit the wind power developer. And the public has no right to information, apparently.”

Janet Grace, past chair of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), described numerous violations of the Renewable Energy Approval, road use agreements, and provincial safety regulations by “Windlectric” a shell company developing a power project on the island for Algonquin Power. Construction staff and vehicles are supposed to be using a barge to get to the island, she said, but they’re not: instead, they use the passenger ferry which is resulting in delays for Island residents, many of whom work across the water in KIngston, and concerns about safety.

Roads are blocked without notice, and construction throughout the winter has virtually destroyed roads, so much so that the municipality Loyalist Township issued a stop work order. Resident photographs indicate however, that the order was ignored, with the power developer construction firm continuing work. In addition, Grace said, the company is supposed to stop work at 7 PM, but in reality is working until 11 PM.

“The sad thing is, Grace said, “we know this is just the beginning of what is being done to our Island. There are rules being broken, and violations … the MOECC gives them exemptions. They’re just getting away with it all.”

 

Surplus wind power costs millions: Parker Gallant

March 5, 2018

Parker Gallant : hydro and nuclear could have done the job and saved millions mismanagement. [Photo: Metroland Media]
Being asked to do a presentation at Wind Concerns Ontario’s annual conference this past Saturday, to describe the costs associated with industrial wind turbines was something I relished!

The presentation I developed used IESO information for 2017.

Discovered in the preparation of my presentation was the fact that that nuclear and hydro power alone could have supplied over 100% of all grid-connected consumption for 2017, at a average cost of about 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour.

The cost for Class B ratepayers in 2017 however, was almost double, coming in at 11.55 cents per kwh.

So why the big jump? Have a look at the presentation to see why and look at Slide 6 in particular where you get an inkling of how IESO view the reliability of industrial wind generation in their forward planning process!

PresentationParkerPPT final

(Reprinted with permission from Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives)

Community group fights back on wind farm court decision

A Prince Edward County community group seeking a Judicial Review of decisions made by government to push forward an unwanted and unneeded wind power project has had all motions dismissed by an Ottawa court. They’re not stopping …

Sign in Dutton Dunwich: a judge says opposition to huge wind power projects is not seen outside Prince Edward County in Ontario

February 13, 2018

The County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE-Naturally Green Inc.) last year filed for a Judicial Review of decisions behind the White Pines power project in Prince Edward County, and on the relationship between government and wind power developers.

Here is the latest news, from John Hirsch, CCSAGE director.

Status of CCSAGE Judicial Review Application

As readers may recall, CCSAGE filed motions at the Superior Court in Ottawa last June 14 and 15 regarding their Judicial Review Application.  The motions sought to protect CCSAGE from costs, and to compel the government agencies to produce the records of their decisions regarding the approval of wpd White Pines and the transmission lines. A motion was filed by OEB regarding their removal from the case.

In his decision on these Motions, issued on January 9, 2018, Justice Labrosse essentially denied all of CCSAGE’s requests but did allow OEB to be removed from the case.

CCSAGE has studied Justice Labrosse’s decisions and found them to contain numerous errors and misunderstandings.

Consequently, CCSAGE is appealing all the negative decisions to the Divisional court. The appeal is in the form of a “Notice of Motion to Vary”.

CCSAGE believes their arguments are sound and that the Judicial Review application is more important than ever. 

Read the documents here:

Divisional Court decision 15-2162: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onscdc/doc/2016/2016onsc8147/2016onsc8147.html?autocompleteStr=15-2162&autocompletePos=1

(Editor’s note: for some reason the decision posted on CanLii is truncated at paragraph 53. Read the whole document here: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d95b2b359d6e0c1d4df0bb8f7/files/c7d16b85-9dfb-49a0-b9eb-e80db4b5cc0c/Labrosse.pdf)

“Motion to Vary” CCSAGE: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d95b2b359d6e0c1d4df0bb8f7/files/a7b8629c-5aa7-44bc-b979-ac80570f9f5f/Motion_to_Vary.pdf

No ‘significant opposition’?

Of special interest to Wind Concerns Ontario members, Ontario’s rural residents, and rural communities is the statement by Mr. Justice Marc Labrosse that the motion to have the case proceed as a matter of “general interest” was denied because — you won’t believe this — “It appears that the GEA and REA process have taken their place in this province without significant opposition throughout rural Ontario. I am left to infer that this is a local issue in Prince Edward County and that it is not of general importance.”

A “local issue”? The facts are:

  • almost every single wind power project in Ontario since 2009 (and some before that) faced an appeal by members of the ‘host” community
  • 116 Ontario municipalities, or about one-quarter of the total, have passed resolutions at Council demanding a return of the local land-use planning powers that were stripped by the Green Energy Act
  • More than 90 Ontario municipalities have officially designated themselves “unwilling hosts” to wind power projects
  • Several municipalities have engaged in legal battles with the government and wind power developers to retain rights under the Municipal Act, in order to protect their citizens
  • Several academic articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals (Stewart Fast et al, 2016) have noted the Ontario government’s failure to respond to community concerns over wind power projects
  • Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition with about 30 member community groups and hundreds of individual and family members, that has been active since 2009

This decision, and the various machinations of the parties involved, can be seen in no other way but an attempt to see that once again, justice is denied to Ontario’s rural citizens.

Wind Concerns Ontario

Wind turbine collapse raises safety concerns

The wind industry says such events are rare: but accident statistics from Europe say, they’re not

January 20, 2018

The collapse yesterday of a wind turbine in South Kent, in Chatham-Kent made for stunning photographs and multiple news stories (even in Toronto!).

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is said to be monitoring clean-up of the turbine site, to make sure the hazardous chemicals in the turbine are disposed of properly; the Ontario Ministry of Labour is also said to be looking into the incident.

Meanwhile, amid claims of how rare the incident is, the U.S.-based owner/operator is investigating the cause.

The wind power trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) weighed in, saying Canada has thousands of wind turbines and such incidents are rare.

But the collapse of the CK turbine has raised questions. Especially when several other news stories appeared the same day such as a report from an international website that monitors wind turbine accidents which says many countries are considering new setbacks for safety. And, a report from the U.S. notes that wind turbines require more maintenance as they age: soon, the average age of U.S. turbines will be 11 years.

Why was the collapse not detected by the operator? It is rumoured that someone passing by saw the destroyed turbine and reported it.

What sort of maintenance is mandated for these huge power generators, and were there routine inspections?

What public reporting is there for wind turbine incidents? The companies are required by their Renewable Energy Approval to report any incidents such as blade failure or fire to the Ontario government and the appropriate municipality, but when there was a fire in the K2 project in 2017, the municipality was not notified until some time after — a news report at the time said a company representative did not know which turbine had burned, and was driving around with his car window open, trying to find it.

In another project in Ontario, the wind turbine was visibly leaning “off plumb” and was eventually secured with guy wires, prior to foundation repairs.

There is apparently a report that a turbine blade went through the roof of a house in Chatham-Kent in 2009 (we’re looking for that).

As for fires, the wind industry’s own journal, NA Windpower, published an article some years ago titled, “It’s not ‘if’ it’s when,” referring to the frequency of wind turbine fires.

Clearly, these incidents are not as “rare” as the wind industry would have you believe.

The Caithness accident report from Europe says that between 2013 and 2017, there were 167 accidents per year, including fires, broken blades, and injuries/deaths among workers. Blade failure is the most common incident, followed by fires.

Caithness concludes:

Some countries are finally accepting that industrial wind turbines can pose a significant public health and safety risk. In June 2014, the report of the Finnish Ministry of Health called for a minimum distance of 2 km from houses by concluding: “The actors of development of wind energy should understand that no economic or political objective must not prevail over the well being and health of individuals.” In 2016 Bavaria passed legislation requiring a minimum 2km distance between wind turbines and homes, and Ireland are considering a similar measure.         

The Ontario government continues to dodge its responsibility on wind turbine noise by relying on computer models and its notion of compliance, despite growing evidence and thousands of complaints of noise and vibration.

With yesterday’s event, the government needs to assure Ontario’s rural citizens that it is doing everything it can in the area of safety.

Other questions relate to the technical aspects of the wind “farm” approvals:

  • What sort of design safety margins are required with regards to the material properties?
  • What kind of stress, natural frequency and fatigue analysis is required to be submitted for these when an application is drawn up?

 

  • Who reviews the technical part of the application? What are the qualifications of the reviewer? Are those applications ever farmed out to professional engineers who have the appropriate experience to conduct the review?
  • What inspection procedures are used during installation and afterwards during operation? Who conducts these inspections? What inspection reports are filed and where are they filed? What are the qualifications of those who review the inspection reports?
  • How often do IWT inspections need to be done…. and how are they being done after it is up and running so that relevant data is actually acquired?
  • How many IWTs are out there of this design or similar?
  • What design specifications are being followed for the design and manufacturing? For example, do they require x-ray weld non-destructive examination for all tower welds?
  • The Ministry of Labour is now reported to be involved in the Chatham-Kent turbine failure. If this IWT failed for a reason that can’t be readily identified, what position has the Ministry of Labour taken (or needs to take) on behalf of all the workers who install and maintain these things?

Does it mean that these are unsafe for people to be anywhere near both during construction and afterwards during operation until such time as the root cause failure analysis is completed?

Many questions, few answers.