Here from The Independent, is the responses received by the newspaper to a set of questions put to Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, on the new procurement process for large-scale wind power projects. The announcement of the new process has been delayed.
Editor’s note: The Independent recently requested an interview with Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli about the concerns about industrial wind turbines. We submitted five questions and here are the unedited responses forwarded by the minister’s office.
When will the province outline how it will handle FIT program?
The Large Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program is being replaced with a new competitive procurement process for renewable energy projects. We asked the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to develop a new competitive procurement process for future renewable energy projects larger than 500 kW, which will take into account local needs and considerations before contracts are offered.
The OPA has engaged with the public, municipalities, Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders to help inform the identification of appropriate locations and siting requirements for future renewable energy projects. The OPA has reported back to the government with interim recommendations and additional engagement activities will occur later this year.
We need to make sure our approach is balanced and considers the views of local communities while ensuring the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s electricity system. We expect to have more information on this once the province has updated its Long-Term Energy Plan later this year.
Is it deliberately ignoring those opposed to wind energy projects?
We’re moving forward with renewable energy in a balanced (way). We listened very extensively to the public and we’re changing the way we procure renewable energy projects to respond to community concerns while continuing to encourage a strong renewable energy sector in this province.
Will the government return planning authority to municipalities on Green projects?
The Ontario government is making key changes to increase local control over the siting of renewable energy projects. As a former Mayor and Regional Chair, I understand how important it is for communities to be involved in decision making from the beginning.
Our government wants to ensure that future renewable energy projects will be built in the right place at the right time. That’s why we are replacing the current Feed-in-Tariff program for large renewable energy projects with a competitive bidding process, tailored to the needs of communities. Potential developers will need to work directly with municipalities to determine appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy project.
Our government will also provide up to $90,000 for municipalities to develop Municipal Energy Plans. These plans will help municipalities better integrate energy, infrastructure, growth and land use planning to support economic development, increase conservation and identify energy opportunities.
Finally, we’ll work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers.
If municipalities declare themselves “Not Willing Hosts” is it a guarantee there will not be wind energy projects in their municipalities in the future?
Recent changes will ensure that municipalities have more say over renewable energy projects. Through the priority points system municipalities will have increased influence over the siting of projects through the prioritization of applications that have demonstrated municipal support. Developers that work closely with municipalities and have broader support will receive points during the application process, helping those projects move forward. During the recent round of Small FIT contract awards, over 98 percent of the successful applications received municipal council support resolutions.
These recent changes also gives municipalities more tools and enables them to participate directly in the FIT program
Municipal energy plans will give municipalities a much stronger role in identifying local energy needs and opportunities. Municipal Energy Plans are comprehensive strategies to align infrastructure, energy and land use planning.
The competitive procurement process will ensure that renewable energy developers work directly with municipalities, before contracts are awarded, and that large renewable energy generation is targeted regionally, based on system needs. This process will better integrate renewable energy into our communities and economy, encouraging growth in the renewable energy sector and respecting communities.
Will there be a moratorium on the [wind] current projects until the two-year federal health effects study is complete as many municipalities have asked?
The government is committed to protecting the health of residents in communities that are home to renewable energy projects. We have taken a cautious approach when setting standards for wind turbine setbacks and noise limits to protect Ontarians.
Large-scale wind energy projects in Ontario are subject to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) regulation, which includes minimum setbacks for wind energy projects, and minimum requirements for environmental studies and community consultation activities. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King undertook a review of the potential health effects of wind turbines. Her 2010 report stated that there is no scientific evidence to date to support claims that wind turbine noise cause adverse health effects.
The Ministry of the Environment continues to review emerging scientific, health, acoustics and engineering studies to ensure Ontario’s REA regulation remains in line with the latest and best in science. The ministry also continues to support further research by funding, through an agreement with the Council of Ontario Universities, a Research Chair for the ongoing study of Renewable Energy Technologies and Health.
Translation: if we decide your community is getting a wind power project, you’re getting a wind power project. You can have “say” but the word “no” will not be allowed.
Obviously, at the time some person in the communications warren answered The Independent’s question, the results of the Renewable Energy Technologies and Health were not known—it will be very interesting now to see what the Minister does with that, keeping up as he is with the “latest and best in science.”
See also the blog Smithville Turbine Opposition Party for more comment. http://smithvilleturbinesoppositionparty.ca/news/energy-minister-bob-chiarelli-answers-turbine-questions/
Here from the Lucknow Sentinel, an opinion on what is being done to our fair province…and its fortunes.Lucknow is the location of the ongoing Drennan appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval.
Here from Sunmedia columnist Lorrie Goldstein, an analysis of Ontario’s completely daft energy policy, or lack of same…
By Lorrie Goldstein ,Toronto Sun
In explaining why Ontario’s Liberal government scrapped its previous intention to build two new nuclear reactors, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli offered up that the province now has a “comfortable surplus” of electricity.
That’s a strange way of describing the decimation of Ontario’s manufacturing sector — in part due to the uber-high electricity rates the Liberals have contributed to with their insane rush into expensive and unreliable wind and solar power.
Indeed, the main reason Ontario now has a “comfortable surplus” of electricity — whereas a mere decade ago we were worried about shortages and rolling brownouts — is not because our supply is better but because our economy is worse.
Simply put, when there are fewer manufacturers producing fewer goods, electricity demand goes down.
If and when our manufacturing sector recovers, electricity demand will rise again, and that’s when we’ll need adequate sources of it if we’re not to return to the dire situation of just 10 years ago when Ontario was routinely described as “power starved” by energy experts.
That’s what makes the decision of Premier Kathleen Wynne to reverse the policy of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, on the issue of nuclear power inexplicable, at least if we’re talking about common sense versus politics.
Simply put, nuclear power is the backbone of Ontario’s electricity sector and has been for more than four decades.
Last year, nuclear power supplied 56% of Ontario’s electricity needs. Every time you turn on a light switch in this province, chances are better than one out of two the reason your light goes on is nuclear.
As I’m writing this article on Friday afternoon, nuclear power is providing 69% of Ontario’s electricity needs, or 10,709 megawatts out of a total system demand of 15,595 megawatts.
By comparison, the Liberals’ heavily subsidized and unreliable darling, wind power, is providing 4% (630 megawatts). Solar contributes so little power to the grid it’s not even worth mentioning.
Contrary to what the Wynne government would like you to believe, nuclear power isn’t an unpleasant afterthought when it comes to meeting our energy needs.
It’s the workhorse and if it isn’t properly looked after and maintained, the whole system will come crashing down on our heads when we need electricity the most.
Further, nuclear power doesn’t emit pollution or greenhouses gases. If 69% of Ontario’s electricity needs were being met by coal today instead of nuclear, Toronto would like Beijing on many days.
The McGuinty-Wynne Liberals, who in 2003 promised to phase out Ontario’s coal use by 2007, now promise to do it by 2014.
But, contrary to their absurd propaganda, they aren’t replacing coal with wind.
Wind power can’t replace coal because it can’t provide base-load power to the grid on demand, and, ironically has to be backed up by natural gas power in Ontario.
What the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals are actually doing is replacing coal power with natural gas which emits less pollution and greenhouse gases.
McGuinty let that Liberal secret out of the bag, when, in defending his decision to cancel the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants prior to the 2011 election he said, “We got 17 gas plants more or less right, but we got two very, very wrong.” In other words, the Liberals have been building gas plants like stink to replace coal, except in Mississauga and Oakville, where it would have cost them five Liberal seats.
So there, they cancelled them, at a public cost of up to $1.1 billion. Meanwhile they imposed expensive and unreliable wind turbines on rural Ontario, despite widespread community opposition.
If you’re getting the idea this is no way to run an electricity system, and that the Liberals are making their decisions on the fly and for their own political benefit, rather than on the basis of logic or common sense, then you understand their energy policies perfectly.
Chiarelli says the Liberals will unveil a long-term energy plan later this year which will include the refurbishment of a couple of existing nuclear reactors, but which will de-emphasize nuclear power.
In so doing, the Liberals will again be ignoring the advice of their own experts, who have told them to maintain and expand nuclear power as the backbone of Ontario’s electricity system.
Instead, the Liberals have thrown in their lot with radical greens, many of them leftovers from the 1960s, who still associate nuclear power with nuclear war and who wax hysterical about Fukushima and Chernobyl, which have nothing to do with the safety record of nuclear power in Ontario.
And we’ll be paying for their mistakes for generations to come.
STRATHROY – Fired up and feisty, farmers angered at Ontario’s growing crop of wind turbines shut down a third of a major Southwestern Ontario trade artery Saturday.
With about 150 vehicles including pickups, massive tractors and other farm machinery – including a manure wagon – the massive convoy with police escort shut down the 30-kilometre mid-section of Hwy. 402 west of Strathroy.
“Premier Wynne, you will learn we are a tough crowd to deal with when we are pissed off,” activist anti-turbine firebrand Esther Wrightman told a post-convoy rally of about 300 in Strathroy.
“We will not be bullied and terrorized any more,” the organizer told the crowd of protesters who endured a steady cold rain.
Wrightman has been waging war against plans for a forest of industrial wind turbines planned for the farmfields west of Strathroy and into Lambton County.
“This is a demonstration of we the people, against we the corporations. Wind companies are strangling rural Ontario.”
Wrightman admitted earlier she was surprised at the strong turnout from as far afield as the Niagara region and Grey County.
“It just shows the anger out there,” she said moments before the convoy took to the highway at Hwy. 402 south of Forest.
OPP escorted the rolling protest and closed the highway’s entrances in the affected section.
“We understand they have a right to express their opinions,” said Const. Kevin Howe, noting police were on hand to ensure public safety. He said no incidents were reported and no one was arrested during the peaceful event.
Signs were everywhere, some rather crude and pointed and others noting 74 municipalities in Ontario have signed on as “unwilling hosts” for new wind turbines as the Liberal government continues to push renewable energy.
“Stop the Rape of Rural Ontario,” “No Means No,” and “The Wynne Scam,” were a few of the more reportable messages.
Are Conservative MPPs Monte MacNaughton, Bob Bailey and Lisa Thompson were joined by the party’s energy critic Lisa McLeod, all of whom blasted the Wynne government for ignoring rural concerns and promising to revoke the Green Energy Act.
“This is the most distrastrous policy in the province’s history,” MacNaughton said, blaming the loss of 300,000 industrial jobs on the energy policy of the Liberals.
When organizers thanked the OPP for their understanding and patience at their act of civil disobedience, the crowd responded with warm applause.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Neil Switzer, of Smithville, chairperson of the West Lincoln Glanworth Wind Energy Group, has been fighting turbines in the Niagara Region for three years and can’t believe how high-handed the Ontario government has been.
“This is very encouraging because it has brought people together from all over the province. And this is a show of support for Esther Wrightman.”
Ray Brown, of Mitchell’s Bay, who lives within 1500 metres of three turbines. He is upset at Randy Hope, mayor of Chatham-Kent, who has welcomed about 750 turbines to his municipality.
“He speaks and tells other he is doing the right thing. But he’s wrong. They are not welcome. We don’t need the hydro from them. I say take them down.”
Muriel Allingham, of Arkona, a co-organizer of the convoy of protest.
“I’m very, very happy at the turnout. Rain or shine it doesn’t seem to matter. We will continue to show the government that wind turbines do not belong in rural Ontario.”
From today’s Financial Post, Tom Adams and Kathy Hamilton on the latest Big Ideas for renewable power in Ontario.
As the Ontario government’s $1-billion gas plant relocation scandal slips into history, the province’s electricity ratepayers should not assume that the era of big-ticket rate-boosting power projects of questionable value is a thing of the past. Now comes the “Smart Grid” and a host of other projects.
None of these ideas comes cheap, including pumped electricity storage, a plan making its way through the province’s electric industrial complex. Pumped storage was traditionally used where excess low-cost electricity was available during low-usage periods. The economic logic was that cheap excess power justified the cost of recapturing a portion of the excess for later use.
Ontario Power Generation operates a pumped storage facility near Niagara, built when Ontario anticipated excess nuclear production. Although it wastes one unit of electricity for each unit finally delivered, the storage system reserves some of the nightly water flow over Niagara for daytime use. This time-shifting optimizes power production by the main generators, while maintaining the scenic daytime water flow over Niagara Falls as required under international agreement. If this were stand-alone pumped storage, ratepayers would fare better with it closed.
But a new pumped storage proposal is under active deliberation around the eastern Ontario village of Marmora. The proposal comes from Northland Power for a stand-alone, 400-megawatt pumped storage facility at the abandoned Marmoraton Mine, on property owned by Aecon Construction. Project cost: Somewhere between $660-million and $700-million.
The Marmora project was endorsed by local council members without public notice. With local people in the dark, Northland Power announced it was “very excited to have the support of the people of Marmora.”
Read the full article here.
Coincidentally released on the same day the Ontario government had scandal cream pie all over its face for the $1.1B gas plant cancellation boondoggle, the Ontario Power Authority has made 18 recommendations on the siting of “large” energy (they mean “power” but “energy” sounds so much less industrial) projects.
The news release is below.
The Ontario government is improving the siting of large energy infrastructure projects by implementing 18 recommendations made by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
The new rules will ensure large energy infrastructure is located in the right place from the start, improve municipal engagement and public consultation, and ensure greater predictability for the energy sector.
Earlier this year, the government asked the OPA and the IESO to propose new siting rules for large energy projects. Work was completed over the summer and both agencies recently submitted an action plan to the Minister of Energy.
Engaging with municipalities helps build strong, vibrant communities. This is part of the government’s plan to strengthen the economy and support a dynamic and innovative business climate that attracts investment and helps create jobs.
Market uncertainty in US, falling component prices for solar are factors.
|in News Departments > New & Noteworthy|
by NAW Staff Thursday September 26 2013
This year is set to be the first in which solar has added more megawatts of capacity than wind, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The report predicts that 33.8 GW of new onshore wind farms, plus 1.7 GW of offshore wind, will be added globally in 2013. This compares with its median forecast of 36.7 GW of new solar PV capacity.
In 2012, BNEF says wind – onshore and offshore – added 46.6 GW, while PV added 30.5 GW, record figures in both cases. But in 2013, a slowdown in the world’s two largest wind markets, China and the U.S., is opening the way for the rapidly growing PV market to overtake wind.
“The dramatic cost reductions in PV, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes,” says Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF. “Europe is a declining market, because many countries there are rapidly moving away from incentives, but it will continue to see new PV capacity added.”
Justin Wu, head of wind analysis at BNEF, says, “We forecast that wind installations will shrink by nearly 25 percent in 2013, to their lowest level since 2008, reflecting slowdowns in the U.S. and China caused by policy uncertainty. However, falling technology costs, new markets and the growth of the offshore industry will ensure wind remains a leading renewable energy technology.”
Despite the change in rankings for 2013, BNEF says the maturing sectors of onshore wind and PV will contribute almost equally to the world’s new electricity capacity additions between now and 2030. The company forecasts that wind (on and offshore) will expand from 5% of the world’s total installed power generation capacity in 2012 to 17% in 2030. PV, from a lower base of 2% in 2012, will grow to 16% by 2030.
Furthermore, the report says after years of oversupply and consolidation, technology suppliers in both sectors may see a move back to profit in 2013.
“Cost cuts and a refocusing on profitable markets and business segments have bolstered the financial performance of wind turbine makers and the surviving solar manufacturers,” comments Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF. “Stock market investors have been noticing this change, and clean energy shares have rebounded by 66 percent since their lows of July 2012.”
Here from the international energy industry magazine Recharge, is an interview with Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. Note the timetable for the large-scale procurement process, the fact that the government plans to continue with wind and solar, and there is no chance whatsoever of returning local land use planning power to Ontario’s communities.
At his constituency office in west Ottawa, Chiarelli tells Recharge that the OPA has submitted interim recommendations to him and that final guidelines are likely to be released in late October or early November. “We will then open procurement for large wind and large solar,” he says. (Separately, the province has also agreed to procure 800MW from small projects over the next four years.)
The timing will also hinge on his ministry completing a review of the Long-Term Energy Plan adopted in 2010, which envisaged a need for 10.7GW of renewable-energy capacity by 2018. If all projects now awarded under the FIT’s 20-year contracts are completed, they commit the province to purchasing just under 5.8GW of wind and almost 2GW of solar power.
“I don’t want to pre-empt the review, but it’s highly unlikely that solar and wind will not be continued in the system,” says Chiarelli. “It’s a question of how much and when.” Wynne’s cabinet must sign off on any proposed changes, which may include several new nuclear plants.
“The big question is to what extent the WTO ruling will impact job creation? We’re assessing that,” Chiarelli says. The Liberals estimate their green polices created 31,000 jobs. McGuinty had promised 50,000 by 2012.
Chiarelli acknowledges that the local renewable-energy supply chain will now be under pressure. “Some manufacturers will need to sharpen their pencil and become more competitive,” he says. That includes the many foreign companies lured to the fast-growing Ontario market amid expectations they would receive preferential treatment for the foreseeable future.
The WTO action will also accelerate the current trend of lower green-energy prices in the province. Since 2010, cheaper component imports have helped reduce average prices for wind and solar projects by 15% and 50% respectively. The political opposition blames sector subsidies for the perceived high costs of Ontario’s electricity, which have been rising steadily since 2008.
Jacob Andersen, who heads Siemens’ wind operations in Canada, is unperturbed by whatever new rules for procurement may emerge. “Any manufacturer will need to be competitive regardless of what the political structure is,” he says. “We will be.”
Earlier this year, Siemens opened a plant near the quaint town of Tillsonburg, Ontario, that produces 49-metre rotor blades for 2.3MW wind turbines and 55-metre ones for 3MW direct-drive machines. Both are produced using its proprietary one-piece casting process, which utilises fibreglass-reinforced epoxy. “Given the size of these components, the fact you have local manufacturing is a sure cost benefit,” Andersen adds.
The bustling industrial facility looks out of place in a surrounding rural landscape of cornfields, wooded countryside and small homes. Formerly an automotive parts plant that had been vacant since 2008, it now employs 250 people, with more being hired.
About 133km to the east, near the city of Welland, REpower recently brought a blade plant on line, its first in North America. For now, the 150 or so workers will fabricate 45-metre blades for the 2.05MW MM92 turbine. Plans call for equipping it to produce 59.8-metre blades for the 3MW M122 low-wind-speed turbine.
“We are now fast-tracking to bring it to North America and will launch it in Ontario,” Helmut Herold, chief executive for Canada, tells Recharge. Canada has become a core market for REpower, which has won initial orders in Ontario after huge success in Quebec.
The company invested more than C$10m in the plant because it thought the Ontario wind market would develop favourably in the future. Herold believes that remains the case and that the government is committed to supporting a robust wind sector.
Nevertheless, he is concerned that challenges could result if the market is completely open to competition. That would allow companies to be aggressive with pricing if they use a supply chain outside Ontario. “At the same time, I hope there will be some kind of appreciation for companies who have invested so far in employing people in this province,” he adds.
Another big change for the industry is that wind developers will now be required to engage aboriginal communities, stakeholders and municipalities to identify appropriate locations for projects, with siting requirements taking local needs and considerations into account. Developers cannot qualify to bid for a project without a “significant arrangement” with a host municipality.
“We’re not looking at the world with rose-coloured glasses,” says Chiarelli. “The Green Energy Act was a tremendous success story, but there were things that needed adjusting. One of those was siting of some renewable energy.”
Under the FIT, developers were given contracts without pre-arranged sites. They were required to consult with municipalities, but many communities complained they were given little input. “It was not a strong regime, if I can put it that way,” Chiarelli comments.
However, the rule change does not constitute a veto over projects, which is what municipalities that oppose wind development are demanding. “We can’t have an electricity generation and transmission system that way,” says Chiarelli.
The McGuinty government’s decision to wrest land-use planning power for large renewable-energy projects from Ontario’s 444 municipalities helped galvanise what is now the largest rural anti-wind movement in North America. At least 62 municipalities have passed resolutions declaring that they are not willing hosts for wind farms. “It’s a strong minority, but a minority,” says Chiarelli. “There is still a lot of tremendous support for wind and solar.”
Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a non-profit coalition based in east Toronto, says the Liberals wanted to quickly bypass the patchwork of municipal regulations in the province, viewing them as an obstacle to wind development.
Wilson says some groups in her non-profit coalition don’t oppose renewable energy. “It’s the way it was done. No local cost-benefit analysis. The impact of large-scale industrial wind development was never studied in any way,” she alleges. There are more than 1,200 turbines in Ontario.
Opponents link turbines to sleep deprivation, and assert they have destroyed house prices or made property difficult to sell. In an ugly turn, so-called “wind wars” have erupted in several regions — rural landowners filing lawsuits against their neighbours who agree to accept turbines, fraying the traditionally close social fabric in farming communities.
To ease hostilities, the ministry is retroactively changing property tax rules to give municipalities that have or will host wind turbines a larger slice of the fiscal pie. It will also give special consideration to projects where developers work in partnership with districts, municipalities, hospitals, schools or universities. This would help broaden their tax base.
Despite the ups and downs of green-energy politics, Chiarelli remains optimistic about wind and solar. “It’s exciting,” he says. “The stakeholders from these sectors are reasonably happy with what we have been able to create so far.”
Ontario’s installed capacity
Nuclear 2002: 8.74GW | 2012: 12.998GW
Hydro 7.615GW | 7.939GW
Coal 7.564GW | 3.293GW
Oil/gas 3.780GW| 9.987GW (gas only)
Biomass/landfill gas 66MW | 122MW
Wind zero | 1.511GW
Note: Data omits generators that operate within local distribution service areas, except for those that participate in the Independent Electricity System Operator-administered market
Stating that government “stewardship” is leading to destruction of the land, the Mi’kMaq of Signigtog are filing a notice of eviction with a shale gas developer. This has relevance to wind power developments in Ontario, where the government is giving extra points and incentives to wind power developers who come to agreements with First Nations in order to construct wind power generation projects.
Here is the news release.
For Immediate Release ~ Media Advisory
September 30, 2013
Elsipogtog First Nation
Signigtog Mi’kmaq Reclaim Stewardship of Native Lands
“There will be no more of our lands being held in trust by governments.”
Elsipogtog First Nation Chief and Council will announce their resolution to reclaim their stewardship over all unoccupied alleged “Crown” land. The Band Council Resolution (BCR) will be publicly unveiled at a media conference at the Rexton shale gas resistance site at the junction of Highway 11 & 134 at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.
Compelled to action by their people to save their waters, lands and animals from ruin, the Elsipogtog First Nation and Signigtog District Grand Council are reclaiming responsibility for stewardship of all unoccupied reserved native lands in their territory.
The lands of the Signigtog Mi’kmaq have never been ceded or sold; for centuries, the British Crown claimed to be holding the lands in trust for them. However, the Original people of the territory, together with their hereditary and elected leaders, believe that their lands and waters are being badly mismanaged by Canada, the province and corporations to the point of ruin. Now facing complete destruction, they feel that the lands are no longer capable of providing enough to support the populations of the region.
Because of these threats to their survival and way of life, the Mi’kmaq people of Signigtog are resuming stewardship of their lands and waters to correct the problems and are planning measures to restore them back to good health. Last July, the Signigtog District Grand Council notified the province of New Brunswick that they had served shale gas developer Southwestern Energy (SWN) with an eviction notice.
Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock states, “We will respect everyone who lives and works in our territories and respects the Treaties of Peace and Friendship and our authority over our lands. We intend to be fair to everyone.”