Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
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.
Smart Grid is the new fad taking over power industry policy everywhere — it’s a flexible concept that gives utilities, contractors and governments room to justify ratepayer spending on “Smart Meters,” electric cars, power line automation and the new hot idea of electricity storage.
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.” …
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.
Ontario Improving Decision-Making on Large Energy Projects
Government Implementing Changes to Regional Planning and Siting
Ministry of Energy
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.
The OPA and IESO engaged key stakeholders and associations that represented a broad range of interests while writing the plan, including First Nation and Métis groups, municipalities, local distribution companies, community leaders and the public. From within these groups, the OPA and IESO invited Ontario chiefs, Métis leaders, mayors, planners, developers, consumer groups, chambers of commerce and boards of trade, business improvement associations, residential and ratepayer associations, and community groups to provide feedback.
We want to get these decisions right, and we are committed to ensuring communities have their say right from the start.”
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.
Ontario’s governing Liberals had hoped that it would never happen. But it did.
On 19 December last year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the local-content requirement in the province’s landmark renewable-energy programme violated international trade laws. Canada appealed on Ontario’s behalf, but in early May, lost the case. The policy, which the Liberals say attracted about C$37bn ($35.9bn) of investment, created 30,000 jobs and contracted almost 8GW of renewable energy, would have to be changed. To avoid trade sanctions, Canada agreed to a 24 March 2014 deadline for the province to end discrimination against foreign suppliers for procurement of goods and services. The ruling, which is not retroactive, came at a politically delicate time for Ontario’s first female premier, Kathleen Wynne, who had formed a minority government only three months earlier, following the resignation of fellow-Liberal Dalton McGuinty. He had been the driving force behind the 2009 Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which linked feed-in-tariff (FIT) eligibility to local production of equipment — at least 60% local content for solar projects and 25% for wind. Already struggling to address economic, healthcare and other problems inherited from McGuinty, she now had to come up with a new strategy to advance her party’s green-energy ambitions while staying on the right side of international law. Meanwhile, critics were up in arms, demanding to know why the Liberals could not copy the likes of the EU and Japan, which — despite making the successful WTO complaint against Ontario — managed to create policies favouring local industries that did not get them into trouble. Wynne asked her energy minister, Bob Chiarelli, the former mayor of Ottawa, to spearhead the government’s response and chart a path forward. He wasted little time. Soon after the WTO decision, the government announced it would replace the FIT for wind and solar projects over 500kW with a competitive procurement process that FIT administrator, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), would devise. It also slashed domestic content criteria to a maximum of 25% for large renewables projects as an interim step towards WTO compliance.
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.”
For more information, please contact: Chief Aaren Sock (506) 523-8201/8221 John Levi (506) 523-5014 Gary Simon (506) 523-1828 Willi Nolan (506) 785-4660
Billings Township (on Manitoulin Island) passed a resolution on September 16 to the effect it will not accept the installation of any industrial wind turbines.The council said it required assurance that the power generators were “benign.” This is the most recent municipality to declare its non-acceptance of huge wind power projects since the Premier first stated earlier this year that her government would only put wind power projects in communities that were willing. It is important to note that these 69 communities are members of the 90 or so Ontario communities that could be involved in wind power.
Here is the editorial from the Toronto Sun today, responding to Energy Minister Chiarelli’s comments about paying for power we don’t need. The Sun’s editors aren’t buying this government’s explanations of the money being paid out to huge corporations to NOT produce power, and they also see the entire “green” energy program as it’s been implemented as an unmitigated disaster. Here is the editorial.
Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli argues it’s better to pay wind developers not to produce electricity than to pay them to produce electricity we don’t need. Seriously, that’s what he said. He also claimed it will save Ontarians $200 million a year. Presumably, what he meant is that it will cost $200 million a year less than under the Liberals’ previous program, in which we had to buy wind energy first, while dumping cheaper forms of energy like hydro power. In reality, the Ontario Liberals’ disastrous experiment with wind (and solar) energy will continue to cost us billions of extra dollars for the better part of the next 20 years, according to a December, 2011 report by the Ontario Auditor General on the Liberals’ renewable energy program. Citing the government’s own estimates, that report said renewable energy is responsible for 56% of the 7.9% average annual increases we’re now seeing on our hydro bills. This despite the fact we don’t need the small amount of electricity wind (and solar) provide because Ontario has an energy surplus, which should be driving prices down, not up. Indeed, we could easily replace the tiny amount of electricity supplied by wind, which costs between 11.5¢ and 13.5¢ per kWh, and solar, which costs between 34.7¢ and 80.2¢ per kWh, with cheaper, clean alternatives like hydro power (3.5¢ per kWh). Chiarelli argues nuclear plant operators are also paid not to produce electricity, which is true. The reason is the need for electricity constantly fluctuates, meaning the supply sources have to be adjusted quickly, while energy providers are guaranteed a certain rate of return. But what Chiarelli didn’t say is that because wind is so unreliable, the entire system runs less efficiently because of the constant need to accommodate wind. This is only going to get worse because the Liberals are planning to bring thousands of more megawatts of expensive, unreliable wind energy on line in the coming years. They are so deep into the green energy disaster they’ve created, they’re never going to admit they made a mistake. The longer they’re in power, the worse things will get. Which is one more reason they need to be defeated in the next election.
I know that I just sent you my letter on September 9thabout not producing electricity from industrial wind turbines a few days ago and didn’t expect an answer back for a few more days, but I have read some news that has me concerned that the reasons for not producing power might be in trouble.
One of the stories I read in Forbes magazine talked about global warming and it said “Global Warming is broke.”Do you know anything about that? I was kind of counting on the extra cash that would be paid to me for not producing power.
A story from Natural News talked about Arctic ice.Apparently, Arctic ice is growing and is 920,000 square miles bigger this year than last year.The article said polar bears are very strong swimmers but Mr. Suzuki said they were at risk if we didn’t curb greenhouse gas emissions–I am not sure what the author was trying to say.I thought Suzuki and Al Gore said greenhouse gases were going to melt the ice and that’s why we have to put up wind turbines and solar panels.Do you know anything about this or the polar bears?
And yet another story in the Toronto Sun by Lorne Gunter on September 11, 2013 said the Earth hasn’t warmed in the past 16 or 17 years. The IPCC has some really bad climate-model computers, according to some German study.That study claimed that all 65 of the IPCCs computers didn’t forecast the “17-year pause in temperature rise.”
All this information has got me somewhat alarmed and my family is now rethinking the idea of getting into the non-production of electricity. They’re on my case about whether I should continue on the path of non-production of electricity from industrial wind turbines.
I was heartened, however, by the good news from you that was reported in the Montreal Gazette.I’m sure your staff pointed it out but just in case they didn’t here is what it said;“Meanwhile, Chiarelli says Ontario is making a net profit of up to $6 billion a year on importing and exporting electricity.”
Now $6 billion a year is a lot of money so it sure doesn’t sound like your Ministry is “broke.”I was kind of wondering what you do with all that money because the electricity rates are still going up.Do you use it to pay wind developers for not producing power?If the answer to that question is “yes” then it sure looks like my letter of September 9thto you will get a favourable response.
Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much if we are making all that money exporting our power.We will still need some power in Ontario and hopefully your Ministry will continue to pay us for not producing it.We should consider exporting some more electricity so that Ontario can earn even more money and you can continue your program paying people to not produce it.
Looking forward to your assurances that the program to pay for the non-production of wind and solar electricity generation is not going to be cancelled.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily Wind Concerns Ontario policy.
I hope a lot of people saw and read the letter in the September 4 issue and I hope it’s a wake up call for the First Nations leaders (Letter writers ask First Nations people…’ page 5). I have been saying this for a long time that these windmills are nothing but bad news and I hope they will smarten up and find a way to stop building these windmills on Manitoulin but people disagree with me on this because they think they know better but now I am starting to know that I am right and people who have them close by are starting to get sick, I guess. The landowners who are letting them on property are doing it for the money and I hear First Nations leaders always talking about the Creator so I will ask a question: who do you really believe in, the Creator or the almighty dollar? I think I have my answer to that but do not get me wrong because I can tell just by your actions that you sold out your own people for the sake of a dollar. Money is not going to be around forever and it’s like making a deal with the devil. Sorry to say but money is not everything, it’s about looking after the land properly and the wildlife and to leave it to its natural state because these windmills may turn Manitoulin into a wasteland, especially around the Little Current area. But as I said before, time will tell but I hope that I will be wrong this time but then again, I am usually right.
Doesn’t make sense to us either. Especially when you factor in the economic losses from tourists staying away (as in the Algoma Region which is soon to be scarred with turbines) and depressed property values, Ontario’s rush to wind power is unexplainable. But, when you don’t do any cost-benefit analysis to support your decisions, “a failed experiment” is what you get. Here, a view from the Montreal Gazette.
Ontario to pay idle wind farms
Province has a power surplus but signed 20-year contracts with wind-power producers
CPSeptember 11, 2013 7:00 AM
Wind turbines dot the shoreline near Port Burwell, Ont. Ontario has signed generous contracts with wind producers for about 5,800 megawatts of electricity, only about 1,500 of which is connected to the grid.
Photograph by: Geoff Robins , THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Ontario will start paying wind power generators today not to produce electricity, but the government says the move will actually save ratepayers big bucks. Ontario has had a surplus of power since 2006, but until now, the province paid for all the electricity generated from industrial wind mills, even when it wasn’t needed. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says the system operator can now order wind producers not to generate power, and will pay them — just as it pays Bruce nuclear — not to produce electricity when it’s not needed. He says they are paid at a reduced rate that will save the province $200 million a year just on the wind mills. Ontario has signed generous contracts with wind producers for about 5,800 megawatts of electricity, only about 1,500 of which is connected to the grid. The Progressive Conservatives say paying wind power producers with 20-year contracts not to generate electricity shows the Liberals’ green energy act “is a failed social experiment.” Critics point out wind power is unreliable and can’t be counted on in peak demand periods like gas-fired generation or nuclear plants. Meanwhile, Chiarelli says Ontario is making a net profit of up to $6 billion a year on importing and exporting electricity, a big turnaround from 2003 when the province paid $500 million to import power because it didn’t have enough to meet demand. It’s not unusual for neighbouring jurisdictions to sell each other electricity, but the province used to frequently have to pay Quebec or New York state to take the excess power off its hands.