5th International Wind Turbine Noise Conference (2013)

The Conference Programme is not set for the 5th International Wind Turbine Noise Conference (2013) to be held in Denver August 28-30.
Some prominent names from Ontario:

29 August 2013
Effects of WTN on Individuals

08.00 Audit report: Literature reviews on wind turbine noise and health
Brett Horner, Carmen Krogh and Roy Jeffrey, Canada

08.15 Wind turbine noise: What has the science told us?
Loren D. Knopper et al, Canada

08.30 Perception change of soundscape as wind turbine alters community sound profile
William K.G. Palmer, Canada 

08.45 Trading off human health: Wind turbine noise and government policy
Carmen Krogh et al, Canada 

09.00 Wind turbine facilities’ perception: a case study from Canada
Peter N. Cole and Carmen Krogh, Canada 

Wind-power projects as harmful as cancelled gas plants, critic contends

OTTAWA —The same process that led to Ontario’s “gas plant fiasco” is being used for wind-generation projects with disastrous results, says the head of a group concerned about a proposed wind farm in rural southern Ottawa.
“The gas plants got all the attention, but the wind-power projects are more widespread — and causing real problems for communities in terms of health problems, social disruption, lost property value and harm to the natural environment,” wrote Jane Wilson in a submission to the Ontario Power Generation and the Independent Energy System Operator as part of a “dialogue” about the way the province locates large power projects.
The consultation process stemmed from the political controversy around the location, and cancellation, of planned gas plants in southern Ontario. The Liberal government’s handling of the costly gas plant issue is the subject of an inquiry and a criminal investigation.
Ottawa Wind Concerns, which Wilson heads (in addition to Wind Concerns Ontario) wants a new system for planning and siting all large energy projects, including wind, that gives local communities more control.

Continue reading at the Ottawa Citizen

Energy Minister Chiarelli: Bringing Ontario a New Energy Vision

According to the latest press release from Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, “everything old is new again”, if we are to believe any of the diatribe contained in it. One day after the highest demand day in 2013 the Minister has a “new” vision for our energy system. July 15, 2013, hour 17, the 2,017 MW of wind turbine generators were producing 47 MW of power to contribute to that peak demand hour’s energy needs of 24,025 MW. Wind was providing less then 2 tenths of 1%. Not to worry though as the Ontario Power Authority has contracted for an additional 3,000 MW of wind development and when they are up and running Ontario might get as much as one half a percent from wind generators on those peak summer demand days.

Perhaps because of that miserly production Minister Chiarelli suddenly became aware that the “old” energy plan has severely harmed Ontario! That evidence may have convinced him that if he simply relabels the “plan” as the “New Energy Vision” things will get better. In the release he has discovered conservation and given it his “Top Priority” perhaps recognizing that wind sure isn’t the panacea the environmentalists had promised.
Nevertheless if Minister Chiarelli simply revisits page 65 of Minister Brad Duguid’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) he will note that Duguid planned for 7,100 MW of conservation capacity and with only 1,900 MW of reputed conservation attained (according to the same press release) we still need 5,200 MW more to reach the original target. Based on the LTEP “conservation” is (with the exception of refurbished nuclear) the reputed generation source we will get the biggest bang for our buck or as the Minister put it:

“Between 1990 and 2013, average household electricity consumption has declined by almost 25 per cent, resulting in the average household saving up to $350 based on current electricity costs.”

This is an interesting twist that only an economist could come up with as I am sure anyone reading that statement would not realize how much they had supposedly saved. What is missing in his statement however avoids telling the reader how much rates have risen since 2003 and why conservation was only down by 10.4 terrawatts (TWh) or 6.9% since that date. My guess is that Minister Chiarelli had to travel back to 1990 to make the Liberal track record appear better, but isn’t that what we have come to expect from their mismanagement of this portfolio?

If Minister Chiarelli had looked at the IESO data referenced for hour 17 above he might have discovered that Ontario was importing 1,535 MW from Quebec while we were exporting 1,835 MW to Michigan and New York. From that data he may have discerned that the $10 billion that the Ministry brags about Hydro One spending on their transmission grid has not allowed the power produced in Ontario to be used in Ontario. Moving the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants to Lambton and Bath will exacerbate that problem.

Reference graph from Conservation First

The Minister’s press release also links the reader to Conservation First: A Renewed Vision for Energy Conservation in Ontario a “guide” to help in the discussion as the province reputedly seeks input “to develop a new Conservation and Demand Management framework.” If one looks at the “guide” you note it contains several charts that forecast growth or reduction in energy consumption out to 2020. The categories are Industrial; forecast to grow from 35 TWh to 44 TWh, Commercial; forecast to increase from 58 TWh to 62 TWh and Residential; forecast to decline from 49 TWh to 47 TWh. With us residential energy consumers already picking up $200/400 million annually of the Global Adjustment (GA) as part of the transfer from the Class A industrial users to the rest of us Class B consumers we should anticipate seeing our share of the GA grow further. The interesting aspect of that forecast (consumption increasing from 141 TWh in 2012 to 153 TWh in 2020) is that it was prepared by the Ontario Power Authority who not very long ago were forecasting negative growth in demand for Ontario as noted in an article out of the Ottawa Citizen last December. Sure makes one wonder what has happened in the last six months to make them change their mind or does the Energy Minister simply order up a forecast that matches his press release?

The other aspect of the “conservation” initiatives impacting all Class B customers is the effect on our delivery rates. If the local distribution company (LDC) sees its income drop due to lower consumption it simply applies for a rate increase to the Ontario Energy Board and so far they have always blessed the increase requested as long as the LDC can claim the reason demand was down was due to their customers conservation. Not sure how we save money in that scenario.

If after reading the Minister’s diatribe one is inclined to believe this is anything but the same old drivel, with the words “New Energy Vision” simply added, well, you may be in the market for a bridge in Brooklyn.

The registered trademark associated with the OPA: “saveONenergy” should take on new meaning each and every time you see them in print, hear them on the radio, or see them on TV. Every time you read, hear or see the ad please think of the approximately $3 billion dollars that has so far been spent on getting the message out to conserve, and the $300 million the OPA spends annually that goes directly to your electricity bill!

Parker Gallant,
July 17, 2013

Ontario Energy Ministry or the Freedom of NO Information

For some time the interest in the release of the Ontario Electricity Finance Corporation’s (OEFC) annual report has been on the minds of many of Ontario’s ratepayers. The OEFC’s year-end is March 31st and in line with the annual budget an audit of the OEFC is a requirement of the Electricity Act 1998 (Act). According to part” 81. (1)” of the Act; “The Financial Corporation shall, within 90 days after the end of every fiscal year, submit to the Minister of Finance an annual report on its affairs during that fiscal year, signed by the chair of its board of directors. 1998, c. 15, Sched. A, s. 81 (1).”

By this date (mid July 2013) the public should have had acess to the March 31, 2012 and March 31, 2013 annual report but we don’t. Now if one delves further into the Act we note that: “The Minister of Finance shall submit the annual report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and shall then table the report in the Assembly. 1998, c. 15, Sched. A, s. 81 (3).” Insofar as the March 31, 2012 annual report is concerned the Minister responsible would have been our now retired and private sector employed former Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan and for the March 31, 2013 report it would have been the current Finance Minister, Charles Sousa. Needless to say neither of the past and current Finance Ministers have, as suggested in the act, submitted “the annual report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council” nor have they followed up by “then table[ing] the report in the Assembly.”

With the foregoing in mind I submitted a request to the “Freedom of Information Coordinator” of the Ministry of Energy, on June 24, 2013 in which I asked for the copy of the annual report for the year-end March 31, 2012 for OEFC. As the letter preceded (by 6 days) the “90 days” applicable to the 2013 annual report I thought that the FOI request would carry more weight.

As it turned out my request was forwarded to the FOI Coordinator at the Finance Ministry Office and I received a phone call on July 9th alerting me to that fact. During my conversation with that individual I was offered a choice of future actions; the first was that they could return my cheque for the $5.00 and I would get no information or they would cash my cheque and send a letter that would tell me that under “Section 22” of the Ontario FOI Act they would respond that: “(b) the head believes on reasonable grounds that the record or the information contained in the record will be published by an institution within ninety days after the request is made or within such further period of time as may be necessary for printing or translating the material for the purpose of printing it. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 22.”
I opted for the latter and then checked Hansard to determine the next “Legislative sitting” which has been scheduled for September 13, 2013 or 81 days after the date of my letter. Presumably the hope of the FOI officer responding to my letter is that Finance Minister Sousa will in fact table the March 31, 2012 OEFC annual report to the Lieutenant Governor before Sunday September 22, 2012.

While I appreciate that bureaucrats, no matter their political stripes are concerned about their job I find it appalling that the new Wynne Liberal Government who claim to want a “conversation” do not wish to table these annual statements from OEFC that annually bill 4.5 million Ontario ratepayers for approximately $1 billion. Two full years have passed and the take on the “stranded debt” from the ratepayers of the province is about $2 billion and we have had no accounting.

It begs the question where has our money gone and why are they keeping it a secret?

Parker Gallant, 

July 18, 2013

Ontario Liberals: 10 years of Mismanagement of the Energy Portfolio

At the advent of the five (5) by-elections in Ontario and as we close in on the 10th anniversary of the current Liberal’s tenure as the governing party in Ontario it is time to look back on their management of the “Energy” portfolio. It is particularly appropriate to examine their past as the energy issue is bound to be on voter’s minds. Additionally, the current Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, has embarked on what he refers to as a “review” of the Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) which was never a “plan”! When the LTEP was released in the fall of 2010 by Energy Minister, Brad Duguid it was to be a “guide” to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) so that they could produce IPSP II. The original IPSP (Integrated Power System Plan) was thrown to the curb by George Smitherman when he held this portfolio and Chiarelli’s predecessor, Chris Bentley tossed LTEP II in the trash!

So let’s examine the list of energy events brought to us by the Ontario Liberal Party after they condemned the predecessor governments of Premier’s Harris and Eves for their management of that portfolio! Please note that the costs of the Liberal policies over the past 10 years are estimates based on the best information available. Here they are:

Ontario Power Authority: The Liberals created the OPA as a temporary agency to generate an IPSP. The OPA annually consumes about $75 million of tax dollars but is responsible for pricing and contracting all electricity generation including the OPG and Hydro One on transmission builds. Nothing happens without Ministry directives. When Smitherman took over the Ministry the OPA lost their mandate to actually plan via the GEA. The OPA was instrumental in generating the first and second IPSP which comprised tens of thousands of pages and input from various parties throughout the province.  As noted, the two IPSP’s were eventually relegated to the trash bin at considerable cost to the ratepayers. Based on the annual budget of the OPA we estimate:

Total Costs over the 10 years since they were created: $750 million

Big Becky: A directive from the Minister of Energy caused Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to build what the current Minister refers to as the “largest renewable energy project in the world”. The cost of “Big Becky” (the new tunnel under Niagara Falls) cost Ontario’s ratepayers $1.6 billion for a marginal increase in hydro electric capacity. The 140 megawatts (MW) that it is rated at, had a capital cost of $11.5 million per MW. Presumably the “largest” reference in the Minister’s announcement refers to those excessive capital costs that were partially caused by being over budget by $600 million. It should be mentioned that “Big Becky” had been rejected by prior governing parties because it was deemed too expensive for the marginal power it would deliver. Normal “levilized” costs for new hydro generation should be in the $1/$1.5 million range or 10% of what Big Becky cost Ontario’s ratepayers.

Total Capital Costs for Big Becky: $1.6 billion

Pensions: When the Liberals came to power the pension plans of the publicly owned electricity sector were not in deficit. OPG and Hydro One are now in deficit by $4.8 billion caused by the excessive amounts spent by both to follow the directives of the Liberal Energy Ministers to build new infrastructure (related to renewable energy) and increasing staff levels to execute those directives instead of sticking to their traditional business roles.

Pension Deficit to be paid by ratepayers: $4.8 billion

Upper & Lower Mattagami: Yet another “directive” to the OPA directed them to negotiate a contract with the OPG for the upper and lower Mattagami project which was eventually contracted for $2.6 billion. This hydro electric project will also add marginal power to the Ontario grid and present itself principally in the spring months when the Ontario power demand is usually at it lowest, meaning we will either spill it or sell it to neighbouring states and provinces at a loss.

Estimated costs of the Upper and Lower Mattagami project: $2.6 billion

Ontario Electricity Financial Corp: The Ontario ratepayers are awaiting the release of the March 31, 2012 and March 31, 2013 Ontario Electricity Finance Corporation’s (OEFC) audited financial statements which the Minister of Finance, has not yet released. One must wonder why financial statements that were presumably delivered to the Minister a year ago have not found their way to the public. Have the Liberals somehow squandered the $2 billion or so that the ratepayers have been obliged to pay for the past two years? What are the Liberals hiding?

Total Estimate of Missing “stranded debt” monies: $2 billion

Transmission Builds: Yet again several of the Liberal Energy Minister’s directives instructed Hydro One to construct transmission lines to connect wind and solar energy projects to the grid. Those directives required Hydro One to spend billions of ratepayer dollars to build the transmission lines, purchase transformers for that purpose and included “reserving” transmission facilities for the Korean Consortium, commonly known as the Samsung contract.

Estimated Costs to hook up Wind and Solar to the Grid: $2 billion

Ontario Clean Energy Benefit: As energy costs rose the governing Liberal party became concerned that the ratepayers would balk at the huge increases they were seeing so they launched the “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” (OCEB) which gave ratepayers a 10% rebate on their electricity bills. This burden of approximately $1.5 billion annually for the years 2011 through to 2014 will be added to the growing provincial debt but will end January 1, 2015.

Estimated Cost to taxpayers of the OCEB over 4 years: $6 billion

Smart Meters: Not to be forgotten is the $2 billion or more spent to install “smart meters” on each household throughout the province. These meters have provided no benefits to ratepayers despite all of the rhetoric from the Ministry. Recently Hydro Ottawa announced that they will be replacing 215,000 of their smart meters, installed only a few years ago, because they are deficient. How many more will need replacement by other local distribution companies (LDC) throughout the province is an unknown. It would appear that the Minister’s (Dwight Duncan) directive at that time didn’t require any standards—the Liberals just thought it was a good idea!

Estimated cost of the “Smart Meters”: $2 billion

Smart Grid: Another ongoing expense related to “smart meters” is the “smart grid” which the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is working on. Preliminary estimates of the cost of the “smart grid” are in the $1.5 billion range and the “smart grid” is/was supposedly required to manage the intermittent power that is delivered by wind and solar along with management of “imbedded generation” (the small and microFIT generator hookups to the LDCs), the charging stations (for the 500,000 electric vehicles) that the Liberals foresaw being installed throughout the province and the ability to turn your air conditioner and refrigerator up at peak demand times.

Estimated Cost of developing the “Smart Grid”: $1.5 billion

Constrained Power: Also aligned with the smart grid was the need to constrain and pay for the power that the grid didn’t need from the “first to the grid” rights of wind and solar generated during times when the Ontario demand for power is low. Commencing in September 2013 we will pay those private developers for power “they might have been able to produce” but which would have caused problems that may have led to blackouts or brownouts. The estimates of this are unknown however 80% of the power they deliver normally presents itself when our demand is low so a best guess is that this will cost ratepayers in the area of $300/$400 million annually based on only the existing wind and solar generation presently installed.

Estimated Cost of Constrained Wind and Solar over 20 years: $6 billion

Gas Plan Idling: Ontario’s ratepayers are also obliged to pay for idling gas plants (backing up wind and solar) at the rate of $15K per MW per month and with approximately 7,000 MW currently installed and another 1,200 MW contracted for that will cost ratepayers upwards of $1 billion annually.

Estimated Cost of idling Gas Plants over 20 years: $20 billion

Nuclear Steam Off: The grid problems that might be caused by wind and solar also affects the nuclear operations of Bruce Power who have been frequently called on to “steam off” power when the Ontario demand is low. The ratepayers are also obliged to pay for that steamed off power. Efforts to determine the costs to the ratepayers of that steamed off power have been fruitless as the grid operator does not post that information nor make it available for analysis. We would expect that as increasing amounts of wind and solar are added the costs will escalate and should easily approach $100 million.

Estimated Cost of “steaming off” nuclear power over 20 years: $2 billion

OPG as scapegoat: The addition of intermittent electricity generation from wind and solar has had a direct effect on OPG operating revenue and profitability as it has lowered the wholesale price of the market, defined as the hourly Ontario electricity price or HOEP. OPG is basically the only market participant exposed to the HOEP so they have been selling their unregulated power from hydro and coal at low prices (2.4 & 2.6 cents a kWh [2012]) and since 2003 have seen their revenues fall by almost $2 billion dollars weakening their value to the shareholders; the Ontario taxpayer.

Estimate of Revenue Losses to OPG over the past 10 years: $15/20 billion

Class A to Class B transfer: As the rates climbed ever higher the Liberal government also heard from large industrial users in Ontario, who were being crippled by high electricity prices which coupled with the recession, cost Ontario an estimated 300,000 manufacturing jobs Extensive lobbying on behalf of those major electricity consumers led to the creation of an incentive for those large users to avoid peak demand days (perhaps by using diesel generators) which allowed them to offload a large portion of their share of the Global Adjustment. As a result the rest of the ratepayers (households and small and medium sized businesses) now pick up upwards of $200 million per annum in costs previously the responsibility of large users.

Estimate of Class A to B Global Adjustment transfer over 20 years: $2 billion

HST: Another cash grab from ratepayers came about when the McGuinty Liberals endorsed the concept of the HST which automatically increased ratepayers electricity bills by 8% which pretty well wiped out that taxpayer supported Ontario Clean Energy Benefit. The cost to the ratepayers is approximately $1.2 billion annually and will grow as electricity and delivery rates increase.

Estimate of Cost to Ratepayers of HST on Electricity Bills over 20 years: $24 billion

Green Energy Act: No list would be complete without referencing the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) which the Liberals (Energy Minister, George Smitherman) promised would only raise electricity rates by 1% per annum. The GEA has resulted in Ontario’s ratepayers seeing their electricity and delivery costs rise by over 100% and they have only absorbed about 30% of what the LTEP anticipates in the form of renewable energy. Ontario now has one of the most expensive prices for electricity in all of North America exceeded only by a very small number of US states and has become an unattractive place for investments that might have created jobs. The advent of the march throughout Ontario of industrial wind turbines and solar panels has also had a direct effect on property values of homes located in proximity (within 5 kilometers) to their installation (this will eventually negatively affect the municipal tax base), killed birds and bats, destroyed forest land (via road construction for their installation) and caused various health problems for many families living anywhere near those 500 foot monsters. Most of the costs of the GEA are captured above but a couple of aspects are not and those relate to; “conservation” spending and the monies lost on exporting our “surplus power” below it’s cost. The OPA annually spend over $300 million on conservation efforts and it now appears surplus exports are costing (based on the recent estimates) ratepayers about $500 million per year.

Estimated Costs of Exports & Conservation Spending over 20 years: $16 billion

The biggest issue related to the latter is that the GEA took away the democratic rights of people to object to the construction and siting of these generators. Municipalities were stripped of their ability to stop any of these developments due to the structure of the GEA claiming NIMBYism would not be allowed in the quest to “green” Ontario. Recent events by the current Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli has paid lip service to that issue by conducting a “study” of siting procedures. The Minister doesn’t claim that he will give those rights back! Conveniently the report is not due out until after the upcoming by-elections so voters in those 5 ridings will be kept in the dark and clueless on whether the Liberals will amend the GEA. The wisest move by voters will be to count on the GEA being left intact.

Gas Plant Moves:If the reader has got this far they will notice that there is one significant item missing from the list above and that of course is the cost of moving those two gas plants from Mississauga and Oakville. The reason to not list it is that the Auditor General’s report on the Oakville move will not be released until late August. The media has consistently stated that the overall costs associated with the moves was $585 million but the likelihood is that the costs will in fact be higher. 

Estimated Costs of Gas Plant Moves: $1 billion

Many other ratepayer costs are not listed but most of those above are measured in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. There are many other Liberal energy enacted policies measured by tens of millions that would include, the Northern Ontario Energy Credit, the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, electric vehicle grants, the Community Power Fund, the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program, etc. just to name a few.

All ratepayers in the province look forward to the day when the Minister of Energy will simply act as the overseer on these publicly owned electricity institutions instead of know-it-alls, led by the nose by unelected environmentalists (OSEA, Environmental Defence, Pembina, David Suzuki Foundation, etc. etc.) bent on saving the world from global warming. We have had a succession of those Liberal lemmings occupying the Ministry chair for the past 10 years and all it has done is to make foreign companies, and perhaps some Liberal insiders like Mike Crawley, rich while draining the pockets of the ratepayer/taxpayer.

While executing those policies, they have ignored real infrastructure problems in the energy portfolio. A recent example of the foregoing was the loss of electricity experienced by hundreds of thousands of people living in the GTA as a result of the floods. Those floods caused the Hydro One Manby transformer station to flood and the grid in the southwestern GTA to collapse causing the outage. The weakness of the Manby station was known to the Liberal Ministers (and was the basic reason to plan for those two gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville) and should have been replaced several years ago but the Ministers ignored the recommendations to replace it and instead directed Hydro One to hook up wind and solar renewables.

Too bad we ratepayers and taxpayers can’t just hit the delete button to eliminate the past 10 years, much like the Minister’s senior staffers did to hide the bad news about the gas plants!

Parker Gallant,
July 16, 2013

PS: For those toting up the numbers the above costs identified come to over $109 billion.

Prince Edward County and their Super Turtles: Renewable Energy Approval overturned

The headline in the Belleville Intelligencer of July 5, 2013 read “Turtles win wind battle”!

Apparently turtles (particularly those of the “Blandings” variety) not only outrace rabbits but they can sway power over lawyers in quasi-judicial positions as the results of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) for the Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP recently disclosed. Despite over 40 days of hearings with numerous witnesses called on behalf of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) it was the Blandings turtle that was the hero to the numerous Prince Edward County residents who opposed the erection of 9 industrial wind turbines at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources owned land known as Ostrander Point.

The costs, measured as; harm to humans that might be affected by industrial wind turbines or the rare alvar vegetation didn’t play into the decision by the two ERT panel members! As it turned out it was the slow moving endangered Blandings turtle that swayed them to make the first ever ruling against the Ministry that handed out the REA. A huge win, after numerous losses that places the “Blandings” turtle on a pedestal akin to a war hero or an Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meter dash.

The win by this slow moving reptile didn’t come cheaply as the efforts by both PECFN and APPEC to raise the funds necessary to sponsor their appeal are measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the appeal to complete their fundraising activities continue, as both try valiantly to close the gap to ensure that Eric Gillespie and his legal team’s costs are covered.

The other side; Gilead Power was represented by the legal team of one of Canada’s biggest law firms; McCarthy Tetrault and supported by the taxpayer financed legal team from the Ministry. Attending the hearings usually saw a minimum of two lawyers from both McCarthy Tetrault and two from the Ministry. On several days the McCarthy Tetrault group would number three so the costs to the REA holder were considerably more. Having personally had experience in dealing with some of the big “Bay Street” law firms, this writer would estimate that Gilead were on the hook for a mimimum of $1,000 per hour for at least 8 hours in each of those 40 or so days. The focus of the Gilead counsel was principally in attempting to make the PECFN and APPEC experts and common folk (those testifying about health issues caused by wind turbine noise) look bad. They didn’t and the ERT panel generally found all of the PECFN and APPEC witnesses very credible. In the end however, the hero was the Blandings turtle who came through and won the race.

The cost to the taxpayers over the 40 days was nominal as a percentage of the Ministry budget, but as a casual observer I was distracted each day I attended the hearing in Demorestville, by the fact that the lawyers for the Ministry arrived in their “hybrid” cars with the Ministry logo on the side and by the large SUV that the Gilead people would sometimes arrive in. Were the “hybrids” meant to sway the tribunal members proving that the Ministry lawyers were truly “green”? I never saw the cars that the McCarthy Tetrault people drove but there was always at least one BMW parked near the community centre which may have been their mode of transport.

Putting aside the mode of transport, it is interesting to speculate on the cost of legal fees that Gilead will be stuck with. Those fees will be tax deductible by Gilead whereas the legal fees paid for by APPEC and PECFN were all donated after tax dollars made by locals and many others throughout the province who saw the Ostrander Point project as the “line in the sand” for industrial wind turbine developments and supported the efforts of APPEC and PECFN by donating their hard earned money.

Examining the probable cost to Gilead and their partners (including OPSEU as a part owner), this writer’s estimated cost of their defence of the appeal was that it was close to the $1 million mark, considering; three lawyers attended the hearing for many days, the travel time to Demorestville, preparation time, research, expert witnesses, etc. The cost of the taxpayer paid legal team, was probably in the $100,000 range and for the tribunal members a similar cost would probably apply.

In total the overall cost of the tribunal hearing was in all likelihood, in the $1.5/$2 million range whereas the cost, had the REA been denied; would have been zero (0). Whatever possessed the MNR and the Environment Ministry to allow this to proceed is way beyond the scope or ability of this writer to either determine or comprehend, but, perhaps the reasoning might be found in a deleted e-mail. Anything beyond that would be pure speculation on the part of this writer.

The lesson, from the results of the foregoing is that no one on this planet should discount the value of a life, even those of an endangered reptile, and those who should give that lesson considerable thought are the bureaucrats entrusted to protect those lives. The dollar costs described above to the potentially injured parties would never have occurred without the Ontario Power Authority first granting the contract for the marginal electricity that the 22.5 megawatts may have provided. Power that would present itself to the grid 80% of the time when it is not needed. [refer: Fraser Report; Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act] Why the OPA granted the contract to Gilead in the first place is unknown and why Gilead were granted an REA is another unknown. If and when, a judicial enquiry is ever held in respect to the GEA, the reasons behind those approvals and the many others, in my opinion, may well open some eyes on how the regulatory system was one sided while attempting to give the appearance that the appellants had rights.

The Green Energy and Economy Act is truly the rabid (not rabbit) act that is working to destroy what has taken Ontarians decades to achieve!  We should all be thankful that Ostrander Point has been blessed with the Blandings turtle who, so far, is the only real winner.

Parker Gallant,
July 11, 2013

Ontario’s Power Trip: Retirement deficit coming to your hydro bill

Ontario Power Generation tops the worst funded pension fund list and Hydro One isn’t far behind. Guess who is going to pay for them

Ontario’s Power Trip: Retirement deficit coming to your hydro bill | FP Comment | Financial Post:

As noted in a recent Barry Critchley article in the Financial Post, DBRS, the Canadian bond rating agency recently released a list of the top 20 “Worst and Best” funded Canadian Pension Plans and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) topped the worst list with a deficit of $3.3-billion) Pension fund deficits have fallen into ‘danger zone’ for first time in decade, DBRS warns – July 4). Coming in at 8th spot was Hydro One Inc. with a deficit of $1.5-billion.”
In total the two had a funding deficit of $4.8-billion and with a combined full time work force at the end of 2012 of 16,651 employees that equates to a liability of $288,000 for each employee. Over 35 years each employee would be obligated to contribute an additional $8,200 annually in order to ensure those retirement benefits are retained at their current levels if they were private sector companies—but they are not.
What both entities have done for many years is capitalize a large portion of their pension obligations. This is allowed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), meaning that ratepayers wind up picking up the pension deficits. In fact it is not unusual for both OPG and Hydro One to capitalize as much as 50% of their required pension contributions along with actual labour costs associated with their build-out of infrastructure. Those capital expenditures allow them to apply for a rate hike from the OEB and it eventually shows up on ratepayers electricity bills as either electricity or delivery costs.
Despite the unfunded liability of Hydro One’s pension obligation, the Province of Ontario has managed to secure huge dividend payments which in 2012 amounted to $370-million and represented 50% of their after-PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) income.

Continue reading at the Financial Post

Liberal Energy Bafflegab

The Oxford definition of bafflegab is as follows: “noun [mass noun] North American informal incomprehensible or pretentious verbiage, especially bureaucratic jargon.”

The press releases emanating from the Liberals at Queens Park are renowned for their bureaucratic jargon and the release from Bob Chiarelli, Energy Minister on June 20, 2013 in respect to the revisions to the Korean Consortium agreement had one particular clause that was pure bafflegab. Right after the Ministry speaks to the reduction in megawatts that the consortium will be delivering I found this sentence;

“ As part of Ontario’s review of the Long-Term Energy Plan, the province will consider how to best use those savings with a focus on conservation, keeping costs down for ratepayers, and a continued to commitment to renewable energy.”

Ignoring the bad English the “savings” referred to was the extra $24 per year ratepayers wouldn’t be paying because the amount of power that the consortium would NOW be delivering in the future was less! They then turn this around to tell us they must consider “how to best use those savings”! 

Huh?
Pure bafflegab!  At most the 1,131 megawatts (MW) that have been cut from the agreement would have delivered intermittent power we don’t need. From all appearances those 1,131 MW that will not now be built are wind which may have delivered 2.8 million MWh annually, principally in the middle of the night and in the spring and fall months and would have wound up either exported or constrained. In either case ratepayers would have been paying for that power that they couldn’t use or that Ontario didn’t need. At the present time Ontario is exporting an average of 2,000 MW of surplus subsidized power every hour of the day. Cumulatively that could be 17.5 million MWh (17.5 terrawatts [TWh]) annually. In 2012 Ontario exported 14.6 TWh.

The announcement may have come about because Minister Chiarelli or one of his staff at the Ministry spent a little time simply looking at some of the statistics published on the Independent Electricity System Operator’s website. As just one example looking at IESO’s “Adequacy Report” for June 19, 2013 (created on June 18, 2013) they would note that Ontario’s “supply cushion” was excess to the “Ontario demand” in 6 hours of that day by over 100% and our “capacity excess” exceeded our “total demand” in 8 of those 24 hours. If they than looked at the “Generator report” for June 19th they would have discerned that we had throttled back (steamed off) 1,500 MW of Bruce Power nuclear which we, the ratepayers, are obliged to pay for. While on that report they could easily have seen gas plants were running at about 20% of their capacity and perhaps also realized that the ratepayers were again picking up the cost of the gas generators, idling the balance of their capabilities, at rates of $10/$15.000 per MW per month. Further down on the same page they could have noted that the 2,017 MW of industrial wind were producing an average of less then 10% of their rated capacity. Taking a few more moments of his time to glance at the “Intertie” report they would have quickly discovered Ontario was exporting an average of 2,000 MW of surplus power every hour of that day and then if they skipped to the “Hourly Ontario Energy Price” (HOEP) report they could have seen the prices Ontario was receiving for that surplus exported power and perhaps realized we were selling that power as low as 10% of what it cost ratepayers.

Having trolled through the IESO reports Minister Chiarelli or his advisors may have alerted him to the problem(s) and suggested they put out a press release with lots of bafflegab. The thought may have been that any of the bad news on how the Green Energy Act has caused job losses, grid management problems, a commitment to pay wind and solar developers billions of dollars every year, while affecting people’s health, reducing property values and chopping up birds and bats might not be noticed.

One can almost guess what the conversation was in the Minister’s office (understanding that no notes be recorded as was the habit in the former Premier’s office)! This is my take on what may have gone on:

When we make the announcement about the downsizing of the Korean consortium’s commitments we should spin it that we are saving money and throw in something about conservation—that one always has traction with the MSM. 

Ya, good idea, so how much does this reduce the payment to Samsung and could we claim that the ordinary ratepayers will be saving money? 
Sure, it works out to $24 each that they won’t have to pay! 
Let’s avoid mentioning anything about how many jobs the consortium originally promised to create though and just mention the ones they have already created. 
We should also put in something about “local engagement” just to appease those pesky municipalities who have picked up on the “willing host” jargon. 
OK, I think that should do it and will satisfy those reporters who might have a question or two.

While the above exchange may be pure fiction, when one reads a press release like the one issued June 20, 2013 it is obvious to this voter that the spin continues. To think that the government would deign to think taxpayers and ratepayers of this province will swallow this bafflegab is insulting.

The time is long past for the new Wynne government to throw Dalton McGuinty under the bus along with all of the former Energy Ministers that have destroyed what used to be a relatively well run electricity sector. The public are not fooled by this bafflegab!

Parker Gallant, 

June 27, 2012

Parker Gallant: Ontario Green Energy Act a bigger debacle than McGuinty’s power plants

Filled with umbrage that his record as steward of Ontario’s electricity market is under parliamentary review, former Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty more or less passed the buck down to his staff. Appearing before a legislative committee on Tuesday, Mr. McGuinty became irritated and accusatory, saying the search for emails and other documents deleted by underlings is nothing more than a political witch hunt over his decision to cancel two gas-powered generating stations at a cost of at least $585-million.

Picture from source article

Mr. McGuinty is actually getting off too easy. The gas plant cash drain is far outweighed by the burden on Ontarians of Mr. McGuinty’s sprawling green energy fiasco. I say we should forget about the gas plants and the $585-million in wasted money. It’s gone. Instead, let’s order up all the emails and documents — through maybe half a dozen energy ministers under the premier’s control — as they reached the policy and economic decisions that created the 2010 Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA). That act will cost Ontarians 10 to 20 cancelled gas plants.
Let us see the emails and communications and meeting notes between bureaucrats and ministers, between Ontario Power Authority and the government, between all of them and the NGOs and industry activists who lobbied, promoted and sold the GEA policy disaster. There’s the $7-billion deal with Samsung, the false data on carbon emissions, the job creation calculations, the colossal giveaways to wind and solar entrepreneurs who formed lobby groups. On it goes.
And the sham continues….

Please Continue reading at the Financial Post

IWT Developers win with Wynne’s Liberal Government while Ratepayers Lose

A short business news article May 29, 2013 headlined “Laurentian Bank joins $130M Group Refinancing Wind Farm in Ontario” disclosed that Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners had refinanced their 50.6 MW “Gosfield wind farm project in Kingsville, Ont.” that commenced operation in 2010. Quick math disclosed the refinancing was completed at about $2.6 million per megawatt (MW) which is well above the LUEC (levelized unit energy cost) posted on the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) website where the estimate is $1/$1.2 million per MW. That information led to a review of the Brookfield 2012 Annual Report where the following was found;

We refinanced indebtedness on a 189 MW Ontario wind facility through a C$232 million loan for a term of 15 years.” 

The financing for the 189 MW wind facility made sense as it indicates the cost of financing was approximately $1.2 million per MW in line with the EIA estimates for onshore wind. So why were Brookfield able to refinance the Gosfield project at a level double the EIA’s estimated capital cost?  Was it due to the guaranteed 20 year contracts and the payments Ontario’s ratepayers would have to make over that 20 year term, or does Ontario experience better wind attributes?  
Ontario’s experience has shown that it is not the latter so it must be the former!

The following Sunday (June 2nd) proved that Ontario will pay wind developers no matter what!

Ontario currently has a surplus of baseload energy capacity and we keep adding to it principally with wind and solar.  Baseload generation as defined by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is ; wind, solar, must-run hydro and nuclear. Ontario currently has approximately 11,000 MW of nuclear, 2,000 MW of must-run hydro, 2000 MW of wind and an unknown quantity of solar; perhaps 500 MW that gives Ontario about 15,500 MW of baseload power. Ontario’s overall demand (peak average and low) has been falling for several years as industry has abandoned the Province due to high energy prices and the average ratepayer has reduced consumption.

On June 2nd Ontario demand peaked at 14,204 MW and the low demand was 11,924 MW.

What is obvious from the foregoing is that baseload power capacity in Ontario on that Sunday was in excess of our peak and low demand.

The following Sunday (June 9th) not much had changed except that peak Ontario demand only reached 13,302 MW and low demand was 10,816 MW; well below baseload capacity.

The questions than become how did wind and solar perform and did they jeopardize or contribute to the grid and what did they do to electricity rates? Unfortunately if they perform well they put the grid at risk and simultaneously drive up electricity prices for ratepayers! Solar production is not reported by IESO so observations on its costs cannot be estimated by the casual observer but we understand it is significant and growing.

On June 2nd the approximately 2000 MW of wind produced 36,174 MWh (megawatt hours) while Ontario exported 47,500 MWh to NY, Michigan, Ohio and Quebec. The average Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) on June 2nd was $4.63 per MW (less then ½ cent per kWh [kilowatt hour]) so those 36,174 MWh generated about $167,500 in revenue while the ratepayers were required to pay the companies operating those wind turbines $4,883,500 ($135. per MWh) for a net loss of approximately $4.7 million (without counting payments for; backup gas generators, steamed off nuclear from Bruce Power and revenue losses to OPG for spilled hydro) for just that one Sunday.

The good news (if one can be happy about smaller losses) for ratepayers came on June 9th when wind produced 12,590 MWh and the HOEP averaged $13.25 per MWh (1.3 cents per kWh) while exports were 51,200 MWh to NY, Michigan, Ohio and Quebec. The net cost to ratepayers for wind generated electricity on June 9th was about $1.5 million (net of the $167,000 wind generated at the HOEP price) without counting ancillary costs for gas generation backup, steamed off nuclear and spilled hydro.

The other good news on both Sundays was that Ontario avoided blackouts due to grid failure but one wonders what will happen when the additional contracted wind and solar renewable energy is added? Not to worry however as blackouts won’t occur. The reason we won’t experience blackouts is that IESO has reached agreement to pay wind generators for curtailed production come September 2013 and will probably have to do the same with solar generators.  At that point ratepayers won’t get any benefit from the meager export generated revenue—we will simply be paying wind, solar, gas and nuclear generators to not produce while OPG spills clean hydro and receives nothing.

Now we should all understand why Brookfield was able to refinance the Gosfield project! The financiers simply looked at the stupidity built into the mystifying Ontario electricity sector and decided that our ruling Liberal Party has guaranteed repayment by ensuring the 4.5 million Ontario ratepayers are on the hook to repay their loan. They just need to ensure the blades on the turbines are able to spin!

The Wynne wind spin is lining the pockets of many large foreign and domestic companies while Ontario’s ratepayers pockets are picked clean.

The time has come for Premier Wynne to blow away the Green Energy Act and the Feed-in Tariff!

Parker Gallant,
June 11, 2013