Wind power in Ontario: starting with the “perceptions”

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Part II of  Prepare to be Persuaded: asking the question about impressions of wind power

The first question in the Nanos Research Survey conducted from May 25th to June 1, 2014 for CanWEA was this: “For the following ways of generating large-scale electricity/electricity used by communities, industries, businesses, please rate your impression as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor or very poor.

The 500 telephone calls randomly made to 250 GTA residents and 250 “other” Ontario residents reaped the following results: respondents gave hydroelectricity a 86% “very good” or “somewhat good” response making it the clear winner; solar came in second with 70%, gas third with 68%, wind was fourth with 65% and nuclear close behind with 63%.

Now if one travels back to October 2007, an Angus Reid Strategies survey reported “89 per cent of respondents said that using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power was positive for Canada, because these sources were better for the environment.”

The fall from grace for wind as a generation source for electricity as perceived by Ontarians might be connected to this set of facts.

  • In 2007 Ontario had 500 MW of wind capacity
  • There were about 250 turbines (includes the iconic Exhibition Place turbine) in Ontario
  • By June 2014 there was about 3,000 MW of wind capacity in commercial operation, and 1,300 turbines (some 500 feet high) in many communities outside the GTA
  • The Ontario Power Authority has an additional 2,600 MW contracted for under development, which will add another 1,000 turbines in many other Ontario communities
  • the average price of electricity in 2007 was 5.4 cents/kWh and the average price of electricity in 2014 was 9.5 cents/kWh, a 76% jump from 2007.

Those facts coupled with the pain of higher electricity bills has made many in the province much wiser about wind power; presumably a few of them were among the 500 randomly called.

Actually, the Nanos survey report did not in fact provide the reader with the percentage of callers reached who were electricity ratepayers.  That knowledge might perhaps have painted a more dismal picture for the wind proponents at CanWEA; people who pay electricity bills directly have a better understanding of how the electricity system works, and how utility-scale wind developments have driven up our bills.

The Executive Summary after touting the 65% approval rating for wind power goes on to state,   “Positive impressions are supported by the perception that wind is a strong energy source for environmentally friendly and safe electricity.”  [My emphasis]

Next: Part III of this examination of the Nanos Research report to CanWEA, where we examine the issues described that will drive the key narratives CanWEA will pursue in their efforts to convince Ontarians of the wonders and benefits of industrial wind turbines.

©Parker Gallant

January 2015

Comments

John Vincent
Reply

Although WCO is primarily concerned with wind, don’t leave solar out of the expense equation. In many way ways its worse than wind. It doesn’t have the obvious visual impact of wind, however, it digs deeper into our pockets at bill time with far less return on investment.
Solar plants ( I will not call them farms) are taking up thousands of acres of good farm land in Ontario.There are five 100 acre plus plants within 10 minutes drive of where I live. All are built on prime farm land as indicated in the prospectus of each. Their return is far less than 10% of their rated capacity. In fact, it can be very hard to glean actual outputs from these plants, although I have been able to. They don’t make electrcity when the sun goes down (evening peak), nor when the day is cloudy ( a typical cloudy month like November results in very little output from and solar plant). Yet we are paying the highest electrcity rates on this technology. When McGuinty started this whole Green Energy thing, he touted he wanted the equivalent of 32 square miles of solar in Ontario.
Down on wind, yes, but don’t forget solar.

Wind Concerns Ontario
Reply

Thanks John: you may notice that Parker Gallant usually refers to solar generation as well in his summaries. We have enough on our plate with wind power and cannot get into solar, too!

Parker Gallant
Reply

For forecasting and planning; IESO value solar in the winter @ 4 % of capacity and in summer 30%. My view is that even that is optimistic. It sure would be nice if IESO used all that second by second data flow from those smart meters to generate and provide us with some transparency by telling us how many MWh are delivered by “embedded” solar and at what cost.

Barbara
Reply

Solar is very much a part of this situation and about another $100 million is waiting to be invested in rooftop solar. Won’t name the company just now.

All of these issues have to be clarified so that the public knows what is taking place.

Barbara
Reply

John, Ground mounted solar projects can be used as a basis to sell Yieldcos to investors. So even more money can be made off from these projects. Bonds can be sold to investors as well for these projects.

Same applies to IWT projects.

Stay together as all of this is in the same picture.

allan
Reply

I have a problem with you saying that hydro cost 9.5 cents/kWh when I pay 19 cents/kWh and another person I know pays 23 cents. Our smart meter has never worked like thousands of others but the other person does.
I also wonder about Hydro Ones cost of connecting the IWT to the grid. Is that included in the delivery cost?

Parker Gallant
Reply

Allan, I was only referring to the “commodity” cost. The cost of connecting to the grid is part of the “transmission” costs which are part of the commodity cost but the line losses are now part of the delivery costs.

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