Wind power no bargain: letters

Readers of The National Post respond to CanWEA president Robert Hornung’s continuing assertion that wind power is “low cost.”

Wrong way to go green

Re: Wind Fight!, letters to the editor, June 11.
In his letter advocating the development of wind and alternative energy sources in Ontario, Robert Hornung, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, fails to address the flawed feed-in-tariff (FIT) model that the Ontario government implemented in order to encourage new projects. If he is concerned about the challenges of demonstrating the competitive viability of such projects, he should look to the initiative undertaken by New York state.

New York mandated that by 2015, 30% of all energy generated in the state must be derived from renewable sources. In order to encourage incremental growth in renewable energy sources and establish a leadership position in this industry, New York engaged in a reverse-auctioning system. Under this framework, projects competed frequently for subsidies the government was willing to offer in the short term. As a result, this established a more market-driven process to ensure that new supply would continue to come on stream at competitive rates, and further encourage suppliers to become more efficient. This is in sharp contrast to the FIT model and the exorbitant rates that discourage any incentive to improve efficiency.

New York state may soon see the corollary development of commercial nanotechnology centres, whose advanced material developments will contribute to reducing the costs of alternative energy projects. By comparison, the only ancillary industries Ontario has encouraged are the components suppliers that arose simply due to provincial content requirements that were in violation of the World Trade Organization rules.
Mark Parker, St. Catharines, Ont.

It is disingenuous of letter-writer Robert Hornung to state that, according to Power Advisory LLC, wind power accounted for only 5% of the increased cost of electricity in Ontario between 2009 and 2012, without putting this stat in context. The amount of power attributable to wind went from 1.6% of output in 2009 to 3% of output in 2012, for a contribution of 1.4% of output, for which it contributed 5% to increased costs. This is hardly a bargain.
Kendall Carey, Toronto.

Cases put forth by the Canadian Wind Energy Association and Wind Concerns Ontario both miss one very important fact: It costs more per kilowatt hour to generate electricity by wind than any of the alternatives. I would like to suggest that the Wind Concerns group use this fact to support their opposition to wind generation, as well as their less solid data about environmental and aesthetic issues.

I would also suggest that the Wind Energy Association should be more forthcoming by including this fact. Sure, it costs more to build a nuclear reactor, but the cost is quickly recovered. And the association well knows that it was only with heavy subsidies and guaranteed payback rates that are in excess of what the province charges that attracted the wind energy industry in the first place.
Peter Fedirchuk, Kanata, Ont.

Read the full Letters section here.

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