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.
Weather-dependent wind power doesn’t stack up against other power sources and results in higher costs, uncertain supply, Judge says
September 13, 2021
A decision rendered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently determined that a natural gas power plant would better serve the public interest than a simultaneously proposed wind and solar power project.
In her decision, Judge Louise Dovre Borkman relied on information from the state’s public utilities analyst coordinator, who said that “wind and solar capacity does not always translate into available energy because those resources are unpredictable and uncontrollable—the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining.”
A critical factor in the decision was a statement in Minnesota Statute §216B.2422, subsection 4(3) saying that due to the “intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities” there could be an impact on the cost of energy.
“In fact,” the Judge wrote, “as Minnesota Power illustrated in its EnergyForward , the output from those resources can ebb significantly even over the course of a single day.
“When that happens, or customer demand increases, Minnesota Power must increase output from more reliable resources, like coal or natural gas generators, or purchase power on the regional market.”
The Judge noted testimony from a consulting expert on energy who said that adding more wind instead of natural gas would leave the power company “doubly vulnerable to market pricing, both to sell surplus energy into the market when prices are low and to buy energy when prices are high.”
The final conclusion was that a “wind or solar alternative is not in the public interest” because the costs are higher.
The reasoning didn’t mention Ontario’s disastrous experience with wind power but it might have: two Auditors General said Ontario’s electricity customers had lost billions. And unlike Minnesota which appears to have approached this with care and consideration, there was never any cost-benefit analysis.
The City of Ottawa is about to make the same mistake, with its Energy Evolution plan, putting forward wind, solar and battery storage as the sole solutions to producing energy for the future.
City of Ottawa doomed to repeat Ontario’s failed experiment with intermittent wind and solar power
In the current edition of Ontario Farmer, is a story “Wind opponents claim Ottawa turbine plan disastrous” by Tom Van Dusen. An excerpt:
City council is ignoring the “disaster” wind power has been for Ontario in encouraging installation of industrial wind turbines in its rural areas as part of a Climate Change Master Plan.
So says the leader of an anti-turbine group Ottawa Wind Concerns (OWC) which for the past several years has been leading the charge in Eastern Ontario.
“While most of us were worrying about the pandemic, council accepted a document titled ‘Energy Evolution: Ottawa’s Community Energy Strategy’,” chair Jane Wilson stated. “What concerned us in the 101-page document is the strategy to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 by using industrial-scale wind power.”
The energy document calls for 20 megawatts of wind power by 2025 and 3,218 MW by 2050, the equivalent of 710 turbines…all part of a $57 billion energy transition plan.
Wilson accused the city of ignoring the role wind power played in creating energy poverty in the province “boosting electricity bills by 270 percent.” Turbines, she added, also have a high impact on the environment killing birds and bat, and produce disturbing noise emissions.
Rather, the city should adopt the current provincial position of pursuing “affordable and reliable” energy sources of which wind power isn’t one. Why not, Wilson said, take a serious look at incinerating waste into power and at modular nuclear reactors which the federal government already supports at the demonstration stage.
“Funding is supposed to come from the federal government–so every Canadian taxpayer–as Ottawa repeats the failed experiment with wind power.”
More wind power equals more natural gas.
“Higher electricity bills, more burden on taxpayers, less reliable power, industrialization of quiet communities and takeover of important food land: That’s what will happen if this goes ahead.”
The story is not online at ontariofarmer.com
Contact Ottawa Wind Concerns, a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org
No analysis in the plan, no way of knowing what the real costs might be,says energy economist Robert Lyman
CITY OF OTTAWA CLIMATE PLAN- THE FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES
By Robert Lyman
The Climate Plan approved by the Ottawa City Council is based on the Energy Evolution documents prepared by its consultant, Sustainable Solutions, for attaining the goal of “net zero” carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The Council’s approval of the plan does not mean that it has approved a budget. In fact, the document submitted to Council states explicitly that “all information presented represents high level estimates that are currently uncommitted and unfunded capital and operational needs.”
Nonetheless, the financial analysis in the plan offers an “order of magnitude” estimate of what implementing it would cost the City and its residents over the period from 2020 to 2050. The analysis projects that the cumulative community-wide expenditure from 2020 to 2050 will total $52.6 billion, with a present value of $29.7 billion. All of this is above and beyond the expenditures that are currently underway or planned. The analysis states that the returns from this investment will be $87.7 billion (unexplained) but only $12.4 billion when discounted to 2020 dollars. In other words, the net cost of the plan is estimated by the consultant to be $17.3 billion. In normal economic analysis of public policy measures, this would be a clear signal to not proceed with the plan.
There is no analysis of the costs per tonne of carbon dioxide emission avoided. In other words, there is no way based on the consultant’s analysis to know whether the proposed expenditures are cost effective compared to other options, or to make sense in terms of the alleged value of the emission reductions.
The plan foresees annual community-wide expenditures of approximately $1.6 billion per year net present value for the decade 2020-2030. Of this, $581 million per year net present value would be spent on transit and “active transportation” (bicycle and walking path) infrastructure and an additional $40 million per year net present value for municipal building retrofits, the zero-emission non-transit municipal vehicle fleet, and methane production from landfill and other sources.
Sources of Funds
The consultant acknowledges that Ottawa will not be able to meet expenditures of this size alone. It therefore assumes that a substantial (but unstated) amount of funding will come from the federal and provincial governments. This assumes, of course, that governments that support such high “climate emergency” expenditures will be in power for the next 29 years. Otherwise, the full funding obligations would have to be borne by city taxpayers.
The plan includes suggestions for several additional taxes and fees that could be imposed on city residents, the largest of which are road tolls ($1.6 billion) congestion charges ($388 million), development charges ($234 Million), road user fees ($188 million) and land transfer tax increase ($130 million). No doubt, the imposition of such charges will create some controversy.
The City of Ottawa Budget for the 2021 fiscal year anticipates the spending of $4.3 billion. The proposed Climate Plan expenditures thus would increase that total by 37%. Even if the federal and provincial governments contributed half the Climate Plan funding, an extremely optimistic assumption, Ottawa taxpayers would be required to pay (one way or another) about $800 million per year, or 19% more than they now pay annually.
The magnitude of the spending anticipated over the 2020-2030 period is even more striking when compared to the city’s present sources of funds and current spending allocations.
Ottawa’s projected revenues from property taxes, the largest single source of funds, in 2021 is $1.85 billion. The Climate Plan expenditure of $1.6 billion per year would absorb 86% of that.
The largest spending item in the 2021 municipal budget is $746 million to be spent on community and social services. The Climate Plan expenditure would be equal to more than twice that.
The second largest spending item in the 2021 municipal budget is $647 million to be spent on transit. The Climate Plan expenditure would be equal to two and a half times that.
The main financial impact on an individual resident of Ottawa would be through a massive increase in the cost of owning and operating a vehicle; the plan marks an intensification of the City Council’s longstanding war on cars and car owners. If one could portray it in terms of a property tax increase, for each of the next ten years the owner of a house with an assessed value of $400,000 would see his or her property tax rise from $4,035 per year to $4,780 per year assuming senior government aid or to $5,528 per year without senior government aid.
If the costs of taxes and fees rise high enough, people will not be able to afford to live in Ottawa and they will simply move elsewhere, even if it means moving to communities just beyond the city’s boundaries.
Driving people out of Ottawa would, of course, help to reduce emissions.
Thanks to Robert Lyman for this article—Ottawa Wind Concerns
This article is reposted from ottawawindconcerns.com
Canada’s federal government–deep in debt from policy decisions and now the COVID-19 pandemic–has pointed toward a focus on renewable energy as a way to “build back better” and strengthen the economy.
But will it work?
Wind Concerns Ontario took a look at what government incentives did in Ontario, when the McGuinty government had the same goal in 2009. Their aim was to make up for the devastating losses in the auto industry by fostering a new one: Ontario would become a world leader in green energy and benefit from a chain of economic endeavors from manufacturing wind and solar power components to generating “clean” “green” power.
The vision was to help “fledgling” companies grow and thrive.
Research on the companies that actually participated in the early days of wind power development in Ontario shows they were hardly “fledglings”. Names like Samsung, Enbridge, Suncor, SunEdison and more indicate, as the Wind Concerns Ontario report shows, companies from around the world flocked to Ontario to take advantage of lucrative, above-market contract rates. And then, many of them left. Today, much of the province’s wind power capacity is held by pension and investment funds who bought into the high yields from the rich contracts.
Prosperity for all? No. Ontario now has a new catch phrase: “energy poverty” as it watched manufacturing businesses hit the road for locations with more advantageous electricity rates.
In today’s edition of The Niagara Independent is an article by Catherine Swift, head of Working Canadians and former Chief Economist with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
She advises the Ford government to take the steps that are needed to get Ontario’s high electricity bills down—an action that was part of the government’s campaign promise in 2018.
“Most Ontarians also know that the reason for our outrageously high hydro costs is the ill-conceived Green Energy Act (GEA) of the previous Liberal government, which involved signing long-term contracts with solar and wind energy providers,” Swift writes. Those contracts were designed “guaranteeing them rates far in excess of any sensible market rates for electricity, while doing little if anything for the environment that would justify the massive added costs.”
Further, Swift says, “Despite strong rhetoric decrying the price of hydro power in Ontario and the negative impact it is having on businesses, households and the economy overall, the Ford government has in some cases merely perpetuated bad Liberal policy and has not attacked the underlying cause of high hydro rates – the ridiculous contracts awarded by the Liberals to generators of “green” energy at absurdly high cost.
“These contracts typically had terms of 20 years, and some as long as 40 years. The Ontario government has cancelled some of these contracts, at some cost to taxpayers but likely more benefit in terms of eventual savings. But the vast majority of the contracts remain in force and will keep hydro costs high well into the future. The bottom line is that the Liberals made a fine mess of the electricity market in Ontario, including all kinds of inequities in terms of the costs imposed on different groups of ratepayers, and foolishly committed Ontarians to contracts of much longer duration than any government should be permitted to do. Much of the Ontario economy has suffered mightily as a result, especially the job-creating small business sector. As the Ford government is finding, these policies are very difficult to reverse. And if this wasn’t bad enough news, many of the architects of this failed Green Energy Act are now advising the federal government, and advocating for similar policies on a national level.
It is true that the contracts negotiated by the McGuinty and Wynne governments will be difficult to unwind, and doubtless the Ford government’s lawyers are reluctant to get involved in more legal action (e.g., Nation Rise, which was handled badly), but it is possible. Queen’s University professor of law and economics Bruce Pardy wrote in a paper in 2014 that “However, government contracts are not the ironclad agreements they appear to be because governments may change or cancel them by enacting legislation.”
Whatever means is used, Ontario’s citizens do not deserve to continue paying high rates for intermittent, unreliable wind power via contracts negotiated by former, ideology-driven governments which never bothered, despite advice from the Auditor-General, to do a cost-benefit analysis of its pro-wind power program.
Energy analyst and Ontario government historian Scott Luft has just published an important analysis of energy contracts post the Green Energy and Green Economy Act passed in 2009, and has made some starting calculations: those above-market contracts cost us plenty, and still are.
The good news is that the increase in the costs incurred by the GEA contracting slowed significantly after 2016. Additional costs are still to come as the largest, most expensive, single feed-in tariff contract only entered service for the last third of 2019: a full year of operation will add another $75 million. Hydro output from sites contracted under the HCI and HESA initiatives have been producing less in the past couple of years, while global adjustment cost components reported by the system operation (IESO) for this group have been fare higher than my estimates – so I suspect the system operator is hiding payments for curtailment. I have not accounted for biomass contracts, although some exist: over 80% of contracted generation from biofuels is either on FIT contracts or is the converted-from-coal Atikokan Generating Station. Reporting on the global adjustment shows biomass responsible for $230 – $287 million annually over the past 5 years.
Precision is elusive, but I am confident the current annual cost from procurement programs initiated in 2009 is over $4 billion a year.
Wind and solar contracts are for 20 years. A handful of smaller hydro facilities have contracts for less than 20 years, but most are 40 and the largest, most expensive contracts are for 50 years (for facilities on the Lower Mattagami river). By multiplying $4 billion (per year) by 20 years it’s clear the entire cost will be more than the $80 billion.
This is bad news for the current Ontario government that promised lower electricity bills—hard to do when you’re locked into lucrative contracts for years to come yet. But this is interesting for people who complained about cancellation of the 758 new energy contracts last year—we didn’t need that power, and we certainly don’t need the cost of intermittent, weather-dependent power, produced out of phase with demand.
Damage, not help for the environment—and plenty of money to be made, says new Michael Moore/Jeff Gibbs documentary
April 24, 2020
Just in time for Earth Day, doc filmmaker Michael Moore released his newest film, directed by and starring environment writer Jeff Gibbs, “Planet of the Humans.”
The film is a scathing indictment of how huge corporations adapted the public desire to have “green” sources of power and used it to make billions, while excoriating the environment through development.
See the video here; Moore made it available for 30 days for free, but the forces behind the renewables money grab are actively working to have the film taken down.
New York State governor Cuomo’s move to pass legislation that essentially removes democracy for wind power approvals and rubber stamp the power projects is hardly surprising: community opposition is strong in the U.S. and Canada … and it’s having an effect.
Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry: the myths of green energy and frequent contributor to publications like the Wall Street Journal, has an article in the New York Postexplaining why rural/suburban communities are fighting back against industrialization by wind and solar power developers.
“The truth is that growing numbers of rural and suburban landowners are resisting these types of projects,” Bryce writes. “They don’t want to endure the noise and shadow flicker produced by 500- or 600-foot-high wind turbines. Nor do they want transmission lines built through their towns, to they are fighting to protect their property values and views.”
In the U.S., jurisdictions are now passing zoning bylaws that enact much greater setbacks between turbines and houses, and specifying more stringent noise limits.
In Ontario, the government returned local land-use planning to municipalities but few have taken advantage of the timing to create new bylaw protection. If a pro-wind government is elected in 2022, it will be too late to take such action after a new procurement regime is announced.
Wind and solar power development takes up a lot of land, Bryce says; renewables will grow, but there must be a better way to “keep the lights on” than using up vast tracts of land for intermittent, weather-dependent power generation.
Read the full article here: https://nypost.com/2020/03/07/angry-us-landowners-are-killing-off-renewable-energy-projects/amp/
The wind power lobby in Canada is busy crowing about “low-cost” and “free fuel” but the truth is something else. Entirely.
Sure, it’s fast and easy the whack up wind turbines, faster than building new nuclear (though not small modular reactors, but that’s another story) but there are many costs to wind that are both visible and invisible.
Parker Gallant documents the costs in his most recent article*, here. An excerpt:
An article posted February 10, 2020 highlighted how wind generation, on its own, represented a cost of $12.760 billion over the ten years from 2010 to 2019 to Ontario ratepayers. Industrial wind turbines (IWT) delivered 83.3 TWh and curtailed 10.5 TWh over that time. The combined cost of the generation and curtailment represented an average delivered cost per kWh of 15.32 cents—without factoring in costs of gas plants being at the ready when the wind wasn’t blowing or spilling clean hydro.
Over the same ten years, exports of surplus power to our neighbours cost ratepayers about $12.5 billion dollars. Wind’s habit of generating power in the middle of the night and spring and fall when demand is low drives down the market price, the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price), resulting in export sales at prices well below contracted rates. This results in ratepayers having to pay the difference.
Last weekend (February 22 and 23) was no exception. The wind was blowing for the two days but Ontario Demand was low, averaging 341,800 MWh. IWTs however, were generating power we didn’t need with grid-accepted wind at 148,175 MWh and 14,900 MWh curtailed. The cost of both was $24 million or 16.2 cents/kWh. IESO was busy exporting surplus power of 141,648 MWh or 96% of grid-accepted wind.
On top of that we were probably spilling water (and paying for it) at the same time.
The question is, how much were we paid for those exports? Exports sold February 22 were at the average price of $1.99/MWh and $1.64/MWh on February 23, so total revenue earned was a miserly $239,000 versus a cost to ratepayers and taxpayers of the province of over $24 million just for what the IWT delivered. Our US neighbours must love us!
Wind’s hidden costs
While the foregoing confirms IWTs are unreliable and intermittent and require backup from gas plants, they have other bad habits. One example is their killing of birds. The Audubon Society has suggested it is anywhere from 140,000 to 328,000 annually. They also kill bats in large numbers. Bird Studies Canada in 2016 estimated the kill rate in Ontario was 18.5 kills per turbine (over 50,000 annually). Many killed are on the endangered list! Additionally, tourism areas may also be negatively affected by IWT as noted in a poll in Scotland by the “John Muir Trust found that 55% of respondents were ‘less likely’ to venture into areas of the countryside industrialised by giant turbines”.
A recent report from Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) raises many other negative issues related to IWT. The report is a synopsis of complaints about IWTs submitted by rural residents of Ontario living within close proximity. Those complaints were submitted to the MOECC (now the MECP) in 2017. The report titled: “Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints” analyzed 674 complaints made during 2017. The shocking issue revealed is: “Only nine of the 674 complaints, or 1.3% of total records, indicated there was a field response” [from the MOECC]. What that suggests is the MECP’s field offices are either not equipped to deal with complaints or believe the IWT-contracted parties will somehow resolve them. In excess of 5,200 complaints have been logged by WCO since IWT first started to appear in the province and most of them were related to audible and inaudible (infrasound) noise levels. Other complaints have been associated with aquifer (water) contamination, shadow flicker, ice throws, etc.
Approximately 15% of the population will experience negative health effects from the proximity of IWTs, a similar percentage to those who suffer from motion sickness [on a ship or vehicle]. The effects of audible and infrasound noise will produce nausea, headaches, anxiety, ringing ears, feeling of exhaustion, etc. Those individuals will naturally contact their doctors or other health care professionals for treatment, adding to the cost of Ontario’s health care system. Those costs are not attributed to the cause, which are the IWTs!
Let’s summarize the visible and invisible costs of IWT:
Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
Increased surplus power from IWT often means other clean sources must either spill (hydro) or steam off (nuclear) power which adds costs to our electricity bills.
IWT kill birds and bats, many of whom are “species at risk” meaning insects, damaging to crops, are not eaten and farmers must spray their crops with insecticides adding costs to produce.
IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
IWT cause property values to fall affecting the realty tax base where they operate and the value of the property should the occupants try to sell after the installation of those IWT has occurred.
IWT lifespan is relatively short (20 years at most) compared to traditional sources of electricity generation and when unable to perform, create costs of remediation and disposal of recyclable and non-recyclable materials they consumed when built and erected.
*This is provided for information purposes only and does not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy; the views and opinions are the author’s.
Recent news from New York State and Arizona indicate a disturbing trend in the United States. With the awareness of negative impacts on the environment and human health from industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines rising (together with discontent over rising electricity costs), opposition to wind power projects has become vocal and powerful.
Legislate their approval no matter what and obliterate the possibility of any opposition from communities.
Quoted in an article in today’s Post-Journal, NY Senator George Borrello said the move to fast-track wind power projects by Governor Cuomo is clearly aimed at “crushing” any citizen opposition. Borrello said:
“The governor’s 30-day amendment to accelerate renewable energy projects is a maneuver designed to bypass Article 10, which established a siting process for these projects that, appropriately, included local input. Now, in order to advance an extreme environmental agenda, he is proposing to eliminate home rule in order to force these renewable energy projects on communities. This is bypassing local zoning and crushing any opposition. In order to meet his environmental targets, these projects will need to be constructed on a massive scale and with a density that will literally change the face of upstate New York, transforming it into a barren industrial wasteland. Countless acres of farmland will need to be blanketed with solar farms. Our beautiful shorelines will be marred by the sight of massive mechanical wind turbines towering over the water.”
Ontario’s Green Energy Act passed in 2009 by the government under Dalton McGuinty, did much the same thing, removing all local land-use planning powers with regard to renewable energy projects. The current Ontario government returned those powers but few municipal governments have followed through on the opportunity to protect their citizens from negative impacts of potential wind power developments by enacting protective zoning bylaws.
The democracy-killing trend is not unanimous, however: In Ohio, the state government is considering legislation that will allow communities to hold a referendum for a proposed renewable energy project.
“No one should underestimate the influence of the well-funded wind power lobby,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
CanWEA, the Canadian wind lobbyist, has been approved for Intervenor status in the court action over the revoking of the Renewable Energy Approval for the Nation Rise wind power project. The Ontario environment minister said in a letter to the community group which had appealed the approval that the power from the project wasn’t needed, and proceeding on it was not worth the environmental risks.