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.
Monday and Tuesday this week saw the coldest temperatures yet for the winter season, with a low in Ottawa of -25 degrees C at 5 a.m.
Ontario’s demand for electricity was, as one would expect, high as people sought to keep warm: around noon, the demand was about 20,000 megawatts.
Where was wind power? At midday, Ontario’s more than 2,000 wind turbines were puffing out a mere 860 megawatts of power.
Near Ottawa, which the media dubbed “the world’s coldest capital,” the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project stayed in the single digits of output, only getting to 8 megawatts of power in the late morning. In fact, a power worker sent a comment to Wind Concerns Ontario to say most of the Nation Rise wind turbines weren’t even spinning and appeared to have a coating of ice on the blades. Those that were spinning, he said, were likely taking power from the grid.
In short, when we needed it most, wind didn’t show up for work.
Today, with much milder temperatures, wind power has been spotted at the water cooler, putting out 3,400 megawatts this hour according to the IESO.
Overall demand is 18,154 megawatts.
None of this is a surprise, of course. Ontario is completely unsuited to wind power, as described by Marc Brouillette in his remarkable Commentary, Wind: Ontario’s High-Cost Millstone.
“Wind generation output is inherently intermittent as it depends on Mother Nature. For example, in 2015 Ontario’s wind farms operated at less than one-third capacity more than half (58%) the time. That means 70 per cent of wind energy was produced in the remaining 42 per cent of the time…Indeed, wind output over any three-day period can vary between zero and 90 per cent of capacity.”
He went on:
“Seasonally, Ontarians’ energy use is highest in winter and summer and lowest in spring and late fall. This is almost a mirror image of wind [power] production patterns”.
In short, wind might be somewhat useful as part of a mix of power supply, but it cannot be relied upon.
Although there is a popular statement that wind replaced coal as a power source in Ontario, that is completely false: coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas.
As not one but two Auditors General of Ontario suggested, wind power development should have been subjected to a thorough, independent cost-benefit analysis. If it had, there is no way it could stand up.
With two elections coming up in Ontario where several political parties actively promote new wind power development, and a very well financed campaign by the wind power lobby, it is important that the truth get out:
WIND DOESN’T WORK.
 Brouillette, M. 2017. Ontario’s High-Cost Wind Millstone. Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, p.1.
Former premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne is not seeking re-election this coming June, after 18 years as an MPP, and five years as premier (2013-2018).
She recently gave an interview to Paul Wells of Macleans magazine in which she admitted mistakes had been made on the Ontario electricity file.
She mentioned the decision the Ontario Liberal government took to cancel two natural gas power plants due to local opposition and put them in other locations–a move that cost billions. It appears they weren’t really paying attention, she says now.
“I think when we got into situations like defending what had happened around the decisions around the gas plants you realize, holy mackerel. How did this happen? How did we get here? Which parts of this were we not paying attention to?”
Wells asked Ms Wynne what part of her government’s experience showed they weren’t listening to advice, and she said, the electricity sector.
“I score myself very low on the electricity price. I believed that the investments that we had made in the electricity sector were important. The first bill I ever spoke to in the House, before I made my maiden speech, was Bill 100 which was the beginning of the transformation of the electricity system. We were going to make big changes in terms of the the supply mix and greening the grid and investing in the grid. I think it’s 50 billion dollars that we invested in upgrading the grid. I believed in that.
But I remember sitting beside Gerry Phillips [Dalton McGuinty’s minister of energy at the time] in many meetings and he would say, ‘We’re piling up a lot of debt here. Electricity prices are going to have to go up. How are we going to pay for this?’ I heard it. But as a member of caucus and cabinet, I don’t think I took it seriously enough.”
Her response seems rather sanguine, considering that Ontario’s electricity prices, which more than doubled, forced businesses to leave the province, resulting in lost jobs. A new term, “energy poverty” arose, and people told stories of having to choose whether to “heat or eat.” The Ontario Association of Food Banks blamed electricity bills for escalated food bank use in its 2016 Hunger Report.
And she makes no mention whatsoever of the shambles the green energy push was for Ontario: two Auditors General noted the exorbitant costs and the overpayment to power generators, and the fact that the province’s electricity ratepayers are stuck with contracts for intermittent wind power for as long as 20 more years.
“If you’ve sat at the cabinet table for six or seven years, you can’t disavow everything that has been done,” Wynne told Macleans.
The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative or OREC recently bought an Ontario wind turbine project, along with equity partner EnerFORGE, a subsidiary of Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation, according to a news report.
The wind power project, which consists of a single 2.5-MW turbine, is in Bruce County. That is more than 500 km away from Ottawa, and more than 200 km from Oshawa, but the buyers claim this is an example of “local” ownership of renewable power facilities.
“OREC is excited to bring its co-operative ownership model to this wind turbine in partnership with EnerFORGE. Our co-operative is committed to welcoming members and investors from the surrounding communities and stay true to our principles of local ownership and continuing to diversify our growing renewable energy portfolio,” announced Graham Findlay, Vice President, OREC.
OREC, according to its website, is a “co-operative” of mainly local, i.e., Ottawa residents, but is actually open to anyone who wants to sign on as an investor. OREC claims to be a cooperative but is basically a syndicate of investors.
In a recent one-dimensional profile in Ottawa Magazine, OREC founder Dick Bakker freely admits his goal is to make money: “I’m not an environmentalist, I’m a businessperson.” While energy poverty surged in Ontario when the province got into wind and solar power with lucrative 20-year contracts* awarded to power developers and electricity bills more than doubled, Bakker himself got a contract for a solar power installation which he says has funded his retirement.
By “local” and “community,” OREC and Bakker don’t mean the communities where power projects such as wind turbine facilities are actually located.
The “community” aspect of investments is important, Bakker says in the Ottawa Magazine article, to fight local objectors, because “NIMBY is the enemy of all things environmental. NIMBYism will delay and shove more costs on big corporate projects.”
By wielding the “local” ownership sword, OREC—which is a “partner” with City of Ottawa in its Energy Evolution strategy, can undermine and overrule concerns expressed by actual residents of areas where power projects are proposed.
The partnership between an Ottawa investors group and the Oshawa power utility subsidiary is a sign of what’s ahead: large urban centres want to rack up brownie points for climate change action, but if that happens elsewhere, they’ll take it.
Ottawa city councillor Scott Moffatt, also chair of the city’s environmental protection committee, recently wrote in his column in the Manotick Messenger that projects outside the city boundaries will work for him.
“…a project outside of Ottawa can provide benefits that contribute to our Climate Change Master Plan.”**
Meanwhile, Ottawa and OREC still boast they want “local” ownership and “community” participation in power projects. With Ottawa’s Energy Evolution strategy goal of 3,200 megawatts of new power generation, that will be a lot of projects. In the model described in the Energy Evolution document, the prediction is for 710 industrial-scale wind turbines—that’s about one-third of the total number of turbines in Ontario at present.
The trend is clear: there is money to be made on renewables for some folks, and they justify their investments by waving the “green” it’s good for the environment flag, while industrializing communities without real input from the people who live there.
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO
*Two Auditors General for Ontario have criticized these contracts as being above-market and done without cost-benefit analysis. Ontario lost billions on renewable energy contracts AG Bonnie Lysyk claimed in a report several years ago.
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 email@example.com
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.