Wind power’s hidden costs

Not such a great deal for Ontario
Not such a great deal for Ontario

This letter was written in response to a letter to the Ottawa Citizen by Robert Hornung, president of the corporate wind power industry’s lobby group, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). Mr. Hornung had asserted that wind power was among the lowest cost options for power generation.

We disagree.

Ottawa Citizen, May 31, 2014

Wind power comes with hidden costs

Wind power comes with hidden but significant costs: backup power is needed because wind is an intermittent source of supply, produced often when it is not needed, and inflexible to changes in demand. Ontario generation capacity now exceeds demand but because the Green Energy Act requires that renewable energy sources get first access to the provincial grid, we are forced to take wind power over lower-cost conventional supplies.

Readers may also be unaware of the cost of curtailing operations at existing plants, or of losses on export sales. In 2013, this was about $1 billion. Since Ontario started paying wind power corporations to not produce power in September 2013, ratepayers have picked up the cost of $16 million—money, literally, for nothing. The top non-producers are Enbridge, TransAlta, Brookfield and GDF-Suez.

The auditor-general stated in 2011 that no cost-benefit analysis was ever done for renewable sources of power; if it had been, no one would be talking about what a great deal wind power has been for Ontario.

Jane Wilson

president, Wind Concerns Ontario, Ottawa

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