Energy Policy and Canada
And although the government talks bravely about having 5 per cent of the generating capacity coming from new wind plants and other forms of renewable energy, one need look no further than the current situation in Amaranth Township to realize that little of the needed new capacity will be ready by 2009.
And even if it were, the wind plants are hardly a reliable source of power during the hottest summer weather, when all too often there's little wind apart from that generated by thunderstorms, which also routinely shut down the wind plants through lightning strikes.
The letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty articulates the frustration of many Canadians with the Ontario Provincial government's failure to consider the potential harmful effects of wind power development on the environment and human health and safety. Although written for a Canadian audience, the message applies in the United States and elsewhere in the world where turbine installations are aggressively being pursued.
The real test for Ontarians will come in 2011, when there is the possibility of a double digit increase in residential electricity bills. Some argue Green Energy production and the infrastructure costs associated with it will constitute 50 percent of that increase. The question is - will the general commitment to renewable energy survive a direct hit to ratepayer's pocketbooks?
Ontario's action puts the New York Power Authority on the spot. The power authority has been reviewing private-sector proposals for one or more electricity-generating wind farms in the New York waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, and was supposed to pick one or more developers in the next month or so. It now will have to explain why it wants to proceed when its counterpart in Canada does not.
But Mr. McGuinty's answer to the editorial board epitomized one of the biggest flaws in his party's plans to attract wind energy development. Conceived in haste, with the aim of creating jobs and power as quickly as possible, the Liberal strategy was written too broadly to fully distinguish between good projects and bad ones.
In Point Pelee, a solution has come too late to avoid generating an avoidable degree of angst about green energy in general.
It proves actions speak louder than words and the reality is no matter what the government says about coal-fuelled power stations, Ontario is in desperate need of the power they produce.
The truth is, a huge power producer cannot be replaced by things like wind turbines even if they were installed downwind of Queen's Park.
A certain degree of local congestion and general oversupply is often planned into the system. However, given the relatively narrow operating margins of wind and solar projects, typical project leverage ratios and the debt service coverage ratio covenants by which most projects are bound, an annual curtailment of generating capacity of more than one percent can have a devastating impact on project viability.
Ontario, which has developed and implemented some progressive policies for getting more renewable energy on the grid, hasn't found a way to tie these programs into a larger, economic-boosting industrial strategy.
None of its request for proposals for new wind power has required any level of local content, nor does the province's standard offer program, which pays a premium for the electricity that comes from small-scale solar, wind, hydro and biogas projects.
Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell recently had a tête-à-tête to discuss how B.C. could assist California in dealing with its energy crisis. At the same time, the California Utilities Commission gave Pacific Gas and Electric US$14 million to explore renewable energy sources in B.C. and the feasibility of a new transmission corridor stretching from B.C. to the Golden State.
Conspicuously absent from the self-congratulatory press releases about co-operation between the jurisdictions in pursuing a "green" agenda was the most important issue: Who will own - and benefit from - the development of B.C.'s renewable energy?
A closer look at the B.C. government's wind energy policies reveals an enormous giveaway of literally billions of dollars in wind farm assets and future public revenues to private power developers. Yet there has been virtually no public discussion of the scope and cost of the government's wind energy policies.
For years, Premier Dalton McGuinty has made an art of dividing rural Ontarians from urban. Now he's gone one better, seeking to split the wealthiest rural landowners, those with lakefront property, from the rest of us. It's a breathtaking display of cynicism and a move that, in pure political terms, is clever.
When Ontario's auditor general looked at the Liberals' renewable energy policies in 2011, he found they (a) rushed into the field without knowing what they were doing (b) failed to develop a business plan (c) did no internal audit work ...(f) grossly over-estimated the number of jobs they would create.
As a result they have added billions of dollars to the cost of electricity Ontarians will be paying for years to come.
The Ontario government's rush into renewable energy, and industrial wind turbine-generated electricity in particular, is likely to reveal the law of unintended consequences. The government needs to rigorously re-evaluate this precipitous policy before committing billions more in subsidies to it.
First, as to the cost of wind-generated electricity, the feed-in tariff for on-shore wind turbines in Ontario provided for under the Green Energy Act is 13.5¢ per kWh (and higher for smaller projects).
ATI, along with the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimated the cost to the economy of forcing renewable energy mandates. They estimate in addition to the extra cost of energy to consumers, the cost to business would be passed along in reduced income or layoffs.
Here in Huron County we have municipalities struggling with how to regulate proposed wind farms. Those opposed to the turbines point to the potential of the health risks some have claimed are possible by living close to turbines. Others don't like the noise from the turbines. Others just don't like what they look like.
Whatever the reason, it's clear the issue of wind farms is a controversy that won't go away soon.
Next week Grand Mananers will be invited to a public meeting to hear about a wind farm planned for the "back of the island-" the high western cliffs facing the Grand Manan Channel and the State of Maine. The proponent, First Wind of Newton, Massachusetts, acquired the rights to the site on property owned by the off-island Crabbe forestry company, from a fledgling New Brunswick company that has since disappeared from the scene.
The First Wind plan is for 13 wind turbines (over 200 feet or 60 metres high), with the potential for another 50 if all goes well.
The green lobby in Europe is so strong that it has pushed EU politicians to oppose virtually every kind of reliable non-renewable energy. ..."Ordinary families and small and medium-sized businesses are essentially subsidizing the investments of green do-gooders," who can afford to install solar panels on their homes and their businesses. But what's really starting to cause citizens and policy-makers to question their green energy agenda, is that soaring energy costs are driving energy-intensive industries in Europe to move to the United States.
The Government of Ontario recently signed a $7-billion no-bid contract with two Korean companies to supply wind and solar power to the province. Officials claim the backroom deal will boost "green" industry and job creation. But it's hard to fathom how the additional employment can possibly be beneficial when each new manufacturing job will cost taxpayers a whopping $303,472. Nor do dramatic increases in electricity rates constitute much of a bargain.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has run afoul of two fallacies which plague governments with his new "Green Energy Act."
The Act, which does not have a defined price-tag, would supposedly create 50,000 new jobs, putting people to work building windmills, solar power plants ...But there are some hard realities that suggest Premier McGuinty's plan isn't the smartest way to do it. Let's review the reasons why governments cannot create jobs, and why labelling them "green" doesn't change the basic dynamics.
It's never pretty watching people's rights getting trampled by a government caught up in the latest fad, but it's happening across Ontario.
The victims are citizens living mainly in rural communities.
Their concerns about the possible adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines are being rolled over by Premier Dalton McGuinty.
We should all pay attention because our rights could be next.
July 12, 2010
in The Ottawa Citizen
Wind is fickle. Sometimes it blows, sometimes it doesn't. And the times it tends to ease off are frustratingly on those stifling summer days when we need it most ...We're not sure whether there's a technical term for wind too light to turn those expensive turbines, but sailors have a good word for it. They call it dead air.