Energy Policy and Canada
That eerie hissing you hear may well be the air beginning to seep out of the green energy bubble. The sound is similar to the pfffffft and sshhhhsssssp noises we heard in the early days of the dot.com bubble collapse or the subprime mortgage meltdown. If you can't hear it, you are not alone.
While investment analysts are telling their clients to get out of solar power firms and warning about the continuing risks in wind and bioenergy schemes, Ottawa and the provinces are on a mad populist stampede to throw billions of dollars at the green energy monster.
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).
The current Ontario government’s headlong rush into massive subsidization of various forms of renewable energy, including wind power and solar energy, is likely to reveal the law of unintended consequences from these precipitous policies unless we take a deep breath and calmly and rigorously re-evaluate these policies before committing billions more dollars from consumers and taxpayers to them.
To date the Ontario government has refused to either impose a moratorium or initiate any serious investigation into the adverse health effects on their own citizens.
Instead they have introduced a Green Energy Act that will effectively allow the wind industry and its contractors to bypass already inadequate safeguards and legislation.
The deal had a familiar shape. One partner was a successful international consortium with deep pockets and manufacturing expertise, the other a backward jurisdiction so hungry for jobs that it had to pay the big company what amounts to a bribe to do the deal. The whole thing was arranged directly with the jurisdiction's leader without the bother of competition.
The McGuinty government is spending the Ontario electricity revenue to encourage investments in wind and solar green-power generation, without any chance of a benefit to the system or to the customer.
The big corporate investors in wind farms and maybe solar farms will reap rich rewards for 20 years, while the customers pay higher and higher prices for electrical energy.
In a signing ceremony Thursday for a $7-billion deal with Samsung to build wind and solar facilities, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said: "This means Ontario is officially the place to be for green energy manufacturing in North America."
Quite right. Texas lost that title last week when billionaire T. Boone Pickens abandoned his plan to build 4000 MW of wind capacity in Texas - twice as much as the Samsung wind plan - when no financier could see how building the things made any financial sense.
Maine has spent a lot of time building a relationship with neighboring New Brunswick, with energy as a major focus. The recent announcement that Hydro-Quebec plans to take over NB Power has the potential to alter that relationship. How and how much has yet to be determined, but Maine would be wise to gain a better understanding of the proposed deal and what opportunities it presents and forecloses to ensure the state's interests don't get lost in the financial and bureaucratic wrangling that is sure to ensue.
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This is in regard to the 'Green Energy Bandwagon' and the media's comments that go something like, "It's not as if wind power is controversial."
Wrong, wrong, wrong. More than 4,000 (some say as high as 7,000) of these massive, noisy, 250-foot high industrial behemoths are being erected in the backyards of people living in developed communities throughout south central Ontario, for no practical reason whatsoever.
A cost-recovery-benefit calculation of Dalton's Green Energy brain cramp shows his part-time industrial wind power plan is only beneficial to, and lucrative for wind turbine promoters and builders.
Normally, I don't write about problems I encounter in getting information from government because I feel it's too "inside baseball" for readers.
I'm making an exception because I think this incident illustrates the problems besieged opponents of industrial wind turbines living in communities across Ontario are encountering in getting straight answers from their own government.
This, as Premier Dalton McGuinty appears hell-bent on erecting these giant steel structures, up to 40-storeys high, as fast as he can.
The last time McGuinty was this juiced we got ... eHealth.
Barbara Ashbee distributed this letter to all media in Ontario Canada. Ms. Ashbee and her family abandoned their home due to wind turbine noise and other impacts which have harmed their health and quality of life.
Too clever for his own good?
That might be the case for Energy Minister George Smitherman, who aims to turn Ontario into a renewable-energy superpower and create thousands of green-collar jobs.
Both are great ideas. But a deal being made on the sidelines could undo much of what Smitherman and the Liberal government are trying to accomplish.
When industries look for government subsidies for money-losing propositions, a common business model these days, one of the most important strategic elements is to make sure you have a well-oiled public relations machine to keep the facts from getting in the way. Voters don't like to back money-losers, which means keeping them steadily misinformed or at least confused.
Renewable energy industries - wind, solar, biomass, human treadmills - have a particularly tough job.
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.
Let me argue that the first test of an energy policy for the new age is not "alternative energy" at all - but rather conservation first, then energy efficiency and decentralization of the power structure. Renewables should serve these ends rather than be an end in themselves that may, in fact, be mostly useless.
Wind power is especially troublesome in that regard. Even if NSP reaches 25 per cent renewables by 2015 based on wind, it will not have cut 25 per cent of greenhouse gases, which, after all, is the main goal. It may not have cut much greenhouse gas at all, in fact.
I wish to express my grave concerns with the passing of Ontario's Green Energy Act. No matter where anyone buys a home, if it is near agricultural land, there is no guarantee that this land will not be used to erect industrial wind turbines more than 400 feet high, a mere 550 metres from the centre of your home, and residents are now powerless to prevent such an unwanted intrusion.
At the G20 Pittsburgh summit, Canada endorsed a commitment to end subsidies to fossil fuel industries and step up subsidies to renewable energy sources. "We commit to...stimulate investment in clean energy, renewables, and energy efficiency," said the leaders. If anybody wonders what stimulating clean and green energy programs might mean to economic policy, a working model comes into effect today in Ontario.
The National Post ran a story today about a group of Manitoulin Island residents who are attempting to take on a Toronto-based energy company, Northland Power Inc. The residents are accusing the company of fast-tracking a wind farm project without proper consultation.
What that means for those not up to snuff on their provincial consultations, is that any company building wind farms is required to conduct what the province calls an environmental screening.
If you promise something, you should deliver it. And sooner rather than later-especially if you engage in questionable PR tactics to win your case. I have argued in favour of governments financing both wind generation and nuclear generation, but not because both are equally capable of providing zero-carbon electricity. They are plainly not equal: nuclear provides large-scale, cheap, on-demand power; wind provides small-scale, expensive, erratic power. Comparing the two is like comparing a top-level NHL hockey player to a mosquito-level beginner.