NorthGowerWindTurbines

November 30, 2009

Denmark (again): “not all sunshine and rainbows”

From the Globe and Mail November 30. More of the mythology of wind power exposed. Take particular note of the cost of electricity to ratepayers in Denmark.

Oil still fuels the green state of Denmark

by Eric Reguly

(c) The Globe and Mail

Denmark oozes green.

Its capital, Copenhagen, won the moral right to host next month’s climate change summit in good part because Denmark seems to have found the winning balance between growth and carbon reduction. Wind power is coming on strong. Its citizens are willing to pay sky-high electricity prices to encourage conservation. Its hot-water-based district heating system is considered a marvel of energy efficiency.

Denmark’s green efforts have won praise from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the World Bank.

But this small, wealthy Nordic country – population 5.4-million – may not be as green as advertised. The fine print in Denmark’s Energy Agency data paints a paler picture.

While Denmark has made considerable progress in moving toward clean energy, it is still tethered to the grubby old carbon world.

In reality, the Danish economy is more dependent on fossil fuels and the wealth they create than at any time in the country’s history. The fuels come from the North Sea, whose reserves gave Denmark its first oil production in 1972.

In 1990 Denmark’s oil production was 7-million cubic metres (one cubic metre equals 6.3 barrels). Production peaked at 22.6-million cubic metres in 2004. In 2007, the figure was a still-hefty 18.1-million. Natural gas production has doubled since 1990.

Most of the oil and gas is exported. “Denmark’s economic success story is dependent on other nations increasing their carbon-dioxide footprint,” said Aldyen Donnelly, president of Vancouver’s WDA Consulting, a greenhouse-gas emissions management consultancy.

Of course, Denmark also exports green technology, such as wind turbines made by Vestas, the world’s biggest wind-energy company. But clean-tech exports, combined with exports of electricity, are still well below the combined value of its exports fossil fuel and fossil-fuel technology, such as oil-drilling equipment. In 2008, for every dollar of exports in the clean-tech and electricity category, $6 worth of exports in the fossil-fuel category left Denmark. On the export front at least, Denmark is still very much an oil economy.

Another myth is that Demark’s electricity production is ultra-clean.

There is no doubt that the Danes are world leaders in the development of wind energy. Wind power generated 18.3 per cent of Denmark’s electricity last year, up from 11.6 per cent in 1990. (Solar power has a near zero share of the market.) “They broke every barrier in the wind market,” said Jonathan Coony, an energy technology specialist at the World Bank. “They were pioneers in that area. No one thought they could go beyond 5 per cent. But they went to 10, then 15 and kept on going.”

But coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, is still the most popular electricity-generating fuel. Last year it supplied 48 per cent of Denmark’s electricity, a ratio that has varied little this decade. Since coal plants are used as backups for wind generators when the wind doesn’t blow, the plants are unlikely to be phased out.

Oil and natural gas, meanwhile, are still doing yeoman’s work in the Danish electricity market. In 2008 the two fuels accounted for 22 per cent of total electricity generation. Coal, oil and gas together account for a not-so green 70 per cent of total electricity generation.

Other than wind power, Denmark’s big environmental success story is district heating, hailed as a model of energy efficiency. District heating takes the surplus heat thrown off by coal and gas plants and uses it to create hot water that travels through pipes to heat homes. Today, some 2.5 million Danish homes are connected to the vast underground heating grid.

The Danish government says the system reduces fuel consumption by 30 per cent compared with the amount that would have been consumed in home furnaces. Ms. Donnelly says district heating can reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions from home heating by as much as half. But she notes the system was built well before the 1997 Kyoto climate change accord, and had nothing to do with Denmark’s green halo. Developed in the 1930s and greatly expanded in the 1980s, district heating was the national effort to reduce energy costs after the twin oil shocks of the 1970s.

District heating is a consumer bargain. What is not a bargain is Denmark’s electricity price. At the end of last year, according to Energy Regulatory Authority, the consumer price had reached the equivalent of 46 cents a kilowatt hour. That’s more than three times the typical Canadian and American price. Only 30 per cent of the charge represents the actual energy cost. The rest comes from taxes, transmission costs and other fees.

The prices have worked in the sense that they have kept a lid on electricity consumption in recent years. But they seem to have failed to create an alternative energy revolution; fossil fuels still dominate electricity production.

Still, international organizations like the World Bank and the UN praise Denmark’s green efforts and hold it out as an example to be followed as the world lurches towards a difficult carbon-reduction summit in Copenhagen. But Denmark, in spite of its best efforts, shows how hard it is to make significant progress on the carbon-reduction file. Said one energy executive: “It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the Danish energy market.”

November 29, 2009

“Green jobs”? Or “economic suicide”?

From the daily Internet publication American Thinker, August 4, 2009,  this article on the mythology of “green jobs” and renewable energy as a source of long-term economic stability. Why is Ontario following the demise of Europe? And why does rural Ontario have to pay the price for this experiment in economy and, as it turns out in the case of industrial wind turbines, human health?

Green jobs: fast tracking economic suicide

By Michael Economides and Peter Glover

Creating ex nihilo — literally, out of nothing — used to be a theological concept, God’s prerogative. Today it seems, President Barack Obama and certain Western politicians claim to possess the ability to do it. Against all the laws of economics and the marketplace, they believe they can create millions of ‘green’ real jobs, out of thin air, or at least air without carbon dioxide, via cap and trade.  
If Obama & Co. were to remove their green-tinted glasses for just a moment and take a long hard look at the European experience they profess to cite as ‘proven’, they would discover those glasses have been rose-tinted all along.
The basic assumption is that technology per se generates jobs. Mostly, it does not. Rather, technology enables jobs — real and sustainable jobs — based on how useful the technology is to the marketplace.  To generate real industrial jobs, however, one needs a basic commodity to trade, and in the energy business this has meant oil, gas or coal.  Yet ‘green’ politicians and eco-lobbyists expect to create a revolution in green jobs based on … alternative energy sources.  The trouble is that alternative energy sources remain and will continue to be appallingly inefficient, offering a very poor to mostly negative return on investment. Cut off the flow of massive public subsidies and the alternative energy industrial revolution would grind to a halt tomorrow — as the European experience already bears out.
What the EU experience shows is that for every green job created per installed MW power, a real job is destroyed elsewhere in the economy. Not to mention, it aids the reduction of competitiveness, investment in expansion and, ultimately, promotes the relocation of major companies to countries without draconian carbon regimes that cause energy price hikes. 
 It’s a shame that members of the US Congress that voted for the recent Cap and Trade Climate Bill did not bother to check up on the economic realities which are causing European states to back away from expensive alternative energy commitments and the ‘green job’ creation schemes associated with them by inserting all manner of substance-emptying ‘get-out’ clauses into EU cap and trade plans.
Germany’s Angela Merkel has already insisted on major exemptions for German heavy industry come December’s ‘definitive’ global climate summit in Copenhagen. Bizarrely, for a so-called ‘Green Chancellor’, Merkel’s government is also supporting the building of 26 new coal-fired power plants across Germany.   Hardly the domestic agenda of a low-carbon ‘green jobs’ economy.   Italy also rocked the EU climate boat by insisting on exemptions for its own energy-intensive industries at the turn of the year. Most significantly, it is an exemption that requires the EU to renegotiate Europe’s entire climate policy after the UN summit in December — effectively, giving Italy a veto. A veto it will use if, as expected, China and India and others exempt themselves from binding targets.  In June, deputy head of Poland’s Solidarity trade union, Jaroslaw Grzesik, estimated that the EU’s climate policy would cost 800,000 European jobs. The think-tank Open Europe has already estimated that the same policies will cost the UK $9 billion a year, leaving an extra 1 million people in fuel poverty by 2020.
These are the real world economic realities for “countries like Spain, Germany and Japan” that Barack Obama insisted in January 2009 are “surging ahead of us” in the low carbon-green jobs revolution. Cited as a role model, Spain is the only country to have produced an in-depth analysis of the impact of renewables on the jobs market. The Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources was published by a team at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in March, 2009. Though it grabbed a few headlines in the spring, it was largely ignored by the mainstream press. Yet it is the most intensive review of the impact of a state-aided green job creation policy available.  Here are just a few of its key statements suggesting why the state should stay the heck out of manipulating the job creation market:
“Despite its hyper-aggressive (expensive and extensive) ‘green jobs’ policies … Spain has created a surprisingly low number of jobs.”
“Since 2000 Spain has spent €571,138 ($800K) to create each ‘green job’, including subsidies of more than €1million ($1.4million) per wind industry job.”
“The programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy or 2.2. jobs destroyed for every ‘green job’ created.”
Each ‘green’ megawatt installed destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photovoltaics (solar), 4.27 by wind energy, 5.05 by mini-hydro.”
The report also notes that according to Spain’s energy regulator, “The price of a comprehensive electricity rate (paid by the end consumer) in Spain would have to be increased 31 percent to repay the historic debt generated by the subsidies to renewables.”
The report cites key examples of resulting “massive unemployment, loss of capital, dismantlement of productive facilities and perpetuation of inefficient ones” the direct result of, “the arbitrary, state-established price systems inherent in ‘green energy’ schemes.” The report concludes, “Policymakers must recognize that because of government action, other jobs are not created.” And, most significantly for international consumption, “These costs do not appear to be unique to Spain’s approach but instead are largely inherent in schemes to promote renewable energy sources.”
President Obama maintains his planned 5 million new jobs will cost the taxpayer $30,000 per job. Bad enough, we might think. But The Center for American Progress, whose CEO headed-up Obama’s transition team, calculates it would take government spending of $100 billion to create 2 million green jobs. That’s a cost to the taxpayer of $50,000 to create a single “green job”. The Apollo Alliance, whose founder served on Obama’s campaign, calculates it would take $500 billion to create 5 million jobs. That’s a mere $100,000 per green job created.  
Worrying about others “surging ahead” no longer matters once you realize it’s along the fast-track to economic suicide.  Green jobs? It’s not good for the economy, stupid.
Michael Economides is Editor-in-chief at Energy Tribune & Peter Glover is European Associate Editor, Energy Tribune.

November 27, 2009

More Denmark? No, Spain, where jobs are lost, the economy ruined due to wind development

For so long, Denmark has been held up as a model for wind development but of course, not much of the fairy tale is actually true (see earlier posts with a summary published in The New York Times) and what the whole gambit was really about was creating an industry for the export of wind turbine component parts, as it is for Germany, and as Ontario is now trying to do in the wake of the lost jobs in the auto sector.

But the true model of using public money to support a “green” economy has always been Spain. A study out of Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (King Juan Carlos University) in Spain examines the experience and concludes that supporting “green jobs” via renewable energy has been “terribly economically counterproductive.”

Billed as the “first time a critical analysis of the actual performance and impact has been made” the study “demonstrates that the Spanish/EU-style green jobs agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs.”

Readers can link to the full study via the Wind Concerns Ontario website at

http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com

but here are a few of the conclusions of the study.

-the argument is that massive public support (of renewable energy) would produce large numbers of green jobs. The question this paper answers is, “at what price”?

-the reality is far from what has typically been presented

-despite its hyper-agressive (expensive and extensive) “green jobs” policies it appears likely Spain has created a surprisingly low number of jobs, two-thirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one-quarter in administrative positions, marketing and project engineering … just one out of 10 jobs has been created at the more permanent level of the actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity.

-the study calculates that the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewere in the economy … 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created.

OK, we can’t stand to read anymore; why isn’t the McGuinty government aware of this?

When the wind developers tell us in North Gower that we have to put up with a wrecked landscape and the intrusion of noise because we’re preventing thousands of deaths from air pollution and also creating thousands of jobs for the people of Ontario, we can say, That’s not true.

Spain serves as a terrible example of how this can all go wrong.

…not where the people are

The Sierra Club, whose motto is “Explore, enjoy and protect the planet” published its guidelines for siting industrial wind turbine developments quite some time ago, and they are worth a revisit if only to underscore the chief concerns of the effect of noise and the need to ensure safety.

c. Visual/Scenic and Noise Impacts
Visual impacts are highly subjective. The best way for Club activists to ensure minimal visual impact is to develop regional recommendations for places that wind should and should not be sited.

Federal aviation rules require specific lighting on turbines of certain heights. This lighting should always be minimized for aesthetic reasons, unless specific lighting is shown to reduce bird or bat mortality. Evidence suggests that lighting increases rather than reduces bird mortality. As more study is done, it may be appropriate to seek modification of the Federal rules for the wind industry, in particular to reduce or eliminate the need for strobing, bright colors, and lights visible from the ground. Wind turbines might be assigned a unique warning light color which signals aviators, but also changes impact on bird behavior.

We suggest that wind developers restrict their impact on involuntary neighbors to near-ambient noise levels at the closest residence. Legally binding mechanisms to guarantee sustained noise control should be considered.

d. Safety
Windmills have the potential to throw blades. Under storm conditions turbine blades can throw ice to considerable distances. Siting should take account of risks to humans as well as to biota.

In the case of North Gower, where we are being treated like the Cinderella of Ottawa, the City should take steps to ensure that noise levels are not exceeded by wind turbine developments, particularly when the developer has deliberately chosen to site the turbines so close to so many homes. They are following the letter of the Green Energy Act requirements, of course, but the 550 meter setback is subject to question.

Supporters of wind turbine developments frequently cite the numbers of wind turbines erected in Ontario and in other locations and then the numbers of people complaining, concluding that the majority of wind turbine sites cause no disturbances. That is true, but the defining factor is the location. Locating industrial structures that DO make noise close to homes makes no sense and guarantees problems from–and for– the “involuntary neighbours” in future.

November 23, 2009

Why is Ontario in such a rush to build wind developments? A “free-for-all without heed.”

We hear that the popularity of wind turbine developments is waning in Britain and Europe as turbines encroach on settlements and disturb people’s lives, at the same time as the potential for wind to contribute significantly to needs for electric power is questioned.

Here is an explanation of the politics behind the rush to develop wind in Britain, from The Sunday Times, November 22, 2009.

…There are also justifiable practical objections to wind turbines. They not only make a noise, they also cause shadow-flicker, which is unpleasant for people living within a turbine’s shadow and can induce epileptic fits. So to allow a free-for-all without heed to sensible planning considerations — such as protecting areas of outstanding natural beauty — smacks of desperation or electioneering. And, of course, it is both.

 The essential thing to understand about the aggressive way the government is behaving, in its new national policy statements and in setting up the Infrastructure Planning Commission, is that this is the outcome of ignoring Britain’s energy needs for so long. Not one brick of a foundation has been laid for the nuclear and clean coal plants which are essential if we are to avoid an 80% reliance on imported gas within a decade. Meanwhile, this government has had an obsession bordering on fantasy with wind power, which is measurably less efficient and, in terms of public subsidy, much harder to justify.

 It is important to realise there is a political demonology at work here. The Department of Energy and Climate Change claims that its new dirigiste policies — which will plonk turbines and incinerators in the green belts where even housing is discouraged — are needed because the planning system has failed.

 In other news, a story in the December 2009 issue of Biological Conservation contains the report that while wind developers claim there is little or no effect on bird populations, the fact that they look strictly at “short-term mortality” (in other words, daily kill rates) does not take into account the long-term effect on endangered birds. See “Large-scale risk-assessment of wind-farms on population viability of a globally endangered raptor,” Biological Conservation, 142:12, p2954 (8).

**To get in touch with the North Gower Wind Action Group executive, email chubbsworth@yahoo.com. To sign the petition, find the document on our documents page, sign and mail to PO Box 485, North Gower ON   K0A 2T0.

November 18, 2009

A farmer speaks on wind “farms”

A retired farm owner sent us these comments recently:

“Ottawa and Eastern Ontario has excellent farm land. It is very likely that land adjacent to these turbines would become questionable for farming. Who knows how livestock would react? … I have witnessed turbines in the north of England. They do make a noise and certainly disrupt the landscape. … We have watched [all the valuable farm land in Ottawa] to disappear. Surely we can’t allow this to happen again. The loss of our habitat because of political pressure must be stopped. It is too precious.”

Enough said.

Put the turbines where the wind is, not where the people are.

To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group directly, email the Chair at chubbsworth@yahoo.com

or by mail at PO Box 485 North Gower K0A 2T0, or fax 613-489-3591. Access the petition on our documents page.

November 17, 2009

Advice for land owners re: wind turbine leases. Don’t give it all away for crumbs from the table.

BE CAUTIOUS WHEN LEASING FARM’S ENERGY RESOURCES, EXPERT ADVISES

Penn State College of Agricultural Resources News Release


The following inquiry was forwarded to Glenn R. Schleede, Energy Market & Policy Analysis, Inc. who has written many reports on wind “farm” economics and Mr. Schleede’s response is below. It contains some excellent advice for landowners considering leasing their land to wind developers. (Email addresses have been removed so spammers won’t pick them up). The landowner wrote:

“Myself and many other land owners have been contacted by wind farm developers since spring. Our land is located in the towns of Ellenburg and Clinton in the county of Clinton in the state of New York. I have been reading a lot about wind energy on the web and seem to think we would as a land owners would benefit from such a project and also the town,county and school districts. The companies that have approached us are: GE & Tamarack, both are working together for Orion. Then there is Atlantic Renewable Energy and Zilkha. Do you have any good or bad information about these companies? Also what would be considered as a good amount up front for signing a land lease contract and what would be a good amount per megawatt per year for our location? They have offered us $1,000.00 for signing and minimum payments of $3500 per year per 2.0 megawatt turbines which goes up every year with a 30 year total payment of $158,000 for minimum payments. They will also pay royalty payments of 4% on the first 20 years and 5% next 10 years. I appreciate any help you can give me. Thank You.”

[Webmaster note: both towns mentioned now have wind “farm” proposals by Noble Environmental Power]

Mr. Schleede’s Suggested Response to The Landowner:

1. In fairness, your correspondent needs to know that, after looking in detail at the costs and benefits of wind energy during the past 4 years, I am highly skeptical about its merits. The reasons for my skepticism are summarized in the paper that I am attaching. 2. However, I would (and have) conceded that “wind farms” can have economic advantages for landowners who allow wind turbines on their property – provided that the landowners receive fair compensation, recognize the risks and disadvantages as well as the advantages, and have adequate protection in the contracts they sign. 3. The first thing that your correspondent should do is retain a GOOD contract lawyer who will work to protect his interest in his dealings with wind developers. Ideally, he would join with other landowners in retaining a lawyer so that he can minimize his legal costs. He needs to understand that:

a. “Wind farm” developers are very aggressive, highly skilled in dealing with landowners who are not familiar with the particular deals offered by the developers and who, therefore, are vulnerable.

b. “Wind farm” developers and owners have substantial financial resources available to them (because “wind farms” are such lucrative investments FOR THEM – as detailed on page 16 of my paper on Wind Energy Economics in West Virginia which I will forward to you as an attachment to a separate email). These financial resources permit them to retain lawyers, “land men” and consultants who can deal aggressively with landowners, local government officials, and those who would be adversely affected by a “wind farm.”

c. The rental payments and “royalties” being offered appear to be very low compared to those being paid elsewhere. (More on this later.)

d. There are serious risks that he and other landowners need to consider (more below).

4. I have not looked in detail at specific offers from developers but I will provide below the email addresses of three people who have done so. I do not know whether these people would help but it may be worth contacting them. If your correspondent wishes to provide me his email address, I will pass it along to the three people.

5. Among the risks that he needs to consider are the following:

a. The organization that ends up owning the “wind farm” and who will be making the rental or royalty payments is almost certain to be a single asset LLC; i.e., a Limited Liability Company that has no assets other than the “wind farm.” This could be a problem if the LLC goes into bankruptcy.

b. The huge tax benefits that are available to “wind farm” owners occur in the early years of the “wind farm’s” life (i.e., 5-6 years for accelerated depreciation; 10-years for the wind “Production Tax Credit,” assuming it is reinstated.) The practical effect of this is that the incentive to sell or abandon the “wind farm” grows substantially as time passes, particularly if maintenance, repair and replacement cost grow.

c. No one knows how long wind turbines now being installed will last or their long-term maintenance, repair and replacement costs. None of “today’s” models have been in operation for even 5-years. (I’m not aware of any 2.0 MW wind turbines in commercial service.) Royalties and rents based on future wind turbine performance are speculative at best.

d. The cost of removing wind turbines, blades, towers, and tower bases and restoration of land are issues that need to be considered. In view of the risks listed above, probably the only way of assuring that money is available for that purpose is to require posting a CASH bond in advance that would be held by an independent third party in escrow. A cash bond held by the “wind farm” owner would likely be part of the assets available to all creditors if the LLC went into bankruptcy. A surety bond may be available only as long as premiums are paid. (To repeat, the landowners NEED LEGAL AND FINANCIAL ADVICE.)

e. Please have your correspondent contact the person at (removed) for some more guidance on legal consideration. This person and his neighbors were considering leasing their land for a potential “wind farm” and learned a LOT about the developers and their proposed contracts when they retained a lawyer to evaluate the proposed deal and negotiate with the developer on their behalf. Also, (removed) may be willing to share some of his experience with “wind farm” contract evaluation.

6. The rental/royalty payments your correspondent mentioned seem VERY low. For example:

a. Annual payments of $5,000 per megawatt (MW) seem to be more common and it appears that payments as high as $15,000 have been offered in at least one case. Please have your correspondent contact the person at (removed) for more information on rental payments.

b. Royalty payments dependent on future performance of the wind turbines have risk because that performance isn’t assured. Also, deterioration in wind turbine performance increases the chance that the owner will shut down one or more wind turbines that do not perform well or perhaps abandon the whole “wind farm.”

c. “Wind farm” developers have been known to overestimate potential future “wind turbine” output (i.e., the kilowatt-hours that will be produced). Sometimes they will base their claims on output achieved in winter months when winds tend to be strongest.

d. Also, he should keep in mind that “wind farms” are highly lucrative investments for their owners – particularly due to federal, state and local tax benefits. This suggests that he and other landowners shouldn’t be reticent about insisting on fair compensation.

7. Other comments on your correspondent’s statements. Your correspondent is right that he and other landowners “could benefit,” if he is thinking only in terms of payments he or they would receive. He needs to consider also:

a. What, if anything of value, he would give up. For example, some contracts offered by developers/owners apparently, in effect, give the developer full “air rights” to the property being leased. Some contracts may not even have ending dates. The landowner may be prevented from undertaking or permitting any other development on his or her property.

b. He should not be misled by the allegedly small “foot print” of the wind turbines. Allowances must be made for potential blade and ice “throw” which extends well beyond the small footprint. Substantial setbacks from roads, buildings, etc. are necessary

c. Noise or other environmental or ecological impacts (e.g., bird and bat kills) of the wind turbines – which have proven to be a great concern to some who live near “wind farms.” Some “wind farm” developers have sought “noise easements” so that landowners or their neighbors do not seek financial redress for lost property value.

d. Economic impact on others. As pointed out in the paper attached, the additions to monthly electric bills due to the higher costs of electricity produced from wind – which costs are often spread over all electric customers – generally overwhelm the amount of the rental/royalty payments received by landowners.

e. Whether the state or local government and school district will receive an economic benefit is highly speculative. Many state (including NY) and local governments have provided special property, sales or other tax reductions for “wind farms” under the mistaken impression that the “wind farm” will produce local or state economic benefits. Also, some local government officials have approved permits for “wind farms” in return for special payments or contributions from “wind farm” owners. Some such payments are “one time only” and generally are significantly less than the tax revenue foregone by the special tax breaks.

f. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Renewable Energy “Laboratory” (NREL) have consistently overstated local and state economic benefits of “wind farms.” For example, most jobs during the relatively short construction periods are filled by non-local workers. There are very few permanent jobs. (I’ll send you a third email with an attached paper that describes the overestimates and errors in a recently released NREL “economic model” designed to estimate such benefits.)

g. Often local government officials do not take into account the added costs that will be incurred when a “wind farm” is permitted; e.g., road construction and repair (due to truck traffic during construction), police and fire protection.

h. “Wind farm” developers are especially aggressive in dealing with local government officials who often are unfamiliar with the issues presented and don’t have the resources to retain people who could help in their evaluations. In some cases, developers work “behind the scenes” to secure a local government official’s support before details of the project are made public and the implications understood. Once committed, a local government official may be unwilling to change his or her position. In some cases, local government officials have signed contracts to lease their land to “wind farm” developers and while retaining their position of the government body that approves permits. Ideally, local governments would abide by strong “open meeting” and “conflict of interest” rules so that the rights of ordinary citizens are protected.

Donn, I have “dashed” this off quickly since I assume your correspondent is eager for a reply. I have not proofread it so I hope you and he will allow for some mistakes and bad wording. Also, I’m sure that other things he should consider will occur to me when I have time for additional thought about his request. Please encourage him to, as a minimum, join with others and get a good contract lawyer to help them. My recent paper on “True Costs and Benefits of Wind Energy” is [not] attached. I’ll follow up with the other two emails that attach the other two papers referred to above.

Glenn Schleede
Round Hill, VA

Efficient. Clean. No environmental impact. Oh, really?

The proponents of wind-generated energy love to say, it’s clean, it’s “green” and there is no environmental impact from industrial wind turbines.

We say, go look at one. Not the little one in Toronto, either (whose noise is drowned out by downtown Toronto traffic); go check out the giants in Amaranth and Melancthon and imagine what it took to build them. They are not wind “mills” they are giant industrial wind turbines.

Anyway, lets’ address these issues briefly.

Efficiency: at the moment of writing, the capacity of wind-generation in Ontario is 1,100 MW or megawatts. What it is actually producing at this moment, Tuesday morning, November 17, is 392 MW. Enough, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO says, to power 70,000 clothes dryers. Actually, that’s about 35% of capacity—and that fluctuates throughout the day, throughout the province.

What else does the IESO say on their cute little website at http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/siteshared/windtracker.asp

“This form of generation creates zero emissions…” Now, that‘s not true: consider the transportation costs (estimated to be 20% of the build cost for these industrial installations) for components that can come from as far away as Germany, for the roads that have to be built to the sites, and for the truckloads of concrete required for the bases? AND, wind turbines actually require power to run. If there’s a power failure, they don’t work. “Zero emissions”? Not hardly.

“Litte environmental impact”? Again, consider the effects of the construction process, and then add in the reported effects to wildlife (the birds are gone, the frogs are gone, the coyotes gone) and the water table. And, whether you believe in the adverse health effects on people, you have to admit that creating a source of 35dB of noise all day and all night is hardly “little environmental impact”.

“One of the greenest forms of energy available”? How about hydro power which really is renewable and really doesn’t have CO2 emissions? Or nuclear? (Which begs another question: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is working to sell Canada’s nuclear business [read, 50 companies in Ontario] to India where they are hungry for electricity … but nuclear is an anathema over here?)

At a time when the U.K., Spain and Germany are realizing the “rush to wind” is having little benefit, why is Ontario rushing headlong down this road?

“Green” yes, but not at any cost. Put the turbines where the wind is, not where the people are.

A sidebar to new Green Party of Ontario leader Michael Shreiner: those “green energy” jobs you’re looking at in Germany are connected to wind business, and are costing that country dearly in the long run. Estimates are $240,000 US for every job created. Take a good look at what you are promising.

To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group direct, email the Chair at chubbsworth@yahoo.com

UPDATE: 11 a.m. and output is down to 335MW

12:30 p.m., now at 309

2 p.m., 292MW or 26% of capacity.

Ben Chin vs the wind biz spin

Interesting story today about how the multi-millionaires in Oakville don’t want a natural gas plant built in their area. They are worried about pollution. OK, but when asked about that, Ontario Power Authority communications guy (and former CBC reporter) Ben Chin, said that the number one source of air pollution is “vehicular”. Oh, really? Well, we agree, but isn’t the wind biz’s usual story that it’s all the coal plants causing the hundreds of deaths each year?

So, once again, rural residents are being asked to put up with wind turbine developments because of the city residents idling their cars on clogged freeways? Doesn’t make sense.

Oh, and next May when the Smart Meters come in with rates up to 9.2 cents per kwh, you’re advised to do all your laundry on the weekends—not possible for people on well and septic. Rural residents take it in the ear again!

November 16, 2009

Tales from Amaranth and Melancthon

More reports of ill health and increased stress levels coming from Amaranth and Melancthon in Ontario (near Orangeville, north and west of Toronto).

What is it going to take for someone to come along and study these people?

From a recent edition of The Orangeville Banner:

“I think when you look at people and the chronologies they’ve put together in terms of when they’re being affected by the noise … the physical evidence is there. I don’t doubt them, don’t doubt them for a minute,” Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver says of health complaints from some of the turbine’s neighbours.

MacIver is an atmospheric scientist with Environment Canada — he does not speak on behalf of his employer — and recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for his participation in the team of scientists who contributed to the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

“There’s no direct linkage in terms of ‘all the turbines are turning at full power and therefore they get the maximum exposure.’ … It’s so intermittent, that it’s driving them nuts,” the mayor says. “It’s not as if it’s a continuous hum from a refrigerator and you get used to it, or a water pump. It’s intermittent spiking that is causing them tremendous disruption in their lives and their sleep patterns.”

Amaranth is home to 22 industrial wind turbines — part of Canadian Hydro Development’s (CHD) Melancthon EcoPower Centre, which has 133 turbines in all. The rest are in Melancthon.

To join the North Gower Wind Action Group, get in touch with them directly at chubbsworth@yahoo.com, by fax at 613-489-3868, or by mail at PO Box 485, North Gower ON K0A 2T0

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