April 28, 2010

The wrong way to get “green”

From the Wall Street Journal, a review of the new book Power Hungry by Robert Bryce. Just look at the environmental costs of wind development: it truly is insane from an environmental point of view. Not so for the big business involved.

Here is the review:

The Wrong Way To Get to Green

Once you’ve carpeted the wilderness with wind-farm turbines, and crushed any guilt about the birds you’re about to kill, prepare to be underwhelmed and underpowered.

  • Al Gore has a dream, a dream increasingly shared, according to opinion surveys, by people all over the world. It is that the 19th century, the age of steam and iron and coal, will finally end and that, as Mr. Gore wrote in an article for the New York Times in 2008, the time will soon come for “21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth.” 

    It might be better, and much more realistic, says Robert Bryce in “Power Hungry,” to imagine our journey toward a “green” energy Arcadia in units of Saudi Arabia. “Over the past few years,” he writes, “we have repeatedly been told that we should quit using hydrocarbons. Fine. Global daily hydrocarbon use is about 200 million barrels of oil equivalent, or about 23.5 Saudi Arabias per day. Thus, if the world’s policy makers really want to quit using carbon-based fuels, then we will need to find the energy equivalent of 23.5 Saudi Arabias every day, and all of that energy must be carbon free.” 

    “Power Hungry” unfolds as a brutal, brilliant exploration of this profoundly deluded quest, from fingers-in-the-ears “la-la-la-ing” at the mention of nuclear power to the illusion that we are rapidly running out of oil or that we can turn to biomass for salvation: Since it takes 10,000 tons of wood to produce one megawatt of electricity, for instance, the U.S. will be chopping down forests faster than it can grow them. 

    Mr. Bryce also points to the link between cheap power and economic productivity and asks why we should expect much of the world to forgo the benefits of light bulbs and regular energy when we enjoy these privileges. But if “Power Hungry” sounds like a supercharged polemic, its shocks are delivered with forensic skill and narrative aplomb. 

    So you want to build a wind farm? OK, Mr. Bryce says, to start you’ll need 45 times the land mass of a nuclear power station to produce a comparable amount of power; and because you are in the middle of nowhere you’ll also need hundreds of miles of high-voltage lines to get the energy to your customers. This “energy sprawl” of giant turbines and pylons will require far greater amounts of concrete and steel than conventional power plants—figure on anywhere from 870 to 956 cubic feet of concrete per megawatt of electricity and 460 tons of steel (32 times more concrete and 139 times as much steel as a gas-fired plant). 


    Power Hungry

    By Robert Bryce
    PublicAffairs, 394 pages, $27.95 

    Once you’ve carpeted your tract of wilderness with turbines and gotten over any guilt you might feel about the thousands of birds you’re about to kill, prepare to be underwhelmed and underpowered. Look at Texas, Mr. Bryce says: It ranks sixth in the world in total wind-power production capacity, and it has been hailed as a model for renewable energy and green jobs by Republicans and Democrats alike. And yet, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state’s electricity grid, just “8.7 percent of the installed wind capability can be counted on as dependable capacity during the peak demand period.” The wind may blow in Texas, but, sadly, it doesn’t blow much when it is most needed—in summer. The net result is that just 1% of the state’s reliable energy needs comes from wind. 

    If using a huge amount of real estate to generate a tiny amount of energy from an intermittent energy source sounds deranged, consider, too, that we haven’t yet found the holy grail for storing wind-generated energy. Wind is either an instant energy snack or a famine. It must be used when it’s there or immediately replaced when it isn’t. 

    But if you are managing an energy grid, you have to meet constant demand or face blackouts, which means that you will have to have conventional power plants to back up the wind farms. As Jing Yang reported in The Wall Street Journal last year, this strategy is precisely the one that China is pursuing, adding in one province alone the coal-fired equivalent of Hungary. These plants, Mr. Bryce notes, are designed to run continuously and will in all likelihood “be run continuously in order to assure that the regional power grid doesn’t go dark.” The irony of wind power is that it “doesn’t displace power plants, it only adds to them.” 

    It is not for nothing, then, that the scientist and ur-environmentalist James Lovelock (the author of the Gaia theory of holistic planet-nurturing) now thinks that wind power and renewable energy are “rotten ideas.” What is arguably worse are rotten ideas that no one is allowed to criticize: Last year, Britain’s minister for climate change, Ed Miliband, declared that the British government had to make opposition to wind power “socially unacceptable.” There are more than 200 groups opposed to wind farms in Britain on the grounds that the turbines disfigure the landscape, thrum like air-conditioning units and, when the sun sets, create an irritating flicker-light for miles. 

    “Power Hungry” is a bracing attempt to call this kind of revolution to account, literally, by asking us to look at the math and to face the numbers. It is unsentimental, unsparing and impassioned; and, if you’ll excuse the pun, it is precisely the kind of journalism we need to hold truth to power. 

    Mr. Butterworth is editor of and a columnist for 

    April 27, 2010

    People be damned:we met the requirements

    A tale from Grey Highlands this week as International Power informed council that it had received approval for its Plateau Wind Project and that the industrial wind turbines would be delivered and erected this fall.

    This in spite of the fact that Grey Highlands has asked the province for a moratorium on turbine development until further research is done on the health impacts from the noise and vibration produced by the turbines.  The company says it has met all regulatory requirements to date, including those that pertain to public meetings.

    In other words, wind developers can say they want to be part of a community and that they want community acceptance, but in truth, all they want is those turbines up and running, and to get that Ontario ratepayer cash in their pockets.

    It is absolutely critical that the people of Ontario do whatever they can to stop these developments that are, to quote Dr John Harrison, “right on top of people” now, because once the projects get approval, there is no stopping them, whatever truths may be revealed in the future.

    The story is here:–wind-turbine-project-moving-forward

    The protest in Toronto is scheduled for April 28th at 11:00 a.m., followed by a private member’s bill being introduced in the Legislature.

    To get in touch with the North Gower Wind Action Group, email them at

    April 26, 2010

    “Dark forces”: Lake Ontario’s waterkeeper speaks out

    Lake Ontario’s guardian or “Waterkeeper” speaks out in the recent edition of The Mark newsletter, on putting industrial wind turbines in Ontario’s lakes. He mentions the turbines proposed for Wolfe Island and also Lake Erie and Lake St Clair, which, he says are destined for Ontario’s “most precious and delicate ecosystems.” He mentions too the proposal for industrial wind turbines off the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto.

    He cites the Helimax report which says these areas have minimal potential for wind (like North Gower and Richmond).

    The solution he says is “more democracy.”

    It would be nice at this point to have SOME democracy where wind developers are concerned in Ontario; at the moment, the developers are trouncing rural citizens’ rights to quiet enjoyment of their properties, as well as ruining their health and the value of their homes. When people protest, the companies say, we’re just following the rules.

    And the wind developers persist in their claims to be part of the new environmental awareness; Prowind in particular constantly makes claims that “coal is killing people” and that no matter what the effects of wind turbines are, they are better for the environment than anything else. Well, they’re not: we already have renewable energy in this province. It’s called HYDRO.

    Anyway, now we have the Waterkeeper telling us something else, that these things are going to permanently damage the water environment.

    Something has to change: there will be protests around the world in the next few weeks, including Toronto on April 28th.

    For the waterkeeper’s full article, follow:

    For information on the wind action group in North Gower and Richmond, email them at

    April 24, 2010

    The current “scandal” in Ontario

    From today’s National Post in the FP Comment section:

    Praise for Gallant

    Such a perfect microcosm of the Liberal policy and philosophy in action is the current state of power generation in Ontario, as commented on by Parker Gallant.

    The goal of the Liberals is to have as many public employees as possible, (to re-elect them into infinity) and to “Be seen” to be green, rather than be green.

    The press remains totally inert as far as reportage and or investigations into the machinations of the Teflon Liberals, content to dish up the tiresome daily meatloaf of Harper bashing. Neither wholesome nor tasty but somehow comforting.

    The scanda is what the current government in Ontario is able to get away with, largely unreported and uncommented on. The staggering OPG debts and shocking power increases that are coming up are only the tip.

    Parker Gallant is to be commended in his observations, while the professional press snoozes.

    –Jeffrey John, Clinton, Ontario

    [Ed. note: Clinton is in south-west Ontario, near Lake St Clair, where there is a proposal to put hundreds of 400-foot industrial wind turbines offshore, disturbing a commercial fishery, and affecting property values of homes on both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the lake.]

    April 23, 2010

    The truth i$ out:it’s all about the $$$

    This is the kind of advertising that is going out to U.S. investors… the tag lines might as well be, Help Canada self-destruct and get money in your mailbox for doing it!!!

    We’ve seen garbage from Readers’ Digest and Publishers’ Clearinghouse that was classier than this.

    Canadian Renewable Energy Trusts

    The Easiest Way To Profit From Canadian Renewable Energy

    By Jeff Siegel
    Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 On Monday, I told you about the British Columbia energy plan that requires clean or renewable electricity generation to account for at least 90 percent of total generation. I also shared with you a few of the stocks that have benefited from this plan.

     On Tuesday, my colleague Nick Hodge told you about Ontario’s new renewable energy push that has so far resulted in 694 contracts for new clean energy projects. Nick also shared a few stocks that have benefited nicely from Ontario’s new renewable energy agenda. The most recent being Arise Technologies (TSX:APV), which delivered a 170% gain in a single day!

    There is absolutely no doubt that Canada’s aggressive renewable energy agenda has helped us make a lot of money from a select group of Canadian renewable energy plays.

    We’ve even figured out a way for you to get. . .

    Your Own Personal Canadian Energy Stimulus Check

     I’m serious.

    Listen: I’m absolutely obsessive about following the money from the U.S. stimulus. Especially when it comes to new energy projects.


    April 20, 2010

    Parker Gallant on electricity costs in Ontario

    Retired banker Parker Gallant (what an elegant name!!) has had plenty to say about the hydro bills in Ontario, and has written about the goings-on in the electricity utility in Ontario several times in The Financial Post.

    In his most recent article he says Ontario is committing suicide with its high power rates, pricing itself “out of the market.” 

    Finding information useful to ratepayers in Ontario is “almost impossible” but what he did finr “is a complex, unproductive, costly and expanding beehive of corporate and institutional activity that produces less and less electricity at ever rising cost.”

    The full article is here:

    He was also interviewed on Ottawa’s CFRA recently. Here is the clip:

    April 19, 2010

    More opportunities for business in Ontario

    With all this talk about “green” jobs and “green” manufacturing and how wind development is going to be a bonanza for Ontario (not) one sector has been overlooked: tourism. In fact, Ontario’s tourism lobby has already protested the wind turbine development craze, saying it’s going to affect tourism long-term in Ontario as the formerly attractive landscape will soon be blighted with turbines.

    It’s already happened in Britain, which is why Prince Charles has said wind turbines are a “blot on the landscape” and if they have to be built at all (he doesn’t think they should be) they should be way, way offshore.

    So, consider this: 2010 should be an all out banner year for tourism in Ontario.

    Because Ontario is paying premium prices to largely foreign-owned interests to build industrial wind turbine operations, which will doubtless be up and running as fast as they can be built, Canadians have an opportunity to visit Ontario in the summer of 2010 to see the beauty of its countryside — one last time.

    People who live in the cities in particular should leave behind the hum of their computers and the hissing of the cappuccino machines to view the sights while they still can. The formerly inviolable Niagara Escarpment? Soon to be a porcupine. The Grey Highlands and Beaver Valley whose rolling landscape and stunning vistas are mindful of Scotland? A giant pincushion. Historic Kingston and Wolfe and Amherst Islands? An industrial zone. Ontario’s most beautiful sites in southern and Eastern Ontario will soon change: the Madawaska, Oak Ridges Moraine, the Bruce … all will be dotted with giant wind turbines for the next 20 years. Or until the ratepayer-funded subsidies run out.

    All this for wind energy which is unreliable, inefficient, expensive, doesn’t create long-term jobs, and is also not proven to reduce reliance on fossil-fuel energy generation. Health studies have not been done to assure safety  either but thanks to the Green Energy Act Ontario’s rural citizens  have to watch this happen and experience the noise and vibration, too.

    Our advice: See Ontario now. “Supernatural” B.C. is next.

    [Pictured below: Stirling Castle, Scotland, where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned]

    April 16, 2010

    CFRA’s online survey

    Filed under: Uncategorized — ottawawindconcerns @ 2:08 pm
    Tags: ,

    CFRA is running a survey on opinions about power generation in Ontario. To log your opinion, go to and select the survey on the left sidebar.

    Ontario will have no business left if power rates continue to skyrocket!!!

    April 14, 2010

    The trials of people living near wind turbines

    Her stories may be “anecdotal” but they are compelling: Long Point, Ont. resident Stephana Johnston drove six hours to North Gower yesterday to tell her story at a public information meeting organized by the North Gower Wind Action Group.

    Within days when the 18 turbines that surround her house began operating, Johnston began to experience health problems she didn’t have before: ringining in the ears, anxiety, a strange feeling in her head, and an inability to sleep due to the turbine noise and vibration. Her neighbours began sharing their stories too. A close neighbour who was always a “health nut” Johnston said, became unwell, suffering frequent headaches.

    “I don’t want your community have happen what happened to us,” she said.

    The CBC’s Steve Fischer interviewed Prowind’s Bart Geleynse prior to the North Gower meeting (he claims he wasn’t allowed to attend which isn’t true) and Geleynse said turbine neighbours’ complaints are merely “psychosomatic… largely based on emotion… a reaction to something new.”

    Geleynse, who has no medical training whatsoever and is merely a salesperson for German-based Prowind, also claimed that the opinion of the majority of the medical community was that there is no substance to the reports of ill health. This is patently untrue as medical reports are mounting monthly. When Dr Michael Nissenbaum’s Mars Hill report comes out, according to Carmen Krogh who also spoke at the North Gower meeting, the results will show that the vast majority (in this case 81%) of people exposed to turbines have health effects.

    Stephana Johnston said, “You won’t find anyone who is in the wind industry living next to 18 turbines.”

    There are links to health-related documents on our documents page.

    For more international scientific evidence, go to

    For more on North Gower in specific, go to

    April 12, 2010

    She’s got it right–the “wacky world of green power”

    On the subject of renewable energy development including industrial wind turbines (though there isn’t much “renewable” about turbines, truth be told) Canada’s “national newspaper” the Globe and Mail is somewhat schizoid. In the Business section they report the fabulous deals (going mostly to foreign-owned companies).

    In the opinions and columns, however, a different story plays out. This past weekend, veteran observer Margaret Wente lays it all out in specific and with an honesty we’ve not seen yet. “Welcome to the wacky world of green power,” she begins and then reviews the opinions of industry watchers including Michael Trebilcock of Canada and George Monbiot of the U.K. They both think Ontario’s “green energy” strategy is insane.

    Ms Wente’s conclusion? The claims of thousands of jobs are false, the claims the “green” energy can replace fossil fuels are false, and the only winners are “the companies that harvest the subsidies.” Like Prowind, Invernergy, and Florida Power and Light (whose wind development division is cutely named NextEra).

    This isn’t about clean air or the environment, it’s a big-business cash grab, pure and simple, and a political party struggling to fulfill a daft election promise when they would look much grander if they said, We made a mistake; now THIS is how we’re going to save Ontario. And then come up with a better plan.

    The full article may be viewed here.

    For more information about North Gower and the wind action group, go to and/or email them at

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