NorthGowerWindTurbines

October 18, 2010

The urban-rural divide

In the October 17th edition of the Ottawa Citizen, columnist Kelly Egan takes issue with the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime house built by Minto saying it’s too opulent, too big, and we should all just send the hospital our money and not indulge in “house envy”.

Aside from the fact that the usually intelligent Mr Egan misses the point of the show house (it showcases the product and work from dozens of local businesses, and is an attention-getter for the hospital charity), he makes one statement that has us incredulous.

“Bet the winner doesn’t move in,” Egan says. “First of all, it’s in rural Manotick…”

“Rural Manotick”? WHAT?! First Line Road is hardly the boondocks. The house would be 20-25 minutes to downtown Ottawa, if that’s where you’re headed, and five minutes from shopping and amenities in Manotick, including Robinson’s Your Independent Grocer which has won Best Store in its class in Canada numerous times.

But this just goes to show you what urban dwellers think of rural residents: we’re all living out in the middle of corn fields here and so who cares if a couple of 60-storey industrial wind turbines go up. Nobody here but us chickens.

In Burlington, people are upset because the WalMart wants to put up a 28-meter wind turbine and they’re worried about the noise, the bird kills, and what it will do to property values. They want a say in whether the thing goes up. (Good luck with that.) And yes, we said 28-meter not 28 storeys, and yet, these people are upset.

Once again, this is a sign of how the urban dwellers are quite content to use electricity without thought of where it’s coming from, and in the case of the (mythological) “clean” “green” energy production, their view is if someone has to make a sacrifice, it might as well be the rural people.

October 14, 2010

Industrial wind turbines: impractical, unreliable, expensive “blight”

From today’s Arnprior EMC, a broader look at Ontario’s power situation. Note North Gower in paragraph 9.

When will common sense catch on?

Common sense needed to remedy hydro situation

Posted Oct 14, 2010 By Jeff Maguire


EMC News – The natives are restless and it appears Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the governing Liberal party is slowly waking up to that fact.

The rapid rise in electricity costs for consumers in this province has finally burst the Grits’ bubble.

We are told by the so-called “experts” that the current government is simply passing along hydro rate increases that should have been implemented years ago.

Years of mismanagement has left Ontario’s electricity system in structural and financial chaos. The more recent decision by the McGuinty Liberals to close coal-fired plants to suit their “green” agenda has simply exacerbated an already bad situation.

Now Ontarians are feeling the pinch and frankly conservation isn’t the answer. Most people I know are doing their level best to reduce their use of electricity. But with delivery charges and other “historic” issues the main reason for the cost increases, cutting back won’t do much to assist individual customers.

To make matters much worse, instead of revisiting the matter of traditional electrical generating methods – coal-fired and nuclear power – this government is intent on furthering their green objectives.

Wind and solar energy are “best sellers” in terms of winning votes – or at least the Liberals evidently feel they are because they have been working hard to sell both methods of electrical generation to Ontarians.

For example, wind turbines are becoming a more common site in North America. They’ve been used in wind blown places like the California desert for a long time but are now making their way into the eastern United States, Canada and Ontario.

Wherever turbines are due to be installed, controversy quickly follows. Witness the much maligned installation on Wolfe Island near Kingston. Or a planned “wind farm” near North Gower in rural, south Ottawa.

They are gigantic devices with massive blades which have upset residents who live close to such installations. Many say they are “a blight on the landscape” and there is also some evidence of health problems related to exposure to the waves of energy transmitted from these huge, whirling machines.

Solar farms are somewhat more passive and placed on scrub land, that isn’t much use for farming, they seem harmless enough. The Ontario government is encouraging people to install solar panels on their homes and property. They are even soliciting excess power from large-scale solar developments on private land, in hopes of adding the electricity to the provincial grid.

You might even be able to pay your mortgage, or better, by installing the panels and selling power to the province make a little on the side as well.

I know some people who are “off the grid” because they chose to go solar and install batteries which store the excess energy generated by the sun. Those I have spoken to couldn’t be happier. They aren’t saddled with the sudden increase in hydro payments most of us are.

But is this practical for the majority of people? And more importantly, is electricity generated by solar and wind cost-efficient on a larger scale?

Judging by virtually everything I have read on this subject – and I have read a great deal – there are big questions about that.

On a larger scale solar energy is big business for some companies who are seeking sites across Eastern Ontario and across Canada.

The initial cost of installing solar panels is expensive although some are clearly willing to try it in hopes of saving money and perhaps even generating income.

As for wind power, large scale developments can only be established after months and years of lobbying and hard work by large companies. Gaining approval isn’t easy as we have seen in our own province recently. People, especially neighbours, are skeptical and highly resistant, partly due to unknown factors such as the potential for damaging the health of individuals.

We have also spoken to many people in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, about wind turbines which are in extensive use there and have been for many years.

Most we have spoken to give them an immediate thumbs down. People in Britain are tired of seeing turbines spring up on so many pieces of vacant land, or standing like behemoths on the horizon, seemingly everywhere.

One of the largest such developments in Europe is planned for the estuary of the River Thames, on the east coast of England. In fact wind farms located in shallow waters, just offshore, are common in Great Britain. And for my money they are ugly!

Outside of aesthetics, the argument against turbines is simple. They add very little to the electrical generating capacity of the countries where they are now commonplace. In Britain for example wind turbines contribute less than three per cent of the electricity which flows into the national grid. And remember, there are thousands of these giant beasts everywhere!

At first blush we weren’t offended by the sight of turbines. We first saw them in wind-swept Cornwall, England in the mid 1990s.

Now my wife and I are tired of the things. They are everywhere in the UK. We just saw a huge development in rural Scotland in August which, from our point of view, scarred an otherwise tranquil and beautiful landscape.

We don’t look forward to seeing that situation develop in our country or worse still in our own backyard.

I have written previously about the large wind farm which sprang up at Brainardsville, New York in the Adirondacks, not far from Malone, a couple of years ago.

At first it was a curiosity to see turbines in this beautiful part of upper New York State. Now we detest the sight of the things when we drive through that part of the northeastern U.S. If we lived there we would be among the many who are lobbying against the things and there is an intense effort to have them removed from what I have read.

In Britain coal-fired electrical generation has gained traction once again because of improvements in how efficiently coal can now be burned. In recent times modern methods have dramatically reduced emissions and made coal a more practical means of producing power.

Obviously nuclear is a much vilified means of electrical production. There are obvious safety considerations involved and therefore many people are scared of it.

Nuclear power generation has to be respected, but in real terms there have been relatively few serious accidents – thank goodness. Of course another Chernobyl is always a possibility and makes us shy away from using a powerful method of generating power.

I am an advocate of taking a fresh look at coal-fired plants, especially given modern science and especially considering the dilemma we so clearly face in this province and this country.

We have to do something and coal-fired is probably the fastest and safest way to improve our electrical generating capacity in heavily populated Ontario, not to mention the rest of Canada.

As for the Ontario government, the increasing stream of letters to the editor in newspapers these days has to be viewed as another setback for an administration which is coming under increasing fire over its electricity-related programs and policies.

Smart meters, skyrocketing delivery charges, along with such things as regulatory and debt retirement charges already had hydro customers in Ontario reeling. Then, on July 1, the McGuinty government introduced the hated Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and promptly added that to our electrical bills.

It is all too much for most of us and some people have clearly been pushed over the edge by this unexpected, added expense. The complaints have reached tidal wave proportions, so much so that the premier has announced his administration will look at ways of cutting the costs for seniors and low-income earners who, obviously, are among the hardest hit.

What about the rest of us? We don’t want these higher costs either. I don’t know anyone who does.

With a provincial election now just one year away the polls show support for the Liberals dropping like a stone in water. The Progressive Conservatives, despite their own organizational issues, have benefited massively.

The cry “anyone but McGuinty” is rising in crescendo and is giving the opposition parties in Ontario renewed hope and growing confidence.

It is time for practicalities and common sense to push aside the green lobby and get Ontario back on track in this important department.

If you have any comments or questions for Jeff Maguire, he can be reached by e-mail at: jeffrey.maguire@rogers.com

October 13, 2010

The truth about politics in Ontario: they’re all to blame

In today’s Financial Post, pundit and now, as it turns out, wag, Lawrence Solomon creates the speech that Tim Hudak should give today to the Energy Association. But won’t. Because the truth is, all parties in Ontario have contributed to the current situation regarding electricity, the Conservatives no less than anyone. We have already recommended reading Hydro: the decline and fall of Ontario’s electric empire (up until the last chapter when the authors fall hard for the false economy of “green” energy) for a background of the politics of power in this province, but Solomon’s fake speech for Hudak sums it all up.

The link to the full article is below but here are some delicious bits:

“…that Oakville power plant should never have been ordered in the first place–it was the result of another political decision, a grand-standing decision to replace the province’s entire fleet of coal plants in favour of windmills and other forms of renewable energy. The windmills not only cost several times as much as coal, they are also unavailable most of the time, because the wind doesn’t blow on demand. To provide backup when the wind doesn’t blow, the citizens of Oakville were told they would need to live with a power plant for a neighbour.”

“…until today, I have failed to vigorously defend our province’s coal-generating stations–some of which are among the cleanest on the continent–and I have failed to vigorously attack the entirely unjustified wind and solar projects that are bankrupting our province.”

-[On Europe] “Europe has other lessons for us, too. The more countries went green, the harder they fell. In Spain, the biggest green subsidizer of all, every green job that the government created cost more than two jobs elsewhere in the economy. Spain’s unemployment rate is now 20%, the highest in the developed world. To rescue its economy, it is slashing green subsidies, leading to a wave of green companies filing for bankruptcy. Other European countries are also bailing out of this so-called green economy, in good part because their governments are finding out that industrial wind farms aren’t necessarily environmental. They gobble up farmland, destroy birds by the thousands, and pollute communities with noise. Because of community opposition, the largest grass-roots movement in the western world is no longer anti-nuclear, but anti-wind.”

Wow. Don’t you wish that’s really what Hudak was going to say?

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe.

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/10/12/ontario-power-lesson/

October 8, 2010

What the renewable energy surge in Ontario is really all about

Excellent column in today’s Financial Post by Terence Corcoran. For those who don’t have high-speed Internet, we post the entire article here.

It shows what this is all about: not the environment, not people’s health, but MONEY.

http://www.financialpost.com/opinion/columnists/Power+failure/3641528/story.html

Terence Corcoran, Financial Post · Friday, Oct. 8, 2010

The Swedish retail giant IKEA announced Thursday it will invest $4.6-million to install 3,790 solar panels on three Toronto area stores, giving IKEA the electric-power-producing capacity of 960,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. According to IKEA, that’s enough electricity to power 100 homes. Amazing development. Even more amazing is the economics of this project. Under the Ontario government’s feed-intariff solar power scheme, IKEA will receive 71.3¢ for each kilowatt of power produced, which works out to about $6,800 a year for each of the 100 hypothetical homes. Since the average Toronto home currently pays about $1,200 for the same quantity of electricity, that implies that IKEA is being overpaid by $5,400 per home equivalent.

Welcome to the wonderful world of green economics and the magical business of carbon emission reduction. Each year, IKEA will receive $684,408 under Premier Dalton McGuinty’s green energy monster–for power that today retails for about $115,000. At that rate, IKEA will recoup $4.6-million in less than seven years–not bad for an investment that can be amortized over 20.

No wonder solar power is such a hot industry. No wonder, too, that the province of Ontario is in a headlong rush into a likely economic crisis brought on skyrocketing electricity prices. To make up the money paid to IKEA to promote itself as a carbon-free zone, Ontario consumers and industries are on their way to experiencing the highest electricity rates in North America, if not most of the world.

The government’s regulator, the Ontario Energy Board, has prepared secret forecasts of how much Ontario consumers are going to have to pay for electricity over the next five years. The government won’t allow the report to be released. The next best estimate comes from Aegency Energy Advisors Inc., in a study it did for the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters group. Residential rates are expected to jump by 60% between 2010 and 2015. Industrial customers will be looking at a 55% increase. (See graphic.)

Going back to 2003, based on numbers dug up by consultant Tom Adams, the price of residential electricity in Ontario hovered around 8.5¢ a kWh in 2003 — the first year of the McGuinty Liberal regime. By 2015, Aegency Energy estimates the price will be up to 21¢, an increase of 135%. Doubling the price of electricity in a decade is no way to spur growth and investment. In this age of global economic competition IKEA may end up with fewer sales of its Billy bookshelves in Toronto because its customers will be bogged down with soaring power bills and a sliding economy.

Almost all of these increases are due to green energy activism brought on by George Smitherman, the former Ontario energy minister now running for mayor of Toronto on the claim that his Green Energy Act is not responsible for rising prices.

There are probably some holes that can be picked in the Aegency Energy numbers in the graph, but they are not likely to make that much of a difference. If the OEB has better numbers that disprove the Aegency report, then let’s see them. In the meantime, Aegency is all we have and their report was an eye-opener when it was released back in August — for everybody except Premier McGuinty, his Energy Minister, green activists and Mr. Smitherman.

Mr. Smitherman is the godfather of the Ontario Green Energy Act and the feed-intariff scheme that will transfer billions of dollars out of consumer pockets and into the hands of subsidized solar and wind power producers and government corporations. He likes to blame rising electricity prices on the province’s new HST and the failure of previous governments to maintain infrastructure. The numbers in the Aegency Energy report make it clear that Mr. Smitherman is running on a dead battery.

The full scale of Ontario’s green energy spending extravaganza is hard to convey in a few words, but here’s a list of the increases in dollar spending Ontario’s electricity consumers will have to bear during 2015, in millions of dollars:

Feed-in-tariff $3,848

Renewable energy $330

Renewables — other $96

Bruce Power $74

Bruce Power new $461

Ontario Power Generation $237

Natural gas $192

Non-utility generation $170

Conservation $267

Transmission $1,012

Distribution (non-green) $293

Distribution (green energy) $759

TOTAL 2015 COSTS $7,739

Each line item is a story in itself, although nothing beats the feed-in tariff as a cost to consumers and industry. At $3.8-billion in 2015 alone, it’s the price of keeping IKEA and the other solar and wind producers in green stuff. To get solar and wind to consumers, and fulfill other Green Energy Act requirements, will also force the province’s transmission and distribution companies to increase spending by another $1-billion.

All those costs and spending (which total more than $21-billion between 2010 and 2015) will add little to Ontario’s electricity inventory. Through that time period, total electricity demand in Ontario is expected to remain relatively flat. By 2015, in other words, Ontarians will likely be consuming the same amount of electricity as they are today but paying twice as much as they were in 2003.

There is even a prospect that Ontario will generate additional surplus electricity that will have to be exported to the United States, essentially subsidizing U.S. consumption. Tom Adams adds that the latest U.S. electricity forecasts suggest U. S prices will remain stable. Price are lower this year and are expected to increase next year by 2.4%. Ontario, meanwhile, is looking at average gains of 9.7%. “We’re heading toward European prices,” he said.

The supposed objective of all this is to reduce carbon emissions and offset the mandated closure of Ontario’s coal plants. But the Green Energy Act reaches way beyond offsetting coal. It aims to reduce Ontario carbon emissions, although no targets have been set.

According to Aegency Energy’s calculations, the cost of power produced by IKEA solar panels at 71.3¢ will reduce carbon emissions at a cost of $1,384 a tonne if there is a corresponding reduction in Ontario’s need for gas-fired electricity production. That number compares with official national and international carbon tax ideas involving maybe $25 a tonne or, at the extreme, $200 a tonne.

Average per-capita carbon emissions in Ontario are said to be about 15 tonnes. The government’s schemes suggest that reducing Ontario carbon emissions by say 20% to 12 tonnes would cost $5,000 per person or upwards of $15,000 per household per year. That’s a lot of Billy shelving.

Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/opinion/columnists/Power+failure/3641528/story.html#ixzz11ndfOW8l

October 1, 2010

Experts on TVO: green energy act a concern

To watch the entire podcast of last night’s show “So Green we’re in the red” go to http://www.tvo.org/theagenda

There were three people who made sense: Tom Adams of Tom Adams Energy (and ex of Energy Probe), Economics professor at U of T Don Dewess, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Tom Clipshaw. On the not so informed or maybe politcally influenced side, the CEO of Toronto Hydro Joyce Maclean (who actually had the temerity to mention that total failure, the wind turbine at Exhibition Place) and Ontario’s so-called Environment Commissioner Gordon Miller.

Key quotes:

Dewess–“government’s don’t create jobs, they just move them around”

Adams– some jobs are being created in the green energy sector but they could disappear as fast as they appeared.

All in all some good comments but no mention of the economic effect of widespread property value decline, or the effect on tourism of the proliferation of ugly industrial wind turbine projects (they’re NOT pretty and no one will be having picnics underneath them), or the potential effects on other aspects of the economy such as the commercial fisheries in Ontario’s Great Lakes.

For more news daily, go to http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com and for the North Gower Wind Action Group blog http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com

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