NorthGowerWindTurbines

December 28, 2010

McGuinty’s green energy garden path

McGuinty has led us all down the green energy garden path

Posted 5 hours ago

Stratford Beacon-Herald, December 28, 2010

by Ross McKitrick

Anyone remember the Sprung Greenhouse fiasco? In 1987, Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford attempted to boost local employment by subsidizing the building of a massive hydroponic greenhouse operation that its inventor, Philip Sprung, said would turn the province into a world leader in green produce. His plan had failed in Alberta, but in Peckford he found a gullible partner willing to abandon common sense and start signing over other people’s money.

During the construction phase the premier pointed with pride to the hundreds of jobs apparently created. Meanwhile the province kept signing cheques and promising that cucumbers and economic renewal were on the way in equal measure.

Cucumbers did start appearing. The problem was each one cost $1.10 to grow, and the wholesale market price was just over 50 cents. The greenhouse went bankrupt and ceased operations by 1990. The jobs vanished, and the tiny province was left with $14 million in debts to pay.

Never forget: jobs are created by profitable businesses, period. Industries reliant on subsidies do not generate jobs, they destroy them. Subsidies create short-term jobs that have to be financed by new taxes on profitable activity, which drives away long-term investment and ends up costing jobs.

People in Ontario ridiculed the Sprung fiasco at the time. But I guess we didn’t really learn anything, for now we are madly building our own versions of the Sprung greenhouses. This time they are called wind turbines.

Their salesmen have found in Dalton McGuinty their own Brian Peckford. They convinced him we can become a world leader, not in green produce, but green energy. Common sense has been jettisoned and the cheques are flowing.

We already have green energy. Most of our electricity comes from non-emitting hydro and nuclear generation, at a fraction of the cost of wind-and solar-generated power. By the government’s own data, Ontario air pollution has fallen dramatically since the 1970s through the use of scrubbers and automobile technology (check it out at airqualityontario.com).Most of our remaining smog precursors originate in the U.S. An expert report to the government in 2005 — which was promptly marked “Classified,” but a copy of which I obtained — showed that closing our two coal-fired power plants would make no measurable difference to summertime smog levels, especially since they would require gas-fired replacements.

Wind turbines, like solar panels, can generate electricity but they require backup gas generators to compensate for the fluctuating yield.

And, like Sprung’s cucumbers, those green electrons don’t create jobs, they annihilate them. Wind turbines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies and rigged prices, or “feed-in-tariffs.” Green energy will only be a source of jobs the day the industry can produce electricity at competitive market rates and still pay its own bills.

Ontario was not the first region to fall for the scam. Spain did years ago. Recently an independent analysis showed the plan destroyed 2.2 jobs for every one created. Over the past month Spain has slashed subsidies for green power producers and capped the size of the sector. France has also begun eliminating subsidies in the wake of a report showing that, after the temporary, subsidy-driven construction jobs end, the price hikes and tax increases will lead to long-term declines in jobs and growth. And Germany — producer of half the world’s solar electricity — just announced accelerated cuts in solar subsidies in response to the same economic realities, with hints the subsidies may not survive a scheduled review in 2012.

Everywhere it’s the same story. Green energy salesmen bamboozle gullible governments into signing cheques in return for empty promises of jobs and growth. As the bills mount, prices rise and the economy sags, the inevitable unravelling begins. It will happen here too. The only question is how many jobs will disappear and how much economic hardship we will put up with before having the common sense to shut the scam down once and for all.

Ross McKitrick is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph; senior fellow of the Fraser Institute; member, Academic Advisory Board, John Deutsch Institute, Queen’s University, Kingston, and member, Academic Advisory Board, Global Warming Policy Foundation, London, U.K.

December 13, 2010

Robert Hornung on Ottawa: “not a windy area”

Robert Hornung, CEO of the industry lobby group the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, participated in a live online chat event sponsored by the London Free Press today.

When he and Energy Minister Brad Duguid were asked if they would like to live right next to an industrial wind turbine, Hornung replied that he lived in Ottawa which wasn’t a windy area but otherwise, he said, he would LOVE to have a turbine on his property.

He’s right: it IS NOT a windy area. So why is Prowind proceeding and why is the OPA even entertaining their application? Because it’s not about wind or energy or the environment, it’s about money.

December 10, 2010

Jumping on the green bandwagon–bad idea

National Post columnist David Grainger has an extensive piece in today’s paper, dealing with notions of what’s “green” and what’s not. Electric cars he says, can’t replace internal combustion autos across the board and anyway, where does the electricity come from. Wind and solar he says, not such an environmentally friendly option. What is surpirsing though, is his statement that the U.S. plans to build lots more coal-fired power generation plants… if that’s true, because 90% of the precursors for what air pollution we do have in Ontario comes for the U.S., Ontario’s moves to get off “dirty coal” will all be for absolutely no result.

Here is the article:

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/bandwagon+doesn+always+carry+answer/3956116/story.html

December 7, 2010

Dalton McGuinty and the book of spin

Dalton McGuinty’s spinmeisters have wangled an opinion piece authored by him in today’s Toronto Star. Not to put too fine a point on it, the article is replete with manipulative statements that are not entirely based on fact.

Here is the piece, and our commentary follows.

Dalton McGuinty Premier of Ontario

In 2003, Ontario’s electricity system was dangerously close to
failure.

How did this happen?

Very simply, for years supply was going down while demand for
electricity kept going up. During the previous eight years, as old
equipment was shut down, Ontario lost 1,800 megawatts in generation.
That’s the equivalent of Niagara Falls running dry.

Also troubling, we doubled our use of coal to generate our
electricity. That meant polluting our air and harming our health every
time we turned on the lights. Back then, there was no plan for
conservation. And we had become net importers of electricity — relying
on even more dirty coal from the United States.

Whose fault was it?

There’s lots of blame to go around. Governments of every political
stripe knew the system was deteriorating and did nothing. By 2003,
brownouts were a constant threat. The previous government’s plan was
to use emergency diesel generators — again, a stopgap, dirty air
solution.

The uncertainty of supply, and the absence of a long-term plan to
rebuild, made our businesses nervous. International investors were
also raising concerns.

That’s why our government acted. We developed a plan to build a
modern, clean, reliable electricity system that creates jobs and
powers a stronger economy. And, today, our electricity system is
stronger.

Already, we’ve built enough new, cleaner generation to power 2 million
Ontario homes. About a fifth of that comes from renewable sources like
wind and solar. Today, 5,000 kilometres of transmission and
distribution lines have been upgraded. And today, conservation
programs are back and saving families money.

Together, we’re on track to close Ontario’s dirty coal plants. We’ve
shut down eight units so far and two more will close in 2011. By 2014,
coal will be completely eliminated in Ontario. That’s like taking 7
million cars off the road — or almost every car in Ontario.

We’re doing this because coal pollution is responsible for $3 billion
in annual health-care costs, hospitalizations and respiratory
illnesses, especially in our children. We’re avoiding those costs and
protecting the health of Ontarians.

Our plan has led to a new, clean-energy industry that is creating
thousands of jobs for Ontario families. Those are good jobs — making
the wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass energy that Ontario needs.
And they are high-tech manufacturing jobs — building solar panels,
wind turbines and other components for sale here at home and to the
United States and around the world, where the demand for green energy
keeps growing.

Today, Ontario is Canada’s leader in wind power with more than 700
turbines supplying enough electricity to power 350,000 homes. The
Sarnia Solar Project, one of four solar farms in Ontario, is the
largest operating solar farm in the world, creating 800 jobs during
construction.

In partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation, we’ve also begun the
Lower Mattagami project, the largest northern hydro project in 40
years. It will mean jobs for 800 people during its construction. And
many more clean energy manufacturing plants are opening in communities
like Toronto, Guelph, Windsor, Hamilton and Peterborough.

We’re also partnering with thousands of farmers, like John Sauve in
Essex County. He grows corn, soybeans and wheat. And he recently
installed a ground-mounted 10-kilowatt solar generator.

John is one of many thousands of farmers with solar panels or wind
turbines in their fields. Our plan is providing these Ontario farmers
with a new source of income, and they are providing Ontario with good
food and clean energy. It’s a win-win.

Thanks to the hard work of skilled Ontarians, we became Number 1 in
North America for building cars. Now, our goal is to become a
powerhouse in clean energy technologies, too.

We know investing in this new plan isn’t cheap. Over the next 20
years, we will rebuild 70 per cent of our electricity system.

Our new system will give us reliable, clean power and thousands of
jobs in an exciting new industry. And anyone who pretends they can do
this without prices going up isn’t being honest with Ontarians.

On average, electricity prices for families and small businesses will
go up 3.5 per cent a year during the next 20 years. For comparison,
they went up 3.6 per cent a year during the past 20 years.

To help Ontarians manage these increases, we are proposing a Clean
Energy Benefit which would take 10 per cent off electricity bills
every month for families, farmers and small businesses.

Our energy plan is about more than the peace of mind that comes from
knowing the lights will come on. It’s about a strong economy where
businesses have the confidence to invest and create jobs for our
families. And it’s about clean air for our children and grandchildren
to breathe.

We can all take confidence in the fact that, together, we’re doing the
right thing for right now — and for a stronger future.

——————————————–

First of all, closing down all of Ontario’s coal plants is NOT the “equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.” Only actually taking seven million cars off the road is the equivalent of taking seven million—you get the idea. The pollution that comes from cars is different. Yes, something has to be done about the pollution from vehicle exhaust, especially in the Toronto area and the Highway 401, but closing coal plants entirely isn’t it.

And here we go with the deaths again, especially dying children: “$3 billion in health care costs from respiratory illness”? This is not true at all. Ontario had a plan to clean up its coal-fired generating plants, which this government halted. Again, the type of air pollution that Ontario has currently comes from south of the border and from cars/trucks. (See Finkelstein, Jerrett and Sears, 2004, North American Journal of Epidemiology: “Subjects living close to a major road had an increased risk of mortality.”)

The Ontario government’s own report on air quality specifically says, “Overall, air quality in Ontario has improved significantly over the past 37 years, especially for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide. However, ozone and fine particulate matter both major components of smog, continue to exceed the ambient air quality criteria and thus remain the pollutants of most concern … analysis of smog and weather data strongly indicates that the U.S. Midwest and Ohio Valley region of the U.S. continue to be significant contributors…” (Air Quality in Ontario, annual report 2007, page 19.)

At least he was honest about pairing the auto industry and the building of solar/turbine components: that’s his answer to the people of Hamilton, Windsor and Oakville…we’ll get those jobs back, people, and your children will stop dying of asthma, too.

In the meantime, rural Ontario is being changed forever through the industrialization of its communities, people are being made ill by turbine noise and infrasound, scenic vistas ruined, property values decimated, birds killed—all for wind power which is intermittent, unreliable and expensive. And doesn’t do–in fact, cannot EVER do—what it is intended to do, replace fossil-fueled power generation. What Mr McGuinty failed to mention is that wind power generation requires fossil-fuel backup because it is intermittent.

It’s time for the truth about wind. Mr McGuinty didn’t give it to you.

December 6, 2010

“Anticipatory nuisance”: we like!

From the Huffington Post, an opinion related to gas drilling in the U.S., but applies equally to industrial wind turbines. Here is the article:

 December 6, 2010

 
 
 
 

Andrew Reinbach

Andrew Reinbach

Journalist

Posted: November 24, 2010 10:21 AM

Read More: Environmentalism , Fracking , Hydraulic Fracturing , Natural Gas , Natural Gas Drilling , Green News

Basic real estate law could stop gas drilling in the Northeast.

Here’s the idea. When you bought your house you didn’t buy just dirt and bricks; you bought what your lawyer calls a bundle of rights. That includes what he or she calls the right of quiet enjoyment.

Quiet enjoyment means more than the right to sit on your porch and watch the sunset; it includes the right to enjoy the value of your property. If your neighbor does something to hurt this right, he has to pay you the before-and-after difference — to make you whole, as they say.

It’s called nuisance law, and means everybody has the right to do what they want with their property — as long and they don’t hurt anybody else. If they do, they have to pay.

So, since banks won’t lend on a house near a gas well unless the owner can prove their water supply will always be safe, and that can’t be done — i.e.: where there’s gas drilling, property values collapse — it follows as the night the day that if your neighbor leases his land for gas drilling, you can sue said boneheaded neighbor to make you whole.

“It’s just Real Estate 101,” says the co-chair of one of the American Bar Association’s practice groups. “I’m surprised nobody’s using it now.”

As it happens, it is being done now. Two recent Pennsylvania lawsuits, filed separately against Southwest Energy Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp., claim that their gas drilling has contaminated local water supplies and harmed the related property values.

That first claim — that gas drilling contaminated the local water — is the hot button issue for anti-drilling activists. But Peter Cambs, the partner in Parker Waichman Alonso LLP fighting the suits, likes the property value issue better.

“It’s the stronger claim,” he says. “I don’t think there is a defense” against it. Nationwide, the statistical case that gas drilling depresses property values is practically bullet-proof.

On the other hand, says Cambs, defense attorneys can try to play out the clock on the water contamination claim with what you could call the tobacco defense — first deny there was any contamination, then that gas drilling caused it, then insist the issue needs more study, and finally say there’s no way to quantify the damage.

By the time they’re ready to settle, it’s many years later, and drilling’s gone on apace. He says his case will be an appeal to common sense — that the water was fine until drilling began, so it obviously caused the contamination.

How useful common sense will be in a court room remains to be seen. In any case, says Cambs, he expects the case to last at least two years — before appeals.

Of course, the problem for many property owners living near gas drilling is that they didn’t buy their rural property to live in an industrial zone. And they’re remarkably uninterested in being hurt in the first place.

Enter Gregory Alexander, A. Robert Noll Professor of Law at Cornell University. He says there’s a well-trodden legal path that could stop drilling before it begins.

Called anticipatory nuisance, it’s basically the notion that you can stop your neighbor from doing something if waiting to sue until you’re harmed is ludicrous. In a western, this is where the marshal says you shot in self-defense.

“It’s a doctrine that’s established in common law,” says Alexander. “A court would not be making new law” by supporting such a claim, and “it presents a plaintiff with a lot of ammunition.”

The beauty here is that applying the case law to gas drilling is no stretch. According to George P. Smith, II, who wrote an article about this in the Vermont Law Review, it was established in 1864 America, when a court found that one Mr.Tipping’s property rights would be harmed by a proposed smelting operation, even though there were several factories nearby. More rulings followed.

These are really two different sorts of lawsuits; one compensates you if drilling’s already taken place and the other would stop it before it happened. And anybody can tell you that what anti-drilling activists want to do is the latter — which is why they’re trying, at least in New York, to convince Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to either throw out the regulations already drawn up by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and start over (they’re not yet adopted), or ban modern, horizontal gas drilling — so-called “fracking” — altogether.

Only Mr. Cuomo knows if he’ll ever do that, and so far, he hasn’t committed himself. But even if he did completely disappoint the anti-drilling forces, they could use Prof. Alexander’s idea in a test case that would tie up drilling for a long time — and maybe stop it altogether. It would cost plenty; but the money and legal talent could probably be found, if it came to it.

Since each state has their own case law in these matters and states like Texas and West Virginia don’t favor such lawsuits, this leaves us with the problem of what to do in Pennsylvania, New York, and, maybe, Ohio. It’s where things will get messy and people will have to get their hands dirty.

Here’s the scenario. Most gas leases in New York, Ohio, and much of Pennsylvania are running out and need to be renewed. It’s one of the big reasons drilling’s taking place now; if they are renewed, the lease prices will jump, but if the well’s drilled before the lease expires, the old deal still holds.

This is where you get together with the neighbors who don’t want drilling around them, and then explain to the neighbor with the lease that if he does drill, he’ll have to make their neighbors whole, and if he renews, he’ll be sued for anticipatory nuisance.

If, in the first case, he’s looking forward to getting, say, $10,000 a month in lease payments, he’ll suddenly be looking at paying it all out to make his neighbors whole — not much of a deal for him. And of course, in the second case he won’t be drilling at all — just fighting a lawsuit he has a good chance of losing.

Of course, many landowners in both states have joined coalitions to get themselves the best possible deal. And in those cases, there’s a clause in the uniform lease that indemnifies each of them from legal fees.

The problem? Those indemnification clauses typically only cover the first $2 million in legal fees, with a $10 million cap on total legal expenses. That sounds like a lot, sure — but it’s not. It’s only enough to trap them in a case that could drag on for years and cost multiples of those amounts. As for the neighbor who signed an individual lease at his kitchen table; he’s out of luck, big time.

As for you and your friends willing to sue; as I said earlier; it’s not impossible you could find some group interested in backing a test case — a case that would establish a new, exact legal precedent anybody could invoke to stop their neighbor from making money at their expense.

Taking this approach probably wouldn’t make your neighbor your best friend; but a cynic might point out that he probably wasn’t thinking about you when he signed the lease in the first place. And it does offer the promise of letting you sit on your porch for years, watching the sunset.

December 4, 2010

The “green collapse”

Energy Probe Executive Director Lawrence Solomon writes in today’s National Post that countries arround the world are turning their backs on expensive and unproductive wind and solar power generation. And, he says, Ontario is next.

Countries that adopted an “extreme green” outlook are now realizing that so-called “renewable” power is leading to financial disaster. They have “recently swallowed their pride, slashed their subsidies and backstabbed their renewables industries.” He cites Spain, German, France and Australia as all taking dramatic steps to avoid financial ruin.

As for Ontario, the province will have no choice but to follow suit. Right now, Ontario electricity consumers are experiencing rate hikes “50 times greater than those countenanced in some U.S. jursidictions.” The provincial regulator was “neutered” by the Ontario government, he says and is now unable to protect consumers.

“Following public protests, and in advance of an election in which power prices are expected to loom large, one major natural gas plant–needed to back up wind turbines– was recently cancelled. Other natural gas plants, again opposed by the public, may likewise fall. The wind farms that require such backups, and which are themselves opposed by dozens of community groups and their local governments, could be next in this house of cards.”

Well, we hope so. It is bad enough to watch our communities be industrialized and destroyed, the health of our residents threatened, but it is quite another to watch once strong and wealthy Ontario being sent over a waterfall in this very rickety boat.

It’s time for the truth about wind. The corporate wind developers, at whose hands financial crisis is being meted out all over the world, won’t tell the truth, but thank goodness there are many commentators like Solomon who will.

The whole article may be found here: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/12/03/lawrence-solomon-green-collapse/

December 2, 2010

They’re not “farms”

It makes us cringe every time we read about an industrial wind turbine project in the media, when it is referred to as a wind “farm” or even worse, a wind “park.”

There is nothing bucolic about an industrial wind turbine installation, especially when they are in multiples. The turbines are HUGE machines, reaching up to as much as 100 meters in the air, with the rotor span equivalent to the wingspan of a 747. (The turbines proposed for North Gower-Richmond are 190 meters or 626 feet high.)

(Thanks to Beckwith Responsible Wind Action Group for the picture.)

This is an industrial use of the land, not agricultural; it is preposterous to have removed land use planning powers of municipalities for these developments, as they are industrializing rural and suburban communities–residents have no means of protecting themselves from the noise, infrasound, and effects on property value as a result of the Green Energy Act. The only means of reparation will soon be the courts (land owners leasing for turbine developments need to be aware of their liability–suits are being brought against them, not the corporate wind developers, all over North America).

Here is a picture of what has happened to pretty Wolfe Island, at Kingston Ontario. (Photo courtesy CSAGE.) Not very farm-like or park-like, is it?

Wolfe Island Ferry Dock.jpg

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