NorthGowerWindTurbines

October 3, 2011

Graham Saul and Ecology Ottawa

Graham Saul, volunteer Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa, appeared on CBC radio this morning to–essentially–shill for the Ontario Liberal party, in the crucial countdown to election day Thursday. Mr. Saul also works as a staff member with Climate Action Network, which counts among its members Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Sierra Club.

Sounds like an elegant group of environmentalists, doesn’t it? Or… Dr Suzuki recently had to step down from the Foundation that bears his name because his partisan activities could have affected the Foundation’s charitable organization status with Revenue Canada. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is the Ontario group that continues to spout nonsense figures on thousands of deaths in Ontario from air pollution due to coal-fired power generation (what pollution Ontario does have –and Canada just rated number three in the WORLD for good air quality–is from cars, and pollution that comes from south of the border). The Sierra Club? Executive Director John Bennett has been waging a nasty campaign throughout Ontario and the organization says it supports saving wildlife but, curiously, would not come out in support of said wildlife at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County, where a Toronto-based wind power developer proposes to put industrial wind turbines on Crown land in an important migratory bird area.

Today, Mr Saul praised to Liberal government saying sometimes a government will come out and do wonderful things, in this case, get us off our dependency on “dirty oil, coal and gas.”

Facts:

  1. Oil has NOTHING to do with electricity generation in Ontario.
  2. Coal-fired generation doesn’t make up much of Ontario’s capacity; what it does could have been made a lot cleaner but the Liberal government halted the implementation of cleaner technology, after millions of tax dollars had been spent on the program.
  3. Dirty natural gas? Well, maybe: but news for you, Mr Saul: Ontario is building MORE natural gas power generation facilities. Including the one Mr McGuinty said he halted but which is still under construction. In fact, industrial scale wind power is so intermittent and unreliable (i.e., NOT there when we need it) that more fossil-fuel power generation is needed to back it up.

Look at the names of some of the companies involved in industrial-scale wind power generation: Enbridge, TransAlta, NextEra (really Florida Power and Light), Suncor and the famous Mr T Boone Pickens of the U.S. Mr Pickens is honest: “it’s about natural gas,” he has said, also in a CBC interview many months ago.

The North Gower Wind Action Group asked Mr Saul if it was alright with his group if an entire community was affected by industrial scale wind power generation, which would turn the community into a factory and could cause negative health effects from environmental noise, for the (unattainable) goal of having wind power replace other forms of power generation. His answer was that everyone needs to look at the larger issue of climate change. So, in other words, yes.

The folks in North Gower don’t agree: we respect and honour the environment too and do everything we can to protect it. We just don’t think turning the land into sprawling wind power factories is the way to go.

June 10, 2011

Farmers Forum: solar and wind power reality bites

In this month’s edition of Eastern Ontario Farmers’ Forum, editor Patrick Meagher sums up the whole “green energy” picture, specifically the promises of jobs and money and a cleaner environment … and sticks a pin in the whole thing.

You can read the full article at http://www.farmersforum.com/JUNE2011/p6.htm  but here are some excerpts.

The Ontario feed-in tariff program .. offered seductive guaranteed prices way above market rates and indexed to inflation. You can earn 80 cents per kWh for your rooftop solar power. But a consumer buying electricity pays about 6.8 cents per kWh for usage up to 600 kWh and 9.9 cents after that. The catch is that we, the people, have to pay for it. The province has said that if you include the HST that started last July 1, you will be paying 42 per cent more in electricity fees by 2015. This is not all due to renewable fuels but you can bet they are low-balling.

Ontario’s experience as North America’s first green energy region is discouraging. We are now discovering other problems. The green energy revolution was supposed to generate jobs. According to the Vancouver-based think tank the Fraser Institute, renewable energy projects do create jobs but at the expense of other jobs. In Ontario, “the government has failed to take into account the jobs destroyed through higher electricity prices to small businesses and consumers,” noted a Fraser Institute commentary last month. “Several recent research studies on the European experience with feed-in tariffs have foudn that each job created by subsidized renewable energy comes at the expense of at least two or more jobs elsewhere in the economy.”

After 10 years of green energy in Spain and the U.K. independent studies found that for every renewable energy job created in Spain, 2.2 jobs were lost. Ouch. The Fraser Institute is thinking just as any good managers of a household would: if we can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

As for green energy cleaning up our air, what’s there to clean? The Fraser Institute notes that “75 per cent of Ontario’s electricity comes from nuclear and hydro power which do not generate emissions. Twenty-two per cent comes from coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Ontarians have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for installation of advanced emission control devices on those plants. [Blog editor note: a program the McGuinty goverment STOPPED.] As a result, Ontario air pollution levels have fallen dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s.

Solar and wind power are expensive job killers that offer few benefits other than making us feel goos about being environmentally friendly, even if they’re not.

There you have it: the lies and manipulation about air pollution, the environment, the economy—wind doesn’t work. Add to that the claim this week by the corporate wind developer proposing to build industrial wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario, that wind power installations are “protecting against urbanization of rural areas.”  What does that even mean??? One thing: put turbines up and you sterilize your community against any kind of growth (and jobs) for the next 20 years.

E-mail the North Gower Wind Action Group at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca check out local news at http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com and follow on Twitter at northgowerwind

Community note: the award-winning documentary Windfall will be showing in North Gower on June 26 at 2 p.m., Alfred Taylor Centre. Admission $5 at the door; donations to cover costs gratefully received. To view the movie trailer, go to http://www.windfallthemovie.com

May 16, 2011

The outcry over Hudak’s FIT announcement

It was nothing if not predictable: following Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s pledge to cancel the $7-billion deal with Samsung for wind and solar manufacturing and installation of facilities (a contract that as yet has never been seen by the public) and to halt the Feed-in Tariff or FiT program which pays exorbitant prices for power to solar and wind generators (power from hydro and nuclear in Ontario cost 6 cents a kWh; FiT pays 13.5 cents for wind and up to 80 cents for solar), the people who stood to benefit the most are now protesting.

They say “thousands” of jobs will be lost.

Not true. As Kevin O’Leary said on the Lang-O’Leary Exchange last week on CBC, “they weren’t real jobs and they should be lost.” Anything built on subsidies, the fund manager explained, is not sustainable. In other words, if the subsidy goes, so goes the business; “real” business, O’Leary said, is built on profitability. That’s not the so-called “green” energy manufacturing business.

Last year, the Ottawa Citizen’s Randall Denley calculated that–if the government’s numbers about job creation were even true–the cost to taxpayers of the jobs created was over $300,000 PER JOB. That is crazy. And not sustainable.

But now, these people, like the band of solar and wind companies in Ottawa, and like the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (in reality a government-funded lobby group) are claiming that we all must fight back and not lose Ontario’s green energy program.

The truth is, the number of jobs being created is a pipe dream, they won’t last, wind and solar can never do what the proponents say it will in terms of power supply, there are other costs in terms of the environment, lost property value etc., and–most important–everything that is being done is paid for by taxpayers and electricity ratepayers.

So, those people who claim YOU need the “green” energy business are really saying, “We want YOUR money.” You’re paying for their profits.

But don’t take our word for it: here’s what Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod said. “Dalton McGuinty is subsidizing these companies at the expense of people who pay for power, at the expense of families paying the bills…. There is nobody in town that thinks paying 80 cents for something that costs five cents is a good deal for taxpayers.”

April 29, 2011

Playing the electricity “blame game” in Ontario

As the opponents of the unreliable, inefficient and expensive industrial wind power generation business alert the public to the money being wasted by industrial wind power on the windy spring days when demand for power is low, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty employs his usual diffident style to deflect criticism, claiming he’d rather have surpluses than the “blackouts and brownouts” under the former Conservative government.

Fact is, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and Mr McGuinty must think people are swooning from seeing their latest electricity bills and can’t recall the promises he made in his last election campaign.

In their interesting book* Hydro: the decline and fall of Ontario’s electric empire, Jamie Smith and Keith Stewart recall the great blackout of 2003 and the efforts to examine the cause. The most obvious, of course, was deregulation in the U.S. which led to a destabilized grid (and an unscrupulous private power company in Ohio). But Ontario was at fault, too in some ways. The authors write:

Neither the ruling Conservatives nor the Liberals, who were ahead in the polls, wanted to talk about electricity during the campaign of 2003. For the Tories, it was a topic too painful to contemplate. Instead, the [Conservative] government used the time-honoured political dodge, appointing a task force to study the issue. The Electricity Conservation and Supply Task Force, packed with privatization boosters, was co-chaired by Peter Budd, the principal spokesperson for the private power producers in Ontario.

For the Liberals, raising the electricity issue might remind voters of their various policy reversals and embarrassments. They had voted with the government on the Electricity Competition Act and had at one time supported the sale of Hydro One. On the same day that leader Dalton McGuinty was proclaiming his opposition to privatization in a media scrum, the party sent out a fundraising letter to electricity companies saying that only the Liberals could be trusted to follow through on electricity privatization.

The Liberals did make a number of ambitious campaign pledges vis-a-vis the electricity system. Things would be better by the end of a Liberal government’s first term in 2007, they promised. They would shut down the province’s five coal-fired generating stations, reduce electricity consumption 5 per cent, and provide enough “green” power to meet five per cent of the province’s energy needs—all within four years. These clean-air commitments were driven personally by McGuinty, somewhat to the dismay of his advisors. He was knowledgeable about the issue and keen on doing something about climate change. The coal phase-out promised raised the environmental stakes while setting the Liberals apart from the Conservatives.

…Seemingly in keeping with McGuinty’s conversion to public power during the election campaign, the Liberal government would oversee no sale of Ontario Power Generation or Hydro One assets. The publicly owned plants would feed power onto the grid on a “power at cost” basis except that this time the cost would be determined by a stronger and more independent Ontario Energy Board rather than by the government or the utility. The idea was to remove politics from electricity-pricing. [Editor: THAT didn’t happen…]

The future rested in creating ” a climate that welcomes private investment.” New generators would be privately owned and would be able to charge whatever price came out of the interplay of market forces. [Editor: THAT didn’t happen…] To soften the blow, consumers would have the option of payng a fixed rate, set annually by the Ontario Energy Board, or playing the market. In any event, because 70 per cent of the power was being supplied by the public sector at a fixed rate, prices were expected to be less volatile than they were under a completely open market. The old hydro dams that cost about a penny a kilowatt-hour could offset the seven cents per kilowatt-hour being demanded by the private sector as a prerequisite for investment. [Editor: current contracted FiT rates for onshore wind are 13.5 cents per KwH, and for solar 80 cents, to be reduced to 58 cents sometime.]

In many ways, this approach was not that different from the Tory model…the Liberals were simply capping the price beforehand and blending the cheaper “heritage” power from Niagara Falls with the higher priced private power. This was no renewed public power system, but a recipe for slow motion privatization. Many publicly owned generating stations would be phased out by attrition, gradually replaced by private, for-profit stations as coal generators were closed and nuclear plants came to the end of their lives. If the Liberals did manage to shut coal down by the end of their mandate, private operators would be supplying over half of Ontario’s power within four years. … profits from building and operating new plants–whether nuclear or fossil—would be concentrated among a few corporations. [Editor: THAT is happening–natural gas and industrial wind power generators are profiting by the billion.]

In short, the McGuinty government uses power outages—something the average consumer can relate to—to scare voters and to deflect from its real agenda: creating a power boom for a select few corporate entities. But their history of “policy reversals” and “embarrassments” continues.

*The book is interesting for its interpretation of Ontario’s history but falls apart in the last chapter with its slavish devotion to “renewables” especially wind power. The reality of wind power is that it can never replace fossil-fuel power generation (in fact it REQUIRES fossil fuel). It has not in any jurisdiction on earth, and it never will.

April 19, 2011

Wind power: taking advantage of youthful good intentions

One of the most attractive television commercials being screened currently is for Chevrolet’s Cruze, which is billed as an “eco-friendly” car. They also have an electric car option (the Volt), but the commercial being seen most often is the regular gas-powered Cruze.

The visuals are of young people out and about, enjoying their life in their cars; at one point there is a scene of industrial wind turbines and then later, a shot of a gas pump. The message, we think, is: buy the eco-friendly gas-miserly Cruze, and you can enjoy life without guilt. Want a car? Get one! You won’t need to buy much gas and if you do, don’t worry because clean, green wind power is there for your other needs. Or, for power if you buy the electric Cruze and have to plug it in.

Young people, we believe, want to do the “right thing” but they are being led down a garden path by advertisers such as Chevrolet and worse, by organizations such as Bullfrog Power. Bullfrog provides signage for organizations like the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata, which boast that the power in the lobby is clean and green and provided by Bullfrog Power.

No, it isn’t.

It’s the same power we all use, coming off the same grid. Bullfrog however, is investing in some of the industrial wind turbine projects that are scarring the landscape in Ontario and ruining the health of dozens of people forced to live next to the power generation developments, but the company also buys hydro power from Quebec. Their newest initiative is to provide “green natural gas” which they “inject” into the natural gas transmission system to “displace” dirty fossil fuel gas.

It doesn’t matter what kind of gas you’re burning, whether gas from gas wells or “green natural gas” from biomass and garbage dumps, you’re still burning something. Note too that despite the Ontario government’s spurious claims that thousands of people are dying in this province every year due to pollution from coal-fired power generation plants, the truth is that most of Ontario’s air pollution is from CARS, and also from pollutants coming from industry south of the border.

OK, so you don’t drive a gas-powered car. But, then, if you’re plugging in your virtuous electric car, where is the electric power coming from?

Questions need to be asked. But in the meantime, young people and consumer everywhere, ought to look critically at the messaging.

Chevy Cruze Exterior Go ahead: drive, drive, drive…you’re not hurting anything.

March 10, 2011

North Gower resident writes a letter

One of the questions we are asked is, how do you know that your community group represents a wider view from the community? Well, aside from the several hundred people who signed the petition that went to the Ontario legislature via MPP Lisa MacLeod, and the 300+ families on our e-mail list, and the 125+ people who come to our information meetings, the countless volunteers working daily on this issue, I guess we don’t know what everyone is thinking.

In the Smith’s Falls EMC today is a letter to the editor from a North Gower resident. She writes:

Dear Editor:

I wish to volunteer my two cents into what is becoming an endlessly revolving argument about the wind turbine farms.

First off, not all of us in the North Gower area are against the Wind Turbine project being proposed for this area. I know from personal experience that wind turbines can perform well here. That being said, if viable scientific evidence can be established into the ill effects of this type of farm, then certainly additional precautions should be implemented – whether it be an increased setback from homes, or possibly smaller or fewer of the turbines.

The Ontario government has illustrated that it can change its mind if such evidence comes to light, as shown by the recent hold on the installation of off-shore wind turbines.

I certainly don’t think that this means that the whole concept or use of wind turbines should be scrapped – this would be extremely short sighted behaviour, given that we do need to stop relying on non-renewable resources for our hydro and energy.

Now is the time to be developing alternative energies to sustain our power requirements – when we can take the time to do it properly, and improve on them.

Debbie Gervais

North Gower

We’re not sure where this resident lives in relation to the proposed industrial wind development, and neither can we know how informed she is, but she has a few facts wrong:

-there is already valid scientific evidence that if the turbines are located too close to people’s homes, people can experience sleep deprivation and then ill health effects

-the Ontario government is standing firm that its 550-meter setback is “safe” despite evidence from around the world in countries that already have turbines, that a setback of 1-2 km is better (note that other countries such as Germany have setbacks between zones, not between the base of a turbine and the centre of a house, as Ontario does). The truth is, the 550-meters is more about geography than health: if we had a 1 km setback, there would be NO turbines in southern and eastern Ontario because of the way the roads and concessions are laid out.

-a proper scientific study is needed to have an evidence-based setback. Ontario now has such a research project ongoing, but it is headed by an expert in electrical engineering, and they plan to take 5 years to come to a conclusion. Ontario will be long done with populating its rural areas with turbines by then.

-industrial wind turbines are a flawed technology–they are intermittent and require fossil-fuel back-up; this is why Ontario is also building natural gas-fired power plants at the same time as it is encouraging wind power development.

-we’re not sure what the “personal experience” with wind turbines would be in this area, given that the Canada Wind Atlas states the area is “poor” to “marginal” for a wind resource. Since we don’t have any industrial-scale turbines here, her experience would have to be with a small wind mill. THAT, i.e., small scale, is an appropriate use of wind power development, NOT 626-foot industrial towers.

-this is industrialization of a rural community that, because of the Green Energy Act, is not getting to have its say. What it could do to property values is expropriation without compensation.

Last, of course everyone wants a clean and effective power system in Ontario. But wind doesn’t work. We don’t see why the people of North Gower have to participate in an experiment that will see no benefits to our community and which is really all about profits going to an offshore corporate developer. “Take the time and do it properly”? WE AGREE!!!!

And, we’re not alone: dozens of Ontario communities have now passed resolutions or motions objecting to industrial wind turbine projects and asking for their planning powers to be returned, AND for independent health studies.

northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

View of turbines at Melancthon, near Orangeville, Ontario.

February 24, 2011

Gone with the wind: message to Queen’s Park

January 25, 2011

CanWEA on CFRA

CanWEA’s CEO Robert Hornung appeared on CFRA (580 radio in Ottawa) this morning, following the station’s interview with Ian Hanna yesterday. Mr Hanna, of course, is the applicant in the legal case asking for a judicial review of the Green Energy Act. (Evidence in the case on Mr Hanna’s side is available at http://www.windconcernsontario.org )

It is strange that when host Mark Sutcliffe asked what evidence CanWEA would be presenting in the case Mr Hornung didn’t respond that in fact, the case is wrapped up and has now gone to the panel of judges for a decision.

His points:

-“tens of thousands” of turbines are operating in Europe with no problems.

-Ontario’s 550-meter setback is the most stringent in North America

-the Green Energy Act was created with the “best” evidence

-medical experts have not been able to find any link between wind turbines and health problems

-Canada’s wind industry is “responsible” and would never do anything that harms people

Our response:

Europe:there are 675 community groups in France opposed to wind turbine development; in fact, there are 410 federations of anti-wind development groups in 21 countries in Europe. That’s NOT “no problems.”

Ontario’s 550-meter setback may indeed be stringent in North America but that doesn’t make it right: there is no scientific study justifying that setback. On the other hand, there are studies suggesting a setback of 1-2 km. Of course, that won’t work in Ontario: a setback greater than 550 meters is all about geography, not health—if setbacks were greater than 55o, no turbines would be built in populated areas at all.

At the time of the creation of the Green Energy Act, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment had NO capability of measuring the noise produced by industrial wind turbines. The setbacks and regulations were based on modelling, not actual experience.

Medical experts have not been able to find a link between turbine noise and health effects. He means the Arlene King report. Let’s recount a few other things that Dr King put in her report.

-wind turbine noise was perceived as more annoying than transportation or industrial noise at comparable levels

-…there is no widely accepted protocol for the measurement of noise from wind turbines, [so] current regulatory requirements are based on modelling

-ice throw launched far from the turbine may pose a significant hazard

-…sound measurements at residential areas around wind turbines and comparisons with sound levels around other rural and urban areas to assess actual ambient noise levels prevalent in Ontario is a key data gap that could be addressed.

In other words, Dr King left the door open for more research; she also said she examined the scientific evidence “to date” (although Dr Carl Phillips says there is enough evidence that shows health effects already) but didn’t say she wouldn’t look at more or new evidence.

As for Canada’s wind industry being “responsible” we offer no comment. As John Laforet told the 125 people in North Gower last weekend, “Do the science! Prove it!”

We await the verdict of the panel of judges.

More news daily at http://www.windconcernsontario.org

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.

July 24, 2010

No business being in business

We heard the President of Ottawa’s Clearly Solar, Jim Cummings, on the CBC’s All in a Day, lamenting the fact that the price change paid by the Ontario Power Authority has meant that landowners who didn’t already have a FIT (feed-in tariff) contract with the OPA were now backing out of the deal in droves.

Mr Cummings also lamented what this would mean for his company and for the jobs that would have been created, with the delivery of ground-mounted solar panels in the area.

What this REALLY means is, that Mr Cummings and others like him were taking advantage of government/power authority subsidies that were clearly horrendously over-generous, and unsustainable. After the government got more than 16,000 applications for FIT agreements for solar, it realized it couldn’t afford this and dropped the price per kilowatt hour (kW) from 80 cents to 58.8.

It’s unsustainable at 58.8 cents!

Businesses like this and the corporate wind developers are all taking advantage of a government running down the “green” path (now being deserted in Europe after 15 years) handing out subsidies … it is clearly not a business that’s going to be around for the long term.

Here from the Globe and Mail today (July 26) an excerpt from their editorial on Ontario and its subsidy of solar power:

According to the province’s calculations, a small-scale, ground-mounted solar project could pay back its capital costs in just seven years, and provide a return on investment of 24 per cent – more than twice what rooftop installations earn. And this is guaranteed by Ontario for 20 years. Such outsized returns attracted thousands of opportunistic solar-power entrepreneurs. Many built before they received provincial contracts, simply to beat the rush. Not surprisingly, these disappointed folks are the loudest critics of the new regime.

Renewable energy is deserving of public support, both as a source of clean power and as an economic driver. And it is reasonable that preferential treatment will be necessary at the nascent stages of this industry. But government involvement must always be judicious. The average 2010 market rate for electricity in Ontario is 3.6 cents per kWh. Even a feed-in tariff of 58.8 cents per kWh is a massive level of support.

The virtue of solar power alone cannot justify government guarantees of outrageous rates of return. And due diligence ought to be as important for green energy entrepreneurs as any other investors. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This situation is exactly the same for wind power. Lorrie Goldstein of SunMedia writes: 

The big problem is McGuinty has been offering a financial bonanza to industrial wind turbine developers by giving them heavily subsidized, 20-year power-generation contracts (wind energy isn’t viable without massive subsidies), one factor contributing to our skyrocketing electricity bills, expected to rise 25% by the end of next year.

All this for unreliable energy that must be backed up by traditional power sources.

It is indeed sad what is happening in Ontario today.

For news daily, check http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com

for the North Gower Wind Action Group, go to http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com and to email them northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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