May 26, 2012

The madness of this venture

Just had a conversation with a small business owner in Manotick: the rising electricity bills are a severe punch to his business. And he deeply resents paying those bills when he knows part of the increases are going for huge subsidies for wind and solar power.

“It just makes no sense at all,” he said. “What kind of province will this be when the Liberal government is done? What will be left?”


Here are some local facts:

-wind power developers are subsidized about $500,000 per turbine per year. In North Gower, assuming 8 (though we don’t for a moment believe that) that is $4 million per year.

-there are no jobs. Wolfe Island has 3 jobs for 86 turbines, where do you think that leaves North Gower after the construction period is over? No jobs.

-research out of the U.S. is showing that the average property value loss for properties within 2 miles/3.2 km of wind turbines is 40%. For North Gower, that represents a $47 million property value loss for young families, seniors and other homeowners

-at $10-15,000 a year per turbine, the farm owner isn’t going to get rich on the lease payments, but the cost to the community is much much more

-wind power is not “green”, it requires fossil fuel back-up due to its unreliability and tendency to produce power out of phase with demand, i.e., when it’s not needed

-Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for this, or a business case study. The government simply doesn’t know what it’s getting into.

The Manotick store owner is right: this is just crazy.

July 15, 2010

The cost of Ontario’s high electricity prices

Yesterday’s Financial Post carried several letters on the topic of power generation in Ontario, including a self-serving letter from Energy Minister Brad Duguid who was scrambling to explain the shift in price from 80 cents per kW to 58.8 cents, for power generated from solar. He repeats his mantra of Ontario moving from “dirty coal generation to clean energy renewables like wind turbines and solar panels.”  Still selling the dream to urban residents, who don’t get it: wind doesn’t work.

Anyway, one letter writer has some sense: Simon Schotsman of Mount Hope writes:

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s new Energy Plan extends 20-year contracts to “Green Energy Suppliers.” Long before the 20 years are over, manufacturers–and their workforces–will have left Ontario to affordable electricity locations. That is going to hurt us all. Therefore, municipalities that have and operate their own electrical infrastructures have an option to prevent this from happening.

The solution is very simple: Build your own power plants, singly or jointly with other municipalities. Do not copy Ontario’s example. Build flexible, reliable, 24/7 plants, able to operate as a basic as well as supply-on-demand electrical power.

When I write “reliable,” that excludes solar and wind. It can be done with “clean” coal, gas, biomass, conveting waste into fuel–a double saving– and by means of hyrdoelectric power, a source that is most economical in running and environmentally friendly.

If your rate structure is in the 5 cents to 7 cents per kWh, you are running a profitable operation and since you are no longer supplied by the grid, you have also eliminated the grid’s delivery charges, plus, on a much lower electricity rate, the HST charges will also be lower for your consumers.

A win-win situation.

So crazy simple it might work. Oh wait, in fact, it DID WORK for many years. Municipalities in Ontario, especially rural communities, have to turn back the clock and start taking care of themselves…the current Ontario government sees you as a resource plantation (thanks, Thomas Pawlick).

To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group, email

July 8, 2010

Ontario’s solar dream

Finally, the Ontario government has announced that it needs to “stand up” for the people of Ontario and protect them from … itself.

Apparently, the 80 cents per kilowatt hour offered to people for solar energy projects was such a great incentive that there was a flood of people applying, and the province has now realized it can’t afford to pay those rates for power. People who already got FIT approval are OK for the 80 cents a kilowatt hour for the next 20 years, but the others waiting approval will have to make do with a paltry 59 cents a kilowatt hour. (Hydro ratepayers are paying 9.9 cents a kWh at peak times.)

Energy Minister Brad Duguid was quoted by the CBC as saying the solar power producers were getting “exorbitant rates of return” and now, the Ontario government has to “stand up” for Ontarians.

Well, whose idea was this anyway??? And now, what about the obscene rates promised for unreliable, inefficient, high-impact wind turbines?

Here’s the story.

More news daily at and local news regularly at

March 3, 2010

Wind vs nuclear: no contest

While wind energy development is being touted as “clean” (wrong), “green” (wrong), “free” (also wrong), reducing CO2 emissions (that’s wrong too, look at Germany and Denmark), and a way to create jobs in Ontario while meeting Ontario’s need for electric power (the jobs created will be minimal and, like Denmark, won’t be new jobs but jobs taken away from other sectors).

How interesting then to read Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore’s take on the energy biz, specifically that we should be building nuclear. He admits that 40 years ago, he thought nuclear power was like a “nuclear holocaust” but he’s grown up since then. In fact he says, renewable energy can play a role in the mix of energy creation but nuclear, while involving high capital cost at the outset, is the cleanest, most efficient way to generate power.

He doesn’t even mention wind.

So WHY are the residents of North Gower being forced to have this 8-10 turbine development when it is admitted it’s never going to do much for energy creation, and it has the potential to produce noise and vibration which can result in health effects—as it has elsewhere— and ultimately reduce property values, too? Answer: money. Money going to foreign-owned wind development and wind turbine manufacturers.

Read the entire opinion piece, here:

November 30, 2009

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

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

Oil still fuels the green state of Denmark

by Eric Reguly

(c) The Globe and Mail

Denmark oozes green.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 29, 2009

“Green jobs”? Or “economic suicide”?

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

Green jobs: fast tracking economic suicide

By Michael Economides and Peter Glover

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

October 18, 2009

The “worst government in Canada”?

Terence Corcoran, Editor of The National Post wrote this weekend:

“Every now and then a province falls into the hands of blundering politicians so inept that their government ends up deserving of the title ‘Canada’s Worst Gorvernment’. It’s a rare award. At any time somebody has to be the worst, but no award for routine bottom-of-the-barrel performnce seems necessary. Occasionally, however, the metric of incompetence is so large and conspicuous it demands special recognition. The Liberal regime of Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, now slipping into deficits that are likely to exceed $30 billion over two years and continue into the future, has hit the tipping point and triggered its candidacy as Canada’s Worst Government.”

Corcoran writes that the deficit outlook plus the eHealth scandal is key, plus “that followed the province’s Green Energy Act, a plan to force electricity users to pay 80 cents for a kilowatt hour of solar power and subsidize scores of industrial rent seekers.”

Industrial rent seekers“. That’s what we’re dealing with: the rural landscape being destroyed, the value of homes and property diminished if not erased altogether, and all for what?

For shame.

We ask again, who benefits from industrial wind turbines in North Gower? Not the people of North Gower, not the people of Ottawa, not the people of Ontario. Then, who?

Read all of Terence Corcoran’s article here (his assessment of Ontario gets worse than what we’ve quoted, not better):

September 28, 2009

Focus Ontario: wind power “never going to get to 20%”

Kudos to Global TV Ontario and host/producer Sean Mallen for the show Saturday night on wind power—very balanced and Sean Mallen got a few very pointed questions to Minister Smitherman including the comment, “wind power is never going to get to 20%.” A “panel” discussion followed with Sustainable Energy Association rep Kristopher Stevens and Wind Concerns Ontario’s John LaForet.

LaForet was calm and rational while Stevens trotted out the usual hot buttons about deaths from coal, how successful the wind turbines are in Europe and our personal favourite, if communities are themselves the sponsors or owners of wind turbine installations, there don’t seem to be any problems with health effects or noise complaints.

You can see the program in 4 parts, here:

If you have any spare time left over for fooling around on the computer, go to

and see whether your property could support a small wind turbine to meet your energy needs. Put in your North Gower address and SURPRISE! The potential for wind in this area is POOR.

(Interesting question: what if the province subsidized the 1400 or so homes of the residents of North Gower to all have their own power-generating systems, let’s say, up to 20%…wouldn’t that make more sense than huge industrial turbines? Just asking.)

September 18, 2009

More Denmark

A few facts about Denmark, which is supposed to be living a “fairy-tale” existence with wind-generated power, according to The New York Times. (Except that it’s not.)

Just think about these facts in comparison to Canada, especially the Ottawa area, and have your finger ready to scratch your head.


Smallest city in Scandinavia; land mass difficult to pinpoint due to sea erosion but estimated at 43,094 square kms; population 5, 519,441 for a population density of 128.

Climate: winters are not cold with mean temperature in January of 0C; summers are cool with August mean temp of 15.7C


Second largest country by land mass in the world, with 9,986,670 square Kms’ population 31,612,897 with a population density of 3.5, among the lowest in the world.

Climate: varies widely region to region. January low in Yellowknife can be -32 thena high in June of 12C; Halifax low in January of -10.7C and a June low of 13.5C. As we know, in the Ottawa area, you can experience temperatures of -25-30 in the winter and then shoot up to +30 C in July.

What this means: Denmark is in no way comparable to Canada in terms of geography and population and climate which has a dramatic impact on the need for electricity and on how that is distributed. As regards wind power, in Denmark:

-no location is further than 52 km from the sea (i.e., windy locations), and

-communities are offered shares in wind cooperatives (as opposed to Ontario, where wind power generation is developed privately, but with public subsidies)

Isn’t it completely unrealistic to use this tiny country with a smaller land mass, fewer people and a less severe climate as a marker for the use of wind-generated energy?

September 9, 2009

Does wind power make financial sense?(2)

Last night, TV Ontario’s excellent The Agenda with Steve Paikin, featured a panel talking about energy in Ontario. They were mostly discussing nuclear and the province’s rush to fulfill an election promise of shutting down the coal-fired electricity plants, but we were stunned at one point to hear Energy Probe’s policy analyst Norm Rubin describe wind power as “capricious”. Which it is. But we thought surely, Energy Probe would be in favour of wind as a renewable resource.

Turns out, maybe not. In fact, a 2006 audit of energy production in Ontario found that on average, Ontario’s wind power installations achieved only 22 percent of their rated capacities. (Generating capacities are based on wind speeds of 40-90 km/hour.) And amazingly, since turbines draw a certain amount of energy from the grid to operate, Energy Probe said, they are unable to produce electricity in the event of a blackout.

Twenty-two percent on average.

More comments from Rubin on alternative energy are also illuminating. (Sorry.) From the July 19 Ottawa Citizen article on the West Carleton solar installation, by Mohammed Adam:

Norman Rubin, a senior policy analyst at Energy Probe, says while solar energy will, in time, “revolutionize electricity as we know it,” the government’s current approach amounts to throwing good money after bad.

Rubin says consumers now pay five to six cents a kilowatt hour for conventional electricity, but the government is paying solar companies 42 cents a kilowatt hour for their power. He says what the solar companies are contributing to the electricity grid is so small, it boggles the mind why so much money is being wasted on them.

“The policy is crazy,” Rubin said. “We can’t afford it. It is a terrible approach to try to do a nice thing. We produced nuclear power that way and we are suffering the consequences.

“I love solar, but I hate paying 42 cents for something that’s not worth that. It is going to give solar a bad name. It is not the way of the future.”

Obviously, the government wants to create a renewable-energy industry to fill in the gap as it plans to shut down coal plants by 2014. But Rubin says instead of larding the green-energy program with unsustainable subsidies, the Liberals should simply challenge companies to produce solar power that can compete with the conventional supply.

Oh doesn’t that sound familiar? Lots of cost for not much benefit?  Let’s look now at a famous offshore wind development in British Columbia that didn’t turn out as planned. Here from BC Business Online, an article by Christopher Pollon, December 1, 2008, “Blowing in the Wind”:

Capital costs have skyrocketed, and even in Europe, where wind power is a generation ahead of B.C., as much as $120 billion of offshore projects based around England, Germany and Denmark have recently been thrown into limbo. “Wind energy is something that has really caught people’s imagination, the idea that you put up windmills and get energy for free,” says John Calvert, political scientist, author and former policy analyst for the B.C. government. “But it’s not that simple. Wind is much more costly than most realize and can only be utilized if government and B.C. ratepayers are willing to accept a very significant cost premium.”

…Exactly how much of a premium BC Hydro might have to pay for wind power is not certain. What is clear is that offshore wind is more expensive than other “green” options. A report commissioned by BC Hydro in February 2008 put the potential cost of offshore wind power at between $135 and $250 per megawatt hour, as much as double the estimates for onshore wind power, and even further above the cost of power generated by well-situated run-of-river projects. Calvert says that the failure of initiatives such as the Holberg onshore wind project near Port Hardy  has moved BC Hydro to offer negotiated RFPs because, based on price alone, these projects would stand little chance of getting purchase agreements and thus financing. “They’re selling their energy exclusively to BC Hydro because nobody else is prepared to pay the kind of money Hydro is paying,” says Calvert. “So we’re not only guaranteeing the loans indirectly through these contracts; we’re paying a premium on top of that for the fact that the private sector is the one borrowing the money, and that’s built straight into the price.”


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