Thursday, April 10, 2014

We're moving...to a full capability website!


Wind Concerns Ontario is moving its blog(s) to a full capability website.
Please visit us at

We're still working on building up the features but already we think you'll notice improvements in the Search and Comment functions.

We will be publishing news items as we go but this is your Wind Concerns Ontario information destination!
Feel free to continue to send news tips to freeWCO@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bob Chiarelli: take the hint from Europe and revise renewables agreements

Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says he can't go back on contracts with wind power companies. We say he's wrong.
Now, so do countries in Europe as they realize they can't keep afloat while paying so much for renewable sources of power.
Read this by Financial Post correspondent Lawrence Solomon.

North America slow to reverse renewables projects, but its turn will come soon

Financial Post April 4, 2014

Europe taught us to spare no expense in supporting wind and solar projects, the better to help the planet survive. Now Europe is teaching us how to tear down those same projects, the better to help ratepayers, and politicians, survive.
UK Prime Minister “David Cameron wants to go into the next election pledging to ‘rid’ the countryside of onshore wind farms,” the London Telegraph announced this week. He intends “to toughen planning laws and tear up subsidy rules to make current turbines financially unviable – allowing the government to ‘eradicate’ turbines,” the goal being to “encourage developers to start ‘dismantling’ turbines built in recent years.”
Cameron will have no shortage of methods in taking down the now-unpopular wind turbines — in recent years countries throughout Europe, realizing that renewables delivered none of their environmental promises...

Read the full story here.

Kill feed-in tariff program, Ontario, says economist Jack Mintz

Jack Mintz is the Palmer Chair in the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. He weighs in this morning on Ontario's finances.

Canada's sagging middle: Ontario


Ontario’s growth has lagged the rest of Canada, averaging less than 1% annually since 2009
With Quebec’s election over, we can turn to Ontario where a scandal-plagued Liberal government will soon present its 2014 budget – and possibly trigger a spring election. Ontario is sagging under the weight of monstrous public debt, uncompetitive energy prices and rising taxes. Given Ontario’s size, other regions of Canada are being hurt.
Ontario has only one way out: economic growth. Luckily, the American economic recovery will significantly benefit Ontario. However, it won’t be enough. The government needs to get its house in order.
Pushing aggregate demand with deficit spending won’t achieve growth. Economic stimulus might provide some short-term relief but won’t generate sustained expansion. Instead, growth will be attained with supply-side policies by reducing onerous regulations, providing some smart tax reforms and shifting to growth-oriented spending, especially to address the notorious Greater Toronto Area infrastructure problem.
Nor will growth come from expansionary public programs like the proposed Ontario pension plan. Forcing people to hold assets in a government-sponsored plan might be helpful to some but it will be just another form of new taxation for others, who are already have adequate savings for retirement.
Ontario’s growth has lagged the rest of Canada, averaging less than 1% annually since 2009. Employment since 2009 has increased by 375,000 but the employment rate has fallen to U.S.-levels of 61.4% as of March 2014, far less than Alberta’s at almost 70%.
Ontario‘s fiscal picture is also not pretty, with gross debt over $290-billion (net debt is $272-billion), requiring $10.6-billion in taxes to cover interest charges. This expense is enormous, about one-half of education expenditures.
The average Ontario debt interest rate is only 4% but interest rates are expected to rise within the next few years. Each point increase in interest rates will add at least another $3-billion in annual interest expense.
Ontario’s energy prices are soaring. Look at any bill and one can read added delivery charges, regulatory charges, debt retirement charges and HST, resulting in an average price of 12.48 cents per kwh in Toronto for households. Large power customers pay 10.89 cents per kwh in Toronto, less than New York but higher than most eastern U.S. and Canadian cities.
Ontario made real progress in 2009 by adopting the HST to replace the provincial sales tax and reducing Ontario’s corporate and personal taxes to ensure that revenues would not increase. However, the province reneged on tax cuts only two years later.
The Ontario corporate income tax rate is stuck at 11.5%, compared to the promised 2009 legislated rate of 10%. None of this helps the province’s poor investment climate. Ontario’s share of business capital spending is only 32% of Canadian investment, less than its share of population and dramatically less than a decade ago.
Personal income tax rates have also increased to almost 50% at the top end, third highest in Canada. There is a reason why many high-income taxpayers have moved Alberta with its top rate of 39%. Alberta’s rich households, with over $500,000 in family income, account for 15% of Alberta’s taxable personal income. This ratio is two-thirds higher than Ontario.
Add in Ontario sales taxes at a 13% rate (about the average Canadian rate), fuel taxes (Ontario’s at 14.7 cent per litre is one of the highest in the country) and property taxes (Ontario is on the high side especially for non-residential property) – it all adds up to a yoke on growth.
Ontario’s Minister of Finance is in a bind. He needs more growth but he also has to deal with a large debt mountain and an uncompetitive tax system. So what are his options? Here is a five-point plan.
First, focus spending on growth-oriented programs. Transportation infrastructure should be on the top of the list as GTA traffic results in unproductive use of time.
Second, kill off the feed-in tariff program for wind and solar that creates excessive electricity costs for households and companies. This would both improve growth and help reduce administrative costs....


Read the full article here. 
Jack M. Mintz is the Palmer Chair, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.

 



Monday, April 7, 2014

Manitoba wind plant cancelled

Plug pulled on wind farm

Winnipeg Free Press

April 7, 2014
The plug has been pulled on a proposed 175-megawatt wind farm near Manitou that would add more alternative energy to Manitoba and be a boon to farmers, a U.S. firm said.
"There's no prospective view of any future wind farms to be built in the province," said Ed Pakulak, the Canadian spokesman for U.S.-based Competitive Power Ventures (CPV). "The focus is hydroelectric power."
The planned wind farm, next to the 63 turbines at St. Leon, had been in the works for three years, but never advanced past the proposal stage.
Tentative agreements were in place with about 25 landowners for turbines on their properties and with the RM of Thompson. CPV is one of about a dozen wind companies with plans to bring more turbines to the province.
"It had the potential to have a huge impact on our community," Reeve Jason Vanstone said. "It would have increased our municipal revenues by about 45 per cent. It's not only income for our tax base, but income for a lot families in the area."
Landowner Philip Barclay said the wind farm would have created jobs. "The province is supposed to be open for business, but when you try to do something, you get the cold shoulder from a government monopoly."
Proponents say Manitoba Hydro is concentrating on building two new mega-generating stations in the north and believes wind is unreliable during our cold winters.
CPV's decision to pull out of Manitoba comes as the Public Utilities Board studies Hydro's bid to build the Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations and a new transmission line to the United States. Hydro says the three projects will cost about $20 billion, but should pay for themselves with increased electricity exports to the American Midwest, where a number of old coal plants are being retired.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Southgate says 'no'

Southgate says 'no' to wind farms

 Owen Sound Sun Times 

April 3, 2014
Don Crosby
In a surprise move Mayor Brian Milne turned over the chair of Wednesday’s council meeting to Deputy mayor Norm Jack to propose that Southgate become a unwilling host to any wind energy projects now and in the future.
“I really wasn’t ready to see the project fall but I really wasn’t ready to support it. I think Brian showed a fair bit of courage in realizing that maybe the community wasn’t behind it,” said Councillor Glen Irwin following the unanimous vote by the five members of council present.
Coun. Dale Pallister had declared a conflict of interest and was out of the room during the vote. Coun. Pat Franks was absent.
Milne told a packed council chamber that discussions with residents indicated a deep division within the community over Samsung’s proposed 120 megawatt, 50-turbine wind project planned for the former Proton Township in the eastern part of the township.
“I think it’s the right thing for our community. . . . I could see the acrimony was going to tear this community apart and it wasn’t going to solve anything. It just decided it wasn’t worth it,” Milne said.
Cindy McNalty was taken aback by council’s sudden support of the strong opposition in the community.
“I’m glad that councillors listened; they were willing to come to the community meeting to receive information and become more informed and listen to members of the community and realize that money isn’t the end all and be all of everything and community cohesiveness is more important than money,” she said.
“It has divided many communities and I can't see us being any different,” she added.
Milne said the promise of...
Read the full story here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New paper on infrasound from Dr Alec Salt: time to eliminate this problem

What you can't hear CAN hurt you: Salt

A new paper from Dr Alec Salt, Professor of Otolaryngology at Washington University, on infrasound produced by large-scale wind turbines, long-term effects of exposure to infrasound, and the quality of noise measurement being used by governments and industry.
His conclusion is that: the time has come to acknowledge the problem and work to eliminate it. He also says the wind power development industry needs to be held to a higher standard of health and safety than it currently is.
Read the paper2014 SaltLichtenhan Acoustics Today, and our thanks to Dr Alec salt for forwarding a PDF of the paper for us to share with you.
Wind Concerns Ontario, in our continuing campaign to spark responsibility in the Ontario government for this burgeoning public health problem, will be forwarding the paper to the appropriate officials.
Feel free to share it with your Member of Provincial Parliament.

Please link to the paper via our Wordpress site, here.

News Centre

Samsung Project Dead

Thursday, April 3, 2014 8:28 AM by Jon Meyer
Southgate Council votes against the wind project with unwilling host status.

There is audio for this story.
MP3 - click to open click to open MP3 version
or click the play button to listen now.
(Southgate) - The large wind turbine project in Southgate has apparently been stopped.
Mayor Brian Milne says the Samsung, Pattern Energy project needed willing host status from the Township to move ahead.
At last night's meeting, Milne says Council voted unanimously to stop the wind  project by declaring itself an unwilling host.
Milne says there was no way the township could resolve a number of issues it had with the project, without more control.
He says it was apparent the project would tear the community apart.
Samsung needed willing host status to move ahead with its 50 turbine, 120-megawatt wind farm proposal.
Milne applauds the Province for giving them that out clause, and the ability to say no.
But Milne wishes the Province gave them site plan control.
Instead, he says council had to say yes, with no conditions.
He says just three weeks ago Southgate was in the process of considering being a willing host.
But Milne says that was only if they could come to terms on a agreement on a number of issues -- which included a good neighbour policy and issues around health and property values.
But Milne says they couldn't come to those terms, and they had no choice but to stop the project.
The decision comes...
Read the full story here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Southgate to Samsung: NO

Southgate Council today voted not only not to accept the proposed agreement offered by Samsung but in fact to become an "unwilling host" to the 56-turbine wind power project.

Mayor Brian Milne said Council had heard from the community and listened to all concerns; he also said that the Township had many revisions to the agreement, that Samsung was not likely to accept.

Samsung had offered the Township $180,000 per year for an agreement "without limitation" that would have granted them building permits, road access and whatever they needed to develop the power project.

Each of the Samsung turbines had the potential to "earn" the company $775,000 per year; the company had also not made provisions for decommissioning the wind power project at its end.

David Suzuki says he's OK with wind farm near his cabin

David Suzuki: Supporting wind power makes sense


I have a cabin on Quadra Island off the British Columbia coast that’s as close to my heart as you can imagine. From my porch you can see clear across the waters of Georgia Strait to the snowy peaks of the rugged Coast Mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful views I have seen. And I would gladly share it with a wind farm.
Sometimes it seems I’m in the minority. Across Europe and North America, environmentalists and others are locking horns with the wind industry over farm locations. In Canada, opposition to wind installations has sprung up from Nova Scotia to Ontario to Alberta to B.C. In the U.K., more than 100 national and local groups, led by some of the country's most prominent environmentalists, have argued wind power is inefficient, destroys the ambience of the countryside and makes little difference to carbon emissions. And in the U.S., the Cape Wind Project, which would site 130 turbines off the coast of affluent Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has come under fire from famous liberals, including John Kerry and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
It’s time for some perspective. With the growing urgency of climate change, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t shout about the dangers of global warming and then turn around and shout even louder about the “dangers” of windmills. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges humanity will face this century. Confronting it will take a radical change in the way we produce and consume energyanother industrial revolution, this time for clean energy, conservation, and efficiency.
We’ve undergone such transformations before and we can again. But we must accept that all forms of energy have associated costs. Fossil fuels are limited in quantity, create vast amounts of pollution and contribute to climate change. Large-scale hydroelectric power floods valleys and destroys habitat. Nuclear power plants are expensive, create radioactive waste and take a long time to build.
Wind power also has its downsides. It’s highly visible and can kill birds. But any man-made structure (not to mention cars and house cats) can kill birds—houses, radio towers, skyscrapers. In Toronto alone, an estimated one million birds collide with the city's buildings every year. In comparison, the risk to birds from well-sited wind farms is low. Even the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says scientific evidence shows wind farms “have negligible impacts” on birds when they are appropriately located.
...

Read the full account here.

UK PM warned not to "appease" wind farm opponents

The Guardian home

Cameron told not to appease minority of Tory MPs opposed to windfarms

Renewable industry and green campaigners concerned prime minister is considering new controls on onshore turbines
Cameron'
David Cameron is thought to be 'of one mind' with some of the loudest opponents of onshore windfarms. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Green campaigners urged David Cameron yesterday to stop trying to appease a minority of windfarm opponents in his party with proposals for further curbs on onshore turbines.
Supporters of wind power were alarmed after it emerged that the prime minister was considering including new controls on onshore generation in the next election manifesto, such as a cap, further cuts to subsidies, more planning restrictions or limits on noise from turbines.
A Conservative source indicated that Cameron is "of one mind" with some of the loudest opponents of onshore windfarms and wants to go further in cutting government support for them.
Critics accused the prime minister of pandering to the right of his party before the election, as there remain many Tory backbenchers who dislike onshore windfarms and Ukip has declared its opposition to windfarms on principle.
Although the coalition has already set out cuts to financial support for windfarms and given communities greater rights to veto developments, Downing Street plans for further controls are already under way. It is understood that Cameron and George Osborne proposed a cap on the electricity output of onshore windfarms to Nick Clegg just over a week ago, meaning no more would be built beyond existing ones and those already granted permission. This was rejected by the Lib Dems but could form part of a Conservative pledge in the runup to the next general election.
Chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association, Thomas Becker, said he feared the political confusion over onshore wind was creating a "vicious" climate for investment.
"In our opinion, leaders in Europe, including in the UK, need to make up their mind whether they would like wind infrastructure. We're not selling washing powder. We're establishing things that last for 20, 30, 40 years. That's a huge investment and the political insecurity that [comments] like this creates is very vicious to our industry, in that investors and developers shy away.
"There is a tendency in which energy policy is...
Read the full story here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Community group says Suncor wildlife assessment not adequate


Anti-turbine group says assessment falls short

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Tundra swans in flight.  OBSERVER FILE PHOTO
Tundra swans in flight. OBSERVER FILE PHOTO
A Plympton-Wyoming group opposing Suncor Energy's plans to build a wind farm in their community says the company's study of the potential impact on migrating tundra swans is inadequate.
But, the company says it met provincial requirements in its application for environmental approval for the 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Energy Project.
That application is currently being reviewed by Ontario's Ministry of Environment.
"As part of the application for ministry approval, Suncor completed a natural heritage assessment to assess any potential impacts to significant habitat necessary to sustain wildlife, including birds," said ministry spokesperson Kate Jordan.
That assessment will be considered as part of the review, she said.
"No decisions on the proposal has been made,"Jordan added.
The group, We're Against Industrial Turbines, Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PM,) has been going through Suncor's application documents and issued a press release pointing to a one-day site observation report that included a swan count carried out in 2012.
"I don't think they gave an adequate look at it," said WAIT-PW spokesperson Ingrid Willemsen.
"I think they need to look at an appropriate time for migration, and see that they wouldn't interfere with the flight patterns."
The Lambton Heritage Museum said Tuesday that thousands of swans could be seen in farm fields on the nearby former Thedford bog, a traditional stopover on the swans' spring migration to nesting grounds in the Arctic.

Read the full story here.

Forbes: IPCC deliberately excludes important climate data

Capital Flows
March 31, 2014



The IPCC's Latest Report Deliberately Excludes And Misrepresents Important Climate Science
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By Joseph Bast
This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its latest report, the “Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report.” Like its past reports, this one predicts apocalyptic consequences if mankind fails to give the UN the power to tax and regulate fossil fuels and subsidize and mandate the use of alternative fuels. But happily, an international group of scientists I have been privileged to work with has conducted an independent review of IPCC’s past and new reports, along with the climate science they deliberately exclude or misrepresent.
Our group, called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), was founded in 2003 by a distinguished atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, and has produced five hefty reports to date, the latest being released today (March 31).
So how do the IPCC and NIPCC reports differ? The final draft of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers identifies eight “reasons for concern” which media reports say will remain the focus of the final report. The NIPCC reports address each point too, also summarizing their authors’ positions in Summaries for Policymakers. This provides a convenient way to compare and contrast the reports’ findings.
Here’s what the reports say:
IPCC: “Risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states, due to sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surges.”
NIPCC: “Flood frequency and severity in many areas of the world were higher historically during the Little Ice Age and other cool eras than during the twentieth century. Climate change ranks well below other contributors, such as dikes and levee construction, to increased flooding.”
IPCC: “Risk of food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability, particularly for poorer populations.”
NIPCC: “There is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Farmers and others who depend on rural livelihoods for income are benefitting from rising agricultural productivity throughout the world, including in parts of Asia and Africa where the need for increased food supplies is most critical. Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels play a key role in the realization of such benefits.
IPCC: “Risk of severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding.”
NIPCC: “No changes in precipitation patterns, snow, monsoons, or river flows that might be considered harmful to human well-being or plants or wildlife have been observed that could be attributed to rising CO2 levels. What changes have been observed tend to be beneficial.”
IPCC: “Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.”
NIPCC: “Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations benefit plant growth-promoting microorganisms that help land plants overcome drought conditions, a potentially negative aspect of future climate change. Continued atmospheric CO2 enrichment should prove to be a huge benefit to plants by directly enhancing their growth rates and water use efficiencies.”
IPCC: “Systemic risks due to extreme [weather] events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services.”
NIPCC: “There is no support for the model-based projection that precipitation in a warming world becomes more variable and intense.  ...

Read the full story here.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Southgate gets flawed 2010 report as proof property values don't decline


In the Agenda posted for this week's Council meeting in Southgate, Ontario, where the community is pondering a proposal for a huge wind-solar power generation project by Samsung, is the 2010 report prepared for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the lobbyist for the multi-billion-dollar wind power development business in Canada.

This would be funny if it weren't so outrageous.

First the report by appraisers Simmons and Canning, is so deeply flawed it is hard to know where to begin. Oh wait, yes we do: Wayne Gulden, who holds an MBA in executive finance, critiqued the report back in 2010 when it came out. Other studies funded by the wind power industry have problems, he says, "but Canning is downright dishonest." Read Mr Gulden's critique of the report here.

A better list of studies may be found here.

Readers may also wish to read the study by Heintzelmann and Tuttle of Clarkson University, who  maintain the EVERY wind power development should be subject to a full cost-benefit analysis, AND that communities should demand property value guarantees. Another useful study is that of Sunak and Madlener of Aachen University.

The fact that this is the level of information that is being presented to the citizens of Southgate as they are being pressured to make a decision of such magnitude for their community, is emblematic of how this industry operates: deny, hide, and do everything with the full cooperation and encouragement of the current Ontario government.

Parker Gallant on the Ontario Sunshine List




The sun shines for Ontario public sector employees in the “electricity sector”
 


The 2013 “Sunshine” list released a week ago set a new record with 96,500 names on the list of public sector employees earning over $100,000 annually and an average of $127,433 each.   Looking specifically at the employees in the “energy” sector (OPG, Hydro One, IESO, OPA, OEB, Ministry of Energy) you find that 12,300 names on the lists. 

It should be pointed out that the 2013-2014 budget brought in by Finance Minister Sousa indicated the Energy Ministry budget was $1,119,650,400. Doing the math on those 12,300 employees at the “average” remuneration of $127,433 gives you a total of about $1,567 million, exceeding the budget by $427 million.  The budget doesn't include public sector employees at OPG or Hydro One where the bulk of those on the “Sunshine” list work, and where ratepayers pick up the tab.  

 OPG reported at year-end December 31, 2013 they had 10,270 employees and 7,960 (77.5%) of those employees made the list.  Hydro One reported they had 5,641 employees as of December 31, 2013 and 3,771 (67%) made the list.   It also doesn't include IESO (326 on the Sunshine list) or the OPA (87 on the list) or the OEB (102 on the list), but all of those costs are picked up by the electricity ratepayers.  (It should be noted that the number of employees at the latter three are not reported in their latest annual reports nor could the information by found on their websites.)

Another interesting fact about the “Energy Ministry” is that budgeted expenditures placed them in 10th position well behind the big ones like Health, Education, Community and Social Services, Training, Colleges and Universities and even behind the Attorney General's budget.  Those 12,300 names on the list represent 12.8% of the Sunshine list but the Energy budget represents less than 1% of total budgeted expenditures of $109 billion. It includes the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OECB) of $1.040 billion which is paid for by the taxpayers.   If that amount was deducted from the Ministries’ budgets, it would come in at $79 million; that’s because, unlike all of the other 26 ministries, it is the ratepayers who pick up almost 100% of the $20 billion plus costs of generating and distributing electricity.  

Of course, the sunshine list doesn't include any employees from private sector generators like Bruce, Brookfield, NextEra, Samsung or other solar and wind developers...

To read more Parker Gallant, please go to our special tab for his columns at this tab