Everybody loves renewable energy, right? That’s what surveys tell us with global support for renewable energy consistently polling above 80 percent.
But don’t tell that to the people of the Province of Ontario, Canada. On June 7, the electorate handed a stunning defeat to its Liberal Government after 15 years of reign. The election winner: Conservative Doug Ford, brother of Toronto’s infamous crack-cocaine smoking mayor, Rob Ford. The issue in the forefront of voters’ minds: sky high electricity prices.
Ever since the Ontario Government invoked its Green Energy Act in 2009 to transition away from coal power to wind and solar energy, electricity prices have risen a whopping 75 percent. In Ontario, electric bills have become as frequent a topic of water-cooler conversation as apartment rents are in Manhattan or San Francisco.
Without question, on every measure of ratepayer protection Ontario is an egregious case of how not to design a renewable energy program:
Most Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) rates set not by competitive bidding but instead by Government decree at levels as high as $C 80.2 cents ($US 62 cents) per kWh for 20 years
No mechanism to automatically adjust FIT rates downward as capacity deployment thresholds were reached
Domestic Content requirements that raised domestic equipment prices above global average selling prices
A rule that ratepayers still provide FIT payments for energy even when energy production is curtailed
An allowance of five years after FIT contract execution for facility construction, creating windfall gains for developers as equipment costs declined while preventing ratepayers from participating in any of those savings. How did Ontario get their renewables policy so wrong?
SAY WHAT?! Seriously you cannot make this stuff up and it’s certainly no joke. The Canadian government has been spending our tax dollars on candy cane tainted fluff and it has truly lost its mind. The media world wide has been buzzing (Canada: Santa’s Moving To South Pole Because of Global Warming ) over a recent posting claiming Santa will be relocating to the South Pole as a refugee due to climate change.
Who is Horizons Canada? How is it influencing the political climate in the ongoing battle against the lived experience of harms from wind powered facilities?
Who we are
Policy Horizons Canada, also referred to as Horizons, is an organization within the federal public service that conducts strategic foresight on cross-cutting issues that informs public servants today about the possible public policy implications over the next 10-15 years.
Horizons’ mandate is to identify emerging policy issues and explore policy challenges and opportunities for Canada, as well as to help build foresight literacy and capacity across the Government of Canada. Horizons’ experienced futurists provide expert advice on emerging issues, foresight and scanning through one-on-one discussions, interdepartmental meetings, and facilitated workshops. All engagement requests are discussed collaboratively at the Horizons’ senior management table on a weekly basis. To engage with Horizons, please submit your request to email@example.com.
Vision: To promote a high and sustainable quality of life within a globally competitive Canada, through the co-creation and advancement of knowledge that informs and structures policy choices for the Government of Canada by way of an integrated and longer-term perspective.
Mission: To provide timely and integrated perspectives on emerging policy issues for the Deputy Minister community by: bridging people, ideas, data, issues and evidence in an open and constructive environment; co-creating knowledge for understanding complex Canadian policy challenges; and experimenting with new tools and methods.
Exploring trends and postulating the future, Horizon Canada sees government policies dancing with wind and other renewables such as solar, fueling everything from the grid, to the internet and transportation.
Emerging “Urban” Electric Grids
Increasing demand for electricity coupled with emerging sources of electricity production and storage could require new (smart, decentralized) approaches to managing the urban power grid. Over the next 10 to 15 years, cities’ power sources may shift to incorporate much higher levels of renewable energy. A growing digital economy powered exclusively by electricity, coupled with a rapid transition from fossil fuel to electric fuel for transportation(link is external) and housing could substantially increase the demand for electricity in urban areas. At the same time, declining costs of decentralized and distributed energy systems could reinforce urban energy security and pave the way for cities to reach their climate change targets. The installation of in-home batteries and renewable energy sources (solar or wind power) on private homes, public buildings and infrastructure facilities (such as warehouses and factories), and the use of vehicle-to-grid technology(link is external) could eliminate concerns over managing peak demand and allow power exchanges between households. This shift may increase pressure on centralized power utility companies to adopt a business model focused on decentralized energy systems with multiple owners.
Census of Agriculture recently released by Statistics Canada shines a light on some interesting statistics about renewable installations on Ontario farms. There are 2 465 wind turbines erected in the province as of 2016.
“About 10,255 farms have a renewable energy system, Stats Canada reports. Of those farms, about 85 per cent had solar panels and 15.7 per cent had wind turbines.
Approximately 5,180 farms in Ontario had renewable energy systems, the most of any province. 4,428 farms (85.5 per cent) of these respondents said they use solar panels compared to 906 with wind turbines.”
The harsh environment of wind swept Sable Island located off the shores of Nova Scotia famed for its wild horses has claimed the demise of wind turbines. The turbines are coming down. Sharing a place in the history of the island known as a graveyard for hundreds of shipwrecks on the Atlantic. The toll now includes five failed wind turbines.
By Aly Tomson The Canadian Press Sunday February 19. 2017
HALIFAX—The harsh conditions and extreme isolation of Sable Island has forced Ottawa to abandon a wind project on the iconic crescent-shaped sandbar — more than 15 years after it launched the initiative.
Parks Canada said wind turbines do not meet the needs of the windswept Nova Scotia island, famous for the wild horses that have roamed there since the 18th century.
“The wind turbines were part of a … project to reduce Sable Island’s dependence on fossil fuels, and were chosen based on the renewable energy technology that existed at that time,” the department said in an email statement about the million-dollar, overbudget initiative.
“Since then, there have been considerable advancements in the field of renewable energy systems.”
Dubbed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, some 350 vessels have wrecked on the island’s shores and hidden reefs since the mid-1700s. It is home to hundreds of namesake horses that have become synonymous with its romantic and untamed image.
Environment Canada launched the pilot project in 2000 — which would have seen the five wind turbines generate energy onto the grid of the island known for its shifting sand dunes and fragile environment.
But when Parks Canada took over management of the 40-kilometre-long island when it became a national park reserve in 2013, the wind turbines were not functioning.
“The project faced several delays due to the environmental sensitivity of the site and wildlife concerns, as well as the isolated and harsh conditions,” the department said, adding that the turbines were fully installed and running in 2006.
“Unfortunately, technical problems continued due to the harsh conditions and the inability to adapt the technology to the operations of the other infrastructure at the site.”
Through 48 years of development and policy work – eleven of them as Canadian ambassador to several Africa countries, and the last eleven as adjunct professor at Carleton and Queen’s – I have been convinced that the world faces an environmental crisis. The last thing I could imagine myself doing was, and is, to speak out against Green Energy.
Instead, I was at the forefront of those sent abroad by Canada to encourage democracy, human rights, the rule of law, transparency in business and government – and protection of the environment.
Now I am at home, teaching what I have learned to graduate students, and living on Amherst Island near Kingston. Yet even here, the issues of governance, sound policy and the environment are at the forefront – and are often overlooked or misjudged in pursuit of political and financial goals.
Yes, Amherst Island faces a calamity of governance and environmental policy. Ontario government approval has been given for the Island to become a 26-turbine wind farm. On an island no longer than 20 km and 7 km wide, this massive installation is to be pressed through despite the strong opposition of expert naturalists, environmentalists and the majority of the island’s 450 residents – very few of whom (no one knows the number because the question has never been asked) – want to see this jewel of migratory birds, natural beauty and historic heritage destroyed by what is apparently a moneymaking scheme designed by generating companies to attract and exist on government subsidies. In our hitherto-close Island community, only the few who have succumbed to opaque, secretly-negotiated offers will benefit: in return for the proverbial mess of pottage, (we are told, less than $10,000 a year) they would destroy their own heritage and that of their neighbours by accepting wind turbines on their land.
Decisions have been made which could be understood in many of the African countries in which I have worked, but in the Canadian context, seem dramatically out of place and counter-productive. A money-making scheme has been dressed up as pursuit of a noble environmental goal; a fiercely committed but far from wealthy group of Islanders and friends are pitted against substantial corporations with incomparable legal and financial resources and the promise of tax-payer subsidies. The result of this uneven battle could indeed be the destruction of the very environment that green energy is designed to preserve.
All this would appear to leave the Island community and the Island at the mercy of a provincial process which in itself is unbalanced, if not faulty. Many studies and indeed judicial findings have suggested that Ontario has a surfeit of electricity; that taxpayers’ subsidies for green energy to produce yet more electricity are misguided; and that destruction of the environment through construction of new docks and roads, a cement plant next to the public school, heavy traffic loads which our lanes cannot bear, knocking down 150-year old dry stone walls and other heritage – all are being pursued over the strenuous objection of residents and despite evidence of clear and lasting harm to the very environment green energy is supposed to protect.
Thus, though green energy is essential, and environmental concerns must be pre-eminent, the pursuit of provincial political objectives through robbing Canadians and Ontario of a valuable natural assets requires forceful public comment – not only from those immediately affected, but from those who are making the decisions and allowing it to happen.
I am compelled to speak out. I hope you will join me.
John Schram Amb (ret) John R Schram BA MA JD LLD Senior Fellow, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs Senior Fellow, Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy
About John Schram:
In his 36 years with the Department of Foreign Affairs, John Schram served in Nigeria and London, then worked actively in the South African struggle against apartheid and the transition to democracy. He was Director for Eastern and Southern Africa during the first South African elections and Canada’s participation in the Somalia UNITAF operation. From 1994 through 1998, he was high commissioner to Ghana and Sierra Leone and ambassador to Togo and Liberia; He was Canada’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and the Organization of African Unity from 1998 to 2002; and ambassador to Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana from 2002 to 2005. He holds a law degree from the University of Toronto, and an MA in African Studies and honorary LLD from the University of Ghana. He now focuses on conflict resolution, peace building and development as Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, and the Queen’s Centre for International Relations at Queen’s University in Kingston.
Trish and Shawn Drennan are now self- represented in the latest challenge against the K2 wind project. The date for the motion to strike and dismiss their claims is currently set for January 19, 2017 in Goderich, Ontario. Support the fight with seats in the seats or drop a line to the Drennans directly. Fighting for justice for all who have been adversely harmed by wind power facilities.
Drennan’s Renew Wind Farm Lawsuit
Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:06 AM by Peter Jackson
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh couple proceeds without a lawyer against wind farm.
Ontario Suspends Large Renewable Energy Procurement
Decision Will Reduce Electricity Costs for Consumers
September 27, 2016 9:00 A.M.
Ontario will immediately suspend the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II) process and the Energy-from-Waste Standard Offer Program, halting procurement of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and energy from waste projects.
This decision is expected to save up to $3.8 billion in electricity system costs relative to Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) forecast. This would save the typical residential electricity consumer an average of approximately $2.45 per month on their electricity bill, relative to previous forecasts. No additional greenhouse gas emissions are being added to the electricity grid.
On September 1, 2016, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) provided the Minister of Energy with the Ontario Planning Outlook, an independent report analyzing a variety of planning scenarios for the future of Ontario’s energy system. The IESO has advised that Ontario will benefit from a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demand.
Informed by the Ontario Planning Outlook, consultations and engagements will begin this fall with consumers, businesses, energy stakeholders and Indigenous partners regarding the development of a new Long-Term Energy Plan, which is scheduled to be released in 2017. As part of this plan, Ontario remains committed to an affordable, clean and reliable electricity system, including renewables.
Ontario has established itself as a North American leader in clean energy development, attracting billions of dollars in private sector investment and generating over 42,000 jobs in the clean technology sector. The province has about 18,000 MW of wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectric energy contracted or online and the electricity supply is now over 90 per cent emissions-free.
Responsible management of Ontario’s electricity system is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
” Over the course of the last decade, Ontario has rebuilt our electricity system and secured a strong supply of clean power. Our decision to suspend these procurements is not one we take lightly. This decision will both maintain system reliability and save up to $3.8 billion in electricity system costs relative to the 2013 LTEP forecast. The typical residential electricity consumer would save an average of approximately $2.45 per month on their electricity bill, relative to previous forecasts. As we prepare for a renewed LTEP, we will continue to plan for our future and ensure Ontario benefits from clean, reliable and affordable power for decades to come.” – Glenn Thibeault Minister of Energy
Ontario’s new LTEP will be guided by a number of strategic themes including greenhouse gas reductions, innovation, grid modernization, conservation and energy efficiency, renewable energy, distributed energy and continued focus on energy affordability for homes and businesses.
At the end of 2015, Ontario’s installed wind capacity represented almost 40 per cent of all installed wind capacity in Canada.
Ontario is home to more than 99 per cent of all installed solar photovoltaic capacity in Canada.
Ontario successfully eliminated coal-fired electricity generation in 2014, the single largest greenhouse gas emissions reduction action in North America.
The Canadian Press – Shawn Drennan, part of a four-family fight against Ontario’s wind-turbine legislation, is seen outside court in London, Ont., on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin PerkelWind turbines are like new neighbours who might drive you to distraction and out of your home because you have no legal way to deal with the situation, a packed Ontario court heard Monday.
In submissions to Divisional Court, a lawyer for four families fighting large-scale wind-energy projects compared the turbines to a neighbour who is always noisy and in your face.
“This neighbour never once ruptured your eardrums but that neighbour slowly drives you crazy,” Julian Falconer told the court.
“These turbines are those nightmare neighbours.”
The families are trying to get the court to declare provincial legislation related to the approvals of large-scale wind farms unconstitutional.
In essence, they argue, the legislation makes it impossible to scuttle a project on the basis of potential health impacts.
“The priority is to get the turbines up come hell or high water and that’s what they do,” Falconer said.
Governments love windmills, people who live near them hate them. The result is a beautiful recipe for lawyers.
Mr. Falconer is one of the country’s top constitutional and human rights lawyers. He represented the Smith family in a lawsuit into the death of Ashley Smith in custody. He worked on the Ipperwash Inquiry. He represented Maher Arar in a suit against the federal government over his rendition and torture in Syria. The list goes on. Point is, Mr. Falconer takes a special interest in holding government to account.
On Monday he’ll be taking on windmills. He wants Ontario’s Divisional Court to overturn the regulatory approvals of three projects, the St. Columban Wind and K2 Wind Energy project in Huron County, and the SP Armow Wind project near Kincardine, Ont.
His clients, who live near the projects, fear the noise and vibration of the wind turbines will trigger a host of serious health problems. Mr. Falconer will argue in court that Ontario’s process for approving wind farms violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Provincial legislation says anyone challenging a wind farm project before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal must prove “serious harm” to human health. Mr. Falconer says that threshold is unfair because it is too high.
“The effects of wind turbines are felt in the most private and personal areas of residents’ lives, in their homes and beds, where the state has its lowest interest in intrusion,” Mr. Falconer submits in his written argument.
The Charter argument is a fairly new wrinkle in the fight against wind farms. But litigation itself isn’t. When the Divisional Court rules on the appeal, its decision will join the more than 30 Canadian reported court cases that have dealt with wind turbines — a number that shoots to nearly 100 when you include hearings before Canadian regulatory tribunals.
BIG WIND By Rico Michel http://www.dliproductions.ca/films/big-wind/ Margaret Welcome to the wacky world of green power, where misguided governments have sparked a massive corporate feeding frenzy (at taxpayers’ expense) to achieve little or nothing of any social benefit. — Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail
It has taken decades for us all to understand the pressing urgency of protecting the Earth’s environment by finding alternatives to fossil fuels. At last, the development of a green energy industry is presenting the opportunity to heal the environment… along with the opportunity to exploit it further. For politicians, going green provides a convincing election platform. For business, it offers the chance to make hundreds of billions of dollars. Green energy is the future and those who get in there first will benefit greatly. But not only honest players are championing this new industry. And nowhere is this more evident than in the massive development of industrial wind power.
Big Wind is a surprising and compelling documentary about the unprecedented rush to develop industrial wind turbines and how this is transforming the landscape in Canada and the world. The film investigates why governments are spending billions on wind power without first conducting health and environmental studies,why corporations are grabbing up precious farmland to put up hundreds of thousands of enormous industrial wind turbines, why people living near the turbines are falling ill, losing their animals and their farms,and whether these new “green” wind turbines are actually helping our environmental aims.
The rush to go green is pitting corporations against residents,government against citizens, neighbour against neighbour. Through the process the people are being stripped of their due democratic process.
Big Wind is a story of unethical political systems, corporate greed, and ordinary citizens who have had enough and are standing up to big government and big business. They are part of a growing revolution in rural communities in Southern Ontario and around the globe– people fighting to defend their homes, their way of life and the environment against Big Wind. It is a battle that will profoundly impact the green movement, as well as the well being of citizens in Canada and citizens worldwide for years to come.