“Starting in 2010, Nova Scotia taxpayers pumped $56 million into the operation via provincial loans and grants before the government called a $32-million loan in February 2016, pushing the manufacturing plant into receivership.”
Time and money running out on sale of idle wind turbine plant
DSME Trenton plant placed into receivership in 2016 after the province called a $32M loan
After two years and no takers, Nova Scotia is poised to end its efforts to sell an idle wind turbine manufacturing plant in Pictou County, bringing to a close another failed government-backed industrial enterprise.
“At $150,000 per month to keep the operation at status quo, we want this to happen, we want to find a viable operator. But the clock is ticking,” Business Minister Geoff MacLellan said Thursday, after touring the mothballed DSME Trenton plant.
That money goes toward keeping the facility in a sellable state.
Reading an article recently about Greenpeace trying (apparently unsuccessfully) to create a solar-powered town in India several years ago reminded me of a project in the GTA proposing to use “zoo poo” to create a 500-kW biogas plant.
The project is a co-op known as Zoo Share Biogas Co-operative and plans to use methane from animal waste to produce electricity in a biogas plant. The chatter about this project goes back to June 3, 2011 and those behind the project applied for a contract with the OPA (since merged with IESO).
So where is it now? A visit to the website shows the OPA advised them early July 2013 they were granted the contract. A PDF file titled “Construction Plan Report” on the site reveals “Construction of the facility is scheduled for summer 2014 with completion and grid connection expected in the fall of 2014.”
Needless to say, the plant is still not functioning but nevertheless has taxpayer support and some $4 million raised from individuals and others who purchased bonds that carry a 7% coupon on a project estimated originally to cost $4.8 million.
Curiosity further led me to look at the members of the Co-op’s Board of Directors and I noted Chris Benedetti was a Board member. Benedetti is a principal with the Sussex Strategy Group and the head of its Energy and Environment Practice. Some will recall Mr. Benedetti was involved in a major fundraising event for the Ontario Liberal Party as reported in an article in the Globe and Mail in March 2016 headlined: “For $6,000, donors get face time with Kathleen Wynne and Bob Chiarelli”.
That article contained the following attributed to Mr Benedetti: “The evening is being promoted by Sussex Strategy Group, one of the country’s top lobbying firms. In an e-mail encouraging energy industry insiders to attend, Sussex principal Chris Benedetti wrote that the soirée will be a ‘small event with a limited number of tickets,’ giving all attendees face time with Ms. Wynne and Mr. Chiarelli.”
Previously, the Sussex Strategy Group’s name was connected with what the Toronto Star noted in a November 2010 headline as: “Group plans to ‘dupe’ public about green energy costs: Tories”. The article also noted: “The Oct. 18 document, drafted by consulting firm Sussex Strategy Group, lays out a plan — complete with a $300,000 initial budget — to change the channel on the current green energy debate, which is largely focused on cost.”
The Benedetti/Sussex connection led me to visit the Sussex website; the page titled “Our People” shows Kim Warren’s name and picture of Kim Warren under Sussex’s “Affiliates.”. Mr. Warren was, until January 1, 2017, the COO of IESO; if you check the “Sunshine List” for the 2015 year you will note he was paid $577,000.04 — not too shabby for a public servant! When he was employed at IESO he spoke about integrating renewable energy. Due to his positive tone the short video of his speech was posted on the CanWEA website; he was clearly supportive and claimed wind energy “was a big part” of shutting down coal. (Many grid operators around the world would dispute his claim.)
Searching on Google again using Mr. Warren’s name and his IESO affiliation turns up other relationships. One that pops up is NRStor: a press release dated June 20, 2017 announces he is the newest addition to NRStor’s Board as a Director and states: “The insights and experience Kim Warren brings to our board as previous COO of the IESO is significant,” said Annette Verschuren, NRStor’s Chair and CEO. “He is a world expert on power systems and his extensive understanding of the electricity market will help NRStor grow and develop our energy storage business.”
Coincidentially, NRStor has been awarded contracts by IESO with the first one on July 22, 2014 announced by then Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli: “Today, the Minister of Energy, the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, announced the commencement of commercial operations for NRStor Incorporated’s (NRStor) 2 megawatt (MW) Temporal Power Limited (Temporal Power) flywheel energy storage facility in Harriston, Ontario.” Now assuming the 2MW of storage was called on to replace Ontario’s generated power it would be capable of supplying demand for half a second, or less.
The second contract awarded to NRStor by IESO noted: “NRStor will build a fuel-free compressed air energy storage facility that will provide 7 MWh of storage capacity to the IESO.”
For those who wonder who is NRStor, the following comes from their website: “NRStor is a market leader in understanding energy storage technologies, their costs, and the benefits they can provide customers across the energy supply chain. As a project developer, we develop, own and operate industry-leading energy storage projects in partnership with progressive stakeholders and leading technology providers.”
NRStor was founded by Ms. Annette Verschuren, former CEO of Home Depot. Ms. Verschuren spoke to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs May 19, 2015 in respect to Bill 91, Building Ontario Up Act. One of the notable comments she made was,“We are a developer of energy storage technology, so we build projects. We are working on about 20 projects at the moment and we see the introduction of energy storage really making a big difference in terms of how we get electricity to market in a cheaper way. NRStor recently announced a partnership with the Tesla Powerwall, which is very exciting, to be introduced. We want to start in Ontario. We see that movement towards, again, using excess energy to improve costs and make it easier for customers.”
Ms. Verschuren also offered her “Congratulations to the Ontario government for its announcement on cap-and-trade policy.” and: “The privatization of Hydro One is also something that I’m very supportive of.”
While Ms. Verchuren is very accomplished and informed, from my perspective, she has missed the effects on hundreds of thousands of Ontario ratepayers/taxpayers from the Green Energy Act, and the “cap and trade” tax. Ontario’s “excess energy,” as she puts it, represent a huge cost to ratepayers, which seems to have escaped her thinking.
The conflict in Ms Verchuren’s testimony is exacerbated by adding Kim Warren as a Director of NRStor. The fact that NRStor has benefited from IESO’s contract awards should have triggered the question of how the media and public would view his appointment. As a director he would be required to be a shareholder in NRStor which seems to fly in the face of IESO’s “Post-Service Restrictions” contained in their Code of Conductwhich states: “It is expected that the restriction against purchasing or holding any Prohibited Financial Interests continues until 6 months following the end of your employment or association with the IESO.”
Worth noting is Ms. Verchuren is registered as a lobbyist with the Office of the Integrity Commissioner as is Chris Benedetti (lobbyist for NRStor and 55 other companies), but Kim Warren is not.
The Ontario Ministry of Energy seems to have created a tangled web that benefits select companies and individuals.
A recent Rutland Herald editorial, entitled “Powering up,” concluded that we need to move with urgency toward the renewable power of the future. While that is correct, the editorial goes on to complain that “old ways” of thinking dominate the discussion in Vermont. At issue: the editorial then proceeds to propose “old ways” to move us forward.
When it comes to energy development in Vermont, the industrial wind industry leads the “old way” pack. Wind operators and developers have been living off federal subsidies since the early 1990s and have been wreaking havoc in Vermont for just as long. It’s time to boot them out of the state and employ creative Vermontsized energy solutions.
The editorial employs the “old way” strawman tactic when citing the arguments of industrial wind opponents. Legitimate concerns of Vermonters are minimized when the only argument acknowledged against ridgeline destruction is to mock “the exquisite timidity of those who grieve over birds killed by wind turbines.” It’s a cheap shot that does nothing to advance the conversation.
We should instead be talking about the entire range of problems industrial wind development brings to Vermont: mountaintop dynamiting, destruction of intact eco-systems, stormwater runoff, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, noise and health impacts to neighbors and wildlife, safety risks, community division, aesthetic degradation, tourism, property devaluation, and, yes, impacts on birds, bats, and even bears.
We should also talk about what does and doesn’t work. As environmentalist Suzanna Jones recently told us, “Despite the platitudes of its corporate and government backers, industrial wind has not reduced Vermont’s carbon emissions. Its intermittent nature makes it dependent on gas-fired power plants that inefficiently ramp up and down with the vicissitudes of the wind. Worse, it has been exposed as a renewable energy credit shell game that disguises and enables the burning of fossil fuels elsewhere.”
The editorial expresses concern about mass extinction facing numerous species around the globe. Bravo! Then let’s protect the ecosystems that will enable those species to migrate, adapt and survive and abandon the “old way” of thinking that allows our ridgelines and forest habitat to be destroyed by energy developers and their energy sprawl. As wildlife biologist Sue Morse tells us: “New England’s ridgelines will play an increasing and integral role as global climate change forces countless species of plant and animals to seek new habitats in which to adapt and survive.”
The editorial call for an improved large-scale infrastructure capable of transmitting intermittent power from remote, industrial-scale wind plants is another “old way” solution; rural areas are sacrificed to enable our unsustainable wastefulness. Treasured areas like the former Champion Lands, once valued for their ecological significance, become collateral damage. Large-scale transmission from rural to urban areas is a misguided “old way” use of our resources.
There is both wind and sun in our urban areas (Lake Champlain Wind Park, www.champlainwindpark.com) anyone?). We should be supporting renewable development in already-developed areas while protecting undeveloped areas.
We should also be emphasizing community scale generation facilities sited in the communities that they serve. This would reduce energy loss over lengthy transmission lines, improve system reliability, and preserve our vital wildlife habitat. This is the Vermont-scale approach that is in tune with Vermont values.
Some view turbines on distant ridgelines as a visible sign of our commitment to climate action. They’re wrong. A closer look shows that those turbines are exacerbating the very climate impacts that we wish to avoid. Industrial wind plants are putting money in the pockets of investors, developers and a few landowners, but they’re not addressing the very real and pressing problem of climate change.
The industrial wind lobby is fond of saying say we need to make sacrifices. We do. But where those sacrifices come from, whether or not they’re effective and, most certainly, who profits and who loses from them should shape our solutions. We need to change the way we live, we need to stop being so wasteful, and we need to support solutions that actually work. We need to invest in unsexy work of weatherization, efficiency and demand reduction. We should support renewable development in already-developed areas and prevent new development in resource rich areas. We should be focusing on the least destructive renewable technologies and develop microgrids around community scale generation.
Yes, we need to sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing our natural resources. It means changing the way we live and protecting the earth. All of it.
Noreen Hession is a retired engineer, community organizer and environmental activist who lives in the Northeast Kingdom.
The date is September 28, 2008 newly minted Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure George Smitherman gushes over a vision of the future for green-energy in Ontario. In 2009 the Green Energy Act passes and is rapidly followed by 1 000s upon 1000s of industrial wind turbines erected. Ontario bowed to political push back by pausing installation of wind turbines in the Great Lakes. Today an offshore demonstration project looms with a build date of 2018. The project proposed in Lake Erie off Ohio’s shores.
From visions of green energy to build out of wind projects. What do you see?
The wind at his back
By TYLER HAMILTONClimate and Economy Reporter
Sat., Sept. 27, 2008
NIAGARA FALLS–In just nine weeks George Smitherman has likely learned more about the green-energy industry than any energy minister before him, and then some.
Sitting in a meeting room at the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, just minutes after giving his first major speech since being appointed energy and infrastructure minister in June, Smitherman enthuses like a kid who has just returned from Euro Disney.
He recounts his visit to a small community in Denmark that powers and heats itself with straw, municipal waste and geothermal energy. Then there was the neighbourhood in Freiburg, Germany, powered by rooftop solar panels atop high-efficiency homes. In Spain, he saw how the local electricity operator manages the country’s 15,000 megawatts of wind turbines and a world-class stable of solar farms.
His travels also took him to California, where he learned how the world’s fifth-largest economy used innovative conservation programs and energy-efficiency mandates to keep per-capita electricity consumption flat for the last three decades.
“Imagine a world where we could emulate their success?” asks an animated Smitherman, 44, who later turns to Amy Tang, an adviser sitting across the table. “Sorry, now I’m getting all worked up. Am I frothing at the mouth?”
The trips didn’t end there. On his home turf, he has already visited the massive Prince Wind Farm in Sault St. Marie, the Atikokan coal-fired generating station near Thunder Bay, the province’s three nuclear power stations, the massive Nanticoke coal-fired station, Hydro One’s grid control centre in Barrie, and has been inside the Niagara Falls water tunnel currently being excavated by Big Becky.
“I call it sponging. I just went out there to try and learn as much as I possibly could,” he says. “Everything I do, I learn something that’s one more piece of, let’s face it, a complex puzzle.”
Smitherman says he’s “jazzed” about his new job, a fresh change after five years as health minister. Premier Dalton McGuinty made it a promotion, insiders say, by merging the energy and infrastructure portfolios into a super-ministry.
Sir: Chatham-Kent municipal Corporation continues to make taxpayer funded investments that continue to end in taxpayer liability, when continually given evidence not to.
Municipalities should not be in the investment business. They are hired by taxpayers to prudently manage to create dividends, not to mismanage to create liability. The Bradley Centre, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in net annual losses; the Industrial Park, which accumulated a $20 million total to date loss; the Capital Theatre, having a total provincial and municipal gross loss of about many millions, not the skimpy losses generally reported; Kingston Park with a $2 million overrun in costs; taxpayer funded annual municipal wage and pension payout of about $138M, with only about $146 million in general annual revenues.
If I understood the recent clouded, scattered and incomplete municipal budget correctly, C-K has nearly $40 million in interest payments on such capital projects. Canada-wide, taxpayers are paying about $62 billion and $11 billion annually just to service the debt of Canada and Ontario respectively. All of day-to-day cash of government operations come from the private sector, you and I, but yet, governments continue to financially rape their only source of income by introducing about 120 taxes on everything we do, on every nickel we earn, and continue to make irresponsible and fool hardy investments that never comes out of their pocket book, only ours.
The Provincial Green Energy Act, paving the way for wind turbines, created a 70-per-cent hike in electricity costs, costs consumers an extra $37 billion, and under the Auditors report will cost us an additional $133 billion by 2032.
The auditor’s report confirms for each wind energy job created, three Ontario jobs are lost. The mayor supports wind turbines, and his short sighted thinking makes Chatham-Kent nickels and dimes, while the province is losing billions, whereby billions have to be made up by taxing us more to make up the losses.
Recently, C-K council approved an $8-million investment in wind turbines, cited by the mayor to give us an $11-million profit after 20 years, which will keep taxes down. This thinking is worse than a migraine and mirrors how the province manages tax dollars. More specific to the wind turbine investment. C-K will become “common” shareholders in 15 per cent of a foreign company, meaning if the company dissolves or liquidates or reconstructs itself we as “common” shareholders lose all to preferred stock holders, bond holders, creditors, etc., not to mention if no profits are realized due to provincial or legal intervention. $8 million from reserves invested with compounding interest could give us up to $15M after 20 years without risk. Taking money from reserves means we have to replenish it, either by cashing in bonds, creating higher taxes, reducing infrastructure investment or by other means.
We have reserves for good reason.
If any dividends were realized from the turbine investment taxpayers won’t see a dime nor will any reduction in taxes be apparent. C-K will create a separate corporation, under the Business Corporations Act, RSO- 1990 for this manoeuvre, transferring same to Entegrus, which disallows taxpayers, although it’s all your money, to not know what’s going on, unless Entegrus/Corix wishes you to.
Additionally, Entegrus is courting to grab up to $30 million more from Chatham-Kent taxpayers for future investments with private companies.
Companies like Entegrus are more inclined to use investment income as an indirect way to feed their own wages, pensions, travel, perks and allowances, office upgrades, company vehicles etc., before any benefit is given to the taxpayer.
Furthermore, having Chatham-Kent a wind turbine investor, how the hell can council and our municipality speak against the turbine company respecting any legal action, public safety liability or other?
The absurdity for money making associated with wind power knows no limits. Now you can purchase insurance to protect and maintain your cash flow when that pesky thing called weather interferes with your renewable energy installation. No need to fret over wind or sun resources above or below par. Maintaining financial performance even with the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow (or blows too fast).
Weather Risk Transfer:
“For businesses and entities working in the renewable energy sector, the single greatest and most significant factor influencing availability and performance is weather. Wind and hydroelectric generators, in particular, face a persistent challenge as they look to manage the intermittency of wind and water resources.”
Last month, the Ontario Energy Board decided to protect rate payers from knowing how much the Liberal government’s cap-and-trade policy would add to their monthly gas bills.
Now the OEB has decided to relieve us of the burden of knowing how much the government’s electricity policies are affecting our monthly hydro bill.
The OEB, it seems, is worried that too much information may confuse the average Ontario taxpayer. At least that’s how they responded to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s request that hydro bills be changed to increase “the awareness and transparency” of the impact of the so-called “global adjustment charge.”
The global adjustment is an extra charge that is levied to cover the gap between the guaranteed prices the Liberal government promised electricity generators in 20-year contracts and the actual market rates.
Lysyk has estimated that global adjustment accounted for 70 per cent of consumer electricity rates in 2013. If so, that’s something that should be plainly disclosed on every hydro bill.
For the OEB to contend that further transparency would only confuse ratepayers is highly paternalistic, if not down right arrogant.
Give us the information. If we get confused, we can call and ask for clarification.
Liberal Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has again refused to intervene on behalf of the auditor general or the taxpayer on the basis that the OEB is an independent quasi-judicial regulatory body.
That’s very convenient. Thibeault may not have the power to order the OEB to change their ways … but perhaps he can at least ask. He has the power to do that.
As it is, it’s getting harder for the public to take the claim of OEB independence seriously.
Who could possibly benefit from burying the cost of the Liberal’s questionable energy policies … other than the Liberal government?
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.