County advocate for safe and appropriate green energy sends a letter to Queen’s Park
The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy
Victor Fedeli, PC Energy Critic
Peter Tabuns, NDP Energy Critic
Steve Dyck, GPO Energy Critic
As our political representatives in charge of making decisions about Energy, I beseech you to pay attention to what is happening in the real world and not to what comes out of the marketing machine of the wind energy lobby at Queen’s Park.
Although originally in favour of wind energy, I am now opposed to large scale wind projects that are sited too close to homes and in environmentally sensitive areas. I believed the claims of the wind industry – that it would deliver us from the effects of carbon pollution, that it was free – there for the taking, and that it was “green”. In 2005 when I first heard there were “wind farms” planned near our home in the County and that there was a small vocal group opposed, I wondered why? It seemed, intuitively, like a good idea. Then I started to do some research into why they were opposed and was astounded at the very long list of reasons for not rushing headlong to embrace this technology. Here are just a few:
* There is a complete disconnect between supply and demand. Wind is intermittent and cannot be ramped up or down at our demand and it, unfortunately, produces most when demand is lowest. On those hot, humid days a few weeks ago, wind was producing virtually nothing to power all of those air conditioners. Right now as I write this, the “widget” on www.ieso.ca shows that of 1,500 MW installed capacity wind is producing a measly 51 MW – just over 3% of capacity – not exactly reliable or effective!
* Energy, no matter how produced, cannot be stored. This was an eye opener for me! Until it can, an energy supply that doesn’t match demand is not very useful.
* In Ontario, almost 85% of our supply (from hydro and nuclear) is already emissions-free. Coal has been almost completely phased out, but it has been replaced by natural gas, not wind. This is a very different picture from other jurisdictions in the world which do burn coal.
* Ontario’s demand for electricity is dropping as manufacturing is leaving the province. There may be many other reasons including labour costs, but energy costs, which have been increasing, are almost certainly a factor.
* Because wind produces when Ontario does not need it, we are selling it at a loss, or worse – paying other jurisdictions to take it! How does that make economic sense?
* Everything is not fine in Europe! This was another eye opener for me. I suggest a visit to www.epaw.org. You will see that there are 617 member organizations from 24 European countries. It seems that the European countries that were at the forefront of wind development are all abandoning wind and returning to more traditional energy generation methods. They are doing this to protect the stability of their grid.
I am also somewhat puzzled that other technologies beyond large scale wind are not being actively promoted. There are so many other technologies available to counter climate change. And, it should be noted, that the single largest source of carbon pollution is vehicles! Let’s start working together on addressing that elephant in the room rather than pinning all of our hopes on wind energy as the savior of Ontario’s air quality!
Here in Ontario, we are at a crossroads. The debate on wind energy is heating up and public opinion is reaching the tipping point. More and more people both in the city and in the countryside are aware of the shortcomings of wind energy production such as those noted above.
These points address only the “energy” factor of this debate. They leave aside completely the issues of growing health concerns, property values, and, let’s not forget, the environment!
It is only a matter of time before a legal case is won on health, or property values, or the environment, and that will force the government to finally be accountable for the damage it has wrought in turning a blind eye to the issues and in failing to truly listen to the outpouring of concern that has been raised in the past few years.
At this point, we have only 1,500 MW of installed capacity in wind and look at the problems it has created in such small numbers. Ontario is poised to bring on double that capacity in the next few years. If 1,500 MW of installed capacity is creating so many issues, just imagine what a mess we will be in if even more projects move from “in development” to “in operation”!
I urge you to take a good hard look at the shortcomings of wind energy and to seriously consider the future of energy in Ontario, and its broader implications for the citizens of Ontario.
Advocate for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy
Cc: The Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Mr. Tim Hudak, Ms. Andrea Horwath, Mr. Mike Schreiner, All members of Provincial Parliament.