Wind energy provides poor ratepayer value
[Letter to Editor published June 26, 2014 in the County Weekly News]
Your June 12th op-ed piece (Wind energy emerging as electricity option with best ratepayer value) by Robert Hornung for the County Sustainability Group (CSG) is what one should expect from Hornung’s employer, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).
In his article, Hornung cites a flawed “independent” study prepared for CanWEA by Power Advisory of Boston, that was authored primarily by a former executive from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) who had responsibility for negotiating lucrative 20 year contracts for CanWEA corporate members.
The facts are that in 2012, when only about 2,000 MWs of wind energy were up and running, wind energy accounted for more than 5% ($700 million) of the total costs while generating only 3% of Ontario’s electricity production. (When 5,600 MWs of wind energy plants are operating in accordance with Ontario’s revised Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), that $700 million total cost will become $2 billion annually.)
This comparison clearly shows that wind energy is not the “best ratepayer value”.
But wait. There are many other costs not acknowledged by CanWEA.
Wind energy is intermittent and unreliable, producing highest power in the middle of the night when it is not needed and during the spring and fall when peak demand is lowest. Ontario consequently exports substantial excess production at a huge loss. Displaced lower cost nuclear power at Ontario’s Bruce generator must be steamed off. Since September 2013 some Ontario wind generating producers have even been paid to not produce power. Furthermore, each wind energy plant must be backed up by costly gas plants, and transmission costs must now include connecting widely scattered wind and gas generators to the grid. Extra meteorological stations are needed to track non-production periods. Tragically, rural communities also face crippling legal costs to fight the intrusion of unsafe and unsightly wind factories.
Those added costs raise the “true ratepayers’ cost” of wind energy to approximately 30 cents per kilowatt hour.
Also missing in the CanWEA/CSG analyses are the costly damage that wind turbines inflict on nature (birds and bats), on humans (health problems) and on farm animals and crops (lost production). Additionally, as property values fall because of turbine proximity, municipalities will suffer a reduction in property value assessments causing lower municipal tax revenues. Higher electricity rates cause increased “energy poverty”. Businesses are either closing or moving to lower cost jurisdictions, further damaging Ontario’s “have-not” economy.
Electricity production from wind turbines is old technology developed by Scottish Professor James Blyth in the 1880’s. Wind energy does not provide good value today, despite the rhetoric of CanWEA.
Parker Gallant, Bloomfield
Jim McPherson, Milford