By referring to the economic experience of those European countries that have vigorously promoted wind energy over the last two decades, this report demonstrates that the decisions of the Ontario Government did not take into consideration the actual reality of introducing large scale industrial wind energy onto the grid. In fact, the government’s enthusiastic claim to embrace cheap, “clean”, environmentally benign electricity at the same time as diminishing CO2 emissions appears to have ignored much of the information that was available to them, leaving an energy policy based on little more than a leap of faith.
The question remains as to the origin of this piece of prodigious insanity, in which all rules of logic and principles of economics were turned upside down.
Was it the result of undue influence from aggressive industry lobbyists who have taken pains to overlook critical practical considerations associated with grid stability and real cost?
Was it a failure of provincial decision makers to exercise due diligence by investigating all the relevant studies pertinent to the issue before encouraging large scale developments?
Was it the result of a domineering and overly-zealous minister who had no previous experience with the complexities of electricity generation (and who has since quit before completing his term)?
Was it the consequence of unprecedented pressure of a small group of government and industry-funded “environmentalist” NGOs who had no trouble winning the inexperienced minister over to their agenda?
Or is there something more sinister involved such as the inappropriate influence of multinational corporations in government decision making?
The answers to these questions will have to come from the provincial Auditor General and from a public inquiry. What is amply evident at this point however, is that neither the Premier, nor his Ministers of Energy and Infrastructure, Environment, or Natural Resources carried out meaningful consultations with the electorate. Nor did they appear to listen to, comprehend, fully investigate, and accommodate the concerns of the hundreds of people who responded to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry process, who participated in good faith in the “workshops” held by various ministries, or who presented (or tried to present) information to the Standing Committee on Government Affairs when it was reviewing the Green Energy Act. Many allegations of failure of process are already being investigated by the provincial Ombudsman.
We leave the last word to Professor Trebilcock:
“Before mortgaging its long-term future by awarding hundreds more 20-year fixed-price contracts to wind developers, the province of Ontario urgently needs an independent, objective, expert investigation, . . . by the Auditor-General, of the prospective economic, environmental and employment effects of wind power and other renewable energy policies in the province”.
“But corporate enthusiasm for subsidized wind power should not be confused with the longer-term public interest. In terms of cost, CO2 and jobs, wind power attracts a failing grade. It gets worse, with poor marks for localized impacts on flora and fauna, for potentially adverse health effects on local residents from persistent exposure to low intensity turbine noise, for potentially adverse impacts on local property values and for an environmental review process which the Ontario Environmental Commissioner describes as ‘broken.’ All render renewable energy policy, at least as currently conceived by the Ontario government, one of the least compelling options in the challenging economic environment in which the province finds itself now”