by Brian Drouillard, Windsor Star
Re: Benefits of wind power, guest column, by Chris Forrest, Nov. 12.
I read today a guest column by Chris Forrest, the vicepresident of communications at the Canadian Wind Energy Association, on the subject of the benefits of wind power. As I read the column, I was interested to see the following numbers: 1,388 megawatts of new wind capacity electricity projected to come online in 2011, almost $3.5 billion of investment represented by this new capacity and 13,500 person/years of employment created (not projected).
As soon as I see someone using person years to describe a benefit instead of the actual number of jobs created and that there is a time limit at all, it gets my attention and makes me ask, so what does this mean in how many jobs created, for how long and at what cost in investment needed per job?
So I worked some numbers out. If the average job is equal to 2,080 hours of work per year (my assumption) then 13,500 person years could be one person for 6.5 years, or two people for 3.2 years and so on.
If the investment is $3.5 billion, then that means to create one job, you need $3.5 billion of investment for 6.5 years of work or $539 million per year, two jobs would be $547 million per job or $1.094 billion total and so on. Since there are fewer years of work per person, the total cost per year goes up.
To go a little further, anyone making investments of this magnitude expects a return on the investment which runs the range from zero (not realistic) to 25 per cent (a gold mine) annually. So this means that the real costs to create jobs is higher than I have shown because the investor wants the return.
If our government is looking to support these types of programs, we the taxpayers need to look at the politicians supporting them with a very critical eye and make sure we get very detailed information from them as to why and what information they are viewing that convinced them.
I, for one, am not convinced at all about what the benefits of wind energy really are. If the measurement of a benefit is safe, clean and sustainable energy at any cost, then yes, I would have to concede that this technology is a benefit. But I view energy benefits as reasonable cost versus current costs and future costs and this technology does not meet these criteria.
BRIAN J. DROUILLARD, Windsor