by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
Forget everything you’ve ever heard about industrial wind turbines. Forget about the fact that some people can’t sleep because of them. Or that they cause property devaluations by up to 50%. Or that they’re a blight on the rural landscape.
Forget about the fact that they make life unlivable for many autistic children. Or that many countries in the world are in the process of abandoning them. Or that they only operate less than 30% of the time and often when they’re not needed. Forget about the fact that they create virtually no jobs. Or that they seriously affect tourism. Or that they kill birds, bats and other wildlife.
Forget about the fact that they’re causing the destruction of valuable, productive farmland. Or that much of their profits go to U.S.-based corporations. Or that they cause tinnitus and other hearing disorders for many people. Forget about the fact that it will likely cost us hundreds of millions of dollars to tear them down in two decades or whenever they need to be decommissioned. Or that they’re driving a wedge between rural neighbours. Or that many people suffer headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea and other health disorders because of them.
Forget about the fact that they’re so unreliable they require other traditional forms of energy production just to supplement the meagre amount of power they produce. Or that when the nearly 800 litres of oil they contain starts burning most municipal fire departments are instructed to stand and watch them go up in flames because of safety and insurance concerns. Or that in the winter they throw chunks of ice as large as refrigerators hundreds of metres through the air.
Forget all of it. Just remember this. Industrial wind turbines make absolutely zero economic sense. And, finally, the reality is starting to sink in across the province.
Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to all the propaganda and rhetoric and hyperbole that get tossed around regularly by both sides of the wind energy debate. Listen to the Auditor General of Ontario whose damning 2011 report on Renewable Energy Initiatives, including industrial wind turbines, paints a bleak picture of Ontario’s energy future.
In the report, the AG notes that when the Green Energy Act was passed in May 2009, the Ministry of Energy predicted modest annual increases of 1% in electricity bills because of the cost of adding renewable energy sources. Within a year, the same Ministry had revised its estimates to indicate increases of almost 8% annually for the next five years.
And that’s just for residential users. The increased cost to businesses will be astronomical. In the AG’s report, it’s estimated that the Renewable Energy-related Electricity Charge will increase by 1000% between 2010 and 2018. It’s going to make Ontario one of the most unattractive places to do business in all of North America.
The AG’s report also notes that, instead of sticking with a Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program that included competitive bidding, the Ontario government introduced the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program in 2009 that added about $4.4 billion in costs through extremely generous incentives to energy providers.
Because a large portion of wind energy is produced when we don’t need it (at night or in lower-use seasons), it has to be dumped or it’s lost forever. As the AG’s report notes, “Ontario deals with surplus-power situations mainly by exporting electricity to other jurisdictions at a price that is lower than the cost of generating that power.” That’s great news for the U.S. states that buy the cheap electricity from us, but not so much for the people here in Ontario who pay for it.
And for what? The Ontario Power Authority says both average and peak demand for electricity will drop between now and 2025 and that both our installed and effective capacity is already more than enough to meet that demand. However, we’ll still be paying handsomely. As the AG’s report notes, “Renewable energy generators who have contracts with the OPA will get paid even though Ontario does not need their electricity.” Those contracts last 20 years.
And that’s just the tip of the ice-encrusted, 40-ton, 180-foot turbine blade. From whatever economic perspective you look at them, industrial wind turbines are a financial disaster that we’ll be paying for long after they’ve stopped generating even a trickle of power.
At long last, the media in larger centres are starting to catch on. Rather than assuming it’s just some scattered grassroots complaints from people they like to call NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), people in urban areas are beginning to see the big picture, that we’re all headed down an economic sinkhole from which we’ll never recover. It’s about time they realized the truth in what people from rural areas have been saying for years. This delusional, wind-powered flimflam scam must end. The Ontario government got us into this mess. Now it’s time for them to get us out, whatever the cost, before it takes down the entire province.