As Ontarians wake up and smell the coffee brewed by ever-increasing hydro fees beginning May 1st, they will be reaching deeper in their pockets.
Hydro rates are going to increase $300 in the next year, and more in the future.
The newly announced renewable energy contracts, which include the industrial wind turbines slated for Manvers Township, Millbrook, Orono and Grafton, are part of the reason for the increase. The FIT programs, in which the turbine companies are paid 13.5 cents per kw/h for wind energy fed into the electrical grid, compared to the 5.8 cents per kw/h that householders pay, means the increase in cost is passed onto consumers.
Not only do consumers pay the increase, but the renewable energy sources are fed into the system first, meaning on productive days (and remember, the average wind power produced is usually less than 30% of the capacity, the figures quoted by the power companies), the gas, coal and nuclear power plants will be ramped down in order for the more costly energy to be fed in.
However, on days when the wind doesn’t blow, like the hazy, muggy days of August, or the deep freezes of mid-January, when power usage peaks, hydro will still require the gas, coal and nuclear power we presently rely on. Europeans, who have had wind turbines for 20 years, are building more coal fired power plants for this reason.
The local farmers who are rubbing their hands together in glee, anticipating the cheques that are coming their way from the wind turbine companies, will be doing so on the backs of their neighbors.
Most landowners don’t desire to ruin their landscape with the massive towers, and would look for other sources of income that don’t have such a negative impact. The fees earned by the turbine leases are definitely outweighed by the losses of the neighbours, who will face massive decreases in their property values. This will translate to a lower tax base for the municipality, which will translate into higher taxes.
So with ever increasing hourly cost of hydro, the addition of the HST to the rates and the cost of improving the transmission lines to take in the new hydro sources, and decrease in local property values, we will need to embrace a very spartan lifestyle in the future.
Remember that when you go to the polls next year.
NANCY LICHACZ, Pontypool