Drawing a capacity audience to Meaford Hall was an easy job Saturday afternoon as Wind Power Meaford preached to a crowd of the converted.
The group’s educational forum on wind power was very close to a sell-out. Even a gorgeous spring day couldn’t lure people away from listening to a list of “expert” speakers from around Ontario discuss the problems with renewable energy resources, particularly wind power.
Despite a rather one-sided list of presenters, the meeting was still a fairly calm affair.
Tom Adams, a media and energy consultant with a long resume in the energy industry, kicked things off with a presentation that highlighted the downside of renewable energy resources – namely their unreliability.
Adams noted that such energy sources, specifically wind and solar, are best viewed as intermittent sources of power, something that is not an ideal match with the way Ontario’s energy production and transmission grid is set up.
“There’s a major disconnect there,” he said. “Most wind power is generated during surplus periods, and we have very limited generation flexibility in our system.”
Solar, Adams added, is likely even worse, and suffers as a reliable source for many of the same reasons. It’s even more cost prohibitive than wind power at the moment, he said.
“The cost of solar power, is, I think, unattainable. What we need to do is to get the economics of energy production working better.”
The audience listened politely and with some enthusiasm to Adams, but reserved more approval for the following speakers who began to more obviously rail against the provincial alternative energy policies.
“Has anyone here ever been told they’re NIMBY’s (Not in my backyard),” thundered Michael Trebilcock. “I always tell people, NIMBY has two meanings – the other is Next It Might Be You.”
That remark drew likely the heaviest ovation of the day from the audience, along with more cutting remarks from Trebilcock, the Chair of Law and Economics at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. He’s also a Grey Highlands resident.
“I’ve found over the years there are two kinds of Greens,” he said. “There are idealogues who don’t care whether they ruin the economy if there’s even a hint of environmental good to come out of it, and then there’s the type who’s interested in the green of our money.”
“Over the last few years,” Trebilcock said to heavy applause,” there’s been a corporate feeding frenzy in the renewable energy field. It’s time to tell these losers to get their hands out of our pockets and the footprint off our landscapes.”
He, like several other speakers, suggested this fall’s provincial election could make a huge difference in alternative energy policies if the Liberal government under Dalton McGuinty loses. That might be the best hope of stopping some of these wind projects, he said.
Trebilcock also took aim at the high cost of some of this alternative energy. He said solar and wind power are being subsidized by the province at a rate of at least 13 cent a kilowatt hour to as high as 80 cents. That’s while the going rate for selling is six cents.
“It’s not sound public policy,” he said. “It’s expected that electricity costs will rise by 46 per cent over the next five years and renewable energy resources still require fossil fuel backup.”
He encouraged everyone in the audience to support local municipalities who are trying to fight the province over the issue and have some measure of planning control over these projects returned to them.
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