Driving home from New York, just after the border entering Quebec, I saw a couple of wind turbines turning lazily off in the distance, which of course got me thinking just how much these darn things are costing taxpayers.
I was a bit surprised at the low speed at which they turned, I never saw one in real life before and imagined that they whipped around furiously, like a fan attached to a childhood bicycle
Now we all know that wind energy projects aren’t economic, especially in Quebec where electricity generated by hydro-power is about 70% cheaper than that produced by these wind turbines but for political reasons this province has actually mothballed fully functioning hydro-electric power plants, while increasing the number of wind farms.
One only has to look at the map of where these projects are built to understand that the whole thing is a wasteful attempt to bring jobs to economically depressed regions, where more than half of the wind farms are located in Quebec’s economic basket case of the Gaspé, a region that contains less than 1% of Quebec’s population. Yup…less than 1%.
It’s a case of politicians just not caring or understanding reality about the waste of money that this so-called green industry actually costs the rest of Quebec taxpayers.
The blindness afflicts both the PQ and the Liberals equally, the latter which could have taken the decision to shut down the boondoggle completely in the face of stark economic reality.
While the Couillard government is talking about cuts everywhere, wind generation seems to be a sacred cow, probably because it is not the government which subsidizes the wasteful projects directly, but rather ratepayers through inflated electricity bills.
Given the new realities of the electricity markets, where demand is down as well as the price, all due to conservation and to America’s exploitation of shale gas, Quebec hasn’t re-evaluated it’s energy policy, living in a fantasy world conceived in the eighties where demand and prices were going up.
At any rate it’s hard to wrap our heads around huge numbers like billions, for most of us, anything past the cost of an expensive home is too hard to contemplate.
A 100 million dollars has about as much impact to our understanding as a billion dollars or even a trillion dollars, it just doesn’t register.
So let me deconstruct Quebec’s wasteful wind energy policy to something we can understand.
There are about 1,000 wind turbines already operating in Quebec. More are scheduled to be built, but let’s restrict our discussion to the present.
After a bit of research I found out that each one of those turbines, (without down time) spins approximately 12 times per minute which multiplied by hours and days comes out to about 630,000 times per year.
Multiply 1,000 turbines spinning at 630,000 spins per years = 630,000,000 .
That’s a big number, 630 million spins per year, but let’s break it down.
The total Quebec taxpayer subsidy for wind power is estimated at $1,500,000,000 (1.5 billion,) although it is probably much higher.
Now $1.5 billion divided by 630 million spins = $2.38 per spin.
That’s right, every single time a Quebec wind turbine spins once, it cost taxpayers $2.38