On Friday August 1st a relatively short letter-to-the-editor appeared in the Owen Sound Sun-Times, entitled “Ontario making good progress with wind energy.” In this letter, Brandy Giannetta, the Ontario Regional Director of CANWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association ) quotes the IESO (Independent Systems Operator of Ontario) as follows: “…wind energy as an effective tool in managing the province’s electricity system.”
In fact, Wind energy IS the problem, and it’s a huge problem, both technically and financially. It is, was and will be the cement block that all of us consumers of electricity will be dragging around with us as long as these money-shredders are standing.
Consider the following: In February of last year the IESO was saying that the electricity system was heading for big trouble because of renewables. Terry Young, vice-president of the organization, was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying that: “we wouldn’t put ourselves in a position where reliability is compromised, but in order to do that it’s going to become more expensive to maintain it [the grid].”
Here’s another quote of the IESO: “By 2018, reliable and economic operation of the power system is, at best, highly compromised and likely not feasible.”
How did “likely not feasible…” turn into “an effective tool in managing the province’s electricity system”? It’s easy to see now; by throwing money at it, lots of money, billions upon billions of dollars. This is what happened: The province, shocked to find itself in this unforeseen situation, gave itself the right to tell producers to stop producing when there was an oversupply. There is no technical problem with this as the blades of wind-turbines can be feathered. The companies cry foul; they have a contract that gives them first-in-line access to the grid. No problem; they will be paid as if they were producing, regardless of all other considerations. So you see, problem solved. Wind becomes “an effective tool in managing the province’s electricity system,” by paying producers to shut down whenever their product is either not needed or a threat to the grid.
Who pays for all this? Everyone who gets an electricity bill. But the evidence is not plain. It’s all in that grab-bag of costs given the deceptively simple name of “delivery,” along with smart meters, line loss, paying nuclear operators to torque down their operations whenever the wind is blowing too strong for the system to handle. The suits at the IESO can now breathe easier because they no longer hold the hot potato of accountability in case the system were to crash. The government that created this nightmarish scenario clearly does not feel accountable either. The day before the recent provincial election, Brad Duguid, ex-minister of energy, when interviewed by CBC radio, said that electricity bills had only increased by one cent on account of renewables. But my bill has somehow tripled over the last eight years. Some trick, some trickster.
The rest of Giannetta’s letter is equally full of wind. Ontario’s environmental commissioner is quoted as saying that “wind energy has helped Ontario make real progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.” I’ve read his report and there ‘s a reason it’s called “Failing our Future.” Ontario is not meeting its objectives in reducing CO2 emissions. That’s because we are mainly relying on natural gas to keep the lights on.
Now if CANWEA, or anyone else, could come up with a cost-effective way to store and remake electricity, that would be a game-changer that would turn me into a fan, if you’ll pardon the pun. IESO keeps looking for it, as well as paying for research and small-scale trials. So far, they are batting zero, and it’s a safe bet that they will keep doing just that for a very long time to come. Virtually all of it is window-dressing, and I think they know it.
Meanwhile, at the Liberal Party of Ontario headquarters, they have a list of losing candidates in the recent election. The electricity system may just provide a few cubbyholes with desks and “good-paying ” sinecure jobs for a fair number of them.
What a way to run a great province onto the rocks.
Andre Den Tandt
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