Friday, November 7, 2014

Wynne government approval of Niagara Region Wind worst energy decision in years

It's been a tough week for some fighting Ontario's wind whimsy: part one

I co-wrote a piece with Parker Gallant that was put out by Wind Concerns Ontario on Wednesday, which received some attention before Health Canada released conclusions from a study regarding people and wind turbines the next day as Ontario's government approved the Niagara Region Wind Corporation (NRWC) project to erect 77 of the "largest turbines in North America" in West Lincoln. I hope to cover all these things today, but I must start with the NRWC decision, because I had planned to communicate why this rose to be the worst planned wind project after the contract for Big Thunder was eliminated - which was after I'd written that it was a big mistake.

The NRWC project is poor because of the environment it occurs within. The project was offered a feed-in tariff (FIT) contract on February 24th, 2011. At that time there was speculation this was a petulant award, placing industrial wind turbines in the opposition leader's riding shortly after suspending the possibility of turbines off the coast of the energy minister's riding. Said that minister at the time:
"Ontario could have taken the easy route and we could have not have made these critical investments - that was the advice of, frankly, both opposition leaders here in Ontario who have demonstrated a remarkable lack of leadership, fortitude and commitment when it comes to building a clean, reliable and modern energy system,"
From Hydro One's 2005 Annual Report
Let's talk about leadership, fortitude and commitment again - as I did in wasted on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas.

The NRDC project is located to the north of a transmission line the government has avoided entering into service for many years. That line was seen critical to increased trade, and growing the ability to "deliver 8000 MW more power ... from the Nagara Falls area to where it needs to be."

I'll try to show, with 2 maps, how the non-completed transmission project and the NRWC project relate.

Map from Hydro One

The Niagara reinforcement line runs east west (it's not connected because of a nonsense, and the nonsensical response to nonsense, outside Caledonia).

Hydro One is essentially required to provide renewable energy projects access to the grid, so the NRWC project will connect by crossing the inactive Niagara Reinforcement line south to Lake Ontario where Hydro One will dutifully construct capacity to accommodate the "renewable" energy project.

Image from - viewing full page (.pdf) shows green line as preferred transmission route
The generation project planned in conjunction with the Niagara Reinforcement line, was a tunnel to increase the output of Niagara Falls. It was announced "in-service" March 2013. I upset some people I respect when I wrote on generation not improving anywhere near the extent expected (if at all) and attributed that failure to the transmission reinforcement project not getting done. 

Unfortunately, nobody did explain how I was wrong and why the tunnel wasn't increasing output.

Here is an update on how 12-month running total generation has changed since, with a comparison to the facilities on the U.S. side of the river. (I understand that water rights are equal):

Oops! The upgraded Canadian side isnt' getting more power, but the American side is benefiting from the higher lake levels recently. It not only continues to look like the legacy asset beraing Sir Adam Beck's name are underutilized due to transmission restraints, it looks more likely today than ever before.

We don't improve transmission for trade and to access affordable public power assets anymore - just for hugely expensive and often unnecessary generation from private party funders/power producers.

It would be lovely if it was possible to teach Brad Duguid what " fortitude and commitment " can be. Given Ontario's kangaroo courts - which includes its real ones - I doubt that's possible, but if you have faith, I know the Smithville Turbine Opposition Party would welcome support.

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