Dear Fifth Estate
I watched your report on the “Gospel of Green” dated Nov. 12/08 and can see that the CBC , like so many others, has allowed their critical thinking skills to be green-washed by the marketing skills of those whose primary interest is making money. You entitled the program perfectly because this is exactly what is happening to the general public who want so dearly, to do something to relieve their guilt for being “oil junkies” as you called it.
The program claims that Ontario’s resistance to renewables is based on old precepts and existing thinking and those who oppose the push towards green are simply too comfortable with the old ways. If your producers had done their homework, they would have found in the case of Wind development, the single most visible solution everyone seems to latch onto, a scam of the highest order. Not one scientifically based document can show that wind energy is capable of doing what it claims to do. In other words it does not remove greenhouse emissions to any significant amounts, it only adds a pittance of energy (at best 5% of Ontario’s needs with the planned 5000MW) and it’s not environmentally safe.
Your report also mislead the public by equating our thirst for oil on our need to produce electricity. Only 3% of Ontario electrical generation comes from the burning of oil. 16% comes from coal, and 6% from natural gas generation. In fact in the case of wind, the introduction of this renewable has the very real capacity to increase our need for fossil-fuel generation. Eon Netz who manages a large proportion of Germany’s electricity has identified in recent reports, that wind energy requires 90% fossil-fuel back up in order to handle wind’s intermittent nature. With hydro and nuclear, Ontario is already 70% emission free.
You then focus on small generation of renewables by farmers in Germany and in Canada. Not once did you indicate why the Swiss farmer in Ontario, is having difficulty hooking up his manure digester to the grid. In my area, because of the push by wind developers, they have taken up all of the transmission capacity available and in turn have caused a local landfill methane program to be “red lined”. (i.e. Cannot get permission from Ontario Hydro to hook up to the grid). You also mention the suspension of OPA’s RESOP program. This is completely untrue. OPA has simply stopped the piece mealing that larger companies were doing with their larger projects over 10MW’s. In doing so, projects over 10MW could qualify for the higher rates of electricity (11 cents/kwh). This is nothing short of an abuse of taxpayers dollars. Because of this gold rush mentality, smaller developers were pushed aside such as in the case of my local landfill with their methane generation program. The intention of this program was for smaller community based programs, not the large Industrial Wind installations, that is happening right now across Ontario. This push by wind has maxed-out the program in 1 year rather than the 10 yrs originally foreseen. The alarming part of this is the fact that Ontario seems quite ready to accept this kind of development without so much as an understanding of the effects these behemoths will have on our health, our land and our communities. Unfortunately, your program did not help to tame this zeal. If you had investigated both sides of the story, you would have discovered that communities right now in Ontario are suffering from stray voltage and noise pollution and reduced property values because of wind developments, and there is nothing these people can do except move away from their homes.
Your program should have also made a clearer distinction between Industrial scale developments and the smaller community based projects which are getting out competed and out manoeuvred by these big conglomerates (mostly oil companies by the way such as Suncor, Enbridge, Epcor, Acciona, ). The small, community focused projects makes sense because it focuses on not only renewable energy, but often the handling of waste problems such as manure and provides direct benefit to the local community. Industrial developments generally are lining the pockets of off-shore companies with Ontario tax-payer dollars.
Another point raised was in regards to Germany’s renewable energy generation at 15% and Mr. Scheer’s vision that in 25 years they can be at 100%. This information completely disregards the reality of what is happening in Germany which needs to back up 90% of wind generation with fossil fuel electrical generation. In fact Germany is presently building 24 new coal generation plants because they do not want to use the politically charged Nuclear. Right here in Canada, Alberta announced last year the construction of a natural gas generator because they allowed a large influx of wind onto their system. How is this suppose to help the environment?
In the case of wind development, we will more than likely increase atmospheric C02 since these fossil fuel generators will be sitting in spinning reserves waiting for erratic wind to stop. This causes our fossil fuels to be used in a very inefficient manner and since we have at best 7 years of known natural gas reserves right now, it’s hard to believe that this is a good course of action our govt is taking. This supply is furthered endangered especially since the Ontario Energy Board has taken the route to convert many of our coal fired plants to natural gas. If your producers had investigated further, you would have found out that hydro and nuclear cannot meet winds intermittent nature, so many in the wind industry, forget to relate this fact. These form a part of the base load and are not capable, with any amount of speed needed , of responding to wind’s sporadic generation.
Of course there is always the cost factor of being environmental conscious. If you’re producers had checked into this, they would have found that Germany and Denmark, (two countries with the highest wind penetration) have the highest electrical energy prices in the world. Sustainable also means being able to afford our environmental initiatives.
As for trying to blame former CEO Jan Carr for not creating green jobs, this missed the mark completely. OPA’s mandate is to manage the contracts with generating companies in order to provide a “sustainable, competitive and reliable electrical system for the benefit of Ontario consumers”. That question should have been directed to Minister Smitherman. You should also be aware that in the case of wind development, proponents again mislead us with the number of jobs wind projects will create. Most projects will hire temporarily 60 to 100 workers for approx. 3 to 6 months. 4 to 8 of these jobs will long term ones in maintenance but usually with a firm not locally available.
I could continue with several other deficiencies in your report but would need to continue at length. I’ll close by requesting from your producers, a revisit of this issue in order to make us all question the value of what we are doing especially when it comes to Industrial Wind development.