8.0 Illegal contravention of existing federal and provincial legislation
Under the Ontario Endangered Species Act (2007), the MNR is required:
1. To identify species at risk based on the best available scientific information. . . .
2. To protect species that are at risk and their habitats, and to promote the recovery of species that are at risk”. Ontario Endangered Species Act (2007)
The Endangered Species Act says: “(3) In preparing a strategy under subsection (1), the persons who are preparing the strategy shall consider the principle that, where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason
for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat. 2007, c. 6, s. 11 (3)”.
A decision to grant an Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island would therefore represent a failure of the MNR to fulfill its responsibilities under the Ontario Endangered Species Act (2007).
A decision to grant an Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island would also contravene Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act (1994).
7.0 Requirements for clause 17(2)(c) are not met.
The MNR defines overall benefit as:
1. “increasing the number of reproductively-capable individuals of the species living in the wild;
2. “increasing the distribution of the species within its natural range;
3. “increasing the viability or resilience of existing population(s);
4. “bringing about an abatement or reversal of a declining population trend (i.e. reduction of key threats to the species survival);
5. or “increasing the quality or amount of habitat for the species”. (23)
Where there is an increased potential for risk to the species or its habitat or proposed overall benefit actions carry a higher degree of uncertainty, determination of the adequacy of the overall benefit plan will err on the side of caution in favour of affording greater benefits to the species or habitat.
The MNR policy decisions are required to be based upon the principles that the “MNR staff should exercise caution and special concerns for natural values in the face of . . . uncertainty” and that “it is less costly and more effective to anticipate and prevent negative environmental impacts before
undertaking new activities than it is to correct environmental problems after the fact”.
By issuing “Overall Benefit Permits”, it appears that the MNR would be failing to anticipate and prevent the negative environmental impacts outlined above. The MNR would also be failing to recognize the threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity associated with the issuing of “Overall Benefit Permits”.
The action agreed to in the permits does not reduce key threats to these endangered species’ survival but rather compounds them.
There is every reason to believe that the increased potential for risk to the species and its habitat or proposed overall benefit actions carry a higher degree of uncertainty. However there is no evidence to show that “determination of the adequacy of the overall benefit plan has erred on the side of caution in favour of affording greater benefits to the species or habitat”.
It is therefore “necessary to require demonstration of the overall benefit before the proposed activity may commence”. However, demonstration to the contrary has already been provided at Wolfe Island. (24)
1. (i) There is no evidence that the mitigation plan has considered the cumulative negative effect of wind turbine development across Ontario in terms of collision mortality and habitat degradation to migrating passerines.
(ii) Nor has it taken into account, the known species sensitivity to habitat degradation and fragmentation—the single most important factor in these species decline.
(iii) The MOE and the MNR have not taken precautionary measures with regard to noise impacts from wind turbine developments on these species. Nor have they considered the masking effect of turbine blades which biologists believe is a threat to wildlife survival.
(iv) The MNR makes no indication that it has considered noise from wind turbines including low frequency noise as part of the cumulative impacts analysis of the wind facility on these species which biologists have observed are sensitive to noise.
2. There is no evidence that the proposed activity meets the legislated requirements for an overall benefit permit as listed by the MNR in its Endangered Species Act Submission Standards for Activity Review and 17(2)(c) Overall Benefit Permits February 2012.
3. There is no evidence that “the determination of the sufficiency of overall benefit actions has involved the consideration of the baseline condition of the species (e.g., numbers, current state, trend, sensitivity to disturbance, life processes) or habitat (e.g., amount, current state, trend,
sensitivity to disturbance and functionality) that would be adversely affected by the activity”.
4. MNR must consider the cumulative effect on the Eastern Meadowlark and the Bobolink of the other “Overall Benefit Permits” granted or being considered across Ontario. (25)
5. The MNR must also consider “the severity, geographic extent, duration and permanency of the potential adverse effects likely to result from the proposed activity”; likewise, the cumulative long term, geographically extensive and permanent effect (at least for 20 years = 6 generations of Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks) of multiple wind developments in Ontario and the Eastern USA as an additional limiting factor for these species.
6. It would appear from the above that, given the sensitivity of this ecological system the proposed overall benefit actions are biologically and ecologically” inappropriate for the species given sensitivity to habitat fragmentation and noise disturbance.
7. In view of the body of peer reviewed scientific knowledge referenced above, there is no evidence that the proposed actions are based on the best available scientific information, another legislative requirement.
8. Given the already documented vulnerability of these species to habitat fragmentation and disturbance, there is no reason to believe that “new knowledge acquired through actions to fill
critical information gaps” has the potential to contribute to an overall benefit plan where the lack of this knowledge is directly limiting the species’ protection and recovery. On the contrary, there is every reason to suggest that the activities allowed by the “Overall Benefit Permit” will directly lead to
the further decline of these species.
9. It has not been demonstrated that the overall benefit actions will improve the ability of the species at risk to carry out their various life processes; rather, in view of the scientific information available, quite the opposite effect is immediately foreseeable.
10. The MNR must recognize that “in some circumstances it may not be possible to achieve an overall benefit for the species”.
6.0 “The cumulative result of “Overall Benefit Permits”
A survey of the MNR web site listing Overall Benefit Permits granted or under consideration by the ministry shows that a total of 575.8 hectares of mostly Bobolink and Meadowlark habitat are already facing destruction. This is more than a trivial limiting factor for these species. How then can an
Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island improve circumstances for these species in Ontario?
011-6209 Wainwright Twp Kenora District 21.9 hectares of Bobolink habitat Net loss*
61 hectares Eastern
Meadowlark and Bobolink
6 hectares of Bobolink and
Eastern Meadowlark habitat
City of Temiskaming
56 hectares of Bobolink
011-6656 Township of South
Crosby, Leeds County
26.7 hectares of Bobolink
36 hectares of Bobolink and
Eastern Meadowlark habitat
substituted with 20
hectares Net loss of
Lennox & Addington
Bobolink and Eastern
Substituted with 45
hectares Net loss of
Frontenac County 40 hectares Whip-poor-will
011-5217 Township of
45.8 hectares of Whip-poorwill
Net loss* Permit issued May 2,
011-5781 Haldimand County
97.8 hectares Bobolink and
Eastern Meadowlark habitat
76 hectares of
to be substituted Net
loss of 21.8 hectares
Permit issued May
011-5403 Lanark County
53 hectares (ha) of land of
which 7.67 ha are considered
Converting 9.59 ha
of land to Bobolink
Permit issued April
011-5218 South Himsworth
Township , Parry
4.6-hectares of Bobolink
011-5076 S. Stormont , United
Counties of Stormont
Dundas & Glengarry
45 hectares Bobolink habitat Net loss*
011-5057 United Counties of
Leeds and Grenville
36 hectares Bobolink habitat Securing, improving
and maintaining 5.8
February 23, 2012
ha of new Bobolink
habitat lands Net
loss of 30.2 hectares
will habitat destroyed:
The geographic extent of the habitat destruction across so many counties increases its severity as a limiting factor for these species. “Many years of data and theory [have been] developed in the scientific discipline of wildlife ecology, which understands that wildlife populations are necessarily connected via dispersal and migration, and that the more significant demographic unit is the meta-population (Hanski and Gilpin 1997,
Smallwood 2001, 2002)”.
According to Smallwood et al. (1999), the cumulative effects analysis should extend over the amortized life of the project or the permit duration, and should consider how long the types of
project impacts generally last.
Proposed mitigation for the Amherst Island project is incomplete and vague and highly unlikely to be effective in increasing benefits to the species.
There is no reason to believe that impact monitoring (which involves the collection and summary of scientific data on the adverse effects of the authorized activity on the species) will minimize adverse effects or be of overall benefit to the species. The goal of impact monitoring is to improve future
predictions of the potential adverse effects of particular activities on species at risk. However, impact monitoring records from nearby Wolfe Island do not appear to have been used to consider the potential for adverse effects at Amherst Island. Post construction monitoring at Wolfe Island has already revealed the second highest raptor kills in North America and yet this additional development is now being proposed only a short distance away. Would one not anticipate a similar outcome?
The issue is whether the mitigation measures themselves, contained in the conditions, will be effective in preventing serious and irreversible harm to these species and their habitat.
16 (Reijnen, et al. 1991) found that 26 out of 43 species (60%) of breeding birds in woodland habitats showed evidence of reduced density near busy roads. The analysis clearly showed that it was the noise and not the sight of the traffic that was affecting the birds. (19) Exactly how will an overall benefit for the species in Ontario be achieved by killing more birds and bats and then, according to the proponent’s proposal, partnering with “an accredited post-secondary institution to conduct research and fill knowledge gaps for Eastern Whip-poor-will”? Just what will be achieved towards the overall benefit of these species in Ontario through the training and educating of
contractors and staff on identification; and what will be the “appropriate action” they will be trained to take upon encountering Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Eastern Whip-poor-will? Will the project be called to a halt at the sight of the first Bobolink? Not likely.
5.1 Can industry self-monitoring be considered unbiased?
Many criticisms have been raised in the scientific community about industry generated environmental assessments and post construction monitoring. These studies, produced by an
accommodating consultant, have been described as lacking in scientific rigor, not standardized, using observations from unsuitable times and seasons (i.e. after or prior to migration), and being based on casual observations done over an insufficient number of days, seasons, and weather conditions.
“Estimates of bird and bat fatalities are often made at wind-energy projects to assess impacts by comparing them with other fatality estimates. Many fatality estimates have been made across North America, but they have varied greatly in field and analytical methods, monitoring duration, and in the size and height of the wind turbines monitored for fatalities, and few benefited from scientific peer review. . . As wind energy continues to expand, there is urgent need to improve fatality monitoring methods, especially in the implementation of detection trials, which should be more realistically incorporated into routine monitoring. (Smallwood 2013)”.
On examining Ontario’s post construction reports one finds that very often carcass retrieval does not occur once crops are more than 12 inches high until after harvest—i.e. most of the 6 month growing season. (20)
What revelations does the MNR expect to derive from studies on a habitat that has been systematically debased– other than confirmation of further species decline– which has already been
documented? How will this knowledge “fill critical information gaps” once the species has further declined?
Where is the logic that further irreversible destruction will contribute to an overall benefit? Where is the principle of caution to which the MNR is committed?
To accept that “securing and actively managing an area(s) to create and maintain suitable habitat for Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Eastern Whip-poor-will, at least equivalent in size to the area adversely effected by the activity, for the duration of the project” will be of overall benefit to the
species is to wilfully ignore the body of scientific research (outlined above) that demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such a measure, specifically in relation to these three species.
On its “Endangered Species Act Authorization Tracker” the Ministry also notes that “an overall benefit to a protected species under the ESA involves undertaking actions to improve circumstances for the species in Ontario. Overall benefit is more than ‘no net loss’ or an exchange of ‘like for like’.
Overall benefit is grounded in the protection and recovery of the species at risk and must include more than mitigation measures or ‘replacing’ what is lost”.17 How are these fine words being applied to the Amherst Island decision?
Clearly, there is no overall benefit from this mitigation activity which the Ministry defines as merely “replacing what is lost”, quite apart from its failure to take into account the inappropriateness of habitat exchange and fragmentation for these species. (17) MNR Endangered Species Act Authorization Tracker.
To issue an Overall Benefit Permit for the proposed Amherst Island project fails to protect and conserve significant wildlife habitat. It also contravenes existing provincial and federal legislation, fails to align with the Ministry’s own guidelines for issuing such permits, and wilfully misunderstands the body of scientific research that clearly demonstrates that habitat fragmentation and destruction leads to irreversible declines in threatened species and that providing alternative habitat is usually unsuccessful, especially in the case of these three species which are habitat sensitive.
(27) The recent history of the MNR in dealings with wind farms has demonstrated a deplorable failure of due diligence and a breach of trust. The MNR is complicit in NOT protecting our environment. It should be remembered that the public are paying MNR wages, not the wind farms.
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June 24, 2013 – This special extended issue of Wild Land News focuses on wind energy developments in Scotland, questioning their value as a method of tackling climate change and uncovering the damage they do to Scotland’s landscapes, environments, species and communities. It includes articles by:
John Constable – Renewable Energy Foundation
Sharon Blackie – EarthLines magazine
Clive Hambler – University of Oxford
Christine Lovelock – Artists Against Wind Farms
Ian MacLeod – Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland
Frank Hay – Sustainable Shetland
Jack Ponton – Professor of Engineering
Helen McDade – John Muir Trust
Pat Swords – Engineer and Chartered Environmentalist
Christine Metcalfe – Avich & Kilchrenan Community Council
Ken Brown – Environmental consultant and lecturer
John Mayhew – Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland
Fraser Wallace – John Muir Trust
The following is the summary of a case study of a group of Lusitano horses that have been monitored over 4 years which were the subject of a masters thesis at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Technical University, Lisbon completed in 2012.
The study was performed by Teresa Margarida Pereira Costa e Curto, ADVISOR: Dr. Maria da Conceição da Cunha and Vasconcelos Peleteiro CO-ADVISOR: Dr. Maria Luisa Jorge Mendes
The study reports the findings from a stud where 11 foals developed flexural deformities of the front limbs, after they were born. (Acquired flexural deformity of the distal interphalangeal joint).
In this stud farm, the owner has been breeding normal and physically sound horses since 2000. There were no changes in diet, exercise or any other significant alteration in management. Until in 2008, wind turbines were installed adjacent to the property and grazing paddocks.
Since this date, a good number of foals and yearlings have developed deformities.
The subjects of the study were:
-11 Lusitano horses. Age between 0 and 48 months old.
-6 males and 5 females
-9 were born at the stud farm, 2 were acquired from a different breeder.
The images show the same foal’s lower legs and hooves at 3 months (left) and later at 6 months (right) of age.
Another foal was bought from another breeder to exclude a possible genetic link to this problem. The pony came to the farm at 15 days old and, like the others, developed a flexural deformity.
The following tests were used for the study:
• Clinical examination
• Ultrasound and x-ray
• Measurement of cortical bone
• Desmotomy of the check ligament
• Sound measurements
• Measurements of Ground vibration
Proximity of horses to wind turbine
Measurements of ground vibration were made at different distances from the wind turbines, with the same equipment that is used to detect seismic vibrations (earthquakes). The results of these measurements, showed ground vibration at different frequencies. Research has shown that vibration effects bone metabolism.
Cellular Mechano-transduction is the mechanism by which cells convert mechanical signals into biochemical responses. Based on the mechanical effects on cells it was proposed in this research project that the ground vibrations were responsible for a increased bone growth which was not accompanied by the muscle-tendon unit growth leading to the development of these flexural deformities.
The above research project was based solely on this case study. Therefore, further research is necessary in order to validate these preliminary findings and hypothesis. Regarding the sound that the wind turbines produce, measurements were taken and studies have demonstrated some cellular damage is caused by low frequency noise.
Acquired flexural deformity of the distal interphalangic joint in foals
Since 2008, a high prevalence of front limb acquired flexural deformities was observed in a Lusitano stud farm. This work aims to evaluate this problem by reporting the results from tissue alterations in the affected animals as well as environmental conditions and management changes, which could have led to this observation. A total of eleven affected animals were studied. In these, a complete physical and orthopaedic examination were performed specifically the determination of the angle between the dorsal hoof wall and the floor. Radiographic examination, CT imaging, determination of the thickness of the cortical bone of the third metacarpian and histopathology of some tissues collected in biopsy and necropsy were done in a subset of affected foals.
All the animals had been supplemented with balanced commercial diet for equine. To investigate a possible genetic cause, two foals from distinct bloodlines were brought to the stud. These also developed the deformities after 6 months. Two of the affected foals were placed in a
pasture away from the initial one and two others were admitted at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Lisbon. In those animals, except for one that had to be euthanized for humane reasons, an improvement was observed on their condition, with partial recovery of the deformity.
Histopathology was performed from (i) the tendon obtained by surgical desmotomy in one foal, (ii) tendon biopsies were performed in three foals and (iii) from the tissue of one foal during necropsy. Histologically the most significant alterations were the dissociation of myofibrils of the smooth muscle. This was predominantly seen in the small intestine but also in the walls of small capillary vessels, including those of the tendon vasculature. The flexural deformities have a complex and multifactorial etiopathogeny. They occur due to uncoupling of the longitudinal development of the bone and its adjacent soft tissues, but also from shortening of the tendon-muscle unit in response to pain.
In the case series presented here, there was no obvious cause for the development of this problem, therefore we hypothesised that unusual environmental conditions might have played an important role in the development of this condition, especially those introduced in recent years.
March 31, 2013
These accident statistics are copyright Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2013. The data may be used or referred to by groups or www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk quoted at the same time but please do not link to this file on your website as it will cease to be current. individuals, provided that the source (Caithness Windfarm Information Forum) is acknowledged and our URL Caithness Windfarm Information Forum is not responsible for the accuracy of Third Party material or references.
The accompanying detailed table includes all documented cases of wind turbine related accidents and incidents which could be found and confirmed through press reports or official information and releases up to 31 March 2013. CWIF believe that this compendium of accident information may be the most comprehensive available anywhere.
Data in the detailed table is by no means fully comprehensive – CWIF believe that it is only the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of numbers of accidents and their frequency. Indeed on 11 December 2011 the Daily Telegraph reported that RenewableUK confirmed that there had been 1500 wind turbine accidents and incidents in the UK alone in the past 5 years. Data here reports only 142 UK accidents from 2006-2010 and so the figures here may only represent 9% of actual accidents.
The data does however give an excellent cross-section of the types of accidents which can and do occur, and their consequences. With few exceptions, before about 1997 only data on fatal accidents.
The trend is as expected – as more turbines are built, more accidents occur. Numbers of recorded accidents reflect this, with an average of 8 accidents per year from 1993-97 inclusive; 33 accidents per year from 1998-2002 inclusive; 80 accidents per year from 2003-07 inclusive, and 141 accidents per year from 2008-12 inclusive.
This general trend upward in accident numbers is predicted to continue to escalate unless HSE make some significant changes – in particular to protect the public by declaring a minimum safe distance between new turbine developments and occupied housing and buildings.
Some significant changes – in particular to protect the public by declaring a minimum safe distance between new turbine developments and occupied housing and buildings. Some countries are finally accepting that industrial wind turbines can pose a significant public health and safety risk.
In New Zealand, the government is set to change planning rules to give residents the right to veto wind turbines from being built within 2km of their homes. In Australia, the Victorian government has set guidelines forbidding wind turbine construction closer than 2km to houses.
In Scotland, a 2km guideline is also in place between large wind farm developments and communities, though the guideline is disgracefully ignored by the Scottish government. And in Canada, the Ontario Government has declared a moratorium on offshore wind projects and has proposed a reduction of noise from wind turbines from 40dB to 30-32dB, which would effectively extend the setback distance from homes.
Detailed data is presented chronologically. It can be broken down as follows:
March 8, 2013
How a Little Island Stopped a Huge Industrial Wind Project
Despite many victories, communities around the world are still facing a plague of industrial wind projects that like hideous War of the Worlds steel monsters are destroying communities, mountains, and wildlands, slaughtering birds and bats, sickening people and driving them from their homes.
Even though these wind projects do not reduce greenhouse gases or fossil fuel use, they have dreadful environmental, social and economic impacts on whole regions. But they are a tool for energy companies and investment banks to make billions in taxpayer subsidies that get added to our national debt.
The good news is that communities worldwide are learning how to defeat these dreadful projects. More and more laws and moratoriums are being passed against them, while other projects are defeated on legal grounds or by overwhelming public opposition.
In Hawaii, an industrial wind project that would have constructed ninety 42-story turbine towers across seventeen square miles of Molokai has been defeated by a determined two-year effort of the island’s residents. In the process we learned many tactics, which I’ve tried to summarize below and are further described in Saving Paradise:
- Show wind projects for what they are: industrial. Not environmental, not green, not renewable, and cause no reductions in greenhouse gases or fossil fuel use, no long-term jobs and few short-term ones.
- Don’t be nice. These wind developers are your enemies: they want to destroy where you live, steal your money (property values), and are quite happy to literally drive you from your homes. They will lie, cheat, bribe, buy politicians, and do whatever else they can to win. They won’t be fair and you can’t trust them.
- Create a group and get your community behind you. Point out property value loss, human health issues, environmental destruction, tourism impacts, and all the other dreadful results of industrial wind. If you have a homeowners’ associations, make them aware of the danger so they can join the fight.
- Publicize your case. In the newspapers, TV and radio, on blogs and in nationwide petitions. Use videos and good graphics. Go viral, worldwide. Develop a good professional website with lots of information and ways for viewers to participate. Community members should write op-eds and letters to the editor. A very powerful tool is frequent press releases that pass on news reports from National Wind Watch, Industrial Wind Action Group and other organizations about the devastating impacts of industrial wind. These press releases should be sent to all relevant media outlets and local, state and national legislators.
- Do mailings to everyone. In Molokai we sent two mailings to all the island’s 2,700 addresses. The first mailer described the dangers of the project and included a survey with a stamped return envelope. We had a massive response, with 97% of responses against the project, and our group gained hundreds of new members. A year later we sent a second mailer with photo mockups showing how the turbines would tower over homes and landscapes. This mailer also included a bumper sticker which many residents then put on their cars.
- Be visible. Put up lots of signs, both homemade and professionally done. Put up billboards if you can. Professional signs show you mean business, and are taken more seriously.
- Find legislators who will help you. On the state level, Republicans are often more responsive and more concerned about the environment than traditionalist Democrats who have bought the idea that wind is environmental (or who are receiving contributions from wind companies).
- Litigate. Find every avenue to impair or slow the wind developers. Once the Washington industrial welfare subsidies are removed, industrial wind companies will vanish overnight.
- Get property value loss appraisals. Average losses of 40% or more are being reported; in Molokai, one of the reasons the landowner planning the project cancelled it was they estimated a 75% property value loss on their lands near the project. Publicize the loss of assessed value at county level, and how that will reduce tax revenues. In most cases, property value loss far exceeds any revenue the county might receive from the project.
- Civil disobedience. Politicians and energy companies are terrified of this. Don’t be afraid to go to jail to protect the land and homes you love. On Molokai we planned if necessary to start a hunger strike on the island, and there were people ready to starve to death to protect our island. The level of your commitment is equal to the level of your success.
We always knew that wind power came with a heavy ‘social levy’. That social levy was the accepted high price that would ‘underpin’ the true initial cost of wind power until the industry ‘matured’. We would suffer its unreliability, its intermittent nature, its aesthetic impact on the landscape, the “shockingly high” number of bird deaths and the noise and strobe effects that torment the lives of residents.
“Trust us,” the wind industry intoned, “the enormous public investment is just seed-funding. It will be well worth it as costs fall in the cause of saving Mother Gaia”.
Energy insiders never bought it. The Victorians replaced windmills with steam driven machinery because they weren’t cost efficient enough. But it’s easy to understand why Joe Average and populist politicos bought it. After all, aren’t most of us suckers for fictional romantic notions of wafting windmills able to harness the wind and create ‘free energy’?
Except that’s not how it worked out in the real world.
First we were jolted back to reality by uncovering a burgeoning raft of hidden costs – costs specifically obfuscated by wind company claims. The cost, for instance, incurred by having to turn off turbines when the wind reaches over 30 mph; by the failure of turbines to operate above 30 percent capacity; the massive additional cost of having to upgrade power grids to cope with wind’s irregular load factor; not to mention the necessity of investing in gas-turbine back-ups to cover when wind turbines fail. The list goes on.
Decades on, not only does the initial social levy remain the lifeblood of the wind industry, but the latest evidence reveals that the true cost of wind power was vastly under-estimated from the start. More than that, the wind industry’s use of data to support its claims looks downright corrupt. Such is the attraction of enormous windfall profits available from the public purse it was only a question of time before organised crime took an interest.
In January, one of the most extensive feasibility studies into wind power in Germany and the United States, was published. It revealed that the claims for energy generated from wind turbines – which have always been low compared to hydrocarbon generation – have been over-estimated. In short, we get even less energy from wind farms and from our investment in them that we had thought. In July 2012, the author of the above report produced a second in-depth study showing that wind energy’s impact on CO2 emission reductions had also been grossly over-stated.
There are signs that government ‘greens’ too are getting cold feet over the true cost of wind power. When US tax credits on wind energy ended on January 1, the US wind industry realized the jig was up. For 20 years the cost of building US wind projects has been offset by a 30 percent credit. No more. Plans for new wind capacity have already stalled as a result. In recent weeks, turbine manufacturer Iberdrola confirmed it has ditched plans for 100 wind farms across the United States. Without guaranteed public funding wind farms just won’t happen. Fact.
According to the US Energy Information Administration the “levelized cost” of new wind power today runs out at 8.2 cents per kWh compared to 6.3 cents per kWh for advanced natural gas-burning plants. In the face of the US-led shale gas boom, that’s just no contest. But even the EIA’s comparative costs are called into question by a new report “The Hidden Cost of Wind Electricity’ published by the American Tradition Institute. It shows how the EIA itself has understated the true cost of wind power by factoring in the investment cost necessary to upgrade infrastructure and transmission; a factor that actually doubles the cost of wind power.
Yet another timely report, The Performance of Wind Farms in the UK and Denmark recently published by the Renewable Energy Foundation, is equally damning about what should by now be a “mature” industry, but which is still entirely reliant on subsidy. Not only does it find government’s investment regimes “extremely generous”, it also confirms the need for much greater capital investment. And that’s capital that could only be realized from more substantial public subsidies. The UK Public Accounts Committee (PAC) agrees. In January the PAC slammed the government’s “generous” licence deals, identifying a single £17 billion deal with just two engineering companies. Yet another cost incurred as part of the National Grid upgrade to cope with wind-derived electricity loading. The PAC equally condemned the government’s policy of funding green energy companies whether or not they actually deliver energy to households.
It is no surprise that UK energy ministers have begun to balk at the true cost of wind energy and its impact on soaring energy prices. The UK Government has commissioned a study into the impact of turbines on the landscape and their effect on house prices. Meanwhile David Cameron’s call for a national debate on wind farms reflects, according to The Sunday Times, a government “at war over wind farms”.
The simple fact is, harnessing the power of the elements has always attracted the ‘romantic’ in us. Unfortunately, romantic notions and our fancies about harnessing ‘free’ wind and sun power have little to do with hard-nosed energy and economic realities. Just ask ‘Mr Green Energy’ Al Gore. Sure on the face of it, he’s a leader of the new green romantics – except of course when it comes to real world business deals. Gore made $100 million from the US government’s investment in green energy – just before dumping his green shares when the government gravy train showed signs of derailing. Whether it’s ripping off the public purse with false claims or suspending one’s moral principles to pursue personal enrichment, corruption breeds corruption, including criminal corruption.
In Italy the guaranteed rake-off from Italy’s generous wind power and green energy regime has, since 2009, increasingly attracted Mafia involvement. After shaking down farmers to gain title to their lands, ‘legitimate’ Mafia operators then bid for EU wind subsidies buying off any political opposition. Okay, so most wind entrepreneurs aren’t the Sopranos. But ‘incentivized’ corruption of the ‘social levy’ element of wind power has had its day. The wind industry must stand on its own feet in the free marketplace or, to use the language of a ‘Greenfellas’ movie, be blown away in the attempt.
– See more at: http://www.energytribune.com/72221/the-corruption-of-wind-energy#sthash.I3m7GQvB.fhWjFvVO.dpuf