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McNaughton is wrong on wind

2015-02-24

Dear Editor,

Mr. McNaughton’s letter (“End Ontario’s wind experiment”) is factually incorrect and his position is morally indefensible. It is also no experiment, but a power-development path that is tried and successful around the world.

More than 60 countries now have wind power as a commercial part of their power source and it grew last year by about 20 per cent, and that growth is anticipated to continue at the explosive rate of 15 per cent for several years. Still, more subnational jurisdictions also are heavily dependent on wind.

The European countries mentioned have not reversed course on wind power. Spain, in particular, is heavily invested in wind and, in all, the growth is exponential. Many countries have increased eight to tenfold in the past decade – that includes the USA and China, as well as the ones he misrepresents.

Answering his claims, every one of which is bogus, is not possible without a lengthy discourse. He throws out figures that are irrelevant, wrong or out of context. However, and he knows this, the costs to the electric system in Ontario are not a result of wind, which is still a minor component and, as it is as yet merely a supplement to peak needs, is minimal. The capital costs for nuclear are the driver in increased pricing, not the small amount that has truly gone into wind.

Interestingly, the highest hourly energy rate in Ontario until the last couple if years was in 2005 – the highest by far, and was a consequence of the games played by the Harris Party – McNaughton’s party. Those games led to a disastrous failure in infrastructure that now has to be paid for.

The actual cost of power in Ontario is still quite low: the price reflects the general adjustment required to meet the contract terms for all producers: contracts that have been in force and are not some Liberal “boondoggle.”

Wind, wherever it is substantially developed is now the cheapest form of power with solar likely to soon be similar. It is reliable and stable and does provide base load power without backup with more enlightened political encouragement than McNaughton’s. Wide distribution of installations is all that is needed for that and it is happening the world over. Even the head of a Texas utility is creating a distribution group. Further, wind is not prone to technical failure and shutdowns, as all traditional sources are. The capacity factor for the newest technologies in design is now approaching 50 per cent fewer turbines producing more power.

Wind produces a stable and predictable cost. After the capital costs are met, all the “fuel” is free and remains so for the life of the turbine, unlike fossil fuels that fluctuate widely with an ever-increasing cost. That cost for wind in the USA, for example, in some regions where substantial installations exist is already two cents per Kwh lower than the cost of coal.

Credible estimates of the future and potential of wind are that by 2030, all new power could be from wind, water and solar and that by 2050, the world could be 100 per cent from those sources. It is political will that is required and the dismissal of political dinosaurs like McNaughton and Harper.

That would bring plentiful clean, cheap and non-CO2 emitting power to the world, including those less fortunate areas that now lack any source. With the added benefit of millions of lives not lost to the health problems inherent in fossil fuels.

Ontario had become a world leader in the development of wind with the prospect of large numbers of well paying jobs and economic benefits from exports of power and technology. Wind creates multiples of the jobs that coal, for example, does. That is the experience of Spain (for one – contrary to the allegation). It has lost that lead due to the stalled development, stalled because of the politically motivated and encouraged activities of the Conservatives.

A democratically elected legislature with the interests of the people in mind would make every effort to restart the programme and attempt to get Ontario back into that 21st century paradigm.

And a democratic party with the interests of the people and the world in mind would not have Mr. McNaughton – the man who would be “king” at its helm. His stance in this shows that not only is he unfit for such office, he is unfit for any public office.

John Peate