TVO’s The Agenda host and respected broadcaster Steve Paikin wrote an account of his recent interview with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, which was published last week. The account was of an event that took place in Toronto some weeks ago, hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
The conversation was apparently wide ranging but at one point, Clinton started to talk about Ontario. “I think you’ve got the right agenda here,” he said, referring to Ontario’s programs on renewable energy. “I love driving in from the airport and passing that giant windmill. You’re in the ‘future business’ here.”
No, we’re not. You’re dead wrong, Mr. President, and here’s why.
Industrial-scale wind power is a heck of an expensive way to produce a small amount of power. And, it doesn’t have too many benefits for building a future for the province either.
According to University of Guelph professor Glen Fox, the industrial wind bubble was “pretty much over” in Denmark in 2003, he said, in a recent presentation involving Wind Concerns Ontario. Then the industry started looking around for other places to grow (read: suckers) and Canada was one of the places that fell right into the trap.
Here from Dan Scharf’s presentation, “Industrial Wind in Ontario, best practices in subsidy farming” are the seven incontrovertible facts about industrial wind power generation:
- Industrial wind turbines (IWTs) can be built quickly, especially compared to large-scale hydro or nuclear facilities
- IWTs do generate electricity
- IWTs do not leave any fuel residue
- IWTs power output is intermittent
- IWTs do kill bats and birds
- Some people can’t live near them
- The Green Energy Act ensures wind developers in Ontario are paid a very attractive price for their investment for a very long time.
But as for building the future, nothing could be further from the truth.
Here are the myths:
Ontario’s renewable energy industry will create thousands of jobs.
No, it won’t: first of all, the only made-in-Ontario portions of this old technology at present are the steel and cement, plus the roadways to construct these 400 to 500-foot monster machines. In fact, the majority of Ontario’s “spend” on renewable is for wind, which is at the expense of technologies Ontario and Canada is already good at like geothermal, improved hydro, tidal, energy conservation materials, and even NextGen nuclear. We already know that the experiences of other countries show that “renewable energy” jobs come at the expense of two to four jobs in other sectors. The Auditor-General’s recent report stated that the government’s estimation of job creation figures was out of whack by thousands. Most of the jobs created are short-term, in construction.
We need wind to protect our air quality and save lives
First of all, Ontario’s air quality is pretty good, and the improvements to date are due to other programs, not IWTs. While IWTs are portrayed as “clean” and “green” the process of inputs and construction is pretty intensive and destructive. Moreover, IWTs tend to produce power mostly when it’s not needed, so that doesn’t do much to save greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind power is the technology of the future
Nope. It’s old technology and pretty poor at that; Ontario is starving innovation in other technologies that could bring growth to Ontario. The Green Energy Act has no true investment plan … basically, we’re buying other countries’ technology at retail prices!
As to that “giant windmill” in Toronto, Mr. President, the thing is a joke and always has been, but it does truly stand for wind power generation in Ontario---looks good, must be good, must be the right thing to do. The reality is quite a different story.