By Jonny Wakefield
November 6, 2014
Wind power supporters are hailing a plan to build more than 300 megawatts of new wind power in Ontario as a coup for what is already one of North America’s most progressive energy jurisdictions.
But critics of Ontario’s renewable power regime say wind power encourages waste and drives up prices for consumers.
Siemens Canada announced last week that they would be supplying the hardware for two separate Ontario wind power projects, which together will supply power to around 100,000 homes.
Siemens will supply turbines and rotors to both the 180 megawatt, 91-unit Armow Wind project near Kincardine — operated by Samsung Renewables and Pattern Energy Group — and Suncor Energy’s 100 megawatt Cedar Point II project.
Both projects are expected to be online by the end of 2015. The 411 blades for the project will be built at a Siemens facility in Tillonsburg, Ontario.
“The two orders further demonstrate that Canada is one of our most important wind markets in the Americas region,” Markus Tacke, CEO of Siemens Canada Wind Power and Renewables told Clean Technica.
Ontario has taken a number of steps to diversify its energy mix. In 2012, Ontario generated more power with wind than with coal, and by the end of this year the province plans to make history by being the first North American jurisdiction to phase out coal power.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association credits the province’s Feed-In Tariff Program with “successfully [attracting] investors to Ontario from around the world” and creating “hundreds of much-needed jobs in places like Windsor, Tillsonburg and Niagara.”
Days after the announcement, however, the right-of-centre Fraser Institute released a report arguing that the tariff continues to be a bad deal for consumers.
The report, “What Goes Up: Ontario’s Soaring Electricity Prices and How to Get Them Down,” notes that renewable power produced by projects like those supplied by Siemens sell power to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) at above market rates.
“To make up the difference, the OPA slaps and extra charge—called the Global Adjustment—on the electricity bills of Ontarian`s,“ the report states.
That increased fee has totaled around six cents per kilowatt hour since 2007, according to the report.
The province’s Progressive Conservative party supports a moratorium on new wind projects. Like the Fraser Institute, the party also favors reopening coal fired power plants.
However, a spokesperson for Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said the government continues to support the shift towards renewables.
“Altogether, more than 85 per cent of the power generated in Ontario during 2013 came from emissions-free sources of energy such as water, nuclear and renewables,” the minister’s office said.
Photo Credit: Len Langevin