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For Farmers Considering Solar: Letter to the Editor from Brad Duguid Minister of Energy on Ontario’s MicroFIT Program

Letter To The Editor in the Chatham-Kent Daily Post:

Ontario’s MicroFIT Program
by Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy

Thousands of Ontario families, farmers and community groups are taking part in Ontario’s MicroFIT program – which allows small scale renewable energy projects to provide power to Ontario’s energy grid. Over 20,000 Ontarians have submitted applications, wanting to participate in the program. So far over 3,700 projects have been connected to the grid and another 2,500 project approvals are ready to go.

Due to the success of the MicroFIT program, the number of applications we have received is currently outpacing needed upgrades to the system in some areas. This is an issue we first identified in our Long Term Energy Plan and we have taken a number of steps to address it. We are working diligently to make the needed upgrades in order to connect those projects as quickly as possible.

Last week we communicated with applicants to address the issue with them, let them know where they stood, and more importantly, what we are doing to find a solution for them. In order to properly address the issue and resolve it in a timely manner, we are asking applicants who have not already done so to contact their Local Distribution Company to determine where they intend to connect their project. This information will be crucial to being able to make the necessary upgrades and connect as many people as quickly as possible.

We also made a change to the MicroFIT program to ensure that all applicants are screened upfront to determine whether they can connect right away, or if they would need to wait.

Currently, about five per cent of applicants are facing delays in connecting their MicroFIT projects. To resolve these issues, I have made it a priority for Hydro One to target areas of greatest need for upgrades to our transmission and distribution system, to enable projects to connect as soon as possible. In addition, we are offering to extend the conditional offers to MicroFIT applicants for one year for those who are not able to connect right away. This will provide them with more flexibility with their project as we make the necessary upgrades.

Ideally, we’d be working with a modern, 21st century system but unfortunately for too long, necessary upgrades were not done and the previous government did not make the investments that our system truly needed. We have made great strides in upgrading our system – over 5000 KM of transmission and distribution lines have been restored over the last several years. But more work needs to be done.

I want to assure your readers that we will be making the necessary investments to address the challenges we are experiencing today, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the MicroFIT program and continue to further Ontario’s place as a leader in the clean energy revolution.

While the Opposition wants to kill these programs, we’re determined to make them work for Ontario families and farmers.

Brad Duguid

Minister of Energy

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"Due to the 'success'' of the MicroFIT program . . ."

 

My first impressions of wind and solar -generated electricity would have included at least the words "good idea", if not "success". However, further assessment and industry developments have changed that perspective more than just a little.

 

This program is being subsidized by the provincial government which is paying out up to 10X the rate at which the alternate-source power is being charged out to consumers. So, the consumer is going to be paying for this program in a minimum of two ways - the first being exorbitant rates on their electricity billed and secondly, through their taxes which are being dumped into this rat hole of a project. (How far will McGuinty's "gifts" on our electricity bills go once the real costs filter through on our bills?)

 

Since the offered price is so far in excess of the cost of competitive electricity sources, what does that say about the long-term feasibility of solar and wind energy? And if this program is allowed to continue with these rates in effect, what does that say about what our long-term bills are going to look like?

 

The government, in spite of Doogood's reassurances, has shown a deep reluctance to actually support this initiative on a number of occasions to date. Why? Because they soon realized that the ravenous uptake of the MicroFIT program far exceeded their expectations.

 

What they really wanted was just enough applications and installations in order to give the appearance that they were actually moving "forward" with  a plan for "green" energy, to placate their environmental supporters. McGuinty's liberals are certainly not known for being thrifty, but this fiscal fiasco is beyond the wildest, most extravagant cost expectations that even Liberals might dream of.

 

It appears that they are finding this boondoggle a bit rich even for their irresponsible spending habits. Hence the stop-and-go approach to wind and solar projects.They also want to placate the increasingly angry consumers, the very people to whom they will appeal for votes in the upcoming election.

 

Those who have spent the coin in response to this program will be in for a bit of a nasty awakening (as some already have when they discovered they cannot get connection to the grid) when they discover the pitfalls of their investments. How many panel owners asked about the greatest efficacy period of their new lawn ornaments? How will their cash-flow/ debt repayment schedule look in five years when their panel's efficiency begins a downward slide, resulting in returns that are about half of what they initially were?

 

How will their investment look when future governments, regardless of party, decide that the province's deficit can no longer allow the funding of such a ludicrously unrealistic program? Maybe 1/2 rates won't work so well for them? Especially on a unit that is only producing a fraction of the original output?

 

How many of these installations would have happened if the owner was using it to generate strictly their own electricity? If the MicroFIT owners would not want to pay that high a cost for their personal electricity needs, why should they expect anyone else to cheerfully be saddled with the cost of the "green" energy that they are producing?

 

Another ill effect of solar/wind energy is that it forces the conventional power sources to fluctuate their output to compensate for the VARS effect (voltage variability) created by the inconsistency caused by winds and sunlight/cloud cover. This cannot be accomplished without incurring huge costs by the conventional plants.

 

Nuclear, gas, hydro and coal plants are stable, dependable sources that are relatively easily managed. They are not adversely affected by Russ Morley's weather forecasts from the Burgoyne Lighthouse. But their operational cost will also increase as a result of Dalton's drastic dream.

 

We have seen a lot of fads pass by in this part of the world, each promising riches for those who will step up and throw their dart at the balloon. Guys selling earthworm beds for a bait industry that will "buy everything you can produce". Elk. Emus. Deer. Pigeons. PIGEONS, for crying out loud! What does that say about the gullibility of some?

 

So, the Liberal's recent announcement of suspension of further wind turbine developments and connection problems for solar panels should be taken as a warning of further strictures that will befall this industry. They are beginning to see that they have opened a Pandora's paintbox.

 

This could well go down as the biggest, government-sponsored bust ever to see the light of day in this country. Hear ye, hear ye, McGuinty spearheads a massive ponzi scheme!

 

Whatever the outcome, it will cause huge costs for everyone in the province -consumers, taxpayers and if it follows the pattern of past ponzi schemes, for those who bought into it big time. And those costs will be hanging on our necks for a long, long time. Our children will still be paying for our folly.

 

Does this sound like "success" to you"

The microFIT program is a classic example of gov't choosing initiatives based on public perception and ideology which will garner votes in the next election.  Instead of applying a proper cost benefit analysis  which takes into account real world emperical data, we have gov't officials flying by the seat of their pants because they refuse to understand the basic laws of physics and thermodynamics.  100's of thousands of turbines and solar panels will never replace the need for cheap, efficient and cost effective fossil fuels.  Like it or not,  that is the reality if you want the lights to go on at the flip of a switch. 

There is no scientific data which shows that wind and solar are effective, efficient and clean?    After 4 yrs. reviewing renewables energy I have found it to be  quite the opposite. 

 

The hurdle I encounter in trying to understand the rationale behind this idea that "renewables" are effective alternatives & therefore an important part of our energy mix, is that such a position is based on some key assumptions, e.g.:

  1 - that all of our renewable choices are approximately equal regarding their cost-benefits,

  2 - that renewables are comparable to our conventional sources,

  3 - that using more renewables will make a consequential difference in our CO2 emissions, and

  4 - that any CO2 reductions we get from renewables will make good economic sense.

 

You know I am just a simple farm girl, but from the research I have done I see zero real scientific evidence to support these assumptions! As an example, the collection of renewable options we have is a very heterogeneous group, not homogeneous (e.g. industrial geothermal is radically different from industrial wind energy — in regards to technical compatibility, reliability, dispatchability, cost, environmental consequences, etc.). And comparing nuclear to wind is like comparing an eighteen wheeler truck to a golf cart. Etc., etc.

 What baffles me is  if I can figure this all out by myself, why can't Brad Duguid? Exactly what is he advocating here and why — especially considering that it's clear that citizens like myself (yes I do live with industrial wind turbines in my backyard) must suffer significant negative consequences (which include health effects, decreased property values, social implications, safety hazards with turbine collapses and ice throw, etc.) from his ideological support of such non-solutions as industrial  wind and solar energy?

 

As for the idea that this all about the new green economy,  studies in Spain, Denmark, Italy, Texas have shown that for every “green” job the gov’t invested, they in turn lost 2.2 to 7 jobs in other sectors.  Spain in fact clawed back on their renewable subsidies  despite the knowledge that over 60 solar companies would go bankrupt.  They knew that their gov’t coffers  could no longer support the heavily subsidized rates renewable developers were receiving. 

 I’m all for being environmentally conscious but this kind of ideology where everything “green” must be sacrosanct is insane.  Crunch the numbers,  all the turbines slated for Ontario will equal less than 1/3 of the present day Nuclear capacity (which is BTW available 24/7, unlike intermittent, unreliable, inefficient wind &  solar)

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