Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Discussion Topic: Hydro Power

Posted by auroracitizen on November 20, 2010

There has been considerable discussion in one of  the posts about wind turbines and hydro needs. We have moved the comments across below, so we can continue the discussion focused around hydro issues

  • Luckywife said

    November 18, 2010 at 9:16 am eTo Tim The Enchanter:

    For sure, there will be plenty of debate, whether it will be reasoned, remains to be seen. As much as I try not to be cynical, I just can’t help myself. It has been so long since I have seen anything even resembling reason, that I have a difficult time believing that folks know what it is anymore. I have high hopes for our new council, not because I think they can do better, but because I don’t believe they could possibly do any worse than MorMac. For now, at least, I am cautiously optimistic.

    Saving the Moraine is a worthwhile initiative. Do we really know what we are saving it from? Dear Dalton has given lots of lip service to saving it, but again, the cynic in me can’t help assuming that it is only because the demographic of the surrounding area is middle to upper income. Lip service can buy alot of Liberal votes. A little to the east of us, people are in a huff about their Bluff. To the west, there is alot of chest thumping and digging in of heels to stop anymore development around the Escarpment. Dear Dalton pays lip service to that too. But, does anyone ever wonder where Dear Dalton is planning on erecting the $60 billion worth of wind turbines he’s purchased for us? That’s not dirty development. That’s green energy. We have only to erect them. The wind will come, Dalton says so. At the risk of pissing of David Suzuki and the eco-nuts that will come and bury the eggs of a million stink bugs in my yard, I’d rather have a 100 golf courses than gleaming hulks of twisted metal sparkling in the sunshine. If we can’t leave it alone and untouched, I’d rather see homes and people on it than a steel junkyard. But, again, that’s just me being cynical.

    Best regards,

  • Anonymoose said

    November 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm eLuckywife, cynical is certainly not the word I would use to describe your perspective.

    You would really prefer to see farm land and forests paved over with houses and golf courses rather than a portion of the same space being occupied by wind turbines??? Huh??

    That is just such a totally bizarre perspective, I can’t even begin to get my head around it.

    Saving the Moraine is indeed a worthwhile initiative, but given your perspective, I can’t see how you would ever come to agree with this statement, let alone utter it yourself.

  • Luckywife said

    November 19, 2010 at 8:17 am eTo Anonymoose:

    “You would really prefer to see farm land and forests paved over with houses and golf courses rather than a portion of the same space being occupied by wind turbines??? Huh??”

    The answer is no more people, no more houses, no more golf courses, and no wind turbines. If I have to choose one over the other, then yes, I would prefer homes and people.

    Question: How many wind turbines would it take to supply the energy needs of 5000 homes?

    If you answered 0, because it is not possible, then you would be correct. Ergo, steel junkyard.

    Please don’t think that I am a NIMBY. Because if Dalton called me up tomorrow and said “Luckywife, I want you to have a wind turbine! I’m going to give you a grant to help you pay for it, a tax break, and $.80 for every kwh it generates!” You know what my response would be? I’d want to know if I took down my deck, my shed, my pool and my spruce tree, could I fit two?

    Best regards,

  • Anonymoose said

    November 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm eLuckyWife,

    “Question: How many wind turbines would it take to supply the energy needs of 5000 homes?

    If you answered 0, because it is not possible, then you would be correct. Ergo, steel junkyard.”

    I’m afraid I do not understand this statement. Not possible?? Are you serious? Wind turbines can produce many megawatts of electricity. Currently in Ontario we have over 1000 MW of capacity which (assuming 30% efficiency at any instant in time) will easily run over 10000 homes. There is over another 2000MW currently under construction. To get the same power from coal would require burning about 3 million tonnes.

    You’re right it’s not NIMBYism. You just don’t understand anything about energy production or use.

  • Matt Maddocks said

    November 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm eAnonymoose – I don’t concur with your math, and I do understand a few things about energy;
    As of the end of 2009, total output of all Ontario active windfarm energy production was rated at approx 2.3 MW.
    According to the CEC, the average Canadian home consumes approx 2 kW annually.
    This output of wind-sourced energy would therefore heat and light approx 1150 homes.
    According to census, the total number of households in Ontario in 2009 was approx 3.9 million.
    1150 homes in 3.9 million represents approx. 0.3%.
    My point is that wind power, while cool, green, clean, and hip, in reality produces a mouses-fart worth of demanded energy in Ontario. And and I’ve always held the opinion to address the bigger issue of human consumption and demand, rather than the delivery system, I don’t currently place much stock in turbines, at least at this point in their development.
    Luckywife, keep the deck, shed, pool, and spuce. Way more fun in the summer than a couple of gawkly ol’ windmills anyway.

    How did we get on this anyway? Weren’t we talking about the recount?

  • Luckywife said

    November 20, 2010 at 2:07 am eTo Anonymoose:

    Actually, our current wind capacity is 1152MW, with another 491MW scheduled to come online in the next year. Where are the wind farms of the other 1500MW of the 2000MW you mentioned as being “currently under construction” being built? When will they come online?

    To assume “30% efficiency at any instant in time” is very generous and misleading. For instance, in April of 2009 we averaged a wind output of 41%, when we did not need it. In June of the same year, we averaged 14%, when we did need it. Wind power cannot be generated on demand. It cannot be stored for later use. Mother Nature is 100% in control of whether we have output – or not. Having 2000 turbines on a farm as opposed to 200 will certainly increase the MW output, but it won’t change the rate of efficiency. At best, it will only ever provide us with supplemental power. All that we can do is to try and forecast the wind, like we do weather conditions. That is no more of a guarentee than the weather forecast is.

    I think that I am quite justified to have reservations about our government preaching wind power as the holy grail of green energy. It is not selfish and shortsighted to worry over sky-rocketing hydro bills. Billions already spent, billions more in the future, all of it on credit. That’s an awful lot of eggs in one basket. I am not arguing that green energy is kind to our enviroment. It is. I am not convinced that in our climate, that wind or even solar is the best solution for us, given its costs and limitations.

  • Luckywife said

    November 20, 2010 at 2:21 am eSorry Matt, I’m the one that brought it up and took us off topic. Too much time on my hands this week, Luckyhusband is away on a business trip. I’m bored and lonesome and of course, kids, being teenagers, want nothing to do with me unless I am cooking them a meal or chauffering them around town.

    Note to self: Shut the hell up and go to bed!


  • Anonymoose said

    November 20, 2010 at 7:58 am eLuckywife, don’t be sorry. This is a perfectly valid discussion for Aurorans to be having. Matt your numbers are the ones that are off kW are a measure of instantanious power. Your A/C uses close to 2KW at any moment in time. Over the course of a month an average household will use anything between 30-60 kWH. That is killowatt-hours.

    Luckywife, you’re right. I misread some other OPA documents. When doing some googling just now, I can across this which is a nice summary.

    I never claimed that wind power is the holy grail, nor I think did OPA. As you say it is unpredictable and can never be counted on to supply more than about 10% . Especially without some quick responding peaker plants or better storage technology, to mitigate the variance of wind energy. That does not mean that wind energy should not be an integral part of a green solution, just as hydro already is, and solar should be. There is no reason for example that we should not have a grand windfarm 15KM off the shore of lake Ontario.

    Why is 30% misleading? 41% one month, 14% another. 30% over a year could be quite reasonable. Especially if you have multiple farms spread across the province.

  • Paul Sesto said

    November 20, 2010 at 8:09 am eTo add to the info from Luckywife, Matt Maddocks and Anonymoose, one of the problems with wind turbines is that they are either fully on (and variable with the power output) or off depending on the wind speed. If the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine there is no wind or solar (adding that into the discussion) energy. Yes, it adds to the grid but it is not consistent and reliable. So as more wind and solar are added so as to reduce coal burning plants, more peaker plants may also have to be added to provide the power on cloudy or windless days (the wind turbines also apparently freewheel if the wind is too strong). Hydro electric in Ontario may be the most reliable green energy but we have probably tapped “that stream” to the max. The answer to Ontario’s power needs is a whole new debate.

10 Responses to “Discussion Topic: Hydro Power”

  1. Luckywife said

    Good Morning All:

    I did a bit of research this morning. According to the IESO Wind Tracker website, between 9-10 am today we had a wind output of 1100MW which, according to the site, is enough to meet the energy needs of London and Windsor combined. Since our current wind capacity for the entire province is just over 1100MW, this is an excellent output for 1 hour.

    Here is what it cost, solely for the FIT, it does not include infrastructure investment, taxes, delivery, debt retirment etc…

    FIT is @.80pKH
    1000KWH = 1MW

    According to my calculations, and I admit I suck at math, the FIT for 1MW of wind output is $800 X 1100MW = $880,000.00

    So it costs $880,000.00 to supply electricity to London and Windsor for ONE HOUR?????

    Now, these $$$ numbers scare the heck out of me, so I am hoping that I got this wrong and have calculated incorrectly. Any input?

  2. This is great discussion and I thought I add my two cents to this discussion, if any body cares, lol.

    Well, I really don’t believe in wind turbines or solar as a fix, and being that much of green alternative. As Winter’s Comin point out the hearing loss, and how about the killing of migratory birds. And then where there is no wind, no energy can be produced. Solar, nice concept, and its going forward, because I heard some new designs and concepts that are promising to harvest more sun energy than current designs. But then I read one study that some type of insect important part of the food chain was declining because was getting confused with water, and was getting burned. There is no doubt that we will come out with some super quite bearing that will cause no noise.

    Lastly I am sure someone is working on storing the harvested energy from wind turbines or solar. So what I am getting is that we always look that the ‘bandage’ methods, and not look into root cause – that is ‘us’, and businesses of course/ or towns (it always kill me to see playground lights-on at night; what are we doing this for, to help drug addicts to hangout). In my opinion, and this is my opinion – we just consume too much energy. We are spoiled. Let’s just use less, and then may be coal burning will not be so bad with help of some air filtering system. Or if we use less energy may be solar system can satisfied our needs. I don’t know if anyone remembers, the block out we had few years ago. I remember the quietness, and the true darkness – I think the best sleep ever I got then.

    And lastly, it takes energy to make something, so does to make new wind turbines and solar equipment.

    So why not use less? Or build better, insulated and affordable housing, that will use less energy. Yes, ‘green energy’ seems like a buzz word these days, but why does have to be expensive?

    Anna 🙂

    • Anna

      excellent points!

      “Green Energy” isn’t just a word, but an industry.
      One whose only justification for having their customers pay more is of course because you feel guilty.

      It is absurd, and I commented on the Bull$hit Power relationship our town has formed on my blog here:

      Using less is key.

      Combine that with using the right mix of what gets used and we have a solution.

      That’s not what I was gathering from Annonymoose’s contributions.

      Wind & Solar have several issues, and I think it is very shortsighted to think that they can be placed anywhere and provide a base output to justify their construction costs, land use and any adverse effects that these technologies provide.

      Geothermal energy is a great renewable resource that is being explored more and more with great success.

      Coal and Nuclear aren’t going anywhere soon, and nor should they.

      As to echo Paul Sesto’s point :

      “Having a mix of energy sources is the way that Ontario has gone with the Green Energy act and it’s feed-in-tariff (FIT program), but there is no way that wind and solar could replace nuclear. The province would be a mass of solar panels and wind turbines with no green space left, and still no energy with no wind or no sunlight.”

      I fail to see how anyone can argue Annonymoose’s point :

      “You would really prefer to see farm land and forests paved over with houses and golf courses rather than a portion of the same space being occupied by wind turbines??? Huh??”

      Urban planning and land use is a much more sophisticated than some knee-jerk reaction to fill in land with some windmills that may not prove to be a solution at all.

      That is NIMBYISM.

      I’d like Richard Johnson to weigh in on this one.

  3. Anonymous said

    I believe we should have a variety of energy sources and that they should be as green as possible. Perhaps wind and solar are somewhat inconsistent because their production is subject to the elements which by nature are inpredictable. Is there any reason that we could not have back up from our current sources, e.g. clean coal and nuclear? If they were only used as backup or to supplement surely we would have a greener system overall. Altenrative energy seems to be working pretty well in Europe, especially Germany.
    How about we piggy back onto the deal that Nfld. and New Brunswick have just struck? I don’t know anything much about HEP but I am assuming it would be greener than coal?
    One thing that does concenr me is the flag that there are adverse health effects from wind turbines. Until there is sufficient information to understand what the effects are and under what circumstances, I would prefer that turbines be installed as far away from populated areas as possible and 15km out in the great lakes seems like “unpopulated” to me.

    • Paul Sesto said

      In Ontario, nuclear and hydroelectric provides most of the base power (50% and 26% respectively). Base power is what consistently keeps the lights on and the machines working day & night for homes and industry.
      Most people (including myself a few years ago) don’t know what a large component nuclear plays in Ontario. Hydroelectric is a great source as it can be consistent, the whole reason for generation in Niagara Falls and development in the Niagara Region. I believe Ontario is tapped out on hydro. Manitoba on the other hand generates most of their electricity from hydro.
      By its very nature nuclear can not be rapidly increased or decreased the way other forms such as hydro or natural gas generation can be in order to overcome any shortfalls in the grid due to other systems or peak increased demand such as hot summer days when more air conditioners are running.
      Having a mix of energy sources is the way that Ontario has gone with the Green Energy act and it’s feed-in-tariff (FIT program), but there is no way that wind and solar could replace nuclear. The province would be a mass of solar panels and wind turbines with no green space left, and still no energy with no wind or no sunlight. The Ontario Ministry of Energy website has some good information. At their wind page it states on one hand: “Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity in the world. It is a completely sustainable, clean form of energy that does not rely on finite fuel sources for daily operation. It has the potential to provide a significant share of Ontario’s energy needs.” And yet further down on the same page: “Wind power cannot, however, generate all the electricity needed in Ontario because wind power is generated only in favorable wind conditions. Consequently, the provincial power authority must also use other sources of energy, especially those that can be ramped up quickly, such as waterpower, to compensate for the variations in the amount of electricity generated by wind farms.” It should also probably read such as gas peaker plants.
      From other information I have read Europe’s green energy from wind is not as rosy as it may appear in the press.
      What’s the answer? That’s the great debate especially since Ontario’s energy pricing is said to rise by 46% over the next few years, (oh yes minus the just announced 10% “election” discount”) and we are trying to keep a competitive manufacturing industry.

      P.S. For those that are interested, the ministry’s site at has their bent on what’s what and at least is a good start at learning more. You can also see for the Canadian Solar Industry Association, for the Canadian Wind Energy Association and for the Canadian Nuclear Association for their respective industry info.

  4. Winter's comin said

    Luckyhousewife – wind turbines sound like the answer to our hydro woes but what are the health risks? Residents in “turbine” country reportedly are now suffering from hearing loss due to constant turbine noise. Can we afford to ignore this? If so, keep your wallet handy. There has to be another solution to the mess we have created. … wc

    • Luckywife said

      Good questions WC, for which I have no legitimate answers.

      All I can tell you is that I have one of those whirly turbines on my roof, at the back of the house where my bedroom is. Many times I have been aggravated by the whoosh, whoosh noise it makes. Not always in strong winds either. To date it has not affected my health, only my rest. Having hundreds of the big boys for my neighbour would cause me concern also. I have passed through the Amaranth? (that is the one between Aliston and Mt. Forrest on hwy. 89) farm, they are not unsightly to look at. Kind of cool actually and the farmers can grow their crops pretty well up to the foundation, maybe a 20-30ft circumference around them at most. Are they dangerous to our health? Don’t know, but I too, would like to have the answers.


  5. Luckywife said

    To Anonymoose:
    Matt may have had a little typo with his keyboard be he is bang on with the 0.3% figure of household numbers versus output ratio.

    “Why is 30% misleading? 41% one month, 14% another. 30% over a year could be quite reasonable. Especially if you have multiple farms spread across the province.”

    41% or 14% is just an average spread across an entire month. At any given hour during a 24hr period, that could easily mean 70% or 2%. An efficiency of 30% is a lofty goal and in no way attainable, no matter how many wind farms we spread across the province. In order to be reliable and efficient the output would have to be consistant 24/7/365. Meaning, that every farm spread across the provincial farm grid would have to have the same output for every hour in the day.

    Now, and I say this facetiously, not with disrespect to you,– The Premier or the Energy Minister do not have a direct line to Mother Nature, they cannot offer to pay her cash in exchange for a guarantee of consistant 30kmh winds and 6.5 hours of sunshine a day for solar. It’s all a shell game being played with numbers and money they don’t have.

    Wind and Solar power can help us, and our enviroment. But, again, does the cost outway the benefit given our climate and the limitations? Farmers can supplement their family income by entering into a public/private partnership with the province to produce energy. Good for them, they probably need it, considering that Mother Nature can be a bitch and they are already punished enough by commodities markets, taxation and government regulation. But, there will not be any net benefit in dollars and cents to taxpayers at large. Either we pay for it on our hydro bills or it’s hidden in general taxation. We Will Pay. Where will the money come from?


  6. Matt Maddocks said

    No worries Melanie – just kiddin! It’s a great topic and discussion. Just came across this article from regarding the incineration plant slated for Clarington. The Province has given the project the green light, but it’s now being delayed by guess what, municipal government election issues…–durham-politicians-could-delay-incinerator

    • Luckywife said

      Thanks Matt, I did read about it. Let’s hope millions of dollars aren’t being wasted only to end up going the way of the Dodo bird, like the Oakville Gas Plant.

      If only we could turn poop into gold or harness all the hot air we blow and wind we pass ourselves. That would solve alot of problems although, I’m sure we would find a way to make controversy out of that to.

      Best regards,

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