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CanWEA’s Robert Hornung tells wind industry “We need to do a better job in telling our story”

At the recent Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) conference in Toronto, Robert Hornung CEO, CanWEA told industry representatives that “we need to do a better job telling our story”.  Is he, as an industry association representative doing a better job? I ask you to decide.
As a test of Hornung’s expressed wind industry virtue I posed two questions to him regarding recent media statements he has made. Both are derived from Hornung’s comments to Mark Del Franco in an interview for North American Windpower
(http://www.nawindpower.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.10552).

The first comment is; “Opponents say wind energy is costly,” Hornung noted. However, according to a report from the Ontario Energy Board, 45% of the rise in Ontario electricity prices can be tied to the
building of nuclear units, while only 6% of the increased cost can be attributed to wind energy. “Nonetheless, the perception persists,” Hornung said.

My question to Hornung was; “The figures you site are references to increases in Global Adjustment (GA) charges. What is not stated here is the complete reference
(http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/_Documents/MSP/MSP_Report_20120427.pdf)
that nuclear, whilst responsible for 45% of GA, produced 56.9% of electrical power generation. On the other hand, whilst wind produced 2.6% of electrical power generation was responsible for 6% of GA. Could you please tell me why you did not provide the full reference in this respect?”

Hornung’s reply; “The misperception this comment seeks to address is the common statement of opponents to wind energy development that wind and renewable energy is the single largest cause of recent increases in the price of electricity in Ontario – when the OEB data demonstrates this is clearly not the case. Going forward, we are confident that wind energy is cost-competitive with virtually every new form of electricity generation available to Ontario (with the exception of natural gas).”

My annotation: The concluding statement in this report (referenced above) from which Hornung quotes these figures also states “In 2005, the GA was a net credit to Ontario customers of $1.2 billion. However, since 2006 it has been a charge to customers, rising to $5.3 billion in 2011. The GA is expected to increase in 2012 and beyond as a large number of wind and solar resources that have been awarded FIT contracts come online (80). These contracts pay a fixed price per MWh
that has significantly exceeded the average HOEP in recent years.” The reference (80) in this quote refers to; “The Ontario Auditor General expects $8.1 billion of GA in 2014. For details, see the Auditor General’s 2011 Annual Report, Chapter 3, Section 3.03, Electricity Sector – Renewable Energy Initiatives, December 5, 2011, available at http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/en11/303en11.pdf.” And, these figures only address the FIT subsidy variable in GA and do not account for infrastructure costs associated with new transmission lines and transformer connections. In this respect Hornung uses these OEB figures in a disingenuous context since he does not reveal the ratio and its representation to increasing price.

The second comment is : “Wind energy has also been attacked [by opponents who claim] that it affects human health,” Hornung said. In fact, opponents are asking for wind turbine setbacks of 2 km; however, “there are 10,000 people that currently have homes inside the 2 km range that have positive experiences,” Hornung noted.

My question to Hornung was; “From where is the figure ‘10,000 people’ derived, a pole, a survey?”

Hornung’s reply; “There are well over 100,000 turbines operating in 89 countries around the world and the balance of scientific and medical evidence to date clearly concludes that sound from wind turbines does not adversely impact human health. A survey of our membership (still ongoing) has already demonstrated that a minimum of 10,000 people live within 2 km of existing wind turbines in Ontario and we are confident that the overwhelming majority of them are having positive and
productive experiences.”

My annotation; In these comments Hornung engaged in unwarranted speculation, fist in an explicit manner and then with rhetorical qualification with words such as “balance”, “we are confident” and
“overwhelming majority”.

I ask readers here, what is your interpretation of Hornung’s comments and his clarifications based on my queries?
As Don Chisholm of our local County Sustainability Group, is quoted as stating in a Dec./1995 presentation to the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome, that “sometimes our logic indicates that one thing is valid; but if we don’t like what we see, we can believe in what we wish were true, especially if someone else appears to believe it too.”

David Norman, ProRogue Primate of Bloomfield

Filed Under: Letters and Opinion

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  1. David Norman says:

    Chris… took a pee-k at your link. I say whoo-pee, what a great article, a little pee-vish perhaps. That s-pee-l left me s-pee-chless. Good news for us PECker heads!

  2. David Norman says:

    @ Don, in regard to your justification… “Whereas, as far as I know, the proposals for new and refurbishment of the technomachinery of a nuclear station, just up wind from us, go unchallenged. Or farther upwind from us are the technomachines that savage the Alberta landscape for a meager X2 energy gain”… in the same context as the wind turbine proponent entreaties regarding our “children and grandchildren”, I support and wish to pass on the legacy of my parents and grandparents that “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

  3. David Norman says:

    @ John (JD)… your analogy “Just as the cost of ownership per mile for a used car is less than new so is the cost of ownership of new power vs old. It is not a difficult concept” is a particularly poignant one in my view, since I’ve often equated the sales pitch of renewable wind energy advocates as “used car sales” marketing.
    Your statement “The most domning (sic “damning”) aspect of his study was that it was entirely self reporting, widely acknowledged as an inferior methodology” illustrates your selective representation. All of the “Pederson” studies on which these court cases and tribunal, wind industry advocates rely so heavily for “peer reviewed”, “scientific evidence” are also based on “self reporting” via mailed surveys. Whilst this is indeed an inferior methodology, it is important as a prerequisite “foundation science” for the formation of “hypothesis”. That is why folk are now calling for empirically based clinical health studies!
    And, it’s not that I’m not flattered by the attention that the CSG is presenting me here, but I do wonder why, given that they could be mulling over opportunities and strategies more in line with the fact that they’ve been chewing the IWT fat with the likes of your PEC homie, Eoin. After all, Eoin sits on the Ontario’s Economic Advisory Panel and advises and also serves as Director of Capital Stewardship of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Canada’s fastest-growing labour organization on health policy. I would have thought that the fact that the SEIU boast of having more than 70 pension funds with combined assets of more than $1-trillion to promote sustainable investment strategies, and Eoin’s interest in finding ways to promote IWT acceptance here in PEC would have been a completely compelling focus. Perhaps I’m just a needed distraction, a little recreation, from the CSG vision.

  4. Mark says:

    The reincarnated CSG interest may be a result that they have come to realize that county residents aren’t quite the “easy targets” they proclaimed us to be.

  5. Don Chisholm says:

    (Part of my note in italic was not printed, here it is again)
    David, my goodness that was quite a rant. Look at this part: “ the paranoid delusions of grandeur apparent by use of puerile rhetoric and insults directed at all those who engage critical thinking in this respect, you can not justify your position by abusing and contorting the message of another.”
    Marvelous verbiage! But somewhat misdirected. I was not even talking about you. I was speaking of the wisdom of Livingston and about your moniker.
    But now that you mention it, it does seem curious that your attacks on the destructive technomachines within our society, appears to be focus solely on the way we can gather energy from wind, built from a basic technology that’s been with us for hundreds of years. Whereas, as far as I know, the proposals for new and refurbishment of the technomachinery of a nuclear station, just up wind from us, go unchallenged. Or farther upwind from us are the technomachines that savage the Alberta landscape for a meager X2 energy gain.
    Sometimes I get the cynical feeling that many of the anti wind folks just don’t like the visual appearance.

  6. Don Chisholm says:

    David, my goodness that was quite a rant. Look at this part:
    Marvelous verbiage! But somewhat misdirected. I was not even talking about you. I was speaking of the wisdom of Livingston and about your moniker.
    But now that you mention it, it does seem curious that your attacks on the destructive technomachines within our society, appears to be focus solely on the way we can gather energy from wind, built from a basic technology that’s been with us for hundreds of years. Whereas, as far as I know, the proposals for new and refurbishment of the technomachinery of a nuclear station, just up wind from us, go unchallenged. Or farther upwind from us are the technomachines that savage the Alberta landscape for a meager X2 energy gain.
    Sometimes I get the cynical feeling that many of the anti wind folks just don’t like the visual appearance of windmills.

    But as you say, minds are unlikely to be changed from debate here, so this will be the last contribution from me.

  7. JD says:

    With respect to pricing, I was comparing the cost of NEW hydro and NEW nuclear with NEW wind. When adding power there is very little difference in the cost. Just as the cost of ownership per mile for a used car is less than new so is the cost of ownership of new power vs old. It is not a difficult concept.

    As to the study it was carried out before the Saskatchewan court case. This is from the court’s decision: “Dr. Nissenbaum does not have the type of knowledge referred to in the court cases that makes him an expert in any of the areas that I have identified as necessary.”
    Nissenbaum was further criticized as follows “The first is that he has assumed the role of advocate. A review of his affidavit No. 2 especially shows that he does not take an objective approach to the issues at hand.” and “he makes bold, unsupported statements on issues critical to the injunction”

    That is what you find out when something is subjected to legal scrutiny.

    The most domning aspect of his study was that it was entirely self reporting, widely acknowledged as an inferior methodology.

  8. David Norman says:

    JD … I don’t like pseudonymous acronyms so I’ll refer to you as John and reply in kind… the study you refer to had not yet been completed and peer reviewed for publication at the time of those inquiries. You can perhaps excuse that non peer review misgiving given the fact that it had not received the generous financing that those supporting the wind industry are accustomed too, including Pederson’s which are directed through corporate contributions to her University affiliation. As to your second comment, whilst there are a couple of basic facts, your contention is pieced together in such a convoluted imaginative manner that I was actually impressed by the creativity involved… it’s pathologically wonderful! However, I’m more curious about what has inspired all this reincarnated CSG interest on CountyLive?

  9. JD says:

    The marginal cost of electricity from the new tunnel at Niagara is the same as wind. The CEO of Bruce nuclear says they can do refurbished nuclear for 10 cents/KWH. But he doesn’t have to provide public liability insurance – because he can’t get it – and he doesn’t have to pay for permanently dealing with the waste. Further it is refurbished not new. The backbone of nuclear and hydro is legacy electricity generation not new. Everything built 25 years ago is cheaper to refurbish and use than built new today.

    And we are now finding because of the industries sloppy handling, natural gas is no cleaner than coal for green house gasses. So much of it escapes getting to the plant they might as well be burning coal.

  10. JD says:

    There is nothing new here. It is the same guy from Maine who’s work has been panned by at least two tribunals in Canada. One was in Chatham Kent and the other in Saskatchewan. The lead researcher was found to be biased by both tribunals.

  11. David Norman says:

    @ Don… you are quite correct to make the inference from my moniker Rogue Primate. John Livingston, author of the book (treatise) from which I derived this moniker, was my Graduate School Advisor, mentor, and if I might be so bold, my friend. I have read and reread all of his books including Rogue Primate several times. It is always close by for reference, and in fact was asked to critique several portions of the developing original manuscript before publication. To offer a correction to your reference to him, he was not the “head of Ecological Studies”, but a founder of and professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies graduate program at York U.
    I can still vividly remember a conversation I had with him one evening in the Graduate Lounge… where he intimated to me the dangers of what he referred to as the growing “techno utopia” ideology of the environmental movement as envisioned by many of the students, faculty and the greater society. At that moment he related to me what he perceived as the failure of his naturalist approach to accomplish anything of lasting value in the face of the inherently destructive “technomachine”.
    In all your pretentious “environmental” bluster you and your ilk are the very agents of this technomachine that John sought to warn me against succumbing too. Your ideological desire is part of the “magical thinking” that is little more than an irrelevant distraction to facing up to the inevitable consequences of the raging technomachine. As a result of that conversation with John I spent almost 30 years in “environmental” seclusion feeling intellectually impotent in the face of the environmental destruction that continued around me. It was the recognition of the fallacy of Industrial Wind Turbine (renewable energy) techno utopia that you and your ilk envision that finally gave me the impetus and courage to confront and express my own fears. Like your partner in this environmental crime, Ron Hart, who illustrates quite clearly the paranoid delusions of grandeur apparent by use of puerile rhetoric and insults directed at all those who engage critical thinking in this respect, you can not justify your position by abusing and contorting the message of another.
    And let me be quite clear here, I have no delusion that I will change or influence the thoughts and feelings of others with the messages I relate. It is merely a format for me to engage and test my own thoughts and notions. In that context I thank you and others for your commentary, however I will not allow your idiosyncratic predispositions to go unchallenged.

  12. Don Chisholm says:

    The Rouge Primate and magical thinking.
    When I see the signature block of David Norman, it always reminds me of Dr. John Livingston’s book, The Rogue Primate – Governor General’s award 1994. Livingston, who, died a few years ago, was head of the Ecological Studies department at York U, Toronto. I had several fax exchanges with him when he was at York. In one conversation he told me that his students, who would graduate with a phd in ecological studies, did not (would not) understand what humanity’s future would hold for us if there were no major changes in sociopolitical headings, i.e., to recognize limits to growth and take appropriate action.
    When I asked him why he did not tell them, he told me he did many times. They simply would not believe him. They believed that homo the sapient could always figure it out and find solutions. (see at http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/19/review-willful-blindness-why-we-ignore-the-obvious-at-our-peril/)
    Perhaps that led him to thoughts on magical thinking. While I cannot find my copy of, The Rogue Primate, here’s a para from a reviewer: http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Primate-Exploration-Human-Domestication/dp/1570980586 ”In Rogue Primate, Livingston discussed the boo-boos of human history, and contemplated the possibility of undoing them. Many thinkers have concluded that agriculture or civilization was the start of our downfall. Livingston believed that the stage for disaster was set long before that, when we invented magical thinking.”
    By magical thinking he was referring to religions that set humans apart from nature, with souls and the like. And also in governments we vote for that bases policy on everlasting growth in human activity, while ignoring mounting evidence that it is impossible.
    And today some rouge primates work toward prevention of wind energy, energy that could be one important contribution toward the solutions that Livingston’s students had hoped for.
    Anyhow, whenever I see the Rogue Primate pen name, Livingston’s message vividly comes to mind.
    Don Chisholm

  13. Chris Keen says:

    This article may be of interest.

    http://www.torontosun.com/2012/11/02/new-study-links-wind-turbines-to-ill-health

    “But now, researchers have published the first ever peer-reviewed study linking wind turbines and ill health — giving opponents of wind turbines their heaviest arsenal in a fight that could shape the landscape of rural Ontario and perhaps political fortunes in the next election.”
    …………..
    “The study, published in the periodical Noise and Health, found that a random sample of residents living within 1.4 km of wind turbines in two Maine communities suffered more from impaired mental health and sleep deprivation than those who lived at least 3.3 km away.”

  14. Mark says:

    Well those that have a financial interest in the wind industrialization of the County have displayed few visible health concerns while they count the dollars and prepare to pickup and dispose of the birds fallen victim. So some do appear to have acquired immunity!

  15. Louise says:

    Not sure where Ron Hart is coming from?
    However his reference to” Nimbys”, should be called “Luddites”. There has been a lot of research by a worldwide group of people into the effects of wind turbines. As for the people I now personally who have done a lot of work on this issue I certainly would not call them “Strange People”, they are dedicated, knowledgeable people who it has been an honour to be associated with.

  16. David Norman says:

    @ Fridge Concerns … whilst your first two references do indeed reflect empirical studies, they do not qualify as empirical justification of health effects since no objective measurements of physiological responses were taken. The latter two references were simply governmental policy justifications.

    @ Ron Hart… I’m curious, how do you justify the fact that Wind Turbines are completely reliant upon fossil fuels, particularly oil, for their existence and continued existence… how can they possibly be considered renewable energy in this respect?

  17. pkuster says:

    For a typical 100mw wind project, here’s a list of the environmental costs of the production of the generators alone;

    33 million gallons of poisoned water
    6 million cubic metres of toxic air pollution
    20,000 sq metres of destroyed vegetation.
    600 million pounds of highly contaminated tailing sands
    100 thousand pounds of radioactive waste

    An internal document from Vestas indicates that for each turbine blade produced, one ton of toxic waste is also produced.
    I haven’t yet got to the tower or the concrete base yet.

    Yes, by all means, be sure to get this part of your story out as well.

  18. Ron Hart says:

    The astounding development of wind power worldwide speaks for itself. Windpower’s contribution has been documented by the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute and the UNs various agencies.
    Despite the success of the campaign of misinformation funded by the fossil fuel industries in Canada, other jurisdictions continue to develop wind energy projects rapidly, often without government incentives. As a result we lose out on the jobs that would be produced by wind energy development ( and solar for that matter)–far more than would be produced by developing tar sands. We continue to fuss about bogus arguments about property values–to hell with the data–even while climate change destroys whole neighbourhoods. And there’s a cost to that in trillions of dollars and, of course, that other ‘externality’, human life.
    So what’s behind the growing rapid deployment of wind power? It doesn’t raise emissions. Contrary to tar sands’ dilbit and nuclear power’s nuclear waste storage ‘in perpetuity’ , it doesn’t lead us down a path to inevitable global ecocide.
    Wind power deniers have been labelled NIMBYs. A better label and a more accurate one would be that they are the present-day Luddites. They are afraid of change itself, and unconcerned about the future of humanity. They cling to what they have and are incapable of imagining a better future.

  19. Fridge Concerns says:

    Actually, I live in Scarborough – lots of trees down here.

    Lots of peer reviewed research has been done. All of it shows similar results:

    The only health impacts associated with wind turbines that can be measured results from levels of ‘annoyance’ – a finding that is correlated with a person’s opinion of wind turbines as being good or bad in the first place.

    In a nutshell: People who don’t like the ‘idea’ of wind turbines close to them, especially those who don’t share in project revenue are most likely to show annoyance related symptoms.

    People are stressing themselves out. The turbines themselves don’t seem to produce any physical symptoms independently.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22225031

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15658697

    Kollman, J. (2010). Potential Health Impacts of Wind Turbines

    Leventhall, G. (2006). “Infrasound from Wind Turbines – Fact, Fiction, or Deception.” Canadian
    Acoustics 34(2): 29-36.

    http://www.mass.gov/dep/energy/wind/turbine_impact_study.pdf

    http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/TrackingAssessment/HealthImpactAssessment/Documents/Oregon%20Wind%20Energy%20HIA%20Public%20comment.pdf

  20. David Norman says:

    @ Fridge Concerns… thanks for commenting… how’s the weather in Ottawa, Sandy do much damage? I wondered if you might take the time to provide me with one or perhaps two empirically derived “scientific” study references, which support your comment “There really isn’t any peer-reviewed, credible, scientifically repeatable, verifiable evidence to show any link between human health and windmills.”

  21. Gary Mooney says:

    Let’s assume for the moment that Hornung’s comment about wind being cost-competitive with other newly built power generators (except gas) is true.

    It is then necessary to look at the value of what is being produced. Nuclear and hydro produce baseload power, which is critical to our needs. Gas produces follow power during the day and peaking power during temperature extremes, both very important.

    Wind produces power at random, unrelated to demand, including about 50% during the night when demand is always lower. Wind power is not nearly as valuable as baseload, follow or peaking power. So even if we are paying the same price, we’re not getting the same value.

  22. Scott says:

    The CanWEA membership are probably tallying up the residences within 2 km to figure out how much more insurance, for legal expenses and settlements, they’ll need
    FIT 2.0 envisages 11.5 cents/kWh offers, but is not being implemented, There are ~2000MW of wind turbine capacity operating in Ontario, and another 4000MW contracted at the original FIT’s 13.5 cents/kWh.
    There were no nuclear refurbishments that came online in the period that the OEB tallied up – and the charges for projects in development don’t hit until the projects are online.
    Now that Bruce 1 and 2 are online, they still will get less than the 7.9 cents/kWh Ontario residents pay (on average) – and obviously much, much less than the wind capacity currently contracted.

  23. Renee says:

    I’m confident that the overwhelming majority of us shall we say 90%) believe that he has to spin his reponses this way – his livelihood depends on it.

    Does he live within 2 km of one of these turbines or does he just like to suppose that everyone who got trapped within this distance are having positive experiences.

  24. Fridge Concerns says:

    No he’s right. There really isn’t any peer-reviewed, credible, scientifically repeatable, verifiable evidence to show any link between human health and windmills.

    Its self-evident even without digging. There really are over 100,000 windmills worldwide, many of which have been around for decades. There just aren’t that many people complaining about them, except in countries where they are relatively new.

    People are worried because anti-wind groups try to scare them. Once these things are built, everyone realizes they are no big deal.

    You should also be aware. Wind gets 11.5 cents per KW/hr… this is the same price that natural gas plants get, and far less than nuclear with added subsidies considered. Wind power is NOT driving bill increases. Nuclear refurbishment is.

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