Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brown Ecologist: German far-right extremists tap into green movement for support

This took a while - the opportunity for the far right was there to be seen. 

German far-right extremists tap into green movement for support | World news | The Observer:
"German consumers are being warned that when they buy organic produce they may be supporting the far-right movement, following the revelation that rightwing extremists in Germany have embraced the ecological movement and are using it to tap into a new generation of supporters.
Debunking the popular view that equates eco-friendliness with cuddly, left-leaning greens, rightwing extremists have even begun to publish their own conservation magazine, which is believed to have the backing of the far-right National Democratic party (NPD). Alongside gardening tips and reports on the dangers of genetically modified milk are articles riddled with rightwing ideology and racial slurs. Bavaria's domestic intelligence agency has described the magazine, Umwelt und Aktiv (Environment and Active), as a "camouflage publication" for the NPD.
"We have to get used to the fact that the term 'bio' [organic] does not automatically mean equality and human dignity," said Gudrun Heinrich of the University of Rostock, who has just published a study on the topic called Brown Ecologists, a reference to the Nazi Brownshirts and their modern-day admirers."
The full article can be read at the Guardian site

US Committee on Energy And Commerce Questions: Is Hypocrisy a Leadership Trait?

The US Committee on Energy And Commerce has sent a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko

The letter details the expectations the NRC puts on it's licensees, cites instances where the Chairman's actions would be considered detrimental to the work environment if it were occurring at an organization overseen by the NRC, and requests responses from the Chairman on the reasons for the discrepancies.

My favourite:
3. Should the fact that a licensee is particularly "passionate" about his particular view on nuclear safety be a mitigating factor in licensee cases where agency staff has evidence that a chilled work environment may exist?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

OEB MSP: Report notes Transfer of Ontario's electricity sector cost to smaller consumers

The Ontario Energy Board's Market Surveillance Panel released it's bi-annual Monitoring Report on the IESO-Administered Electricity Markets, for the period from May 2011 - October 2011.  Of interest to many will be the success in dropping prices for Ontario's largest industrial customers.  Notably, the full cost are still borne by consumers - they are just transferred to other consumers.
This is the first Summer Report where all months of the reporting period were subject to the new Class A and Class B Global Adjustment (GA) allocation. From May to October 2011, the effective GA cost averaged $24.93/MWh for Class A customers and $39.62/MWh for Class B customers. Accordingly the effective total wholesale price (HOEP, plus GA, plus uplift charges) for electricity in the summer of 2011 was $57.34/MWh for Class A customers and $72.07/MWh for Class B customers, compared to $65.61/MWh in the summer of 2010 for all customers.
Over the reporting period Class A customers consumed about 16 percent of total electricity in Ontario and paid 11 percent of the total GA charges. Class B customers consumed about 84 percent of the power and paid 89 percent of the total GA charges.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Unit 2 creating steam for first time in 17 years | Bruce Power

Unit 2 creating steam for first time in 17 years | Bruce Power:
"Unit 2 created steam for the first time in 17 years this week, a momentous milestone in the return to service of the unit.
The production of steam, which is created to drive the turbine and produce safe, clean and reliable electricity for Ontarians, brings Bruce Power ever-closer to synchronizing Unit 2 to the province’s electrical grid.
As we get closer to returning Unit 2 to service, Bruce Power is also required to test 16 boiler steam relief valves. Each test generally lasts about a minute and we plan to test two valves every six hours for the duration of the resetting work over the next few days.
Neighbours of the Bruce site may notice some steam coming from Bruce A, and a low rumbling sound resembling distant rolling thunder may be audible. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience to our neighbours."

'via Blog this'

BMU Creates Renewable Energy Platform « German Energy Blog

I thought YOU had the plan!

BMU Creates Renewable Energy Platform « German Energy Blog:
"With Germany slowly realising that implementing last year’s energy policy shift away from nuclear power towards a renewable energy supply is a huge task, Federal Minister for the Environment announced the creation of a new national working group for renewable energy, the “Renewable Energy Platform”. The announcement came just days after the new steering committee “Energy Policy Shift”"

David Cameron says wind energy must get cheaper - Telegraph

Another leader with an opinion.  
That'll boost rates.

David Cameron says wind energy must get cheaper - Telegraph:
"Households are currently paying record high fuel bills due to fossil fuel prices and ‘green taxes’.
Every energy company is obliged to generate a certain amount of electricity from ‘green’ sources like wind and the extra cost of this is passed onto consumers.
The so-called ‘Renewable obligation’ already adds around £20 to the average energy bill every year and this is expected to go up to more than £50 by 2020.
Mr Cameron said the ‘green taxes’ should come down.
“As costs fall so it is right that consumers should pay less in subsidies for new projects,” he said."
“We don’t just need greener energy – we need cheaper energy too.”
Full article is at the Telegraph   

Renewable Surcharge Inflation on Germany's Horizon

Decades after introducing feed-in tariff programs, Germany remains unable to contain inflation in residential electricity pricing through the renewables surcharge - that component of German's bills is again set to increase 33-50% next year.

Handelsblatt: Another Considerable Rise of EEG Surcharge on the Horizon « German Energy Blog:
"The surcharge or reallocation charge for renewable energy sources pursuant to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) may rise from  3.592 ct/kWh in 2012 to between 4.8 to 5.2 ct/kWh in 2013, the newspaper Handelsblatt reported.
With the EEG surcharge, consumers pay for the difference between the guaranteed feed-in tariffs paid pursuant to the EEG for renewable energy fed into the grids and the sale of the renewable energy at the EEX energy exchange by the TSOs. The complex system of the sale of the renewable energy by TSOs and their compensation is laid down in AusglMechV and the corresponding AusglMechAV.
A 33% rise of the EEG reallocation charge to 4.8 ct/kWh would be another considerable increase of the total costs of roughly EUR 13 billion, Handelsblatt says (for the exact costs in 2011 please see here). While the EEG surcharge only rose slightly from 3.53 ct/kWh in 2011 to 3.592 ct/kWh in 2012, it already increased by 72% in 2011 (2010: 2.047 Cent/kWh)."
Read the full article at the German Energy Blog.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

AP 1000 On Short List in CANDU country

This story, from Ontario, is only surprising in that it makes sense.  
The AP 1000 are approved in the adjacent jurisdiction (the USA), and that's probably useful.
CANDU's are on some short lists too - in Turkey and Jordan.  In another year, should they win some contracts, Ontario may have the option of choosing CANDU's or seeing AECL move jobs out of province.

Ontario zeroes in on two nuclear reactor designs -
"Ontario is in talks with two nuclear suppliers about submitting detailed plans for proposed new reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.
But provincial sources say it will be more than a year before a decision is made on which design to choose – if any.
The two designs in the running are:
 • The Enhanced Candu 6 reactor made by Candu Energy Inc., a unit of SNC-Lavalin, which bought the assets of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. last year.
 • The AP 1000 reactor made by Westinghouse.
The entire article can be read at the Toronto Star site 

2nd BMWi Power Plant Forum Debates New EWI Study on Design of Electricity Markets to Ensure Sufficient Power Plant Capacity

A couple of interesting articles have been posted at the German Energy Blog - well, interesting if you are following market design challenges for markets where intermittent, unpredictable generators are given priority access to the grid.

2nd BMWi Power Plant Forum Debates New EWI Study on Design of Electricity Markets to Ensure Sufficient Power Plant Capacity « German Energy Blog:
"The study shows the dilemma of the German electricity market design. The priority for renewable energy with regard to the guaranteed purchase, transmission and remuneration (fixed feed-in tariffs) pursuant to the more and more complex Renewable Energy Energy Sources Act (EEG; see latest plans for a solar feed-in tariff reduction despite the amendment of EEG at the beginning of 2012) leads to less and less load hours for power plants that are (still) needed to provide security of supply, i.e. mostly conventional power plants. In return some kind of new market design for a secure supply of energy seems almost inevitable, but can itself potentially distort the market or at least render the whole market design even more complex and less transparent. This may lead to new market entry barriers."
Read the entire article at The German Energy Blog
The article is directly related to the planned build-out of traditional (coal/gas) build-out in Germany, which is described in a second German Energy Blog post; BDEW Data on Power Plant New Build and Electricity Consumption.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Repsol down - European mid-caps out

European Energy Review has an interesting article on Argentina's nationalization of YPF - opining that countries will require the development of their energy assets, and the large investments needed may disqualify company's lacking the requisite financial resources from participating.
Use it or lose it.

Repsol down - European mid-caps out:
"The nationalisation of Spanish oil producer Repsol's Argentinian assets cannot be seen in isolation. It points to a much wider problem for mid-sized European energy producers: they are being squeezed out of the market on one side by independent wild-catters and on the other by increasingly powerful emerging market governments that prefer to deal with Big Oil companies. To get out of this bind, the Repsols of this world may have to band together - or seek Asian assistance. What they cannot afford to do is stand still, argues energy analyst Matthew Hulbert."
Read the entire article at the European Energy Review site

Watch a Preview of Radioactive Wolves | Nature | PBS

If you haven't seen Radioactive Wolves yet, PBS offers another chance tonight
Watch a Preview of Radioactive Wolves | Nature | PBS:
"What happens to nature after a nuclear accident? And how does wildlife deal with the world it inherits after human inhabitants have fled?
In 1986 a nuclear meltdown at the infamous Chernobyl power plant in present-day Ukraine left miles of land in radioactive ruins. Residents living in areas most contaminated by the disaster were evacuated and relocated by government order, and a no-man’s land of our own making was left to its own devices. In the ensuing 25 years, forests, marshes, fields and rivers reclaimed the land, reversing the effects of hundreds of years of human development. And surprisingly, this exclusion zone, or “dead zone,” has become a kind of post-nuclear Eden, populated by beaver and bison, horses and birds, fish and falcons – and ruled by wolves."

Watch Radioactive Wolves on PBS. See more from Nature.

Siemens cuts outlook on delayed wind projects | Reuters

Germany's offshore wind gamble is hitting Siemens AG

Siemens cuts outlook on delayed wind projects | Reuters:
"(Reuters) - German engineering conglomerate Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) slashed its full-year outlook on Wednesday after incurring another major charge related to delayed offshore wind power projects in the second quarter.
The announcement comes a day after Siemens named a new chief for the affected Power Transmission division, having ousted the unit's former CEO Udo Niehage."
"We are addressing the problems (at Power Transmission) systematically," group Chief Executive Peter Loescher said after Siemens reported a two-thirds drop in fiscal second-quarter net profit from continuing operations to 1.05 billion euros.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Germany plans to build, revamp 84 power plants-BDEW | Reuters

How to replace 20GW of nuclear capacity:
20GW of coal or natural gas, and 22GW of some other stuff.
or ....
Germany plans to build, revamp 84 power plants-BDEW | Reuters:
"(Reuters) - German utilities and private investors have plans to construct or modernise some 84 power stations, energy and water industry association BDEW said on Monday.
The planned projects were equivalent to an installed power generation capacity of 42,000 megawatts (MW), the Berlin-based group said in a statement issued on the first day of the Hanover industrial fair."
Of the total number counted by BDEW, 23 units were to be driven by offshore wind, 10 were pumped storage plants, 29 gas-fired and 17 coal-fired generation plants, it said.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Three killed in offshore wind farm construction - The Local

I've heard strict regulations are part of the delay in offshore wind expansion.
This seems like a pretty high body count for a heavily regulated industry

Three killed in offshore wind farm construction - The Local:
"A total of three men, including a Polish worker and a Swedish diver have already lost their lives whilst working on offshore wind farms 120 kilometres off the East Frisian coast near Emden, reported the online edition of the Focus magazine on Sunday.

Both workers drowned while working on the BardOffshore wind farm.
The entire article can be read here

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The OPA is not ORNGE

The Toronto Star ran an article by Martin Regg Cohn: ORNGE isn't the only secret society playing with public money
Readers of my blogs know I've spent some effort on Ontario's electricity system.  Over the time I have become increasingly appreciative of the extent to which the IESO is particular, but also the OPA, are transparent.
I wrote the following, and sent it off to Mr. Regg Cohn, as well as media contacts at the OPA, the IESO, and opposition energy critics:

VDE Study: Energy Shift Towards Renewables Needs Back-up by Flexible Conventional Power Plants « German Energy Blog

VDE Study: Energy Shift Towards Renewables Needs Back-up by Flexible Conventional Power Plants « German Energy Blog: "Last year’s energy policy shift away from nuclear power towards a renewable energy supply needs to be backed up by a fleet of flexible conventional power plants, a study by Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies (VDE) concludes.

Only flexible conventional power plants were capable during the transition period to balance capacity shortages of grids, storage facilities and renewable energies and thus ensure a safe and reliable power supply, the VDE study “Renewable Energies Need Flexible Power Plants” says. For the study energy experts developed and assessed electricity generation scenarios up to 2020."

'via Blog this'

Buy coal? New analysis shows purchasing fossil fuel deposits best way to fight climate change | e! Science News

I haven't had much luck convincing people that a big issue in reducing fossil fuel use is in the value of the fossil fuel assets to the regions that have them.
This article recognizes that - but not only is it on a site for science news, it's stuck in the "Mathematics & Economics" section.  
It won't get much attention there.

Buy coal? New analysis shows purchasing fossil fuel deposits best way to fight climate change | e! Science News:
"Environmental policy has historically been driven by a demand-side mindset -- attempting to limit consumption of precious fossil fuels through pollution permits, taxation, and multi-national climate change treaties. However, new research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University suggests that actually buying coal, oil and other dirty fossil fuel deposits still in the ground could be a far better way to fight climate change. The new study, "Buy Coal! A Case for Supply-Side Environmental Policy," suggests that the single best policy for a multi-national climate coalition is to purchase the extraction rights of dirty fossil fuels in non-participating countries (also called "third countries"), and then conserve rather than exploit the deposits. According to the study's author, Bard Harstad, this would be a radical departure from the traditional view that focuses on reducing the demand for fuel."
I suggest the experience of the USA and Australia - and emerging in Canada - indicate a domestic reduction in consumption leads to an increase in exports.  In Australia's case, and with the province of British Columbia, carbon taxation policies at home are accompanied by exemptions on exports.

This article provides a saner point-of-view.  Read the entire article here

Carbon capture in UK under threat as study raises doubts | Environment |

An article on the questionable ability of carbon capture to impact emissions

Carbon capture in UK under threat as study raises doubts | Environment |
"Serious doubts have been raised over the prospects for carbon capture and storage in the UK in the first comprehensive investigation into the technology, just two weeks after the government launched a £1bn competition to build the first demonstration CCS plant.
The finding by the government-funded UK Energy Research Council endangers many of the government's assumptions on tackling climate change, because ministers' long-term plans rely heavily on making the untried technique work on a massive scale. CCS is designed to lower the carbon emissions of fossil fuel power stations.
The design of the new competition is flawed, and the UK is already falling far behind other countries such as the US in its attempts to commercialise the expensive technique, according to the lead author of the study, which took two years to compile. The technique has never been demonstrated at scale on a working power station.
Jim Watson, lead author of the report, said: "People assumed that CCS would be straightforward, but it has not been. It is a particularly challenging technology – it's actually very, very difficult.""
Read the entire article at the Guardian site

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Big Step Forward for Liquefied Gas Exports

A Big Step Forward for Liquefied Gas Exports -

"Cheniere Energy crossed a big hurdle in its push to export natural gas this week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its stamp of approval to the Houston company’s proposed liquefied gas export terminal in Sabine Pass, La. FERC’s assent had been considered the most uncertain element of a long government approval process, and the Texas-based company now hopes to start exporting by late 2015 or early 2016."

The entire article can be read at the NY Times' Green blog

Wind power sagging

Arizona is noting wind isn't the cheapest way for it to hit a renewable energy requirement.  I don't have much use for the mandates to begin with, but this is notable because hitting the numbers in the mandates is what has driven the wind industry. 

Wind power sagging:
"Only months after Coconino County's first major wind energy farm got up and running this winter, the utility buying its power says more wind farms here are unlikely -- at least for now.
Cost is the bottom line, with the sun beating the wind on both equipment prices and time-of-day power production.
This disadvantage for wind could have some implications for a handful of other big wind projects proposed in Coconino County.
A worldwide glut of solar panels produced at lower costs (including from China) has cut solar panel prices to a fraction of their former cost.
So Arizona Public Service is likely to turn to solar in the coming years to meet a state mandate that it generate 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025. APS gets about 5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources today.
"Right now, it looks like solar -- photovoltaic -- is the lowest-cost resource," said Gordon Samuel, who plans future energy supplies at APS.
Also, the wind here doesn't produce enough power when APS and Phoenix need it most: on hot summer afternoons."
The entire article can be read at the Arizona Daily Sun site

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PV giant First Solar to axe 30% of global staff and exit Germany

Another Story on another bad day for Europe's Solar Industry

PV giant First Solar to axe 30% of global staff and exit Germany

Thin-film PV giant First Solar intends to walk away from its German factories and “indefinitely idle” four of its production lines in Malaysia, as the blood continues to spill across the European solar sector. First Solar’s facility in Frankfurt (Oder), in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, will be closed permanently by the end of the year in response to ever-waning support for PV in core European markets.

The Arizona-based company opened a second plant at the site only last November, doubling its German production capacity to about 500MW.

The four lines to be idled in Kulim, Malaysia – where First Solar now performs the bulk of its manufacturing – will be shut from 1 May, as First Solar looks to align its production capacity with slowing growth in global demand.
The full article can be read at 

Focus on solar in Europe was costly error: fund

One article from another bad day for Europe's solar industry

Focus on solar in Europe was costly error: fund:
"LONDON -- Some European countries like Italy and Spain made "insane" bets on solar power at the expense of other renewables by subsidising the technology too generously, the chief executive of an Italian environmental private equity fund said on Monday.
Several European Union nations have been scaling back subsidies for renewable energy, including solar, as they try to pare back public spending amid the EU sovereign debt crisis.
"Solar will definitely be the solution 20 to 30 years from now worldwide, but what has happened in the last five years in Europe is completely insane," Nino Tronchetti Provera, chief executive of Ambienta, said in an interview.
"You cannot have countries like Spain and Italy which are almost bust because of the interest they have to pay to serve their (public) debts, spending billions and billions to produce a small share of electricity," he added."
Continue reading at

Monday, April 16, 2012

Selfish is the New Green : TreeHugger

Selfish is the New Green : TreeHugger:
"The green movement is dead, and it appears to have been replaced with the Selfish movement. Put solar panels on your roof and make money from the government."It's better than the bank." Eat the right food. "you will live longer, better." Drive the plug-in car. "you will save thousands in fuel costs." It is not about the environment, it's not about the climate, it's all about you."
Read the article at Treehugger

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fundraising: Mann's Hockey Shtick

Merchandise to pay Micheal Mann's legal bills.
$25 for a shirt, $75 for 3 ...

Project: Help Cover Mike Mann's Legal Bills | RocketHub:
"For the last two years the Attorney General of Virginia has been demanding Dr. Michael Mann’s email correspondence from his time as a professor at UVA. The Attorney General has repeatedly been shut down by the courts, most recently by the Virginia Supreme Court. The Washington Post called the Attorney General’s actions “a costly episode of government overreach” and a “witch hunt”. More recently, a similar attack on Mann has been orchestrated by a fossil fuel front group called American Tradition Institute. Dr. Mann has incurred legal expenses from both of these vexatious inquiries. Academic salaries were not designed to support ongoing litigation."
$300 gets you a hockey stick signed by Mike Mann.
Is that for the whole stick, or just the shaft?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Folly of Ontario' s renewable energy program provides warning for other governments

I feel obliged to comment of the Fraser Institute's strategy for Renewable Electrical Energy, which they released yesterday.  
Their report shows Canada will add 22GW of capacity over the next decade, while the United States adds on 17.5GW; Canada's annual output will grow 585TWh, while the US rises almost 4000TWh. They add less, and produce more.
LUEC of generation sources is increasingly irrelevant, the utilization rate of all elements of a system is increasingly the most relevant factor in residential costs.  Adding wind, for instance, is supposed to make the LUEC of a gas plant higher by displacing the need for it, without being capable of replacing it.
They also have the jobs metric backwards - the price elasticity of demand grows over a longer time.

Nick Clegg speech on the green economy

The Guardian has a few things up on the "Green Deal" proposal recently submitted by the other leader in the governing coalition, Nick Clegg.  I've chosen one from the longish, platitude-ridden speech where it was introduced.
The approach reminds me on the last left-wing leader we had around here - Jack Layton.
Here's how this program would work in Ontario.  The local distribution company (LDC) would spend the money to update the home, then book that full value as an asset, and the regulator would allow them to earn a 10% return on the inflated equity.
I don't think Mr. Clegg's speech actually addresses how people save money while utilities stay profitable - but it's the start of a good idea...

Nick Clegg speech on the green economy | Environment |
"The Government's Green Deal, which we'll begin rolling out in the autumn will offer businesses and homeowners energy saving home improvements but at no upfront cost. Customers will have energy saving measures installed in their homes by trusted suppliers from high street brands to local traders.
They will only begin paying for those improvements once they're complete. Payment will be made through their bills, over a period of time. And they shouldn't be out of pocket because their homes will be more energy efficient, allowing them to save on their energy bills each month. We'll ensure customers are never charged more for the home improvements than we expect them to make back in cheaper bills. Plus the charge is attached to the property, rather than the person, so if you move, you stop paying."
The entire article, and others related to the Green Deal, can be read at the Guardian site.
and if you act right now ...
you can argue for or against at the Guardian, with a 'verdict' to come later in the day

Canada’s WTO defence of Green Energy Act ...

The Council of Canadians (not all Canadians) posted an interpretation of the WTO activities surrounding Ontario's Green Energy Act.  The article is interesting in specifying the OPA as a body specifically excluded, in Ontario's eyes (Canada essentially has no choice but to defend the action), from WTO procurement rules.  
The speculation has been that the OPA's days were numbered.
Perhaps it's the IESO that shouldn't be ordering more letterhead.

Canada’s WTO defence of Green Energy Act trumpets public procurement as a local development tool:
"The WTO Government Procurement Agreement, to which Canada, the EU and Japan are signatory countries, would ban local preferences in the Green Energy Act had Ontario not excluded the Ontario Power Authority from its February 2010 commitments. Had Ontario not done this, Japan and the EU would have been able to challenge the Act as an illegal offset or as otherwise upsetting national treatment rules that forbid a covered government agency from discriminating among local suppliers based on where those suppliers source their goods or services.
The Province also excluded the OPA in the temporary Canada-U.S. procurement agreement, which was signed at the same time that the provinces were listed under the WTO procurement agreement. "

Thursday, April 12, 2012

MaRS Discovery District: Ontario's most expensive Consultants

Parker Gallant on MaRs

MaRS Discovery District: Ontario's most expensive Consultants

MaRS Discovery District is a think tank created by Ernie Eves when Premier of Ontario. MaRS officially opened as a charitable institution in 2002 and by September 2005 had received $70 million taxpayer dollars. MaRS was touted as a way to capture the $1 billion in science and technology research spending in the medical sector in the University Ave. corridor. Their website claims, “MaRS is where science, technology and social entrepreneurs get the help they need. Where all kinds of people meet to spark new ideas. And where a global reputation for innovation is being earned, one success story at a time.”

Infrastructure Ontario: Charitable Financing Ontario Style

Parker Gallant Looks at Infrastructure Ontario

Infrastructure Ontario: Charitable Financing Ontario Style

Ontario Infrastructure Projects Corporation (Infrastructure Ontario or IO) is a Liberal creation established in 2005 designed to “provide financing for municipalities, universities and other public bodies in the Province of Ontario.”

IO's March 31, 2010 annual report shows accumulated debt of $3.5 billion and a deficit of $196 million. All of their debt is borrowed or guaranteed by the Province. In June 2011, IO merged with Ontario Realty Corporation, another crown corporation but retained their name and the March 31, 2011 consolidated statements magically made that $196 million negative net worth disappear. Note 13 of the audit report shows that IO had a debt restructuring and states “ During the year, Infrastructure Ontario was granted a remission of $200 million on the Province of Ontario loan,” (my emphasis). This loan was for $1 billion at an interest rate that averaged less then 1% and a maturity date of 2053. As of March 31, 2011 the balance sheet shows a small positive net worth and debt levels of $4.2 billion. An exchange with IO enquiring about the merger and staffing levels (191 on the “Sunshine List”) generated a response that said the merger “is generating $5 million in savings to the province this year as a result of its merger”. Forgiving $200 million of debt enabled them to generate $5 million in interest savings but the taxpayers are now on the hook for that debt and interest cost. The Minister of Finance in March 2011 announced he was scrapping a “a dozen redundant agencies” and the press reported this as follows: “The Liberals’ elimination of the 13 obsolete agencies — including melding the Stadium Corporation of Ontario, which managed the province’s interests in the SkyDome, into a previously announced hybrid of Infrastructure Ontario and the Ontario Realty Corporation — will save only $200,000 a year.”

Instead of saving $200,000 this merger cost taxpayers $200 million.

Infrastructure Ontario's Vision statement announces they want “To be recognized as world class in the modernization of public services” but how they go about this task should be a concern to the taxpayers of Ontario. One example is their financing of a 173,000 square foot courthouse in Belleville at a cost of $270 million or $1,500 per square foot. To put that in context Scotia Plaza with 2 million square feet is expected to sell for just over $1 billion or $500 per square foot. The Drummond Commission report had this recommendation in respect to the section on the Justice Ministry: “Recommendation 14-8: Have the justice sector continue to work with Infrastructure Ontario to use alternative financing and procurement to assist in replenishing its capital infrastructure.”

Mr. Drummond apparently feels that $1,500 dollars a square foot is serving justice and the taxpayers.

IO also have a GreenFIT program which connects vendors with the Municipal, academic, schools and hospitals (MASH) sector in an effort to contribute to the “greening” of that sector. One of those IO loans was made to Bancroft Light & Power Corporation (BLPC) owned by the Town of Bancroft. BLPC has just gone into receivership because they failed to qualify for the FIT program when they refurbished their 100 year old dam on the Madawaska River. They had expected to qualify for a FIT program that would pay them 13 cents per kWh but got caught up in bureaucratic red tape and found they would have to sell the power at wholesale rates which averaged only 3.15 cents for 2011 and would be insufficient to cover the costs of debt servicing. IO will need to write this loan off in the current year and it will be the Ontario taxpayers who will wind up with the bill.

IO are also committed to financing a 20 story expansion of the MaRS Discovery District a charitable institution which is heavily entrenched in “Cleantech” (renewable energy as seen through the eyes of the Ontario Ministry of Energy). MaRS is basically a glorified real estate company heavily subsidized by the province and has lost money since its creation in 2002. A review of the CRA filings indicates MaRS has received over $150 million of taxpayers dollars since they opened their doors. With this financing of $230 million for the new MaRS building IO seems to have stepped out of the MASH financing sphere and into the financing of charities.

Should the taxpayers next expect to see IO financing wind and solar projects for the likes of Greenpeace, Environmental Defence, Pembina, Tides Canada, OSEA or the David Suzuki Foundation, or will this reckless spending push the Province to Greek status and force the government to stop the madness?

Parker Gallant,
April 8, 2012

Vander Doelen: Utility sell-off bad idea

A writer at the Windsor Star is even more cynical about Dwight Duncan than I am.
Duncan must be his MPP

Vander Doelen: Utility sell-off bad idea:
"Who is pushing for privatization? Some people in the NDP believe it's financial market players who hope to make huge fees off the sales.
Industry sources I talked to Wednesday had another theory: Duncan is being pushed to sell off the utilities by the public sector's hugely wealthy pension plans.

Ontario's Government 11 Days Late For April Fools' Day

A new task force, new trade missions, another forum to exchange ideas/swap spit.
The only thing expanding is Pinocchio's nose

Expanding Ontario's Clean Energy Economy:
"Ontario launched its Clean Energy Economic Development Strategy, which will create even more new jobs in the clean energy sector. The new strategy will leverage the province's clean energy experience to become a global leader in key areas of the energy sector. "

Guardian Article on Windfarms Impact On Bird Populations

The Guardian doesn't hide it's editorial direction, but it's usually fair in skewing facts to it's direction.  Not with the "Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds" article title.
The article indicates some populations aren't impacted, and others are.  Curiously, this is the same type of spin as in the Danish fish study I posted on yesterday - where there is a response that many species aren't impacted, without addresses concerns on species most likely to be impacted.
Regardless, I'll correct the headlines skew with the quotes I select

Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds | Environment |
Curlew numbers remained "significantly lower" after the windfarms began operating, after they abandoned nesting sites. Snipe numbers also failed to recover...Ornithologists are becoming increasingly anxious about the UK's overall curlew numbers; they have fallen sharply by about half, since 1995, and the UK is host to one-third of Europe's entire curlew population. The species is now on the amber list of threatened bird species.
The study's authors warned that their findings presented strong evidence that new developments should be carefully sited to minimise impacts on birds.
Pearce-Higgins said one caveat was that more long-term data was needed to ensure their findings were robust: some of the windfarms being studied had only been operating for three years.
There have been notorious, historic, cases of windfarms in other countries affecting local bird populations. Studies in the UK had found evidence that birds of prey in particular avoided windfarms, reducing the available food supplies and habitat. Bats can also be affected.
The RSPB was very critical of a decision by the Scottish government last week to approve the Viking windfarm on Shetland, despite clear evidence that its 103 turbines would harm nesting grounds and habitat for whimbrel and red-throated divers.

Clean energy investment stalls in Q1

Clean energy investment stalls in Q1 | Environment |
"Clean energy investment in the first quarter of the year was at its weakest level since the global financial crisis, according to new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) that will raise fresh questions about the impact of policy uncertainty on green business confidence.
The analyst firm reported that new financial investment in clean energy during the first three months of the year reached $27bn, down 28 per cent on the previous quarter and 22 per cent year on year. Michael Liebreich, BNEF chief executive, said the performance represented the lowest quarterly level of clean energy investment in several years.
"A $27bn quarterly figure is not a disaster, but it is the weakest since the dismal $20bn seen in the first quarter of 2009, when the financial crisis was at its worst," he said in a statement. "The weak Q1 2012 number reflects the destabilising uncertainty over future clean energy support in both the European Union (driven by the financial crisis) and the US (driven by the expiry of stimulus programmes and the electoral cycle).""
The full article can be read at the Guardian website

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Phantoms I’ve Killed | Do the Math

The Do The Math blog I noted I recently discovered in reading an interview with the author.
We've reduced electricity use in our century home by 2/3rds - so I thought I was conscious about consumption.
After reading this, my kids might have to put up with dad going through another energy audit phase.

The Phantoms I’ve Killed:
"Two weeks ago, I described my factor-of-five reduction of natural gas usage at home, mostly stemming from a decision not to heat our San Diego house. We have made similar cuts to our use of utility electricity, using one-tenth the amount that comparable San Diego homes typically consume. In this post, I will reveal how we pulled this off…with plots. Some changes are simple; some require behavioral changes; some might be viewed as outright trickery."
Read the full post at Do The Math

Conservation in the Anthropocene | Climate Etc.

A lazy post of an entry at Climate Etc. that involves a lot of reading "work."
I find it notably interesting not only for the argument, but particularly because I find the argument, from my brief review, relates to the religious view that puts humans in the steward role.
I fell that just banning sections as 'off limits' confused responsibility with abdication of responsibility.

In  Ontario, for instance, huge parts of the north are set aside, and that seems to act as justification for opening important bird areas in the south to industrial wind turbine development despite the known threat to protected species.
If the starting point were cohabitation, the end points would be different... as they should.

Conservation in the Anthropocene | Climate Etc.:
"Conservationists need to work with development, not condemn it as leading to the end of nature. In truth, nature’s resilience has been overlooked, its fragility “grossly overstated.” Areas blasted by nuclear radiation are bio-diverse. Forest cover is rising in the Northern Hemisphere even as it declines globally.
These are ‘heretical words’ from Peter Kareiva, chief scientist of the Nature Conservancy.  Karieva has written a provocative article for the Breakthrough Institute entitled Conservation in the Athropocene .... From the summary:
“By its own measures, conservation is failing. Biodiversity on Earth continues its rapid decline. We continue to lose forests in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There are so few wild tigers and apes that they will be lost forever if current trends continue. Simply put, we are losing many more special places and species than we’re saving.”"

"I don't think we can solve all our problems by tapping low-hanging shale-gas fruit"

A very interesting interview.  I've added "Do The Math" to my Google Reader list, and hope others will do the same.

"I don't think we can solve all our problems by tapping low-hanging shale-gas fruit":
"Tom Murphy: I’d sooner have smart people than a smart grid, deciding that it’s in our collective interest to scale back energy use at a personal level. Failing that, a smart grid helps distribute demand in such a way that intermittent renewables are more easily accommodated (using energy when it’s available).
Some things may work well like this, but I don’t think this is a realistic way to hide variable energy supply from the consumer. They may be irked that they lose control over when the laundry decides to start, possibly resulting in clothes smelling of mildew, or that they are not present to fold clothes at 2 AM when the dryer is finished. Loss of control may not play well. If, instead, informed people accepted limitations of future energy supplies, and modified their own behaviour accordingly under their own control, we would break the habit of people taking energy for granted: an attitude that the smart grid attempts to preserve. We want greater personal awareness of energy, not less. "
Read the full interview at the European Energy Review site

Fish Tales From The Wind Industry

Making the rounds on the internet today are reports of a Danish study showing fish thriving around offshore wind farms.
Fish Thriving Around Wind Farms reports on the excellent news, eventually noting a couple of factors, from the study around 1 wind farm, a cynic might not attribute to offshore wind turbines:
Offshore turbines at Horns Rev are sunk deep into the seabed and surrounded by a rim of large piles of stones, which prevents the sea currents eroding deep trenches in the sand around the turbines. The study suggests that these stone structures also act as artificial reefs
Since the Horns Rev 1 was built, the area has been closed to all fishing activities. As a result, the park has become a kind of mini protected area, although it has been too small to have had any significantly positive effects on local fish stocks.
I thought the concern with marine life being impacted by wind turbines was primarily on species using sonar.  I'm no expert, but I think those are known as predators.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yes Minister, its been an interesting 6 months

Parker Gallant's latest piece addresses many of the themes I write on at my original content blog, as well as the economic themes often referenced in articles linked to on this blog.  
It has been 6 months since the Liberals were returned to power in Ontario with a “major minority” and almost 6 months on the job for Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley. Since his appointment a lot has happened in the energy sector that may not have received the attention it deserved, having been overshadowed by the ORNGE scandal which, in terms of costs to Ontarians will look like a rounding error when compared to the Energy Ministry. In no particular order here are some of the events that Minister Bentley has faced:

Monday, April 9, 2012

The De-Bikification of Beijing - Commute - The Atlantic Cities

Not sure what to think after reading this.  It appears the poor like being rich, and the rich foreigners like to romanticize the ways of the poor.

The De-Bikification of Beijing - Commute - The Atlantic Cities:
"BEIJING — Just a few years ago, the streets of Beijing were clogged with so many bicycles that riders sailing through an intersection looked like a school of fish moving through the water.
Today the cars have taken over. In fact, Beijing more and more is just another traffic-clogged city with Chinese characteristics. Its bike lanes are rapidly filling with parked cars, auto rickshaws spewing exhaust, and strolling pedestrians.
Bicycle use in Beijing has dropped from about 60 percent in 1986 to 17 percent in 2010
To many Chinese, bikes are now for losers. The iconic Beijing bicycle is a sorry one-gear affair with a metal basket on the front which breaks so regularly that every street corner seems to have a makeshift fix-it stand.
"There is a quote: ‘I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bike,'""

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fighting to Save Lambton

The Sarnia Construction Association and Sarnia Building Trades placed an advertisement in The Toronto Sun to argue for the continued operation of the Lambton Generating Station (LGS).

In its recently released Long-Term Energy Plan, the Ontario government has made it clear that it is bound and determined to close the coal-fired Lambton Generating Station by 2014. That clearly is a mistake that will hurt Ontario consumers, businesses and our economy for years to come. The current government’s misdirection on the path to achieve cleaner sustainable energy ignores the reality of what is really happening in Ontario and elsewhere. A 46% increase in electricity prices in this province over the next 5 years is unacceptable.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ontario’s Power Trip: The great electricity bill cover-up

"Ontarians will pay $319 more per year for green energy soon — despite government denials"
The latest article in the Financial Posts's "Ontario's Power Trip" series (which I've shared writing credits on a couple of times) is by Bruce Sharp.  In my opinion, Bruce has the best record of forecasting pricing in Ontario.

Ontario’s Power Trip: The great electricity bill cover-up | FP Comment | Financial Post:
"The Ontario green-energy ship is taking on water and yet one would never know it from how the captain is talking. On March 22, the provincial government announced the results of its highly anticipated feed-in tariff (FIT) review and the message from the bridge was “Everything’s fine … stay the course.”
In supporting this message, the current captain/Minister of Energy Chris Bentley made reference to how green energy accounts for only about 5% of the increase in electricity bills. The problem with such a statement is it begs many questions, including 5% of what, and over what period?
A recent electricity price-increase forecast for 2012-16, filed with the Ontario Energy Board, helpfully provides answers, with wind and solar energy forecast to directly add $3.05-billion to annual provincial energy bills. "

Read the entire article at the Financial Post site

Regulator OKs the start of Summer

Regulator OKs the start of Summer:
Two AP1000 reactors at the VC Summer plant in South Carolina are to be the second US new-build project to receive combined construction and operation licences (COLs) after receiving the final regulatory go-ahead.
Four of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) five commissioners voted that the NRC staff's review of South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper's application for the units was "adequate" for the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings, clearing the way for the NRC's Office of New Reactors (NRO) to issue the COLs. The COLs should be issued within the next two weeks, in the culmination of a process that began with the submission of the COL application in March 2008.
Read the full article at World Nuclear News 

Abu Dhabi nuclear bid speeds up

Kepco is the other major partner in the Korean Consortium Ontario stupidly contracted to develop 2000MW of wind and 500MW of solar capacity  in Ontario.  While the development was then subbed out to San Francisco (Pattern Energy), Kepco will handle the wiring.

Abu Dhabi nuclear bid speeds up | PROS:
"SEOUL // The South Korean consortium building Abu Dhabi's nuclear plant has shortened its construction schedule by four months - to January 2017 - and expects to pour the first concrete in July.
Its progress in delivering the Arab world's first reactors is being closely watched as Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), the company leading the US$20.4 billion (Dh74.9bn) contract for the emirate's four reactors, pursues more work in countries including India and Finland.

Plans to build a nuclear fast reactor at Sellafield come a step closer - Science - News - The Independent

GE steps up efforts to deploy a PRISM reactor in the U.K.

Plans to build a nuclear fast reactor at Sellafield come a step closer - Science - News - The Independent:
"A radical plan to deal with Britain’s plutonium waste – the biggest civil deposit in the world – has come a step closer with a legal contract to test the feasibility of building an American nuclear fast reactor on the Sellafield site in Cumbria.
Britain’s own fast-reactor programme was abandoned two decades ago and yesterday it was announced that the fast-reactor site at Dounreay in Scotland will be dismantled by 2025 at a cost of £2.7bn.
However, The Independent can reveal that nuclear officials have signed a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of building an American-designed fast reactor to “burn” the plutonium waste on-site at Sellafield."
The full article can be read at the Independent site
Professor Barry Brooks posted the GE press release in a comment on his site

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Energy bill vote angers Governor

One more example of 'green' energy rules structured to oppose the importation of cheaper, cleaner, energy

Energy bill vote angers Governor |
"AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Governor Paul LePage is taking aim at eight Legislators who voted against one of his energy bills - and is calling on his supporters to lobby the Legislators to change their minds.

The Governor wants to change a twelve-year old law that regulates the  purchase of renewable electricity in Maine. That law says that to qualify  under Maine's Renewable Energy Portfolio standards, the power must come from sources smaller than 100 megawatts.
The Governor wants to lift that hundred megawatt cap, because he and his energy director believe it would open the way for Maine to buy less expensive hydro power from Canada."

Solar company bankrupt despite 'win-win' DOE loan

Solar company bankrupt despite 'win-win' DOE loan | Campaign 2012 | Washington Examiner:
"In keeping with the recent trend of so-called green companies going into the red, another solar energy company supported by President Obama's top administration officials declared bankruptcy today.
Solar Trust for America received $2.1 billion in conditional loan guarantees  from the Department of Energy -- "the largest amount ever offered to a solar project," according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu -- for a project near Blythe, Calif., but declared bankruptcy within a year."
The entire article can be read at the Washington Examiner

Monday, April 2, 2012

Details of the controversial German Renewable Energy Act released

Details of the controversial German Renewable Energy Act released | PV-Tech:
"As per the modifications to the German Renewable Energy Act last week, effective April 1st, 2012, new feed-in tariff payments for rooftop PV plants smaller than 10 kW will be EUR 0.195/kWh (USD 0.261/kWh). The rates for rooftop PV up to 1 MW will be EUR 0.165/kWh (USD 0.221/kWh) and rates for ground-mounted and rooftop PV of 1-10 MW in size will be EUR 0.135/kWh (USD 0.180/kWh). "
This legislation, borne from a compromise between the ruling Christian Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, ends FiT eligibility for PV plants over 10 MW a grace period has been set up for developers to complete large PV plants. The government has also stated that only 80% of the electricity produced by rooftop PV plants below 10kW will qualify for FiT payments and only 90% of the electricity produced by plants 10kW to 1MW.
Ontarians reading this and learning of the much lower German feed-in tariff rates for the first time may be annoyed at the enormous discrepancy - especially as Germany is held up as a role model in Ontario.  
The article shows the example trick works the other way too:
... called for a "local content" clause that would require that a certain percentage of participating PV systems be produced in Germany, similar to the policy in the Canadian province of Ontario.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ontario to Announce Community Power Funding Initiative

New Payment Method Will Strengthen Ontario Communities

TORONTO, April 1 / OPEN / - The Ontario arm of OPEN is pleased to announce that Ontario’s power agency will soon seek families to be economic hosts for renewable energy projects. 

OPEN is a network of renewable energy equipment suppliers and project developers. Local executive director, Benjamin D. Over, noted than an unnamed source at the agency had tipped them off to a major announcement planned for early next week. “Apparently, this initiative was mistakenly left out of the recent FIT review. I don’t know how – because it’s such a great idea – but we’re very hopeful that the source is accurate and that the announcement will take place very soon”.

The source told Over that “We recognize that many people are irate at the cost and other impacts of renewable energy, while others are thrilled at its advent and eager to show their support for the government’s actions – by shouldering the cost directly. Rather than asking all Ontarians to pay for costly renewable energy, the agency is looking to recruit ideologically-aligned households happy to show their support for things green by taking on these financial responsibilities directly.