Wind energy a good deal for Ontario

Contrary to a Fraser Institute report released today titled “Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act”, wind energy has helped clean Ontario’s electricity system and deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to rural communities – with little additional cost passed on to ratepayers.

An analysis of consumer rate impacts by Power Advisory, Customer Bill Impacts of Generation Sources in Ontario, looked at the various components of a typical consumer electricity bill – including supply and delivery – and found that wind energy accounted for only about 5 per cent of the increase to the total customer bill between 2009 and 2012. Download the full report here.

The Fraser Institute report takes a simplistic approach in examining the
benefits of Ontario’s Green Energy Act and the state of the province’s
electricity system. The report relies excessively on the widely criticized 2011 Annual Report by the Auditor General of Ontario and also fails to take into consideration the fundamental fact that there is dramatic need to invest in new electricity generation and infrastructure after decades of underinvestment.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, $347 billion in investment in Canada’s electricity system is required between now and 2030 – and all of these costs will be passed on to consumers.

Wind energy has played a major role in modernizing Ontario’s electricity system, helping the province abandon harmful coal as a source of electricity. In the last few years, wind generation has contributed an increasing proportion of the total supply of electricity in Ontario. The province currently has over 2,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity, enough to meet about 3 per cent of total electricity demand. Every 1,000 MW of new wind energy drives $2.5 billion in investments, creates 10,500 person-years of employment, and provides enough clean power for over 300,000 homes.

“While electricity prices have been increasing across North America as jurisdictions upgrade ancient electricity systems, wind energy has proven that it can deliver major benefits at a minimal cost to ratepayers here in Ontario,” said Chris Forrest, CanWEA vice-president. “Wind energy is cost-competitive with virtually every potential new source of generation available in Ontario and it does not create hazardous waste or consume vast amounts of fresh water from our Great Lakes. Wind energy will continue to be a cost-effective choice as we build a clean and reliable electricity system in Ontario that we can all be proud of.”