Is Canadian Wind Energy Association turning its back on offshore wind?

I find it surprising that just a week after the Ontario government flip-flopped on offshore wind the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has the nerve to put out a flattering press release praising the government for a commitment to wind energy that “strengthens investor confidence.” Somebody is brown-nosing here.

Apparently the government issued a directive to the Ontario Power Authority regarding its long-term energy plan, which Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, decided worthy of praise in a gushing press release. “Reaffirming the government’s target for new wind energy supply and proceeding quickly with new contracts for wind energy projects and necessary transmission system upgrades will strengthen investor confidence that Ontario is a good place to do business.”

Pull-eassse! Investor confidence took a serious blow last week with the decision on offshore wind, because it sent a signal to investors that the Ontario government can change its mind on a dime. CanWEA is showing its true stripes in this press release — that is, it doesn’t care about developing offshore wind in Ontario — because its members, who are mostly onshore developers, want to keep all the opportunities to themselves. This press release is clearly an attempt to kiss up to the government in the wake of the offshore controversy, which CanWEA should be speaking out again, not sweeping under the rug. 

Now that offshore wind has been voted off the island, the onshore guys are in survivor mode.

6 thoughts on “Is Canadian Wind Energy Association turning its back on offshore wind?”

  1. CanWea is doing what it does best – following the the money. After all,isn’t that what they are all
    about ? Surely no knowledgeable individual person thinks they are about generating electricity or
    “saving the world”.

  2. I agree with you Tyler. Industry associations should be pushing back against the government when they make abrupt changes like this which effect not only jobs but investor confidence. The other recent development which has created more instability in the microFIT and FIT programs is Hydro One’s mass rejection of application on the grounds of lack of transmission capacity.

    Luckily it seems that CanSIA will be incorporating best practices from other jurisdictions such as California or Germany into a report before discussing with Hydro One an update on how they calculate variables such as short circuit capacity.

    The bottom line is that consumer and investor confidence has been shaken by the unpredictable changes in the microFIT and FIT programs. Industry associations must fight to regain that confidence.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more!
    WTF is going on with the solar FIT, mFIT rejections this week from Hydro One! Talk about punishing investors for aligning themselves with a govt. program….

  4. Governments are elected for a few years at a time, canadians are fond of electing people just to cancel things ( helicopters,airports, bridges etc.) signing a 20 year deal with any government is foolish at best. If you actually have a profitable business model, governments are he last partner you would ever want.

  5. Tyler
    You responded to me the other day regarding ratepayer money and offshore wind. You indicated there were no subsidies for the construction of wind power installations. You also said I was implying only established and entrenched companies should build these projects. To respond to the first comment, to connect these turbines to the grid is a very costly enterprise, much more so than land based turbines, which are very expensive already. They have to be constructed to carry at least the maximum rated capacity, even though only about 30% or less will be produced. This under water high current cable is very tricky, and largely developmental. The great lakes are public property. There also they issue of the high fee for the energy produced, multiples of the selling price. Remember after it is constructed the raw material ( wind) is free, and yet they can’t compete price wise with other sources that to consume expensive raw materials (gas, coal, uranium etc.) or even hydro. These other technologies are not with out fault or cheap, but they are reliable and tested. They can respond to energy needs in a controlable and largely predictable fashion. Wind costs many times more to build and maintain, and requires 100% backup. Do you really believe ther are no taxpayer or utility bill costs with this? There is nothing in the “renewable” or “sustainable” world without government cash any where in the world, as soon as the subsidies die so do the industries involved. Who will maintain these farms if the managing companies dissappear? As a taxpayer I have a good guess.
    As for having established or entrenched companies developing these farms, that is impossible. As I am sure you know there is only one freshwater offshore farm in the world, and is largely a prototype to be studied. I do however suggest a company that undertakes such a large generation project, have some experience. Trillium Wind talks about long experience in the Wind business, I can’t find any evidence anywhere of any completed or ongoing projects. The company website states the company formed in 2002 or 2005(http://www.trilliumpower.com/investors/success/), yet they talk about 15 years of experience. Shouldn’t there be something out there we can judge their experience from? Have they ever generated any power, any where? A company responsible something this innovational and large scale should have some corporate backing, Trillium appears to be one guy, who makes himself available to the media via self released press items. Checkout TaiWind, one of Trillium’s partnerships (http://www.taiwind.com/ ) , now go to the “partner” websites (Baird, Golder etc.) and try find a mention of”TaiWind” or Trillium Wind. Checkout the corporate structure,   http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/people.asp?privcapId=54137919   One corporate officer, no board, no employee list, no committee’s….. This company is a one man band with no instruments.     
    When you made comments regarding their time and money invested, did you look any where except their press statements? I return to my original comment, if Trillium Wind is a ” leader” in offshore wind, what are the qualifications of the “followers”?

    Looking forward to your thoughts,
    C.M. Carmichael

  6. Mr. Carmichael,

    Of course there are subsidies — it’s just that they’re not hidden. The FIT rate is transparent. We pay 13 cents (oneshore) or 19 cents (offshore) per kilowatt-hour of wind produced and we don’t pay a cent more. If the wind doesn’t come, we don’t pay. If the developer screws up and goes over budget, not the ratepayer’s problem. The fact that wind has a capacity factor of 25 or 30 or 45 per cent (in the case of some offshore) doesn’t matter because we only pay for what we get. I bet, given no special hidden tax or insurance breaks or other government guarantees, nuclear can’t be built for less than 13 cents per kilowatt-hours, and some say it’s more than 20 cents, so wind isn’t uneconomic compared to wind. Now, your claim about 100 per cent backup from gas plants. Well, do you think if we didn’t have wind we wouldn’t have gas plants? No, we’d have more gas plants because we need the power, and nuclear doesn’t have the flexibility that gas offers. Now, for every kilowatt-hour of wind generated we burn less gas in those plants. That’s the beauty of gas — like a water tap, you turn it on or off depending on whether you need it, but Besides, we need backup for nuclear power, too, which does have a tendency of tripping when you least expect it. Gas is a tap that’s always there as backup. The more wind you add, the less you turn the tap on. In the meantime, you wean off coal and you leave yourself the flexibility of adding storage technologies as costs fall. Buying nukes and locking up resources and billions of dollars for 50-plus years takes away that flexibility. You’re stuck with them for more than half a century and can’t benefit from innovation in other areas. In the meantime, you subject yourself to the risk of an accident and you give yourself a thousand years worth of toxic baggage in the form of spent fuel.

    Now, regarding experience of the developer — do you think Trillium is actually building the thing itself? Get real — that’s not how it works. The company hires professional engineering companies — SNC, Aecon, folks like that. That’s where you get the experience. Trillium oversees this process, yes, but the construction and maintenance is outsourced to established, experienced players. So no, I don’t buy your argument that just because there’s no track record found on a Google search that a company doesn’t deserve to enter the game. If Trillium can raise the billions needed from the private sector to carry through, then obviously the big banks have done their due diligence and believe the company can deliver.

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