Tag Archives: Palmer

Kouwen on Noise

Of the many issues surrounding wind energy, noise continues to be a controversial topic. The industry and governments continue to insist that wind energy projects are appropriately sited – far enough from the neighbors so they are not a nuisance.  However, around the world the health/nuisance complaints and abandonments indicate that whatever rules are in place are generally not adequate.

Dr. Nicholas Kouwen, a retired engineering professor, had the time and resources to examine the noise issue in some detail for Ontario.  Starting in June of 2012 and going into November he took extended noise measurements at five residences in the Grey Highlands region; three of them within the Plateau Project and two “controls” at locations away from the turbines.  The Ontario wind project noise regulations, pretty much unique in the world, allow more noise at higher wind speeds so he also recorded wind speeds.  He then compared the actual readings with the Ontario limits and it should come as no surprise that those limits were routinely violated. Continue reading Kouwen on Noise

Palmer – the Real Coal Story

On January 10, 2012, the Ontario premier’s office was crowing about shutting down the remaining Ontario coal plants.  That story was picked up by sympathetic outlets.  It is expected that a politician will play loose with the facts when it suits them, but unfortunately many of the media outlets seem to not have the skills or interest to find out the real story.  Bill Palmer is in a position to know and relates it below, in more details than he did on this site earlier.  Note that Bill is politically even-handed in his criticism.


I’ve tried to respond to a number of newspaper articles and technical publications that ran this story … to date none have chosen to print my comment. However, you deserve the chance to know the truth.

Renewable generation, and in particular wind had very little to do with the reduction in the output of coal fired generators in Ontario. Here are the facts. You can refer to the attached figure if you like pictures better than words.  [The little purple line in the lower right corner is the wind production.]

In 1994, nuclear generation supplied over 90 TWh of Ontario’s electrical supply, coal supplied about 15, and hydro about 35. Performance of the nuclear plants was deteriorating in part because of political decisions made by the Bob Rae (NDP) government to minimize maintenance and give early retirement to senior staff at Ontario Hydro in the early 1990’s due to the increase in costs brought about by putting Darlington into service after the start up was delayed by a David Peterson (Liberal) government decision to hold construction and start up in the late 80’s even though most of the costs had been spent, and high interest rates continued to rack up cost of the borrowed money. The rules were (and still are) that new “hydro” construction costs are not put on the consumer bills until a new station are put into service. The Darlington “cost over-runs” were mostly due to the political decision to hold startup at a time interest rates on borrowed money were double digit.

The Mike Harris (PC) government that followed Bob Rae decided that the nuclear units at Bruce A and Pickering A would be shut down to focus improvements on the newer B stations at Pickering B, Bruce B, and Darlington. The output of the nuclear generators dropped to about 60 TWh. Coal picked up the slack, increasing in output to about 40 TWh in the early 2000’s. 2003, the year the Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) government was formed, coal supplied about 40 TWh, nuclear about 62 TWh, hydro about 35 TWh, and the Ontario demand was about 155 TWh. However, the improvements in the nuclear plants, which had been started some years before resulted in the return to service of Bruce A units 3 and 4, and Pickering A Units 1 and 4 by 2004. The nuclear output started to rise and the coal output started to fall. Then after 2004, a further surprise occurred … the Ontario demand started to fall as mines, mills, pulp and paper, and other users closed up shop, or moved out of Ontario. From 2005 to 2012, the Ontario demand dropped by about 15 TWh, nearly 10% … not from conservation, but from loss of industrial output. As nuclear output continued to increase, including in 2012 the return to service of Bruce A units 1 and 2, the nuclear output rose to over 80 TWh again. The 20 TWh increase in nuclear output, the 15 TWh loss of Ontario demand, and the start up of a number of natural gas generators, bringing their output up to 20 TWh meant there was no need to run coal …

And the 4 TWh of output from the wind generators really had just about nothing to do with the reduction in the coal generation, as the wind production is mostly when coal generators are not needed – at night, and in the spring and fall. In the hot summer, and even in the cold winter days, when wind output is low, the coal plants continue to run. They can now be shut down now as there are enough gas generators to fill in … mind you at considerably greater cost.

And that friends, is the true story … the reason coal generation could drop 40 TWh was that the nuclear units picked up over 20 TWh, the system demand dropped 15 TWh, and natural gas generators picked up about 10 TWh. The 4 TWh of wind had very little impact on shutting down coal … no matter what you read elsewhere.

Feel free to share the truth, as it needs to be known. I’ve even shared it with some of the Liberal candidates … but it does not seem to be popular to say as it runs against the spin that “coal was shut down by bringing in clean renewables.”

Bill Palmer

Coal Reductions and Health

William Palmer continues to gather facts about Ontario’s electrical grid and the uselessness of wind energy in it.  This is very much unlike Ontario’s government and any number of ENGO’s, who simply repeat their slogans over and over until enough voters believe them to keep them in power.  This time he has put together two charts and a longer paper showing Ontario’s generation mix for the last quarter-century and they pretty much put to rest two of these pervasive slogans: (1) that wind energy is eliminating coal generation, and (2) that coal generation is related to asthma and respiratory deaths.

UPDATE – Feb 29, 2012.  Palmer has also started a series at MasterResource that expands upon this topic. Part two.

Continue reading Coal Reductions and Health

Palmer’s Submission to the Submission

This is part #2 of a 2-part posting.  Part #1 covers the original OSPE Submission.

William Palmer is a Professional Engineer who accepted an early leave from paid employment to be able to apply his skills and knowledge (he maintains his professional credentials) to issues facing his neighbours.   Last month the OSPE (Ontario Society of Profession Engineers) issued a draft submission for the Ontario Ministry of Energy with some recommendations on how to handle Ontario’s growing Surplus Base load Generation (SBG) problem.  The OSPE draft called for submissions on the draft and Bill answered their call.  His submission is a very powerfully written indictment of Ontario’s wind energy program and its oversight. Continue reading Palmer’s Submission to the Submission

OSPE and the SBG Submission

This is the first of two inter-related postings – William Palmer’s submission to the submission is part #2.

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) has a membership of over 9,000 professional engineers working in Ontario.  It provides a number of services for its members (job searches, resumes, conferences and so on) and also serves as an advocate for the interests of its members before regulatory bodies  and the Ontario government.  In December of 2011 it released a draft of a document that it plans to submit to the Ontario MOE with recommendations on what the Ministry can do to lessen the problems the Ontario grid is having with something called Surplus Base load Generation (SBG).  Being an advocacy group, it is not doing this out of any charitable impulse.  Rather, the SBG problems are already significant and promise to become much larger, which “…negatively affects our member engineers who are dependent on the health of various industries that use large quantities of electricity.”  The OSPE does not consist of “anti-wind cranks” (in the famous words of lobbyist Gordon Edge, describing Civitas).  They have historically supported wind energy.  When engineers, especially those in a position to be fully informed on an issue, are worried about the consequences then I’m worried too.  Too bad the current Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley, doesn’t seem to be. Continue reading OSPE and the SBG Submission

Bill Palmer

William Palmer is a Professional Engineer who accepted an early leave from paid employment to be able to apply his skills and knowledge to issues facing his neighbours.  He has extensive experience in risk management at the Bruce nuclear facility (Ontario) and has been studying the various issues surrounding wind turbines for several years. His papers represent a valuable contribution to the discussion. I reference them throughout this site in the appropriate sections, but I thought it would be handy to also reference them from one place.

Continue reading Bill Palmer