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Accounting for Wind Energy Deployment Outcomes in Canada

Honours Thesis

Environmental & Resource Studies

Trent University

Chris Ferguson-Martin
April 25, 2010
Supervisors: Dr. Stephen Hill
Second reader: Dr. Asaf Zohar
Table of Contents

1 Introduction.......................................................................................................................................4
2 Research Approach.........................................................................................................................5
2.1 Research Framework.............................................................................................................5
2.2 Why These Regions? ..............................................................................................................7
2.2.1 National vs. Provincial Analysis ................................................................................7
2.2.2 Justification of Province Selection............................................................................8
2.3 Geographical Wind Resources ...........................................................................................9
3.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies............................................................... 11
2.4 Planning Policies .................................................................................................................. 14
2.4.1 Governmental Wind Policies ................................................................................... 14
2.4.2 Regulatory Approvals and Siting Processes ...................................................... 15
2.5 Financial Policy Incentives ............................................................................................... 16
2.5.1 Wind Energy’s Economic Barriers ........................................................................ 16
2.5.2 Types of Financial Policy Incentives for Wind Power ................................... 18 Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007)....................... 19 Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) – Based on (Lewis & Wiser,
2007) 20 Government Tendering – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007) ............... 21 Tax Incentives – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007) ................................. 22 Carbon Trade & Offsetting Systems – Based on (S Hill & Thompson,
2002) 23 Carbon Tax – based on (S Hill & Thompson, 2002) ............................... 25
2.6 Stakeholder support and opposition............................................................................ 26
2.6.1 Pro-Wind Movements ................................................................................................ 27
2.6.2 Anti-Wind Movements............................................................................................... 28
2.7 Ownership Patterns ............................................................................................................ 30
2.7.1 Community Wind Power........................................................................................... 31
2.7.2 Corporate Wind Power – based on (Kildegaard & Myers-Kuykindall,
2006) 32
2.8 Canada’s Federal Government ........................................................................................ 33
3 Findings & Results........................................................................................................................ 34
3.1 Ontario...................................................................................................................................... 34
3.1.1 Geographical Wind Resources................................................................................ 34
3.1.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies................................................... 35
3.1.3 Planning Policies .......................................................................................................... 37 Regulatory Approvals and Siting Process.................................................. 42
3.1.4 Financial Policy Incentives....................................................................................... 43
3.1.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition................................................................... 46 Pro-Wind Movements........................................................................................ 46 Anti-Wind Movements ...................................................................................... 50
3.1.6 Ownership Patterns.................................................................................................... 52
3.2 Alberta...................................................................................................................................... 53
3.2.1 Geographical Wind Resources................................................................................ 53

3.2.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies................................................... 54
3.2.3 Planning Policies .......................................................................................................... 56 Regulatory Approvals and Siting Process.................................................. 58
3.2.4 Financial Policy Incentives....................................................................................... 59
3.2.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition................................................................... 60 Pro-Wind Movement.......................................................................................... 60 Anti-Wind Movement ........................................................................................ 62
3.2.6 Ownership Patterns.................................................................................................... 62
3.3 Manitoba.................................................................................................................................. 63
3.3.1 Geographical Wind Resources................................................................................ 64
3.3.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies................................................... 65
3.3.3 Planning Policies .......................................................................................................... 66 Regulatory Approval and Siting Processes................................................ 69
3.3.4 Financial Policy Incentives....................................................................................... 70
3.3.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition................................................................... 71 Pro-Wind Movement.......................................................................................... 71 Anti-Wind Movement ........................................................................................ 74
3.3.6 Ownership Patterns.................................................................................................... 74
3.4 Nova Scotia ............................................................................................................................. 75
3.4.1 Geographical Wind Resources................................................................................ 76
3.4.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies................................................... 76
3.4.3 Planning Policies .......................................................................................................... 78 Regulatory Approvals and Siting Process.................................................. 80
3.4.4 Financial Policy Incentives....................................................................................... 81
3.4.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition................................................................... 83 Pro-wind movement .......................................................................................... 83 Anti-Wind Movement ........................................................................................ 85
3.4.6 Ownership Patterns.................................................................................................... 86
4 Conclusions ..................................................................................................................................... 87

1 Introduction

Wind energy is the fastest growing electricity generation technology in the

world, having doubled in installed capacity every three years since 2001 and
currently accounting for 2% of the world’s installed generation capacity (WWEA,
2009). Despite the distributed multitude of wind, actual wind energy
implementation – that is, wind turbines and farms – is scattered unevenly
throughout the world.
Canada is no different. It is home to some of the windiest areas in the world. One
must simply venture to the shores of Atlantic Canada, the prairies on Western
Canada or the Great Lakes of Ontario. But while some regions have taken full
advantage of the wind resource and implemented high levels of wind projects,
others have curiously low amounts of wind energy implementation. This begs the
question, why? Certainly there must be other forces at play.
Evidence suggests that several main factors beyond physical wind resources can
influence wind energy systems. Indeed, a similar study to mine was performed in
the European context that identified and analyzed the role of planning policies,
financial support systems, stakeholder support & opposition and local ownership
patterns on wind energy deployment rates (Toke, Breukers, & Wolsink, 2008).
Building on the work of Toke, Breukers & Wolsink, the purpose of my thesis is to
assess the role of these factors in a Canadian context – using the provincial case
studies of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia – and identify additional
factors that might influence provincial wind deployment rates.
This thesis document is structured as follows. First, I provide a review of the
research approach taken throughout the study, with emphasis on the conceptual
framework developed by Toke, Breukers & Wolsink. The next chapter provides a
detailed overview of the institutional and structural factors explored in the study.
Third, the findings and results of each province are explored by examining each
factor in detail. Finally a summary of the findings is provided in conclusion.

2 Research Approach

2.1 Research Framework

In 2008, a study was published that sought to explain the differing deployment
outcomes of wind energy schemes throughout Europe by identifying and analyzing
four institutional factors – the study is hereby referred to as the “European Study”
(Toke, et al., 2008). These factors included: government planning policies; financial
support systems; landscape values; and local ownership patterns. The study builds
on the framework developed by Toke, et al. in 2008. Indeed, a study such as mine
was specifically warranted by the authors, as the article clearly states: “This gives
the opportunity to other research programmes to test, and refine, these hypotheses
in other case studies.”

Figure 1: Overview of institutional factors affecting the transfer of geographic potential into
implementation (Toke, et al., 2008)

As such, my study applies similar research methods. Like the European Study, mine
is an examination and comparison of case studies, specifically that of the provinces
of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia. (The justification for selecting these
provinces is discussed in greater detail in the section below). However, in the case of
Canada (and specifically the individual provinces), very few case studies existed, so I
was required to the construct provincial case studies. In order to accomplish this
effectively, a significant review of existing literature, policy documents, media
reports, industry reports and other stakeholder publications was completed.

Drawing from the European study, an historical institutionalist research approach
was applied to the study. When applied to wind energy in my study, institutions are
treated as “decision-making structures, forms of organization of wind power,
planning systems and norms and agreements, which underpin wind power policy
and practise” (Toke, et al., 2008). Moreover, it is recognized that institutions can
evolve or change over time due to functionalist, cultural and political factors
(Thelen, 2003). This theoretical approach was used to identify and understand the
main influencing factors of wind energy deployment. However, a historical
institutionalist approach alone was not sufficient to properly account for the
deployment outcomes in Canada, as it was clear that structural factors like the
physical structure of the electricity system and the historical presence of other
energy technologies have been extremely influential in all the provinces considered.

It should also be stressed that in no way does my study attempt to quantitative

results or conclusions. Rather, everything analyzed in the study is examined using a
qualitative lens.

2.2 Why These Regions?

2.2.1 National vs. Provincial Analysis

Unlike the analysis of deployment outcomes in the European Study, this thesis does
not compare national jurisdictions. Rather, it looks at four sub-national
jurisdictions. In the North American context, this is likely appropriate for a number
of reasons. Canada is a federation and some of the responsibilities that might fall
under the jurisdiction of national governments in some other countries are instead
given to the provinces. Among these responsibilities are education, health care and
natural resources. A fourth major responsibility, particularly important to this
thesis, is electricity policy (Government of Canada, 2010a). Provinces are mandated
to control their own energy supplies and consumption without a significant role

from the federal government – although the federal government is involved with
any nuclear energy in Canada. As a result, when it comes to setting wind energy
policies, the province is the key governmental player. Moreover, Canada’s provinces
are comparable in geographical size to many of the European countries analyzed in
the European Study.

2.2.2 Justification of Province Selection

Time limitations prevent a detailed comparison of every Canadian province and
territory. As a result, only a handful of provinces can be compared: Alberta,
Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia. These four provinces were selected for four

First, they represent nearly every major region of Canada: Alberta in the West;
Manitoba in Central Canada; Ontario as its own region; and Nova Scotia in the
Atlantic Provinces. These regions are separated by significant geographical
distances, but also represent a diverse mix of regional cultures.

Second, each province has considerable onshore or offshore wind resource

potential. Because this factor is roughly equal for each province, it can be viewed as
something of a control factor and makes it much easier to assess the impacts of
other factors.

Third, each province has employed a unique policy framework and financial
incentive system to encourage wind energy deployment. Policy incentive programs,
as discussed above, are often a key factor in the development of wind energy
systems and a comparison of different economic systems is of central interest to this

Fourth, in addition to the differing economic incentive systems employed, the four
provinces have a wide variety of other differences, including but not limited to:

socioeconomic statuses; governing political parties; and existing electricity systems,
generation technology and ownership.

2.3 Geographical Wind Resources

The key factor influencing the development of a wind power system is the physical
presence of geographical wind resources. Indeed, wind is the energy system’s main
input. Even if hundreds of turbines are built in an area, no electricity can be
produced without the necessary wind conditions. One might liken it to a coal plant
without any coal.

Wind resources vary with geography. In generalist terms, the strongest winds can
be found at the mid-latitudes as the warm air originating from the equator interacts
with cooler air coming from the poles (Mares, 1999). Additionally, coastal regions
are especially windy, as temperature differences exist between water bodies and

Wind resources are measured by wind power density (often in units of watts per
square metre – W/m2) or wind speed (metres per second – m/s) at a particular
height, typically 30 m, 50 m and 80 m. In North America, the most accessible and
general data is available in the form of graphical wind maps, such as Environment
Canada’s Canadian Wind Energy Atlas (2003) and the United States Department of
Energy’s (USDOE) Wind Resource Maps (2009). My study uses the Canadian Wind
Energy Atlas to assess geographical wind resources at an altitude of 80 m above
ground level and on an average annual basis in order to account for intermittency
and seasonal variations.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, in order for projects to be

economically viable, an annual average wind speed of at least 5.0 m/s should be
available (AWEA, 2009).

Figure 2: Average Annual Wind Energy Density in Canada at 80m (Environment Canada, 2003)

A very detailed assessment of the United States’ wind energy potential was
completed in 1991 that measured the wind energy potential in each US state and
took excluding factors into consideration, such as national parks and transmission
capabilities (Elliot, Wendell, & Gower, 1991). As a result, it was able to calculate, in
megawatts, the potential supply of wind energy in the United States. Similar studies
have been completed for European countries and were used for the European
version of this study (Wijk & Coelingh, 1993). Unfortunately, such a study –
especially one looking at each province individually – has not yet been completed in
Canada. As a result, this study is not able to draw on fully quantifiable geographical
wind resources.

Figure 3: Average Annual Wind Speed in Canada at 80m (Environment Canada, 2003)

While it is recognized that this lack of specificity is a shortfall of the study, it should
not overshadow the fact that each selected province has significant and often
economical wind resources. Moreover, the specific windy regions are explored in
much greater detail in the case studies below.

3.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies

The size, style and adaptability of a region’s electricity system is one the most
significant factors influencing the development of wind power systems. Because
wind power is naturally decentralized, its relationship to the grid is unique from

traditional centralized electricity generation. Most existing electricity transmission
in Canada is based on a centralized production network, meaning that large, single
power sources throughout the region and each feed directly into a central grid
(Centre for Energy, 2009). Transmission lines are therefore connected to these
relatively few sources of generation and then fed throughout the region. Some
regions use only one central grid and provide uniform access to the grid for every
consumer, while some have a series of groups – often utility companies – providing
access to the grid. In cases where a central grid is not available or accessible, regions
will create decentralized grids, which use a specific portfolio of energy generation
sources. Decentralized grids can be frequently found in remote areas located far
away from the central grid where it is often too expensive or inefficient to connect
to the central grid. Additionally, a rare option pursued by some is to simply take
their home off the grid.

One of the greatest advantages offered by wind power and frequently cited by its
proponents is its distributed nature. Unfortunately, while a distributed power
technology has several advantages, it is considerably more costly with regards to
energy transmission. The majority of electricity infrastructure throughout Canada is
centralized, meaning that generation is focused in a few prime areas and sent
through transmission lines onto the central grid. Electricity from wind power,
however, cannot operate in the same fashion. Because it is relatively decentralized,
transmission lines need to be extended to each wind power system. This can be
problematic, as many of the most generous wind sites are located far from the
existing grid. Moreover, as the distance of transmission and distribution (T & D)
increases, a greater share of electricity will inevitably be lost. In order to prevent
significant T & D losses, additional electricity system infrastructure must be built,
including substations and transformers.

Another important characteristic of the electricity system is the ownership

structure. Generally, a provincial electricity system can be classified as private,
public or a hybrid. Private systems are open and competitive and electricity is

provided by private developers. If the grid is still regulated by the government, the
government often enters into power purchase agreements with private developers.
However, in some cases the entire system is deregulated and developers must enter
into power purchase agreements with individual customers. Private electricity
systems are generally more conducive to wind energy projects as private
developers tend to commit to the risk of developing wind projects compared to
crown corporations, especially in areas of significant wind resources. Moreover,
private systems tend to involve less bureaucratic processes, which can often delay
projects. Private systems, however, are more influenced by the supply and demand
for electricity and prices can be quite volatile. A public system consists of a crown
corporation holding a monopoly and generally being under no obligation to
purchase power from private developers. Public monopolies tend to be well versed
in technologies they are already familiar with and are less willing to develop wind
energy projects than their private counterparts. However, since public monopolies
are often established with the public interest in mind, electricity rates are kept low.
Moreover, generation, transmission and distribution are usually all controlled by
the one entity. Under a hybrid system, the electricity system is open and
competitive, but crown corporations are competitors within the energy

The third aspect of an electricity system that could influence wind energy systems is
the nature of the existing and dominant generation technologies. As climate change
and energy security concerns have become more important to governments,
electricity generation technologies that are non-renewable and/or greenhouse gas
emitting are becoming more of a vulnerability. Many provinces with these
generation technologies, such as coal-fired, gas-fired and petroleum-fired
generation, are beginning to move away from them and look to ‘green’ energy
technologies. However, some provinces, particularly those flush with hydroelectric
generation, have little incentive to move away from their dominant technologies as
hydro tends to be considered renewable and emissions free. Nuclear energy has also

come under criticism and has the potential to provide governments with an
incentive to move towards wind energy.

2.4 Planning Policies

Wind power systems, like any infrastructure project, are subject to regulatory
involvement. In Canada, such involvement can come from any level of government,
be it local, provincial or federal. Planning policies as a primary institutional factor is
composed of several sub-factors:

2.4.1 Governmental Wind Policies

When dealing with energy policy, provincial governments can adopt official policy
stances to specific energy technologies. These policies indicate a strategic direction
a government will take with a particular energy technology. Energy policies focused
on a specific technology can be supportive, oppositional or even non-existent –
many in the public policy area believe that no policy is indeed a policy in and of

Supportive policies can vary from something as simple as an oral statement of

interest from a government official to a complex program with firm economic
incentives and realistic policy targets. It is very important to make the distinction
between a supportive policy for wind technology versus other energy technologies.
While supportive policies for wind are almost entirely beneficial for implementation
rates of wind power, supportive policies for other energy technologies may have an
opposite effect. For example, a supportive governmental policy for an expensive
technology such as carbon capture & storage (CCS) might hinder the
implementation of wind energy in the same jurisdiction by taking up a greater share
of finite financial and political resources. Supportive policies for renewable energy

technologies (not including hydroelectric power) as a whole, however, are often
headlined by wind energy technology and frequently lead to a greater share of
implementation compared with other renewable technologies.

Oppositional policies to wind energy can be particularly harmful to implementation

rates as these types of direct policies often consist of moratoriums on wind energy
deployment. While neither the federal government nor any provincial governments
in Canada have gone as far as to prohibit wind energy, regional and local
governments throughout Canada have done so, effectively eliminating wind power
development in those particular jurisdictions. Wind energy can, however, benefit
from oppositional policies to other energy technologies. For example, when a
government opposes the development of a particular energy technology because it
is non-renewable, the renewable characteristics of wind energy might attract the
interests of the government as an alternative energy source.

2.4.2 Regulatory Approvals and Siting Processes

Because a wind energy system – even one with only one turbine – is a major
infrastructure project, its development can have significant environmental,
economic, cultural and social impacts. The deployment of a wind energy system is
thus subject to a host of regulatory approvals.

The complexity of a particular project’s approvals and siting process is very much a
function of the location of the project and the governing bodies given jurisdiction
over that particular location. Each level of government has particular and
sometimes differing requirements to be met in order for a project to receive
regulatory approval. Moreover, several approvals may be required from multiple
facets of one level of government. For example, several provincial departments may
have separate (and even overlapping) regulatory approval requirements for just
one project, while additional approvals may be required at federal and local levels.

The complexity of the regulatory approvals process can have significant bearing on
the development of a provincial wind power system. Indeed, a complex approvals
process can delay the development of a wind power system and in many cases,
actually leads to the cancellation of projects. Streamlined and less stringent
approvals processes can increase the development of wind power systems, however
such processes can very well lead to social controversies & anti-wind movements,
particularly as a result of poor public participation processes.

2.5 Financial Policy Incentives

Wind, like many renewable energy technologies, is considerably costlier than the
majority of traditional major energy technologies, especially those powered by fossil
fuels like natural gas and coal-fired plants. Indeed, the cost of electricity produced
by wind energy can range from $0.07-$0.12/kWh, much higher than rates from
traditional fossil fuel or large hydroelectric production, which generally range from
$0.04-$0.06/kWh (Centre for Energy, 2010). As a result, wind energy technologies
often require economic incentives to make the technology cost competitive or at
least economical to the developer, which is almost always impossible without some
form of economic incentive.

2.5.1 Wind Energy’s Economic Barriers

Wind is not always cost-competitive with other energy technologies for several
reasons. First, wind power is intermittent. That is, the wind does not always blow. It
is not uncommon to witness large turbines lying still because the winds are not
strong enough. And because the wind resource itself cannot be controlled, the
amount of electricity produced from wind power systems is unpredictable; it ebbs
and flows. Indeed, the average capacity factor – which will vary slightly depending
on the location – of wind technologies in Canada is approximately 30% (CanWEA,

2008). This means that the turbine is only producing 30% of what it is built to
produce. Other energy technologies, like coal, have controllable resource inputs and
predictable levels of energy production and thus comparatively high capacity
factors. This not only makes high capacity technologies cheaper, but also makes
them trustworthier to supply the electricity grid. Additionally, limited electricity
storage technology hinders the potential of capturing and storing valuable
electricity produced from wind at low-demand times where the electricity would
otherwise go to waste.

Secondly, wind, because it is made up of air, is not relatively dense. As a result, a

large share of air needs to be captured in order to create electricity. Comparatively,
water has a density nearly 1000 times greater than air, making it much easier to
create electricity with a much smaller amount of water (Lide, 1990).

Thirdly, the environmental & health benefits of wind power are not taken into
account in the price of electricity. (These unaccounted for factors are known in
economics as “externalities”). More accurately, the environmental and human health
costs of other energy technologies are not accounted for in electricity costs. Fossil
fuels, for example, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, are
considered one of the prime causes of anthropogenic climate change, which is now
well accepted to have serious economic impacts throughout the world. With very
few carbon-pricing schemes existent in the world and virtually none in Canada
(except for moderate prices in British Columbia and Quebec), the economic costs of
carbon emitting electricity producers are not being fully taken into account (Carbon
Tax Center, 2009). Moreover, the air & water pollution costs of fossil fuel-related
production are rarely taken into account – nuclear and even hydroelectric
technologies also have potential human and environmental health impacts. Indeed,
every energy technology has external costs not wholly accounted for in the price of
electricity. But without a meaningful price put on the “external” costs of other
energy technologies, particularly carbon emissions, the external benefits offered by
wind energy technology will not be reflected in the price of electricity produced.

Fourth, wind power technology is a relatively new and emerging technology and the
supply of wind turbines is still relatively limited. Indeed, because of high global
demand and the lack of a major turbine manufacturer in Canada, Canadian wind
power projects are frequently subjected to a two-year lag time between an order
and final delivery of the turbines (CanWEA, 2003). The need to import the turbines
from abroad further increases the cost of wind power technology, as the cost of
shipping overseas and on land composes between 5-10% of the total system of cost
of a wind system in Canada, compared to only 3-5% for domestically manufactured
turbines (of which there are virtually none in Canada) (CanWEA, 2003; Lewis &
Wiser, 2007).

2.5.2 Types of Financial Policy Incentives for Wind Power

The forms of economic incentives range greatly and the different strategies are used
throughout the world. Some offer direct financial inputs to wind power, while
others offer sweeping advantages to renewable energy technologies as a whole.
Some incentive programs place penalties on the impacts of certain technologies
through a tax or fee system, while some taxes or fees are waived for wind power.
The types of economic incentive systems used and how they impact wind power are
listed below.

In addition to the presence of an economic incentive program, the stability of such

a program is also extremely important to the development of a wind power system.
Generally speaking, economic incentive programs are more successful and lead to
greater implementation rates when created as long term, stable programs that
provide wind developers a predictable rate of return (Deutsche Bank Group, 2009).
Indeed, when economic incentive programs are introduced and removed or changed
only a few years later, it can stymie the development of wind power, especially

when such removal or change is unexpected – which happens quite frequently when
matched with relatively unstable political involvement.

It should also be noted that several of the incentive systems listed below need not be
mutually exclusive and can actually work quite effectively in concert. For example, a
renewable energy-specific program, like a feed-in-tariff can operate in accordance
with a more sweeping and broad program, like a carbon tax. Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007)

A Feed-in-Tariff (or FIT) is a fixed price of electricity offered to the producers of

particular technologies from the major consumers of electricity (often the
government). This fixed price is often much higher than the market rate of
electricity and is thus meant to make the production of electricity from that
particular technology more cost-competitive and economical for developers.

A FIT can be directed at a specific energy technology or incorporate several different

types. This structure offers an advantage for renewable energy development
because it allows different prices to be set for different technologies, ultimately
recognizing the differing costs between technologies and allowing all technologies
to become economically viable. If a particular FIT program is designed properly – i.e.
having a high enough financial incentive and long-term purchase agreement – and
remains stable and predictable, it can be considered the most desirable and effective
form of stimulating the development of a wind power system (Deutsche Bank
Group, 2009).

A FIT program, however, can offer several drawbacks. First, it is a subsidy and can
be expensive. It generates little to no revenue for the government and is thus
payable by the taxpayers. However, the costs of a FIT can also be met by marginally
raising the market rate of electricity and spreading the costs of the program among

all consumers of electricity. Secondly, a FIT program might considered by some to
be unfair because it allows the government to pick and choose particular
technologies, rather than leaving it up to the market to decide.

FIT programs are most well known for spurring the development of wind power
systems in Europe, especially in Germany, Denmark & Spain – among the world’s
leaders of installed capacity and penetration rates for wind power (Lewis & Wiser,
2007). Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007)

Also known as Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets (MRET), Renewable Portfolio

Standards set a minimum percentage of electricity from a particular energy supplier
(for example, a local electricity utility) to be sourced from renewable energy
sources. An RPS often covers a broad range of renewable technologies and therefore
does not focus directly on wind power, although wind –because of the economic and
technological advantages listed earlier – generally makes up the majority of a
supplier’s renewable energy portfolio under an RPS. Indeed, in order to combat the
relative dominance of wind power in renewable energy portfolios, some states in
the USA have instituted RPS programs that require a certain percentage of the
renewable energy not come from wind power.

State and provincial governments primarily set RPS programs in North America,
while national programs have been set in regions throughout Europe and Asia. Such
programs have been particularly successful throughout the United States, especially
in Texas, which constitutes the largest installed capacity of wind power in the USA
(WWEA, 2009).

Policy scholars have identified several drawbacks of RPS programs since their
inception including both the competitive mechanism set by such programs and the

long-term political vulnerability of the programs (Lewis & Wiser, 2007; Rowlands,
2007, 2009). The former concern is one shared among all renewable energy specific
programs, while the latter is considered especially worrisome as the political
uncertainty of the targets – that is, the targets could easily be lifted with the election
of a new government or any other political duress – can lead to uncertainty within
the wind power market and ultimately a loss in the economic viability of the
technology. But because the RPS is relatively new as an incentive program, the
impact of such concerns has yet to be fully tested. Government Tendering – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007)

Government tendering is the process by which a government will run a competitive

auction for a specific wind power project or a prime wind site, often accompanied
with other incentive programs like tax incentives or power purchase agreements.
Such a process often occurs under RPS programs and can be a highly successful
method of developing wind power systems, as it often leads to the most efficient and
economically viable developer completing the project.

However, this process too is not perfect. Like an RPS, it is subject to the same
political uncertainties if the length of the auctioning process is too long or the details
of the agreement change over time. It can also crowd out development of a wind
power system in a particular region if the majority of a region’s available wind
resources are given to one or a few developers rather than a wide range of
producers (Rowlands, 2007, 2009). Of course, if these projects operate successfully,
the risks from crowding out are far less. The tendering process also lends itself to a
major commitment from the government. If the developer they choose for a
particular spot ends up underperforming for reasons within its control, the
government cannot simply ask it to remove its turbines and let someone else come
in. Once the competitive process is complete, the turbines are built and the money
invested, that particular site cannot be easily reclaimed. Additionally, competitive

government auctions are potentially fraught with risks of political corruption as the
competitive process might not be genuinely competitive. This drawback of course, is
not limited to wind power projects. Perhaps the biggest drawback to a government
tendering process is bad design, as was found in the United Kingdom during the
1990s. In the UK, the tenders frequently consisted of uncertainties and low
profitability and ultimately led to a strong disinterest from developers (Mitchell,

The number of potential drawbacks should not steer one away from the relatively
successful history of government tendering of wind power projects. Indeed, it has
been remarkably successful throughout the United States, China and as seen below,
Canada. Tax Incentives – Based on (Lewis & Wiser, 2007)

One of the greatest powers held by a government is its power of taxation. Whether
federal, provincial or local, governments have the ability to tax a wide variety of
activities, products, consumers and industries. Wind energy developers on the other
hand, like any business, generally despise taxes because they eat into the economic
viability of a project. This intersection creates a viable opportunity for attracting
investment into wind power development, as a series of different tax strategies can
be applied to wind power development to make projects economically viable. Such
strategies can include deductions or credits applied to income tax, property tax or
even capital gains.

In a detailed survey of international wind deployment strategies completed in 2007,

Wiser & Lewis found that in almost every country surveyed, tax incentives played
only an accompanying role to other more influential programs, most notably long
term power purchase agreements with added financial incentives.

22 Carbon Trade & Offsetting Systems – Based on (S Hill & Thompson, 2002)

While the previous three strategies have been used as direct form of economic
incentive, carbon trading & offsetting programs place an economic value on carbon
dioxide and indirectly make carbon-emissions free energy technologies, like wind
power, more economically viable. Carbon trading and offsetting can be very
distinctly different strategies.

Carbon trading (also known as cap-and-trade) involves a government placing a limit

(a cap) on allowable carbon emissions from emitters and allocating permits (or
credits) to those whose emissions are below the limit. A stiff fine will be issued to
any emitter whose emissions are greater than the limit, but emitters can purchase
credits from those under the limit. While the price of a permit may initially be set by
the government, the demand for and supply of the permits – that is, the open market
– will later set the price.

A carbon trading system can be very beneficial to wind power technologies as it

makes competing energy technologies – specifically, carbon-emitting technologies –
more expensive by adding a financial cost to the carbon dioxide produced. In order
to avoid this cost, energy consumers will be inclined to shift from traditional, fossil
fuel energy sources to emissions-free sources like wind power. Moreover, wind
power firms could qualify to receive carbon credits and could sell these permits on
the carbon market, thereby making wind power more profitable.

A carbon trading system is dependent on several factors to make it effective as a

stimulator of wind power development. First, the price of carbon must be high
enough to both influence energy consumers to reduce their emissions and make the
shift to wind power technology. Arguably, elements of the former are more easily
obtained – primarily through a series of alternative corridors like energy
conservation and efficiency – while achieving the latter is considerably more
difficult. According to New Energy Finance, a clean energy consulting group recently

purchased by the media conglomerate Bloomberg, an average carbon price of
US$38/tonne is required to make onshore wind power economically viable without
additional subsidy (The Economist, 2009). Offshore wind is even more expensive.
While such a price is not unheard of, no such price exists anywhere in North
America. Second, a carbon trading system must be regulatory as opposed to
voluntary as energy consumers are far less likely to participate in a voluntary
program. Third, critics of carbon trading programs frequently point to the free
allocation of permits to energy consumers by the government rather than at a cost.
While this can be politically effective, it makes the system itself far less so. Carbon
trading markets are no different from global free markets like a stock exchange or
currency exchange in that they face similar risks of market collapse and financial
crime, which both require heavy regulation and oversight to properly maintain the

Carbon offset programs (based on (Cernetig, 2010), however, require no general

market for trading and are almost always voluntary in nature. It works quite simply:
When participating in some activity, be it taking a flight or heating your home, some
carbon dioxide will inevitably be emitted into the atmosphere contributing to
climate change. Carbon offset programs allow individuals to ‘offset’ those carbon
emissions by paying an offset company to contribute to a project that is carbon-free
or even removing carbon. Projects commonly include tree planting, renewable
energy projects and the introduction of new technologies to the developing world,
such as energy efficient stoves (Cernetig, 2010). Wind energy can benefit from such
programs as they can act as a source of investment for particular projects.

Carbon offsetting is a relatively new phenomenon and services are provided by

hundreds of different companies throughout the world. Because it is almost all
voluntary, such programs are not particularly stable. More importantly, the
effectiveness of such programs is highly variable. For example, several projects
commit funds to tree planting, but fail because many of the trees die. Because of its
relative infancy, the carbon-offset industry is self-regulated and companies apply to

industry standards rather than what would be traditionally more strict government
standards. Furthermore, there is no universally accepted price of carbon, even
within the industry itself and as a result firms commonly charge a differing and
arbitrary price on carbon. Indeed, several carbon-offset firms have run into trouble
after actions like overcharging and unsuccessful projects have been publicly
revealed (Cernetig, 2010).

Apart from the flaws of the carbon offsetting industry, they can still provide a source
of funding for wind power projects. Several firms within the United States
contribute much of their funds to wind energy projects. However, carbon-offsetting
programs alone cannot provide wind power systems with the necessary funding and
in many ways act as a supplementary support for wind power systems. Carbon Tax – based on (S Hill & Thompson, 2002)

Similarly to carbon trade systems, a carbon tax aids to provide an economic

incentive to wind power through the establishment of a carbon price. However,
unlike under a carbon trading system where the price of carbon is determined by
the free market, the price is instead fixed by the government implementing the tax.

A carbon tax works relatively simply. Once a price of carbon is established (for
example, $10/tonne), the tax is applied to a variety of products based on the carbon
emissions of each product. For example, unleaded gasoline carries a generally
consistent level of carbon-dioxide emissions when consumed in a car and a carbon
tax would add a fixed cost to the price of gasoline. By adding an additional cost to
carbon-emitting products and behaviours, a carbon tax is meant to discourage such
things and encourage both the reduced consumption of such behaviour and a switch
to non-carbon emitting products and behaviours. Wind energy can certainly provide
the latter.

Because the costs of a carbon tax are generally applied throughout a region’s entire
economy – some carbon taxes only apply to certain activities, such as Quebec’s
carbon tax on industrial fossil fuel-based energy generation – it is consumers who
suffer the burden of the tax, rather than the industrial sector, as is the case under a
carbon trading system. This makes carbon taxes politically vulnerable. Indeed, it is
well accepted throughout the public policy sphere that the introduction of a new tax
is politically dangerous, especially if the tax impacts the entire electorate directly.

Similarly to a carbon trade system, in order for a carbon tax to be effective the price
level of carbon needs to be set at a reasonable price. What is reasonable depends on
a variety of economic, political, ideological and environmental factors, but also on
the goal you are trying to achieve. As mentioned above, onshore wind power
generally requires a carbon price of US$38/tonne, whereas offshore wind and solar
PV require carbon prices of US$136/tonne and US$196/tonne, respectively. Using a
carbon tax to encourage a specific energy technology is not particularly effective and
rarely if ever is it the main purpose when implementing a carbon tax; rather, it is
usually a jurisdiction’s efforts to reduce overall carbon emissions.

National carbon taxes have existed in many parts of Europe for several decades, the
highest and most effective being in Norway and Sweden (Carbon Tax Center, 2009).
In Canada, a national carbon tax proposition arguably led to the defeat of the
Opposition Liberal government, while a provincial tax has been successfully
implemented in British Columbia and Quebec (Whittington, 2008). However, as
mentioned with relation to both offsets and carbon trading systems, a carbon tax
acts as a supplementary support program for wind power.

2.6 Stakeholder support and opposition

Wind energy can have significant impact on a wide variety of stakeholders. The
presence of a turbine can bother nearby residents, while communities can benefit

economically from projects. Farmers may see it as the misuse of agricultural land,
while governments might see it as a way to combat climate change. The list could go
on. Stakeholders have the potential to make or break a wind energy system
depending on which way they throw their support. Sometimes, no support or
opposition is even offered. Generally, the influence of stakeholders can be assessed
by analyzing the role of two distinct stakeholder movements: the pro-wind
movement and the anti-wind movement.

2.6.1 Pro-Wind Movements

The level of advocacy in favour of wind energy development has the potential to
heavily influence implementation rates in a particular region. Pro-wind movements
can vary in size, style and organization but they often share a similar mechanism
through which their impact on wind deployment is felt: government policies.

Because pro-wind movements often include members of the public or important

stakeholders, the government might be keen to listen. Of course, the level of
influence held by the movement would very much depend on the size of movement,
its arguments and the level of influence held by the stakeholders involved.

Pro-wind movements can exist for a variety of reasons. Some, such as the Canadian
Wind Energy Association are trade associations representing wind energy industry,
while some groups, like the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, see wind
energy as a means to increase shared community prosperity. Many pro-wind
movements are now centred on concerns over climate change. A variety of specific
stakeholders are especially influential as advocates of wind energy, most notably
farmers and other agriculturalists. Wind energy is often seen as a potential boon to
farmers, especially as the profitability of small farms decreases.

Sometimes the most influential stakeholders in a pro-wind movement are not

directly advocates of wind energy, but rather their own advocacy work is indirectly

linked to wind energy. For example, movements opposed to other energy
technologies – especially those whose negative qualities are not shared by wind
energy – can lead to a push for more wind energy implementation.

2.6.2 Anti-Wind Movements

Large, commercially sized wind developments are often a subject of much social
controversy and can frequently spur opposition. Social opposition to wind projects
can play a high degree of influence over the deployment of wind systems. In many
cases throughout the world, social opposition has severely hindered the
development of wind power systems despite the economic feasibility and
environmental benefits.

The size, type and influence of such opposition can vary greatly. Predominantly,
opposition to wind power arises out of the local communities where a particular
project is being developed. These opposition groups can vary from a small cohort of
concerned residents to a formally organized and well-entrenched group. As will be
discussed below, opposition groups are also existent at the regional level. These
groups, which may span an entire province, are often considerably more organized
and influential than smaller, case-specific groups. National and international
movements against wind power also exist, however there is no well-organized
group with a focus specifically on wind energy in Canada.

Opposition to wind power is often attributed to NIMBYism (not in my backyard), a

phenomenon particularly synonymous with environmental issues. NIMBYism is
characterized by the selfish attitudes held by those that are in favour of a general
initiative (for example, wind power or nuclear power) – many of these initiatives
are considered to be for the greater public good – as long as the specific actions
involved in said initiative will not impact them directly (such as wind turbines or an
underground hazardous waste facility being placed near their property) (Devine-
Wright, 2005). However, this emphasis on NIMBY attitudes might be misplaced.

Indeed, social opposition to wind energy projects is more appropriately explained
by the perceived impacts the project might have on the visual landscape, rather than
one’s location within it (Wolsink, 2000). Moreover, Landenburg finds that one’s
proximity to a wind power project has little to do with their acceptance or
opposition to the project (Landenburg, 2008).

Social opposition to wind energy projects is not limited simply to NIMBYism or

landscape values. Indeed, a broad range of factors can lead to and exacerbate social
opposition in wind power projects (based on (Wind Concerns Ontario, 2010)

• Noise: Because wind turbines are frequently sited in rural areas, the noise
created during operation creates noise levels generally higher than the
norm. Residents living or working nearby might find the noise created
intrusive and obstructive of the relative calmness found in rural areas.
Additionally, shadow flicker from the turbines can create an annoyance to
those living or working on adjacent properties.

• Health Concerns: A growing concern related to the wind power industry is

the impact of wind turbines on human health. The presence of low-
frequency vibrations produced by the turbines in operation is believed by
some to be associated with a variety of illnesses, including migraines and
sleep deprivation. This issue has received relatively little academic study
and is still very contentious, but nonetheless is a significant contributor to
social opposition.

• Wildlife Concerns: The presence of industrial wind turbines are frequently

cited as posing significant risks to bird and bat populations, particularly
when placed in migratory paths. While the evidence for and against these
claims is again debatable and regulations try to reduce these risks, it is also
a significant contributor to social opposition to wind power.

• Property Values: The presence of wind turbines (primarily because of the
aesthetic, noise & health concerns) is widely believed to have a negative
impact on property values in the region affected by the wind turbines.

• Distribution of Risks & Benefits: Wind power projects can sometimes

unevenly distribute the risks and benefits of a project. For example, some
projects might be owned by a private group from another jurisdiction that
reaps all the economic rewards, while the residents nearby are left with the
risks associated with their health, quality of life and property values. When
the distribution of risks and benefits is not adequately balanced, social
opposition is often created.

• Siting Processes: Regulatory siting processes can vary between jurisdictions

and each has its own package of requirements that need to be met by the
developers. Frequently, the degree to which these processes are followed
(even if followed to the full extent of the law) can lead to social opposition to
projects. Public consultation processes are particularly problematic as the
regulatory requirements are widely considered to be inadequate with
regards to effective public participation in the design and development of
the project.

2.7 Ownership Patterns

Wind power systems are typically owned in one of two fashions: corporate or
community. Both ownership styles offer their own advantages and disadvantages
and are common in different regions throughout the world. The nature of the
ownership style can have significant influence over social acceptability, profitability
and ultimately the implementation rates of wind power in a particular region.
Indeed, according to the European study, local (or community) ownership coincides
with higher deployment outcomes than corporate ownership (Toke, et al., 2008).

However, a broad range of national traditions, including co-operative business
traditions, energy activism and government policies, also influences wind
ownership patterns. As a result, the relationship between deployment outcomes and
ownership patterns can vary greatly between regions.

2.7.1 Community Wind Power

Community wind energy projects (or local wind energy projects) are those that are
owned by and generally located near or within a community. While ownership
styles can vary (co-operatives, local municipalities, First Nations Groups, etc),
community projects are owned by members of a community – often many different
people or organizations – and the benefits of the project are accrued directly back
into the community. Because the financial benefits are kept within the community,
the chain effects tend to have a greater financial impact than a corporate project of
the same size (Kildegaard & Myers-Kuykindall, 2006).

Community wind projects are generally considered to be more socially acceptable

because those most directly impacted by the project can have a say in its design
(Andersen, 1998). Also, a balance of risk and benefit is found with these projects. As
is often the case with corporate projects, much of the non-financial risk is taken only
by the community – such as visual, environmental and health impacts – while the
main benefits – financial revenue – are taken out of the community. Community
projects can eliminate such risk disparity. These projects can also increase energy
resiliency within a community, as community members become involved and by
association, begin learning about energy use overall. Community members also have
the option of choosing how the electricity from the projects is allocated.

Community projects, however, have several drawbacks. They can often take much
longer to install as community organizations generally take longer to make
decisions, become organized, raise capital, etc (Kildegaard & Myers-Kuykindall,

2006). The projects are often much smaller and less financially viable as their
corporate counterparts, which makes it more difficult to find investors. As such,
community energy projects frequently require additional subsidies and funding in
order to become financially viable.

Perhaps Canada’s most well known community energy project is the Exhibition
Place Wind Turbine in Toronto, ON. Co-owned by a Toronto community co-
operative and Toronto Hydro, the 750 kW project generates enough electricity for
250 homes (TREC, 2010).

2.7.2 Corporate Wind Power – based on (Kildegaard & Myers-Kuykindall,


Corporate wind energy projects are generally those that are privately owned by a
small number of investors who are based out of a non-local area. Much of the
financial risk of these projects is taken from non-local areas, and as such, much of
the financial benefits are also returned to those areas. However, the community
takes the social, environmental and visual risks where the project is placed.

Corporate wind energy projects are by far the most common type of project and are
very much like any conventional business. Corporate projects, because they are
more heavily financed and much larger, tend to be much larger and are more
attractive under RfP processes. Moreover, they tend to be built much faster (per
kW) than community projects as the focus from developers is on the project itself,
while community member developers frequently already have main jobs.

Corporate projects, however, tend to generate considerably more controversy than

community projects. These projects tend to be designed only by the developers and
if community members are involved, it is primarily in a consultative sense. The risk
disparity mentioned above is an especially contentious issue and is often an

underlying factor of additional issues of controversy. While community owned
projects attempt to bring stakeholders into the ownership scheme, corporate
projects tend to lease or rent the rights of stakeholders. For example, land that
cannot be purchased by developers is often leased directly from landowners, such
as farmers. Unfortunately, controversies have frequently arisen as some developers
use misleading contracts and other irresponsible tactics when dealing with

2.8 Canada’s Federal Government

Canada’s federal government has had a relatively small role in wind energy policy
throughout the country. As discussed above, it has a much less active role than
provinces in the electricity generation sectors. Because its role has been uniform to
all Canadian provinces, its role will not be assessed in great deal throughout the case
studies. While its role has been small, it is worth a brief overview of the federal
government’s role in wind energy policy in Canada.

From 1997 to 2001, the government operated the Federal Canadian Renewables
and Conservation Expenses program, a moderate tax deduction program for
renewable projects (Snodin, 2007). A more effective program was later introduced
in 2001 as the Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI) program. Under the WPPI,
wind projects were given relatively small incentives of $10-$12/MWh for a period
of no longer than ten years (Snodin, 2007). The program had allocated funding for
up to 4 GW of installed capacity by 2010. The program ran until 2006, when it was
frozen and later cancelled by the Conservative government (Snodin, 2007).

In 2007, the government introduced the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Incentive
(ERPI), a strikingly similar incentive program to that of the WPPI. Paying $10/MWH,
the ERPI was designed to provide $1.48B worth of funding for up to 4000 MW of
projects between 2007 and 2011 (Snodin, 2007). However, renewable energy

project deployment has been so successful in Canada that the program’s funding had
been fully allocated by 2010, one year ahead of schedule (Government of Canada,

3 Findings & Results

3.1 Ontario

Ontario first began developing wind energy systems in the early 1990s, as its first
wind project, the 0.6 MW Tiverton Wind Turbine, was installed in 1995 (CanWEA,
2010d). Since then it has installed a total of 26 projects with an installed capacity of
1,208 MW. Nearly all the projects are located in southern Ontario and all are located
onshore. It has the highest installed capacity in Canada – nearly double to those
closest to it – although its penetration rates are only sixth in Canada, as wind
accounts for 3.4% of the province’s installed generation capacity (Centre for Energy,

3.1.1 Geographical Wind Resources

Figure 4: Average Annual Wind Speeds in Ontario at 80m (Environment Canada, 2003)

The most abundant geographical wind resources can be found on Ontario’s water
bodies, specifically the Great Lakes regions. Generally, wind levels, at an altitude of
80 metres, vary at an annual average from 600-800 W/m2 (~9-10 m/s) offshore,
while the coasts gather 400-600 W/m2 (~7-8 m/s). These levels are very high. The
only other region in Ontario with comparatively high wind resources is on the
northern coast of Hudson’s Bay. Much of the remaining significant wind resources in
Ontario can be found in southern Ontario, particularly in the Bruce Region – where
levels are generally 300-400 W/m2 (~6-7.5 m/s) – and the regions slightly north
and east of Toronto – which typically garner 200-300 W/m2 (~5-6.5 m/s). These
windy areas cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometers, providing Ontario
with significant wind energy resources.

3.1.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies

Ontario’s electricity supply system is the only hybrid system – that is, open and
competitive, but with publicly-owned competitors – in this analysis. The
competitiveness of Ontario’s system has been particularly catalytic to wind energy
deployment rates, while the nature of the dominant supply technologies have
provided incentive to invest in wind energy technology. Transmission capacity has
not played as influential a role in Ontario’s wind energy deployment, but has
dictated wind siting at times. It is expected, however, that transmission capacity will
likely play a defining role in Ontario’s wind energy future.

Ontario’s hybrid electricity supply system was born as a result of the failed attempt
by Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government to completely privatize the
electricity market. In 1998, the government passed the Energy Competition Act,
which opened the electricity market to competition (Rowlands, 2007). Then in
1999, the overarching crown electricity corporation, Ontario Hydro, was divided
into five separate organizations, two of which – Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
and Hydro One – were intended to be sold off as private businesses (Ontario Power

Generation, 1999). The full privatization, however, never came to fruition as OPG
and Hydro One continue to exist as crown corporations to this day.

Regardless of the failed privatization of OPG and Hydro One, the Energy Competition
Act has been a defining aspect of wind deployment in Ontario. OPG – which is the
generating arm of what was Ontario Hydro – and Ontario Hydro itself, expressed
very little serious interest in wind energy, holding true to the general North
American trend of public utilities preferring to stay away from wind energy. As a
result, almost all of the wind energy deployment in Ontario has had to come from
the private sector. This would not have been possible without the competitive
nature of Ontario’s electricity market.

Ontario’s electricity system is overseen by a variety of arm’s length agencies, most

notably the Ontario Power Authority – which oversees the long term energy supply
to the province – and the Ontario Energy Board – which’s primary mandate includes
setting electricity pricing rates. While it is a competitive market, it is a regulated

Ontario has one of the most diverse electricity supply mixes in Canada. Nuclear
energy, gas, hydro and coal all make up significant shares of Ontario’s generating
capacity, at 32%, 24%, 22% and 18%, respectively (IESO, 2010). The remaining 4%
is almost entirely made up of wind energy. Ontario also has the second highest
generating capacity in Canada at 35,485 MW. Despite this high level of capacity,
Ontario is facing a considerable shortfall in future generating capacity. Because of
political commitments to phase out its coal-fired power plants, a need to refurbish
many of its aging nuclear and hydro plants and an expected increase in electricity
demand, the province is estimating a need to replace or refurbish a generation
capacity gap of 25,000 MW within the next decade (IESO, 2009). This factor, in
addition to many discussed in the following sections, has provided significant
incentive to increase wind energy deployment.

Available transmission capacity for wind generation projects has had a moderate
impact on the deployment rates, although this impact was only felt for a relatively
short period of time. Shortly after the introduction of Ontario’s Standard Offer
Program in 2006, the Ontario Power Authority issued a moratorium on wind energy
purchases by Hydro One in the Bruce Area because Hydro One did not have
sufficient transmission capacity in that area (OCAA, 2007).Nearly all of the
transmission capacity in the Bruce Area was allocated to the Bruce Nuclear
Generating Station. The cap has been partially lifted since in order to make room for
some wind energy projects, but the OPA is in the process of building enough
additional transmission capacity to add an additional 2,500 MW to the area (OPA,
2009c). This area of southern Ontario is particularly important because of its
generally high wind resources.

Transmission capacity is expected to be a defining characteristic of wind energy

deployment in Ontario’s future. The OPA is not currently assessing the impact of
new wind energy projects on transmission capacity, but has stated that this will
soon be a major consideration when evaluating projects (OPA, 2010b).
Furthermore, the OPA has planned for a significant expansion and renewal of
Ontario’s transmission capacity. While the OPA touts the employment benefits of the
$2.3 billion investment, there is some indication that such expansion will take many
years to complete at the detriment to wind energy deployment rates (OPA, 2010b).

3.1.3 Planning Policies

Ontario’s government has taken a positive and supportive approach to wind power
for well over a decade, although the support has been variable and marred by
political interference.

Prior to 2003, Ontario’s government approach to wind power was one of laissez-
faire; that is, wind power would compete in the free market with other energy

technologies without any economic support from the government, although the
government did recognize many of the benefits of wind power. At this time in
Ontario, a free market electricity generation industry was relatively new. As part of
its conservative platform, the governing Progressive Conservatives intended to
privatize the otherwise wholly government-owned electricity industry in Ontario by
selling off the assets of what used to be Ontario Hydro (Rowlands, 2007). While the
transition to a privatized market never was never fully complete, the monopoly of
Ontario Hydro was removed and the market was open to private developers.

This represented a significant shift for the wind power system in Ontario. Because
Ontario Hydro had never expressed any substantial interest in developing wind
power – rather, its portfolio consisted almost entirely of nuclear, coal and
hydroelectric power sources – any development of wind power had to come from
the private sector, which was considerably more interested in wind power than its
public sector counterpart (OPG, 1999).

This move by the Ontario government was by no means directly intended to induce
a domestic wind power industry. Rather, the impact felt by the Ontario wind
industry was simply an externality of a more general approach to a smaller public
role by the Ontario government. Indeed, while this move towards privatization
opened the door for private wind developers – which were given no special
economic incentives and forced to compete with other energy technologies – the
government introduced concurrent programs that stymied wind power
development, most notably the five-year freezing of electricity rates (Progressive
Conservative Party of Ontario, 1994). This was seen as a boon for consumers, who
had previously been seeing electricity rates rise well above 5% annually during the
early 1990s (Daniels & Trebilcock, 1996). For wind developers, this presented a
remarkably significant challenge, as such low costs made wind power prohibitively
expensive. That being said, the government was fairly certain that a certain segment
of the consumer market would demand ‘green power’ and thus felt it required no
extra attention (Government of Ontario, 2000).

The laissez-faire approach taken by Ontario’s government shifted significantly
during the early 2000s. According to Rowlands, three separate issues occurred
concurrently to trigger such a shift: 1) Governmental committees were beginning to
explore support for wind power and other renewable technologies in much greater
depth; 2) The government began implementing an oppositional policy to its coal-
fired power plants, vowing to shut them down by 2015, largely as a result of strong
medical lobbies warning against the economic and health dangers of smog (this will
be explored in greater detail in the pro-wind movements section); 3) The e-coli
tragedy of Walkerton occurred in 2000, primarily as a result of an underfunded,
understaffed and undertrained government agency failing to properly oversee the
quality of the drinking water, sparking a growing concern among the public with the
government’s approach to limited role of public bodies (Rowlands, 2007).

As a result of the culmination of these three events, two things occurred that are
particularly important to wind power. First, the government announced it would
introduce a renewable power standard, known as the Green Power Standard – this
program will be explored in greater detail in the following Economic Support
Systems section. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the incumbent PC
government was defeated by the Liberal party in the 2003 provincial election.

Like the previous PC government, the Liberal government also implemented

oppositional policies towards coal-fired power, but instead chose 2007 as a target
year to have the plants shutdown – this target continued be moved back through the
2000s as it became clear that meeting the targets would be extremely difficult
(Ontario Liberal Party, 2003). Nonetheless, the Liberal government has continued to
implement strong and supportive wind power policies since its election in 2003.
Indeed, they quickly announced targets of renewable electricity supplying 5% of the
province’s power by 2007 and 10% by 2010 (Ontario Liberal Party, 2003).

To meet these targets, the government implemented its own version of the previous
government’s Green Power Standard, using a government tendering process and
issuing a Request for Proposals (RfPs) (Rowlands, 2007). This system continued for
several years, largely because of the similarities between it and other RfP processes
the Ontario government was already very comfortable and familiar with. Again,
these policies were not focused exclusively on wind power, but because of wind
power’s cost-effectiveness relative to other renewable technologies – especially
important in an RfP process – wind power made up a great deal of the projects.

The RfP soon became a political liability for the Liberal government, as costs of
projects skyrocketed, NIMBYism became rampant, and those not awarded RfP
contracts were left with nothing, making them particularly antagonistic towards the
government (Rowlands, 2007). But rather than backing away from supportive
policies of wind power, the government instead elected to pursue a different avenue
to support its development by introducing a feed-in-tariff, known as the Renewable
Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP). This program was seen as considerably
more politically acceptable, largely because of the involvement of both the David
Suzuki Foundation and the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA), which
focused on the community and provincial development advantages of a feed-in-tariff
(Rowlands, 2007). Moreover, it garnered significant support from the province’s
agricultural sector, which could use the feed-in-tariff as an economic boon because
they could now own their own projects much more easily.

It should also be mentioned that the government’s decision to move from an RPS
system to the RESOP was also motivated by political factors, namely its desire to
differentiate itself from the previous PC government in as many ways as possible
(Rowlands, 2007). Because the RESOP, unlike the RPS system, was not affiliated to
the previous government in any way, it was a politically attractive choice.

The RESOP program continued for several years and acted as the mainstay for the
government’s policy towards wind power. The RESOP, however, became

increasingly problematic, as it became clear that the approvals process and more
importantly, the price level, were delaying the development of wind power
significantly in the province (Rowlands, 2009). Concurrently, it became clear that
the government’s ambitious plans to shut down the province’s coal-fired power
plants, one of the primary drivers behind the development of wind power in
Ontario, would be delayed. In 2007, the government changed its target to shutting
down all the plants by 2014 and continues to hold that target to this day (OCAA,

In 2009, the government introduced the Green Energy and Economy Act (shortened
to GEA), a wide-ranging piece of legislation that covers a broad range of
environmental and energy factors in Ontario. One of the main facets of the act was
an increased focus on renewable energy, including wind power. It introduced a
significantly more generous replacement of the RESOP, simply known as the Feed-
in-Tariff Program (FIT); much more ambitious targets of renewable electricity –
over 15,000 MW of renewable generating capacity by 2025, with a strong desire to
exceed these targets –; a streamlined approvals process that would centralize the
approval for renewable energy projects; an obligation by utility companies to tie
new renewable energy projects into the grid; and a significant investment in
community power (Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, 2009).
Interestingly, despite the 15,000 MW targets being announced and reprinted by a
variety of sources, as of April 22, 2010, the targets are no longer available on any
government website (HydroWorld, 2009; Pic Mobert First Nation, 2009; Sarnia-
Lambton Economic Partnership, 2009).

After the regulations were introduced in the fall of 2009, approximately 2,200
applications were submitted to the Ontario Power Authority – the public body in
charge of managing the electricity supply in all of Ontario – within three months for
a total of over 8,000 MW of generating capacity, almost all of which was from wind
power (OPA, 2009d). More recently, over 1000 MW of wind energy projects were
approved by the OPA (CanWEA, 2010c).

The program, which is in its earliest stages at the time of writing, has been met with
significant administrative delays, but it is clear that the unprecedented scope of such
a program will garner considerable development of wind power in Ontario. Regulatory Approvals and Siting Process

Ontario’s approvals process, for many years, was a fairly complex process. Wind
energy projects were typically required to go through myriad approvals from
different departments at the municipal and provincial levels. A requirement for
federal approval has been a rare occurrence as few projects take place on federal
land or are otherwise under federal jurisdiction. The provincial approvals process is
usually a mix of environmental, archaeological, construction and historical/cultural
approvals, much of which entailed some level of public consultation, such as an open
house or public meeting. For major wind energy projects, these processes could take
upwards of one year.

The municipal or local level approvals have been highly problematic for wind
energy projects. While these processes are primarily over zoning approvals,
complications can arise if amendments to the Official Plan are required. Moreover,
unlike a provincial approval – which is provided by a sole government agency –
zoning approvals and Official Plan amendments often require passage by the
municipal council or at least a standing committee, which can take time, especially if
the council requires more time to review the proposal. Sometimes projects can also
require approval by both a municipal council and a township council. Renewable
developers have also cited the redundancy in some of the approvals process because
the requirements at the municipal level can overlap with those at the provincial
level, such as the public consultation processes (Ontario Ministry of Energy and
Infrastructure, 2010).

Although there is no publicly available data detailing the success rate of applications
in Ontario, developers have been long complaining that the approvals process is far
too cumbersome. Indeed, some organizations believe that as many as 50% of
projects are not approved or delay the process so long that the project becomes
uneconomical (Weis & Ratchford, 2009). They also count the refusal of utilities to
hook up the projects to the grid when using the 50% figure.

This has changed substantially within the past year. One of the controversial aspects
of the Green Energy Act has been its shifting of the approvals process. Under the
GEA, developers no longer require the myriad approvals described above. Instead,
they simply require something called a Renewable Energy Approval, which is
provided by the provincial government. In order to receive an REA, a developer is
still required to go through the same assessments, but submits them at one time for
only one approval. More importantly – and controversially – the REA supersedes
any municipal authority on the projects. Quite simply, developers of wind energy
projects do not require any approval from the local government. This has proven to
upset many, although it, along with the obligation for local utilities to connect
projects to the grid, has contributed to a multitude of projects being approved
(Peterborough Examiner, 2009). Indeed, the Ontario government has awarded over
1500 MW of new wind energy projects within the past month (OPA, 2010a).
Assuming this shift in the approvals process is not politically capsizing, it could
signal a very rapid deployment of wind energy projects in Ontario’s near future.

3.1.4 Financial Policy Incentives

Ontario’s application of financial support systems has been as varied as any in

Canada. It has applied several systems over the past two decades in various forms
for differing amounts of time. As such, Ontario’s financial support system history is
primarily characterized by instability, variation and often, insufficiency. One might

even liken it to a trial and error method. Moreover, as is discussed below, the
variation has as much to do with politics as it does effectiveness.

For many years, Ontario’s approach to wind energy support was limited to
consumer demand. Quite simply, no system was in place. It was expected that
specific segments of the market would prefer to purchase green, renewable
electricity and would therefore make the wind energy more cost competitive.
Indeed, the opening of the electricity market to private competition was by and
large considered itself to be a form of financial support.

Despite this laissez-faire approach to wind energy, ideas began to emerge within the
governing Progressive Conservatives in 2002 of a renewable portfolio standard that
was later known as the Green Power Standard (GPS) (Rowlands, 2007). The
emergence of the GPS was largely driven by the growing movement to move away
from coal-fired electricity. Under the GPS, 1% of the demand for electricity in
Ontario would be met by renewable sources by 2006, and rise to 8% by 2013
(Rowlands, 2007). Despite announcing the program in the spring of 2003, the
program was never put into action, as the government was defeated later that year
by the Liberal Party.

The Liberal government, which had committed to targets of renewable energy

development in its election campaign, quickly announced its own financial support
system for wind in early 2004 when it initiated a Request for Proposals for 300 MW
(OPA, 2006). Ultimately, ten projects were selected totaling 395 MW of wind,
biomass and water. Another RfP for 1000 MW was initiated a year later – which
ultimately led to nine projects totaling 975 MW – and a third in the same year of 200
MW designed for smaller projects between 250 kW and 19.99 MW (OPA, 2006). The
latter RfP was never fully completed, as it was placed “on hold” and never picked up

As mentioned in the Planning Policies section above, the exclusionary nature of the
RfP process became politically problematic. These had been evident since the
inception of the RfP processes, so the government had begun exploring the notion of
feed-in-tariffs and standard offer contracts as early as 2004 (Rowlands, 2007).
Largely driven by the influence of wind energy guru Paul Gipe and the Ontario
Sustainable Energy Association, the Ontario government implemented the
Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) (Rowlands, 2007).

The RESOP was quite simply a feed-in-tariff program with standard power purchase
agreements for fixed periods of time, usually 20 years. The costs of the program
were internalized in the electricity bills of all Ontario consumers. Under the RESOP,
wind energy generators were initially provided prices of $0.11/kWh produced. In
May, 2008, this rate was raised to $0.1108/kWh with a bonus of $0.0352/kWh for
electricity produced during peak hours (OPA, 2008).

The RESOP system, while leading to nearly 1000 MW of wind energy capacity
installed, had its issues (OPA, 2008). First, the prices were not always economical.
This issue was far more common for solar photovoltaic projects, which were offered
$0.42/kWh, a price that, despite its high level, barely made solar PV projects break
even. Secondly, the RESOP placed the burden of connection to the grid on the
producer because the local utility was under no obligation to connect the project to
the grid. This aspect could amount to a significant share of a project’s cost and often
made projects – wind and otherwise – prohibitively expensive. This was particularly
problematic for small, community-based projects.

In response to these concerns, the government introduced the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT)

program in 2009 as part of the Green Energy Act. Very similar to the RESOP, it was
designed to improve on the drawbacks of the RESOP. First, it increased the prices
for wind energy to $0.135/kWh produced, making projects significantly more
economical (OPA, 2009a). Moreover, a separate price of $0.19/kWh was created for
offshore wind projects. Prices were also increased significantly for all other

technologies and most prices were given an escalation rate so the amount paid
would rise over time. Second, it created an obligation on the local utility to connect
the projects to the grid, transferring the burden of this action from the developers to
the local utilities. Third, a focus was put on community-owned and First Nations-
owned projects by placing additional incentives as high as $0.01/kWh and
$0.015/kWh, respectively, if projects involved at least partial ownership by either of
these groups (OPA, 2009b). More to this point, millions of dollars were allocated to
support programs like the Community Energy Partnerships Program and the
Aboriginal Energy Partnerships Program to aid the development of these types of
projects. However, as of the date of this writing, third party delivery agents for these
programs had not yet been developed.

As mentioned in the introduction to this section, Ontario’s financial support systems

have been extremely varied. Indeed, there are doubtless any other jurisdictions that
have implemented five different financial support systems in only a decade. The FIT
program has been, however, hailed with support from wind energy developers and
many environmental groups.

3.1.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition Pro-Wind Movements

The pro-wind movement has been incredibly influential in the deployment of wind
energy in Ontario. Multiple fronts of the movement have influenced social thinking
as well as politics over the past decade in Ontario. Some of the pro-wind movements
have been directly focused on wind and other renewable energy technologies – both
in small, local organizations – and large provincial organizations. Some other
aspects of the movement have been focused on other issues that indirectly relate to
the pro-wind movement.

Ontario’s wind energy industry has been significantly influenced by the presence of
Canada’s national wind industry association, the Canadian Wind Energy Association
(CanWEA). Since its inception in 1984, CanWEA has been participating in Ontario’s
wind policy development, although its level of influence has grown within the past
decade. Because of Ontario’s size and competitive electricity market, the number of
wind-related groups and companies represented by CanWEA were very large and
therefore called for a significant presence by CanWEA in Ontario. What is perhaps
most telling to CanWEA’s presence in Ontario is its establishment of an Ontario-
specific policy management team (CanWEA, 2010a). There are other policy
management teams in Canada, but are regional – such as ‘Quebec and Atlantic
Canada’ or ‘Western Canada’ – as opposed to province-specific.

One of Ontario’s most vehement proponents of wind energy has been the Ontario
Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA), a non-governmental organization formed in
1999. While being supportive of renewable energy in general, OSEA’s more focused
issue has been one of community or local economic development, using renewable
energy as a catalyst. Its most influential actions came in 2004 with the hiring of
wind energy guru, Paul Gipe, as Executive Director, who spearheaded a campaign to
promote feed-in-tariffs in Ontario during the implementation of the RfP process
(Rowlands, 2007). It was largely due to the work of OSEA that the RESOP program
was implemented – which itself has accounted for over 700 MW of wind energy
deployment – and that the more recent Green Energy Act was introduced (OPA,
2008). Indeed, in 2007, Gipe – this time working as an advisor to OSEA – published a
detailed report identifying the flaws of the RESOP and recommending various
solutions (Gipe, 2007). Most of these solutions were present in the Green Energy

An important stakeholder of wind energy deployment in Ontario is the agricultural

sector. Agriculture is particularly significant in rural, southern Ontario, where much
of the highest wind resources can be found. Ontario’s primary agricultural voice, the
Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) – representing over 38,000 members – has

taken a supportive, yet cautious stance on wind energy. The OFA has recognized the
relationship farming has on energy use, while also recognizing the opportunities
available to them through the deployment of renewable energies like wind. Indeed,
because of agriculture is a major user of electricity, “this makes a continuous and
affordable supply of energy critical to the success of Ontario agriculture” and “on-
farm production of electrical energy from wind generators…are just some of the
options agriculture is developing” (OFA, 2006). But, as stated above, the approach is
cautious. The OFA has not gone as far as too throw its entire weight behind wind
energy as it has witnessed several occasions where wind developers have treated
farmers and landowners unfairly. As such, it has issued a variety of policy
statements to its members, most notably the two-page 30 Suggestions on Wind
Power Leases for Farmers, which, among other things, is built on the principles that
“Ontario needs power and farmers need income. OFA favours wind power where
generators do not harm other things important to the community” (OFA, 2007). The
community-importance approach has also led to recent collaborative approaches
between the OFA and the OSEA.

As influential as the direct pro-wind organizations have been in Ontario, perhaps

the movements opposed to other energy technologies have been just as important.
These two movements have focused around coal technology as well as nuclear

The anti-coal movement was particularly influential throughout the late 1990s and
early 2000s in Ontario and was spearheaded by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance
(OCAA) and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). Beginning in 1998, the OMA –
representing many professionals in Ontario’s massive health care system – began
publishing reports on air quality in Ontario and its impact on the health care system
and the economy in general. Some of its most impacting findings included the 1,900
deaths and over $1 billion air pollution was expected to have in 2000 (OMA, 2000).
It was not until two years later that the OMA began directly attributing much of the
air pollution to Ontario’s coal-fired power plants, a time that also coincided with the

first announcements from Ontario’s political leaders concerning the phase out of the
coal plants.

The OCAA had been advocating against coal-fired power plants since its inception in
1997, when it feared that the opening of the Ontario electricity market would
translate into significant growth of coal-powered electricity generation (Rowlands,
2007). The OCAA frequently complemented the work and findings of the OMA and
sought to keep the finger pointed directly at coal as the primary suspect. It acted
more as an advocacy group than the OMA, as it spread its message throughout local
communities, used surveys and focused on major events like the increase in smog
days in Ontario (Rowlands, 2007). Indeed, some of the most influential surveys were
completed in 1999 and 2001 that found that the majority of respondents in
southern Ontario were supportive of a phase out of coal and were willing to pay
more in electricity bills for this phase out (OCAA, 2006).

The two groups, though not directly promoting wind energy – indeed, energy
conservation has been their primary solution – certainly played a serious role by
indirectly making a case for wind energy in Ontario.

The anti-nuclear movement has also been quite instrumental in Ontario’s wind
energy deployment history. Though not as politically relevant as the anti-coal
movement, the anti-nuclear movement has grown significantly and has been an
indirect supporter of wind energy. The movement, it should be mentioned, is not
specific to Ontario and is very powerful nationally. Some of Canada’s largest and
most influential environmental NGOs – including the Pembina Institute, the Sierra
Club of Canada and Greenpeace – have taken stances against nuclear power
development or at least recommended serious caution. Large organizations focused
directly on nuclear energy development have also appeared, including the Campaign
for Nuclear Phaseout, which represents over 300 advocacy groups across Canada
and recommends, among other things, the development of renewable energy
technologies. Ontario has been a main focus of these groups, as its nuclear energy

development is among the highest in North America. Local advocacy groups have
also played a role, such as Safe & Green Energy Peterborough, the Port Hope
Families Against Radiation Exposure and the Algonquin First Nations tribe, which is
opposed to both the establishment of nuclear energy plants and mining for uranium.

The role of the pro-wind movement has been stronger in Ontario than anywhere
else in Canada and has certainly been one of the most significant drivers of wind
energy deployment in Ontario. Anti-Wind Movements

The anti-wind movement in Ontario, like the pro-wind movement, is the strongest in
Canada. National anti-wind organizations have placed a direct focus on Ontario and
are frequently involved in local campaigns against specific projects. More
importantly, Ontario is home to its own provincial anti-wind organization. The anti-
wind movement has even been strong enough in Ontario to lead some
municipalities to implement wind energy moratoriums.

National and international anti-wind organizations, such as National Wind Watch

and the Industrial Wind Action Group (IWAG), have long focused much of their
attention on Ontario. Indeed, a quick review of IWAG’s 1540 articles on Canada will
reveal that a majority of them focus on Ontario. Interestingly, the focus on Ontario
becomes far more apparent closer to the present date. That is, Ontario is simply a
part of the mix as early as 2005, but has moved to the spotlight in recent years
(IWAG, 2010). These groups, as well as their work, have been frequently cited
throughout Ontario, particularly by the community organizations opposing specific

Wind Concerns Ontario is the force of opposition to wind energy implementation in

Ontario. It is a very organized coalition of 42 citizen groups in Ontario working to

“promote awareness of the true impacts of industrial wind power facilities across
Ontario” (WCO, 2010). It is represented primarily throughout southern and eastern
Ontario, although a few chapters exist in northern Ontario. Its influence has been
widely felt in municipal public consultation processes. Indeed, it is often the main
force of opposition in a community. Moreover, WCO is able to provide what can be
described as a ‘turnkey opposition program’ for newly formed community groups,
as it uses its wealth of information and organization to provide community
opposition groups with what they require. More recently, WCO has established itself
as the main voice of opposition to wind energy projects and often collaborates with
other individuals or organizations opposing wind projects or government policies.

The legitimacy of the general anti-wind movement has recently taken a significant
hit. In March of 2010, it was revealed that a controversial but significant study
criticizing the wind industry and recommending the use of coal instead was funded
by an American think tank with extremely close ties to the coal and oil industries
(The Copenhagen Post, 2010). While its recency prevents from yet having any
significant impact in Ontario, it could very well raise questions to the credibility of
the anti-wind movement and reduce its influence in the future.

Perhaps the most influential aspect of the anti-wind movement in Ontario has been
a series of wind moratoriums implemented by both the province and several
municipalities. In 2006, under pressure from various anti-wind groups, the province
announced it would put the deployment of offshore wind energy projects on hold,
despite having over a dozen projects in the planning stages (Hamilton, 2006).
Considering that offshore wind projects tend to be very large – greater wind
resources and much more space – this was quite influential on potential deployment
rates in the province. Several municipal governments have also enacted
moratoriums on wind energy implementation. For example, in 2009, prior to the
passage of the Green Energy Act, the township of South Algonquin introduced a 10-
year moratorium on wind energy projects (Barry's Bay This Week, 2009). More
recently, since the implementation of the Green Energy Act, a swath of municipal

governments has passed moratoriums on wind energy projects until proper
environmental and health studies are completed (Sharon Hill, 2010; Hoult, 2010).
Although the province has vowed to create a university research chair to research
the health impacts, the moratoriums are essentially futile under the Green Energy

While it is clear that the anti-wind movement has been relatively influential on
actual deployment rates in Ontario, it is also clear that the presence has grown as
deployment rates have increased. As such, one can infer that the anti-wind
movement in Ontario has very much been an effect of wind energy deployment. As
deployment rates and the anti-wind movement continue to strengthen, the level of
influence held by the latter could very well be more apparent in the years to come,
especially if the rate of wind energy growth begins to slow.

3.1.6 Ownership Patterns

Although significant focus in Ontario has recently been placed on the growth of
community power and local ownership, local ownership accounts for an extremely
minute percentage – less than one percent – of total installed capacity in Ontario
(OSEA, 2008). What can be inferred from this analysis is that local ownership
patterns have had little influence on the deployment rates in Ontario at this point. It
is possible, however, that much of the opposition to wind energy in Ontario could be
reduced with more local ownership and could have a positive effect on overall
deployment rates in the province. At this point, unfortunately, that exists only as a
hypothesis and such influence is not clear. It is possible that if such a similar
analysis to this is completed in another decade or two – assuming local ownership
rates increase – that a relationship between local ownership and deployment could
be found.

Although the ownership patterns have not had a significant quantifiable influence
on wind energy deployment in Ontario, it is important to recognize that Ontario is
home to what might be considered as the birthplace of Canadian community power.
Indeed, it has some of the largest proposed community power projects in Canada,
most notably the 20 MW Pukwis Community Wind Park – co-owned by the Georgina
Island First Nation and Pukwis Energy Cooperative – and the 20 MW Lakewind
project owned by the Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative (TREC). The latter
organization is one of the first developers of community power in Canada, famous
for the installation of the 750 kW Windshare Project at the Exhibition Place in
Toronto, ON.

3.2 Alberta

Alberta is the first province in Canada to develop a wind energy project: the 21MW
project in Cowley Ridge, installed in 1993 (CanWEA, 2010d). Since then it has
installed a total of 25 different projects totaling 625 MW. Every project is located in
southern Alberta and many have been developed along the province’s windiest
region at the feet of the Rocky Mountains. It has the third highest installed capacity
in Canada and the second highest penetration rate, as wind energy accounts for 5%
of installed capacity in the province (Centre for Energy, 2009).

3.2.1 Geographical Wind Resources

Figure 5: Average Annual Wind Speeds in Alberta at 80m (Environment Canada, 2003)
The most abundant wind resources in Alberta can be found along the western
border of southern Alberta, along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. At 80 m, this
area garners average annual wind energy density of ~2000 W/m2 and wind speeds
of ~13.0 m/s, which are among the highest onshore wind resources in Canada.
Much of southern Alberta also contains windy areas as the windiest northern parts
garner ~400 W/m2 and wind speeds of ~7.0 m/s, while the southern parts of
southern Alberta garner ~400-700 W/m2 and wind speeds of 7.0-9.0 m/s. These
windy areas cover nearly half of geographical Alberta and therefore provide Alberta
with significant wind resources.

3.2.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies

Alberta’s electricity supply system is unique in Canada in that it is the only system
that is both competitive and deregulated. Unlike any other province in Canada,
Alberta’s system is neither heavily overseen by any government agency nor are
electricity rates influenced by an external body. Rather, electricity rates are set

entirely by the market; that is, the supply of and demand for electricity from a
variety of suppliers.

Alberta’s electricity system began making the transition to an open and competitive
marketplace in 1995 with the passage of the Electric Utilities Act (EUA) (MacDonald,
2003). The legislation aimed to create a competitive, deregulated marketplace that
would be open for new electrical generation and separate transmission and
generation functions. Prior to the EUA, Alberta’s electricity system was made up of
three main utilities and a few large municipal utilities, which were all in charge of
both generation and distribution, but were also regulated by the Alberta
Department of Energy (ENMAX, 2010). Unlike some of the dominant utilities in
other provinces, the Alberta utilities did not shy away from wind energy
development. Indeed, many of them have invested in wind energy projects for
nearly two decades (CanWEA, 2010d). Numerous amendments and additional
legislation since 1995 have continued to make the transition to the open and
competitive market. Indeed, in 1996 the Alberta Energy System Operator (AESO) – a
non-profit corporation – was created to manage the purchase and sale of electricity,
while also overseeing other aspects of electricity market, including generation,
transmission and distribution. The full transition to a competitive electricity market
was finally completed in 2001 (Rowlands, 2009).

Alberta’s current electricity generation comes primarily from coal and natural gas,
which make up approximately 46% and 39%, respectively (Centre for Energy,
2009). These technologies are coming under increasing scrutiny given their carbon-
emitting and non-renewable characteristics. The remaining electricity is produced
by hydro, wind and biomass projects. In 2006, the AESO implemented a cap on wind
power generation at 900 MW, citing insufficient transmission capacity. The AESO
has since applied to construct up to 3000 MW of additional generation capacity,
much of which is expected to be allocated to new wind projects (Alberta
Department of Energy, 2009). Indeed, the transmission capacity is much needed as

over 11,000 MW worth of potential wind energy projects have applied for
connection to the grid (Alberta Department of Energy, 2009).

Another important aspect of Alberta’s electricity market its import ratio has been
rapidly rising over the past five years as exports have fallen from over 1,000 GWh in
2005 to only just over 500 GWh in 2009, while imports have risen from 1,500 GWh
in 2005 to over 2,000 GWh in 2009 (Alberta Department of Energy, 2010). This is
especially problematic, as the costs of imports have been disproportionately higher
than the revenue gained from electricity exports.

Alberta’s deregulated market has certainly lent itself positively to the province’s
high wind resources, but transmission capacity has proven to play a part stymieing
wind energy development in Alberta. The combination of increasing transmission
capacity and a need for more non-carbon emitting electricity generation could very
well result in rapid development of wind energy in Alberta.

3.2.3 Planning Policies

Alberta has taken a fairly ‘hands-off’ approach to wind energy policy. Such an
approach contrasts greatly with other jurisdictions with similar deployment rates
and thus initially appears quite strange. However, given the traditional laissez faire
approach to government intervention that the province has taken over the past few
decades, this approach to wind energy is not surprising. Indeed, Alberta has been
governed by the Progressive Conservatives for nearly four decades, a party which’s
ideology is centred on smaller government.
Alberta first expressed serious interest in wind in the late 1980s with the passage of
the Small Power Research and Development (SPRD) Act in 1988 (Whitmore &
Bramley, 2004). Although the act is now several decades old, it did have an effect on
wind energy deployment in the province. As part of the SPRD, 125 MW of available
capacity was allocated to encourage new renewable energy projects to sell

electricity at standardized rates over contracted time, although only 108 came to
fruition as part of 18 different projects (Whitmore & Bramley, 2004). Some of these
projects were wind projects, including Canada’s first large-scale wind farm at
Cowley Ridge, comprising nearly 20 MW.

Since the SPRD, such interest has not come close to being duplicated. Alberta does
not have, and has never had, a formal wind energy policy; it is neither supportive
nor opposed to wind energy development. It has had, however, a series of informal
statements supporting wind power. In its 2002 climate change plan, the government
expected the “renewable and alternative energy portion of the province’s total
electricity capacity to grow by 3.5% by 2008” (Alberta Department of Environment,
2002). More recently, in its 2007 Provincial Energy Strategy, the government
claimed “Alberta has a rich endowment of renewable energy resources that will play
an increasingly important role in our energy future” (Alberta Department of Energy,

While Alberta has not shown particular interest in wind energy, it has placed much
of its focus on energy from fossil fuel sources, most notably oil, gas and coal.
Because these technologies are not particularly environmentally friendly in many
different ways, the government – like many throughout the world – is placing
significant focus on ‘clean energy’. In Alberta’s case, clean energy is primarily placed
on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, clean coal technology and
hydrogen technologies (Alberta Department of Energy, 2007). As an indicator of this
focus, the government recently announced $2 billion in funding for CCS technology,
a stark contrast to the minute funding for wind (Government of Alberta, 2008).
Moreover, this focus on clean energy – not including wind – is reflected in the
research projects explored in the province’s largest universities. Neither the
University of Alberta nor University of Calgary have any specific focus on wind
energy, but rather focus on clean coal, CCS and the ‘hydrogen economy’. Moreover,
at the University of Calgary’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and
Economy (ISEEE) – where one might expect to find a plethora of interest for wind

energy – there is not one mention of wind energy. Even under the Alternative Energy
section, several energy technologies are explored, including hydrogen, fuel cells and
bioenergy, but no mention of wind (ISEEE, 2004). The University of Lethbridge also
contains little focus on wind energy. Despite this clear lack of focus on wind energy,
materials available from each school and specific departments curiously contain
many pictures of wind turbines. Material from the government, too, contains
frequent photographs of wind turbines.

Despite an initial interest in wind energy in the late 1980s, the Alberta government
has largely been removed from active participation in wind energy policy-making in
the province since. It has instead chosen to pursue supportive policies towards
other energy technologies, although its use of wind energy visuals suggests that it
has tried to benefit from the appeal of wind energy. Regulatory Approvals and Siting Process

The approvals and siting process in Alberta is among the more lax in Canada. While
the similar breadth of assessments as other provinces are required – public
participation, environmental impact assessments, noise studies, etc – the approvals
body is considerably different than that in other provinces. Indeed, whereas many
other provinces grant approvals authority to different government departments,
Alberta delegates it to a self described “quasi-judicial independent agency” known
as the Alberta Utilities Commission (Alberta Utilities Commission, 2010). Prior to
2008, the body existed as part of the Energy and Utilities Board.

As is often the case with quasi-judicial approvals agencies, more projects tend to get
approved than not. Moreover, given Alberta’s history with approvals for energy-
related projects – most notably in the Oil Sands – it is likely that the assessments
completed in Alberta are not quite as strict as those in other provinces (Nikiforuk,

However, regardless of the siting process in Alberta, it has played little role given
the generation capacity cap placed on wind development in the province. Indeed,
with more than 11,000 MW worth of wind energy projects currently awaiting
approval for access to the grid, it is clear that access to the grid is a far greater
barrier than the other approvals processes.

3.2.4 Financial Policy Incentives

Contrary to what much of the literature states is a requirement for wind energy
deployment, Alberta has no financial support system for wind energy. It never has
and it likely will not in the near future. For many years, Alberta has instead elected
to rely on consumer demand to fuel wind energy development throughout the

Consumer demand for electricity from wind energy – and ‘green’ energy in general –
is different from conventional demand for electricity. While cost is generally the
primary determinant of electricity demand, consumer demand for ‘green’ energy
typically entails alternative priorities – likely a moral impetus of sorts – as
consumers are willing to pay a premium for electricity from wind energy sources.

In order for a consumer demand strategy to be successful, there are two necessary
conditions that must be met. First, the electricity system must be open and
competitive, thereby allowing for a variety of producers and generation
technologies; second, consumers must be able to enter into purchase contracts with
particular suppliers (Rowlands, 2009). Alberta’s system meets these criteria.

A few main players, including major municipal utilities, have driven the growth in
consumer demand for wind energy in Alberta. In 1998, ENMAX – a City of Calgary-
owned utility serving over 350,000 consumers – established a green power sales

program known as Greenmax, which used electricity produced from a variety of
wind sources owned by ENMAX and two other renewable generators, Canadian
Hydro Developers and Vision Quest Windelectric (both of which have since been
acquisitioned by another major Albertan utility, TransAlta) (Whitmore & Bramley,
2004). Participation for the program grew substantially over the years and included
some major customers, including Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada
and Calgary Transit. Indeed, the latter uses ENMAX to power 100% of its C-Train
light rail system. In 1999, EPCOR – a City of Edmonton-owned utility serving over
500,000 consumers – launched its own green power sales program known as the
Green Power program (Whitmore & Bramley, 2004). Similarly to Greenmax,
customers grew substantially over the years. The Green Power program sourced
electricity from a variety of renewable generators, including a 900 kW wind energy
project on the Peigan Nation Reserve. In addition to the large utilities, other
organizations have launched smaller green power sales programs, including the
Pembina Institute and the aforementioned but now defunct Vision Quest
Windelectric (Whitmore & Bramley, 2004).

3.2.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition Pro-Wind Movement

The pro-wind movement in Alberta has largely been driven by major environmental
organizations, the national wind group and municipalities. The latter, as described
in the above section, has been a particularly influential proponent of wind energy.

Major environmental organizations have long had a significant presence in Alberta.

While the specific issues covered by these organizations have been as numerous as
they have been varied. Some of the notable environmental organizations with a
major presence in Alberta include Greenpeace Canada, the Sierra Club of Canada, the
David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute. While some have had more

direct influence on wind energy than others, the important consideration to realize
is that these groups have a strong and influential reputation in Alberta. Of the major
groups, the Pembina Institute has been most instrumental in promoting wind
energy deployment in Alberta. Perhaps its most notable contribution of the Pembina
Institute has been its aforementioned green power sales program, the Green Power
Certificates. Although not as significant as the programs run by Calgary and
Edmonton, it has since partnered with Bullfrog Power, a major ‘green’ electricity
provider that sources power from nearly 100 MW worth of wind energy projects in
Alberta (Bullfrog Power, 2010).

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has been particularly active in
Alberta for many years. Its presence is largely a result of the large number of private
wind developers in Alberta that are members of CanWEA and the nearly twenty
years of wind development in the province. The role of CanWEA has been greatly
expanded in the past few years as more than a lobby group. Indeed, in 2007
CanWEA partnered with the AESO to complete a forecasting study assessing the
relationship between wind energy deployment and Alberta’s transmission grid
(CanWEA, 2007).

The other major players that have helped promote the deployment of wind energy
in Alberta have been municipalities. As discussed above, ENMAX and EPCOR have
been particularly effective at encouraging wind energy by creating a market to
purchase the electricity generated from the wind energy. Moreover, this market has
been made available to a widespread group of residential and commercial
customers, tens of thousands of which have participated in the programs (Whitmore
& Bramley, 2004). What is equally as influential is the use of wind energy for some
of the popular city programs, specifically the use of wind energy to power Calgary’s
light rail transit system.

61 Anti-Wind Movement

The anti-wind movement has not been particularly prominent in Alberta. Unlike
Ontario, there is no major provincial group providing organized opposition to wind
energy development. However, similarly to many other provinces, much of the
opposition comes directly from small community groups. Up until recently, the level
of influence held by the anti-wind movement has been quite small. However, a wind
energy developer has threatened legal action against the municipality of Pincher
Creek after it tried to impose limits on the number of wind turbines in the area
(Globe Editorial, 2010). Furthermore, Wind Concerns Ontario – the very well
organized and influential provincial group opposing wind energy development in
Ontario – has made reference to establishing an Alberta chapter of the organization,
known as Wind Concerns Alberta (WCO, 2010).

Given the pattern that wind opposition tends to increase as do deployment rates, it
would not be surprising to see considerably more opposition to wind energy
projects if even a small portion of the estimated 11,000 MW of new projects are
brought online.

While the lack of an organized and strong opposition to wind energy in Alberta can
likely be explained for various reasons, one possibility that is worth exploring is the
lack of government involvement in the industry. In other provinces, most notably
Ontario, much of the opposition has stemmed from strong government support for
wind energy, which many argue comes at the expense of other aspects of life.
Especially in a province so used to a small government, any future imposition of
supportive policies for wind energy could very well lead to an increase of opposition
to wind.

3.2.6 Ownership Patterns

Depending on one’s definition of local ownership, Alberta’s ownership patterns
could be a mix of local and non-local. Interestingly, many of the projects are owned
by the two of the three large utilities, ENMAX and TransAlta, which’s portfolios
primarily consists of coal and gas-fired electricity generation. If we consider
municipal utilities developing projects outside of the community, then there is
considerable local wind ownership in Alberta. Indeed, ENMAX owns approximately
170 MW of wind energy projects in Alberta, while EPCOR is involved in a 900 kW
project (CanWEA, 2010d). The only additional level of local ownership exists in this
900 kW project on the Peigan Nation Reserve, which is partially owned by the
Peigan First Nation. However, if we apply a more specific definition of local
ownership – for instance, one that stresses the project’s location be located within
or near a community – then Alberta has very little local ownership. Indeed, this
assessment would be appropriate given many working definitions of ‘community

The lack of local ownership in Alberta is not particularly surprising. The

deregulation of Alberta’s electricity system has been catalytic to large, private
development, while a lack of government initiative certainly has not helped the
development of ‘community power’. Indeed, considering the Alberta government
does not have formal policies towards wind energy, nor does it provide economic
incentives, it would be unlikely that it would have policies or incentives for
community-owned wind energy.

3.3 Manitoba

Manitoba first implemented a wind energy system in 2005 with the installation of
the 20 MW St. Leon Project in southern Manitoba (CanWEA, 2010d). A second phase
was added to the project in 2006 increasing its installed capacity to 104 MW. It is
Manitoba’s sole wind energy project. Manitoba has a relatively low installed

capacity (8th in Canada) and a low penetration rate of only 1.8%, the eighth highest
in Canada (Centre for Energy, 2009).

3.3.1 Geographical Wind Resources

The windiest regions of Manitoba are its major lakes, such as Lake Winnipeg and
Lake Manitoba, and the prairies that take up much of southern Manitoba. At 80 m,
the lakes garner wind densities of ~500-700 W/m2 and wind speeds of ~7.0-8.5
m/s. Southern Manitoba, while larger in geographic area, garners lesser amounts, at
~200-400 W/m2 and wind speeds of 6.5-7.5 m/s. It should also be noted that
Manitoba has significant wind resources in its northern region on the coast of
Hudson’s Bay. Although the wind speeds are roughly 8.0 m/s, it is so far away from
the population – and very cold – that it is unrealistic to think it an easily exploitable

Figure 6: Average Annual Wind Speeds in Manitoba at 80m (Environment Canada, 2003)

3.3.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies

Manitoba’s commercial electricity supply system is controlled by Manitoba Hydro,

the wholly owned crown utility of the provincial government. Unlike the privatized
and semi-privatized systems in Alberta and Ontario, respectively, Manitoba’s supply
system is a public monopoly. Manitoba Hydro is not only responsible for electricity
generation, but also for the transmission and distribution to consumers.

Manitoba’s electricity supply mix is almost entirely made up of hydroelectricity,

which accounts for approximately 98% (Centre for Energy, 2009). A few small
thermal power plants and the St. Leon wind farm make up the remaining 2%. Its
current generating capacity is just over 5,500 MW and the majority of hydroelectric
power comes from a large network of dams located throughout Northern Manitoba
(Centre for Energy, 2009). While Manitoba Hydro is mandated to serve provincial
consumers first, there is often an excess supply of electricity and it is exported
interprovincially or into the United States.

Prior to Manitoba Hydro’s creation in 1961, Manitoba’s system was made up of a

mix of private developers and public utilities. But because of the high risk and high
capital cost of hydroelectric development in the first half of the 20th century, profits
weren’t particularly high for private developers and investment faltered (Bateman,
2005). Public utilities, seeking the public good over profits, developed Manitoba’s
hydroelectric sector.

As a result of a plentiful supply of stable electricity generation and the public nature
of Manitoba Hydro – specifically its lack of dividends and not needing to pay
shareholders – Manitoba has among the lowest electricity prices in North America.

The growing need throughout Canada for particular provinces to wean themselves
off fossil fuel based electricity generation is not felt in Manitoba. Indeed, much of
this transition involves going ‘green’, which in essence means to turn to

technologies that produce no greenhouse gas emissions, have a renewable input
supply and are not overly harmful to the environment – this is the attraction for
wind energy development. But hydroelectric power is already a ‘green’ technology,
although large dams can have severe ecological impacts on the surrounding
environment. The latter comment notwithstanding, Manitoba Hydro has little need
to ‘green up’ its electricity supply. Moreover, Manitoba Hydro has identified at least
5000 MW of potential hydroelectric development (Manitoba Department of Energy,
2006). It is likely that Manitoba Hydro, given its experience in hydroelectric
development, will continue to develop hydroelectric power ahead of other
technologies. Indeed, it is currently developing at least three hydroelectric projects,
including the 1485 MW and $5 billion Conawapa Generating Station in northern
Manitoba (Manitoba Hydro, 2010a).

Manitoba Hydro’s monopoly over the province’s electricity supply system is not
particularly accommodating for wind power. Because Manitoba Hydro will likely not
develop wind energy projects, it will fall to the private sector to develop wind
energy. But because Manitoba Hydro controls the grid and is under no obligation to
purchase power from private developments, private wind development is extremely
risky, as a developer has no guarantee that the power they produce will reap any
economic benefits.

3.3.3 Planning Policies

Manitoba’s major steps towards wind power have taken place relatively recently
and only within the past decade. Manitoba’s government has taken a supportive and
positive approach to wind power during this time period, although its approach to
wind is still in its infancy. Manitoba’s only recent adoption of supportive policies is
largely influenced by a combination of the global industry’s infancy and Manitoba’s
already well-supplied and ‘green’ electricity supply system.

Unlike many other provinces in Canada, Manitoba does not rely on fossil fuel-based
electricity generation and has needed to implement any oppositional policies
towards other electricity technologies, thereby making wind especially attractive.
Rather, Manitoba has consistently stated that wind power development is part of an
effort to diversify the province’s electricity supply portfolio and will complement its
hydroelectricity sector.

Manitoba’s first steps towards exploring wind power came in 2002 with the
establishment of the Energy Development Initiative (EDI), a government initiative
tasked with exploring Manitoba’s energy future, particularly the role of renewable
energy (Manitoba Department of Innovation Energy & Mines, 2010).

This supportive, yet explorative policy gained significant traction when in 2004,
Manitoba announced that Manitoba Hydro had entered into a power purchase
agreement with a private wind developer, AirSource Power, for a 99MW project in
St. Leon in southwestern Manitoba (Government of Manitoba, 2004). At the same
time, Manitoba announced extremely ambitious targets for wind development in the
province, targeting at least 1000 MW of wind generation capacity by 2014. This was
upgraded to a slightly more hardnosed “commitment” in 2005 (Rowlands, 2009).

While the government had entered into the agreement with AirSource and
introduced these ambitious targets, it had not yet implemented a policy or program
as to how it would achieve such targets. This changed in late 2005 when Manitoba
Hydro issued a call for expressions of interest to potential wind developers for
projects between 10 MW and 1000 MW (Government of Manitoba, 2005). As the
name implies, this program was implemented simply as a means to gauge interest in
Manitoba, rather than an official Request for Proposals (RfP).

However, as informal as such a process seemed, it laid the foundation for an official
RfP for projects up to 300 MW in 2006 (Government of Manitoba, 2006). This first
RfP attracted remarkably high interest as 17 developers proposed 84 different

projects, totaling over 10,000 MW (Rowlands, 2009). Interestingly, all the projects
proposed were located in southern Manitoba. This list of potential developers was
later widdled down to only ten projects. In 2009, Manitoba Hydro accepted a final
proposal for a 138 MW project in St. Joseph, although negotiations over the power
purchase agreement are continuing (Manitoba Hydro, 2010b). This process has
taken a much longer time than originally anticipated by Manitoba Hydro, which
predicted construction of the project from the RfP to begin as early as late 2007.
Despite the delays throughout the process, Manitoba Hydro plans to have power
deliveries from the project as soon as 2011.

The rather lengthy RfP process does not appear to have discouraged the Manitoba
government from pursuing additional wind projects through the RfP process.
Indeed, it plans for three potential RfPs of 200 MW each for 2013/14, 2015/16 and
2017/18 (Government of Manitoba, 2007). Considering the time spent to complete
the first RfP process and that it is the sole strategy used in Manitoba, it is unlikely
that even with the new RfPs that Manitoba will be able to reach its goal of 1000 MW
of wind power by 2014.

One particular route that Manitoba has taken is a policy that focuses on community
and locally owned wind power. Indeed, in its goal of 1000 MW of wind power by
2014, 50 MW is to be allocated to small, community wind (Government of Manitoba,
2004). How it plans to accomplish this through an exclusive RfP process is
questionable and has yet to be provided by Manitoba Hydro or the Manitoba

An additional course of interest the Manitoba government has taken is to have wind
power complement its dominant hydroelectric power sector. Manitoba has
introduced hydraulic systems into its hydroelectric reservoirs that help to store
water when the wind is blowing and wind power is being generated. However,
when little or no wind power is being generated, releasing the water from the
reservoirs and producing hydroelectric power can compensate the lost wind power.

This is particularly advantageous for wind power, as its intermittency is often cited
as a risk for overall power generation. But since Manitoba produces more electricity
than it consumes, wind power’s intermittency is not nearly as damaging. Regulatory Approval and Siting Processes

The approvals process in Manitoba is very similar to those in other provinces. The
provincial government directly handles much of the approvals process, but
delegates different approvals to different departments and agencies. Such
delegation has made for a fairly cumbersome and complicated process. Indeed, one
project must go through up to ten different provincial departments to apply for
various approvals – and this does not include federal or municipal approvals
(Manitoba Department of Energy, 2010). The federal approvals are not unique to
Manitoba, as any wind energy project would be subject to the same regulations –
most notably approval from Transport Canada for airspace zoning and the Federal
Environmental Approval if federal land or funds were used. It is the role of
municipal governments, however, that differs significantly in Manitoba. According
to the Manitoba government, the only approval required from a municipal
government is a work permit (or development permit) available at a current cost of
$15.00 (Manitoba Department of Energy, 2010). While public consultation
processes are required – which could include liaising with the local government –
there is no indication that municipal governments would have any actual say over
the approvals. The municipal governments also maintain some control over zoning,
although it is unclear how influential this power is (Government of Manitoba,
2010a). For example, the rural Municipality of Montcalm vowed in 2007 not to allow
turbines within 180 metres of neighbouring homes (CBC News, 2007). 180 metres is
not a particularly far setback, so it is unclear how much sway the municipal
government actually has.

3.3.4 Financial Policy Incentives

Manitoba has used only one economic support system for its wind power
development: a government tendering system (or Request for Proposal – RfP).
While it has been relatively ambitious – its first RfP was for up to 300 MW – it has
been slow and innumerous.

The RfP process in Manitoba is appropriate because of the nature of its monopolized
electricity industry. Indeed, while it has entered into power purchase agreements
for electricity projects before, it owns the majority of electricity supply in the
province and is under no obligation to enter into power purchase agreements with
any private developers. This gives private developers little incentive to develop
wind projects when there is no guarantee that their projects will be connected to the
grid and their power sold to consumers.

Manitoba has issued only one RfP for wind power and it is yet to be fully completed.
The RfP process began in 2006 and was expected to be complete by late 2007 or
early 2008, with power being supplied shortly thereafter (Government of Manitoba,
2006). This time frame was severely underestimated as a 27 year power purchase
agreement was only signed in March of 2010 and construction has only just begun
(Manitoba Hydro, 2010b). As a result, Manitoba Hydro predicts that electricity will
likely not start being supplied until at least early 2011 . The delay is likely very
discouraging and financially damaging for developers as any delay will have a
significant opportunity cost on any investments into the project already made.

Manitoba’s RfP process has also been primarily focused on economics and cost-
effectiveness. For instance, in Manitoba Hydro’s evaluation of the proposals put
forth for the RfP, economics was used as the primary criteria, although it was stated
that it could use additional criteria if it wished (Rowlands, 2009). As a result,
projects that may have been more environmentally or socially acceptable may have

been dropped from the list. This focus on economics also places a significant barrier
for less capital-intensive community and locally owned wind power.

There is a growing movement within the pro-wind movement in Manitoba to adopt

a feed-in-tariff program. This is primarily a result of the success of this economic
support system in Europe and its recent adoption in nearby Ontario. The Manitoba
government, however, has made no indication of adopting a feed-in-tariff and
intends to continue using a government tendering process. Indeed, it has already
planned for three more RfPs to be issued at 200 MW each for 2013/14, 2015/16 and

Manitoba’s government also has a long-standing Sustainable Development

Innovations Fund. According to the Manitoba government, “the SDIF a $3.4 million
Fund, which was created in October 1989 to provide financial assistance towards
development, implementation and promotion of environmental innovation and
sustainable development projects” (Government of Manitoba, 2010b). Several small
community wind demonstration projects have been created using the fund, but so
far nothing of substantial size.

3.3.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition Pro-Wind Movement

The pro-wind movement in Manitoba has been driven by two primary players: wind
advocacy organizations and agricultural producers.

One of the most influential wind advocacy organizations in Manitoba – and Canada –
is the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). CanWEA is the major national
wind trade association and has represented the interests of Canada’s wind energy
industry since 1984. While CanWEA is better known in Canadian regions like

Ontario and Alberta, it has been involved in Manitoba’s wind development since the
beginning. Indeed, in 2006 almost 40 industry, utility and government
representatives made up CanWEA’s Manitoba membership (Spensely, 2006).

CanWEA is particularly influential in helping to shape policy development at the

government level. Because wind power is so relatively new to many governments
they do not always have the internal capacity to create effective policy. CanWEA
certainly contributed to the Manitoba government in this regard, as its experience
with developers in other provinces proved especially useful.

In promoting wind energy development in Manitoba, CanWEA has stressed four

important factors: southern Manitoba’s high wind resources; the low input costs of
wind power; the environmental benefits of wind power; and the potential for
economic development in rural areas, particularly for agricultural producers
(Spensely, 2006).

In addition to a national wind association, Manitoba’s pro-wind movement has also

been influenced by the relatively small Manitoba Sustainable Energy Association
(ManSEA). Founded in 2005, ManSEA does not focus directly on wind energy, but
rather a series of renewable technologies, specifically those especially relevant to
rural and farming communities like biomass, biogas and ethanol. With regards to
wind power, ManSEA promotes community ownership as well as the introduction of
feed-in-tariffs, both as a result of the success in Germany and Denmark. And
although it is only a few years old, ManSEA has held conferences and workshops –
principally in rural Manitoba – focusing on wind power, thereby generating
significant conversation in the province (ManSEA, 2010).

Perhaps Manitoba’s most influential facet of its pro-wind movement has been from
its agricultural producers. The majority of southern Manitoba (outside of its urban
capital, Winnipeg) is high quality agricultural land and is heavily populated by
farmers. Indeed, 12% of Canada’s farmland is in southern Manitoba and the

agricultural sector is among one of Manitoba’s largest (Statistics Canada, 2006).
Because agricultural land is often an appropriate location for siting wind energy
projects, farmers are very important stakeholders. The impression of wind energy
taken by farmers can be very different depending on the nature of the wind
industry. While wind projects can generate significant income for landowners and
still allow land to be farmed, many of the concerns mentioned in the general anti-
wind movement are held by farmers. Moreover, the controversial approaches by
some wind developers elsewhere in North America has sparked a great deal of
mistrust between farmers and wind developers.

Manitoba’s major agricultural organization, Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP)

has taken a positive yet cautious stance on wind energy. KAP, “the voice of Manitoba
farmers” acknowledges the economic opportunities wind power can bring to
Manitoba farmers, but stresses that it “must be built on good local discussions to
ensure it is suitable for area residents and the farming community” (KAP, 2009). It
also advocates for the role of farming communities in smaller wind projects (under
10 MW) and that the government provide farming communities with all the
necessary information to make informed decisions. Most importantly, KAP is a
strong proponent of community and local ownership, as well as advocating for the
implementation of feed-in-tariffs.

In addition to KAP, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canada’s national

agricultural organization, holds similar views (CFA, 2010).

Unlike many of the pro-wind movements seen in Europe, Manitoba’s is not so much
based off a strong history of environmentalism or strong opposition to other
technologies, as is seen in Ontario, but rather is mainly a result of economic

73 Anti-Wind Movement

The anti-wind movement in Manitoba is very small, likely because there are so few
projects. The anti-wind organizations are limited to small community organizations
and tend to voice opinions primarily when projects are being sited. Indeed, during
the 2007 siting process for the proposed St. Joseph’s wind energy project,
considerable attention was placed on residents opposed to the project (Daily
Commercial News, 2007). While the typical concerns were raised – aesthetics, noise,
a lack of local revenue – there was no indication that the opposition ever grew
immensely or became well organized. And although concerns were raised by the
local government, there was no indication that the opposition held much influence.

Moreover, the national anti-wind organizations have had very little focus on
Manitoba. Similarly to the local opposition, focus on Manitoba wind projects from
the national organizations has come at times when projects are being proposed,
such as the 2007 siting process in St. Joseph’s.

3.3.6 Ownership Patterns

Manitoba’s limited wind energy sector is completely private in its ownership

structure. Although the initial developer of the St. Leon Project, Bison Wind Inc., is
Winnipeg-based, it is simply a joint venture of a large Canadian developer, Sequoia
Energy Inc. and Global Renewable Energy Partners, a U.S.-based company
(Government of Manitoba, 2004). The turnover between private developers
continued as another consortium, AirSource Power Inc. purchased the wind project
from Bison Wind. AirSource was a partnership between Greenwing Energy Inc., a
British Columbia-based wind developer and the Algonquin Power Income Fund, an
Ontario-based hydropower developer listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The
Algonquin Fund later bought out all of AirSource and is currently the sole owner of
the St. Leon Project (Algonquin Power, 2010).

The level of local ownership in Manitoba’s wind sector is negligible. While some
might tout Canadian ownership as local, my thesis uses much more focused
definition involving community ownership or at least ownership from the local

A variety of aforementioned groups have been promoting community ownership of

wind energy projects in Manitoba, but because such projects can often be smaller,
less cost-effective and slower to develop than their private counterparts, Manitoba’s
cost-focused RfP process does not catalyze community ownership particularly well.
However, the government has indicated that community ownership is a focus of its
future wind development and has targeted 50 MW of community-owned power to
be built by 2014. Manitoba Hydro, the province’s sole utility, has also indicated its
own interest in developing wind energy projects.

3.4 Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia introduced wind energy in 2002 with the simultaneous installation of
the 0.6 MW Little Brook project and the 0.66 MW Grand Etang project (CanWEA,
2010d). Since then, Nova Scotia has installed a total of 22 different projects totaling
110 MW. Only a handful of projects are over 10 MW, while the majority of projects
consist of only a few turbines. While Nova Scotia has considerable offshore wind
resources, projects only exist onshore. Despite its small geographical size, it has the
seventh highest installed capacity in Canada, coming ahead of larger provinces like
Manitoba, British Columbia and Newfoundland (CanWEA, 2010b). Its penetration
rate is much higher, as 4.6% of its installed capacity is wind energy, placing it fifth in
Canada (Centre for Energy, 2009).

3.4.1 Geographical Wind Resources

Nova Scotia’s highest geographical wind resources can be found offshore and on its
coasts. Indeed, the Atlantic Ocean is one of the windiest regions in the world. The
level of wind resources is fairly uniform along the province’s coasts, ranging from
~500 W/m2 (8.0 m/s) to as high as ~800 W/m2 (9.5 m/s) in the closer offshore
regions. The windiest region can be found just off the northwest tip of Nova Scotia
where wind density can be over 1000 W/m2 with wind speeds over 10.0 m/s. This
region, however, is quite small. The inland regions of Nova Scotia tend to be quite

Figure 7: Average Annual Wind Speeds in Nova Scotia at 80m (Environment Canada, 2003)

3.4.2 Electricity System & Dominant Technologies

The electricity system in Nova Scotia is largely private and has been for nearly two
decades. However, unlike Alberta, which is deregulated, the Nova Scotian electricity
system is regulated by the government by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Prior to 1992, nearly all of the electricity market in Nova Scotia was publicly owned
by the provincial utility, Nova Scotia Power (NSP). In 1992, NSP was privatized in a
controversial decision by the government, which at the time was reeling with
significant provincial deficits (NSP, 2010).

Nearly all of the electricity generated in the province is done so by NSP, covering
roughly 95% of the province’s 2,375 MW of generating capacity (NSP, 2010). The
majority of generation capacity in Nova Scotia comes from fossil fuel sources.
Indeed, coal-fired, gas-fired and petroleum-fired generation sources account for
53%, 17% and 9%, respectively, in only seven power plants (Centre for Energy,
2009). As is common throughout Canada, there is considerable pressure on Nova
Scotia to wean itself off fossil fuel sources. Hydroelectric sources account for 15% of
the province’s generation capacity, while the remaining 6% is made up of wind
energy and a 20 MW tidal project.

Transmission of electricity is also under the jurisdiction of NSP, although it

frequently comes under fire over issues surrounding grid reliability. Indeed,
relatively frequent and long lasting outages eventually led to grid reliability
becoming a major election issue in the 2009 provincial election (McLeod, 2009).
Distribution is less concentrated, as many municipally owned utilities distribute
electricity to consumers in addition to NSP. The government has also expressed an
interest in developing a Green Grid Initiative, which is designed primarily to expand
the transmission grid in order to increase the capacity for intermittent renewable
energy sources (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2009b).

In 1960, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick established the first electrical inter-
provincial connection in Canada, an interconnection that continues to exist today
(NSP, 2010). This relationship is particularly important given the ownership stake
of NSP and the recent developments concerning the sale of New Brunswick Power
to Hydro-Quebec. NSP is owned by Emera Inc., a publicly traded company. In 2001,
Emera also purchased an American electric utility company based out of Bangor,

Maine. As the province significantly expands its renewable generation capacity, it
has been lauded by some that the electricity could be exported to New England to
help those states meet their ‘green energy’ needs. However, the now defunct deal to
sell New Brunswick Power was considered a threat to this plan, as Hydro-Quebec’s
wealth of hydroelectricity could also satisfy New England’s needs as Hydro-Quebec
would gain access to New Brunswick Power’s transmission lines to Maine.
Moreover, concerns were raised that Hydro-Quebec would reduce the level
interprovincial electricity trading between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, thereby
leading to overall high electricity rates in the Nova Scotia (CBC News, 2009).
However, many of these concerns have been quelled, as the $4.8B deal was recently

3.4.3 Planning Policies

Nova Scotia’s supportive policy approach to wind energy has been relatively recent
and evolving, although considerably more stable than that of Ontario.

Nova Scotia’s exploration of wind energy policies first began in 2001 with the
publication of its Energy Strategy (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2001). The
publication, which was intended to outline future priorities of the province’s energy
industry, signaled the government’s intention to create a voluntary renewable
energy target for the Nova Scotia’s different power producers. Considered
something of a pilot project, the government also signaled that it would later
establish a “longer-term mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard”. This
initial project, however, was the only actual policy put forth by the government at
the time, as the latter idea was not actually written into policy.

In 2002, the government created the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee

(EMGC) – which was composed of a wide range of provincial stakeholders, although
did not contain any environmental organizations or other environmental interests –

to determine how to implement many of the strategies outlined in the 2001 Energy
Strategy (Hughes, 2003). One of its main recommendations was to create a
mandatory RPS, just as the government had signaled previously, that would take
effect in 2006.

In 2004, three years after the initial establishment of the voluntary program, the
government introduced the Electricity Act, which among other things, implemented
a mandatory RPS, although the government chose to appropriately call it a
Renewable Energy Standard (RES) (Rowlands, 2009). Later regulations in 2007
affirmed the structure of the RES.

In 2009, the province published another Energy Strategy. Its main theme consisted
of a strong desire to combat climate change. To address this concern, the
government brought forth a new target for renewable energy generation in the
province, as it set a target of 25% by 2020 (Nova Scotia Department of Energy,
2009b). It has also implied its desire to move away from its dominant coal-fired
electricity generation, as renewable energy was not the only energy technology to
be expanded. Indeed, the government also stressed the expansion of “cleaner-
burning natural gas” and thermal energy development (Nova Scotia Department of
Energy, 2009b). The government, however, has made it very clear that it will not
take the path of Ontario and shut down its coal-fired power plants. Rather, the
Energy Strategy states its “coal-fired power plants, worth hundreds of millions of
dollars, have many years of useful life left. Abandoning them directly would place an
unacceptable financial burden on everyone who uses electricity in the province”
(Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2009b). If the pattern at the beginning of the
decade is any indication, many of the priorities set out by the government will likely
come to fruition as formal policy in the years to come.

According to the government, four main factors influenced to renewed Energy

Strategy: 1) Increasing volatility in energy prices; 2) Major shifts in knowledge and
policy from energy exploration; 3) Growing public awareness and desire at address

climate change and energy use; 4) Emerging technologies. Moreover, a widespread
consultation process took place in developing the renewed Strategy, including 13
public consultation processes totaling over 250 participants and meeting with 19
different stakeholder groups in Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia Department of Energy,

In addition to supporting general renewable energy – and by association, wind

energy – the government’s 2009 Energy Strategy also signaled a strong desire by the
government to encourage small-scale development of renewable energy in the
province. In the same year the Energy Strategy was published, the government
commissioned a report to explore the specific strategy for renewable energy that
was prepared by two professors at Dalhousie University, including Dr. David
Wheeler, whom the report is named after (Adams & Wheeler, 2009). In the report,
specific recommendations are made with regards to “ordinary citizens and small
and medium enterprises…to become engaged in renewable energy generation and
use” (Adams & Wheeler, 2009). Moreover, the Wheeler Report also recommended
“community enterprises receive a guaranteed price for electricity”.

The government’s approach to wind energy policy has been supportive and stable,
although it has evolved over time with greater requirements and more ambitious
targets. Given the past patterns of the government and its future plans, it is likely
that the policies will continue to evolve as more supportive and more ambitious. Regulatory Approvals and Siting Process

The approvals process in Nova Scotia is very similar to that of Ontario prior to the
introduction of the Green Energy Act, as it is a multi-tiered process with both
significant municipal and provincial authority.

The municipal process involves conforming to the existing zoning by-laws, which
are most influential with regards to setback regulations for wind projects. Indeed,
the municipal government has the authority to require minimum setbacks in order
to “meet with the differing needs of the various regions of [its] jurisdictions” (Nova
Scotia Department of Energy, 2009a). A model for wind turbine by-laws and even
best practices has been developed by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities that
seeks to balance the environmental and energy needs Nova Scotia faces with the
local concerns and priorities held by municipalities (Union of Nova Scotia
Municipalities, 2009). The provincial government, at this time, has little authority –
apart from perhaps, dissolving a municipality – to overrule the minimum setback
regulations. In one case, a municipal councilor in retrospect regrets not having used
this authority to require greater setbacks for a project that has led to some local
controversy, as is discussed below in the anti-wind section (Thompson, 2010). It is
likely that this firm control over setbacks might have influence on the relatively
distributed nature of wind projects in Nova Scotia.

The provincial government is responsible primarily for the Environmental

Assessment (EA) process. This is often a very detailed process and it must be
available for public review. Unlike the approvals process in Alberta, the final EA
approval authority in Nova Scotia is ultimately given to the Minister of the
Environment, who can grant the approval (with conditions), request more
information, details and analysis, or simply reject the project outright (Nova Scotia
Department of Energy, 2009a).

3.4.4 Financial Policy Incentives

The financial support systems introduced for wind power in Nova Scotia, like the
governmental policies, have been relatively recent and stable, yet evolving.

The first financial support system introduced by Nova Scotia was the
aforementioned voluntary targets for Nova Scotia’s independent power producers
in 2001. The targets, which applied only to those producers outside of NSP, were set
at 2.5% of NSP’s generation capacity, which at the time was roughly 50 MW
(Rowlands, 2009).

The government later introduced a mandatory RPS – titled the Renewable Energy
Standard – in 2004 under the Electricity Act, although the full regulations did not
come into force until 2007. The RES was set at 5% of generating capacity by 2010
using 2001 levels and once again was aimed only at independent power producers
outside of NSP (Rowlands, 2009).Indeed, independent producers and not NSP own
much of the wind energy capacity installed in Nova Scotia, although NSP purchases
power from several of the projects. Furthermore, the RES requires that this power
be produced within Nova Scotia, preventing wind energy imports from counting
towards the RES targets.

In addition to the 2010 target, the government’s RES included a second target of
10% by 2013. Unlike 2010 target, however, NSP would be able to contribute to the
10% target (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2009a; Rowlands, 2009).

Although not in full force, the government has signaled a further escalation of the
RES, as its 2009 Energy Strategy sets informal targets of 25% renewable energy
generation by 2020 (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2009b).

It should also be noted that the primary mechanism used by Nova Scotia to deploy
wind energy projects has been a competitive bidding process. Alternatives to this
process, however, have been raised recently, particularly by proponents of small-
scale and community power. Indeed, the competitive bidding process is not
particularly accommodating to small-scale energy projects and the province’s net-
metering program is only limited to projects with a maximum capacity of 100 kW,
which is very small, especially for wind energy generation. The government’s 2009

Energy Strategy has, however, signaled a future lifting of the limit from 100 kW to 1
MW (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2009b). Proponents of small-scale wind,
including the authors of the Wheeler Report, recommend a move towards fixed
pricing of electricity generation from renewable sources (Adams & Wheeler, 2009).
This method, which would be similar to the feed-in-tariffs seen in Ontario, has been
stymied by the provincial government, which has raised concerns over the potential
for electricity rates to increase under such a system. Indeed, it has stated quite
openly in its Energy Strategy, “For larger projects, we will continue to require
utilities to purchase renewable energy through a competitive bid process rather
than a set price” (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2009b). Much of the reasoning
behind such a strategy is to ensure that electricity rates are kept as low as possible,
as rates tend to increase under fixed price systems, as is being seen in Ontario.

3.4.5 Stakeholder Support and Opposition Pro-wind movement

The level of influence held by the pro-wind movement has grown significantly since
the inception of the wind energy industry in Nova Scotia. While the initial wind
energy deployment was largely driven by a government more concerned with other
energy issues, the pro-wind movement has been much louder within the past few
years. Moreover, the pro-wind movement will likely play a much more significant
role in the coming years of Nova Scotia’s wind energy industry.

A convenient method of measuring the presence and character of the pro-wind

movement in Nova Scotia is to compare the stakeholders present in the discussions
surrounding the province’s Energy Strategies.

The government established the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee

(EMGC) in 2002 after introducing its 2001 Energy Strategy. A quick look at the

membership of the EMGC is quite indicative of the level of influence held by the pro-
wind movement in Nova Scotia. The EMGC was made up primarily of members of
the business community, consumer associations, utility companies, energy industry
representatives and of course, government departments (EMGC, 2003). The sole
representation for renewable energy came from the Renewable Energy Industry
Association of Nova Scotia. The lack of input from the renewable energy sector – and
more specifically, wind energy interests – is likely explained by the government
priorities set forth by the EMGC. Indeed, in its final report, the majority of coverage
is applied to new offshore petroleum and gas development for the province, while
renewable energy and climate change concerns were added as something of a
sidebar. This addition came in lieu of slight public concern over the sole focus on
offshore fossil fuel deposits (Hughes, 2003).

The 2009 Energy Strategy was considerably different. Rather than establishing
another committee similar to the EMGC, the government commissioned the Wheeler
Report as a means to find a way to “pragmatically” institute the vision of its Energy
Strategy with respect to renewable energy (Adams & Wheeler, 2009). This focus on
renewable energy is very important. Whereas the EMGC focused primarily on
offshore oil and gas development while placing renewable energy on the side
burner, the Wheeler Report focuses almost exclusively on renewable energy –
although it was not the only report commissioned for the 2009 Energy Strategy. The
Wheeler Report was authored by two university professors but had a steering
committee consisting of environmental groups, government agencies, renewable
energy industry representatives, consumer representatives and utility companies.
Simply, this committee membership was more diverse than that of the EMGC
(Adams & Wheeler, 2009). The stakeholders consulted throughout the process were
also very diverse, as hundreds of members of public, environmental, social rights,
industry, government and commercial stakeholders were consulted. However, a
common theme amongst many of them was the need for the government to go even
further, primarily by doing away with a massive focus on NSP and the RfP process,

and instead focus on community power development and a feed-in-tariff system,
similar to that in Ontario (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2010b).

Indeed, it is evident that the experiences of other provinces and jurisdictions with
different financial support systems have weighed heavily on the pro-wind
movement in Nova Scotia. Several stakeholders repeatedly highlight Ontario’s move
to both a Standard Offer Contract and more recently, the Feed-in-Tariff. The role of
CanWEA has been relatively small in Nova Scotia compared to that in some of the
other provinces.

Although the pro-wind movement has gained ground recently in Nova Scotia, there
is strong evidence that it was not a contributing factor during the initial stages of
Nova Scotia’s wind energy industry. However, if the province’s wind energy policy
continues to evolve in the patterns of the past, the pro-wind movement could very
well be a determining factor in the next few years. Anti-Wind Movement

The anti-wind movement in Nova Scotia has not been especially strong. While some
controversies have been stirred up since the first turbine was erected, it has
primarily been limited to the communities where the turbines are located. However,
what has been quite different about Nova Scotia’s experience is that, despite not
being extremely organized, the wind controversies in the province have been able to
garner national attention through a documentary on the CBC program, Land and Sea
(Thompson, 2010).

In the documentary, many aspects of the approach to wind energy taken by the anti-
wind movement are highlighted. The small pockets of opposition to projects are
largely influenced by the siting distances and the public consultation processes.
Opponents are also critical of the impact some proposed turbines would have on the

landscape and some even went so far as to say they would try to stop the turbines
from being deployed by getting in front of the trucks, similar to the way in which
protesters try to delay logging trucks.

However, opponents are not necessarily opposed to wind in an absolute manner,

but rather opposed to wind energy projects being done improperly. Indeed, they
point to another, much larger project – 51 MW – in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County
where the developer has been praised by many in the community for setting up
large setbacks and working with the community to develop an acceptable project.

While the anti-wind movement has not been especially influential in Nova Scotia’s
wind energy deployment, it has likely played a role in relatively small size of the
wind farms. Indeed, Nova Scotia has 21 different projects with a total generating
capacity of 116 MW, which is equivalent to only 5.5 MW per project, although the
majority of the projects have only one or two turbines (CanWEA, 2010d). The
documentary certainly provides evidence of this as the opponents to a proposed
project on the southern coast of Nova Scotia were able to get at least three turbines
moved because the setback was increased.

As with much of the anti-wind movements throughout the world, it is difficult to

know whether the movement in Nova Scotia is a cause or effect of wind energy
deployment. It could very well be that as more wind energy is deployed, the anti-
wind movement could grow significantly.

3.4.6 Ownership Patterns

Almost all of the wind energy generation in Nova Scotia is corporately owned,
although the ownership is quite diverse. Indeed, a variety of independent power
producers own and operate the wind energy projects in the province, while NSP
only owns one. This is not particularly surprising given the requirement under the

RES that new wind energy projects be developed by producers other than NSP.
Moreover, the level of corporate ownership is not surprising given the government’s
preference for a competitive bidding process.

However, considerably more community and local ownership is on its way in Nova
Scotia. In early 2010, NSP announced that it had agreed to purchase power from ten
different proposed community power wind projects totaling almost 19 MW (Ayers,
2010). The increase in community owned wind energy projects is likely coming at
the feet of the Wheeler Report and the pro-wind movement’s pressure to increase
local ownership of wind energy projects.

4 Conclusions

The implementation of wind energy in Canada has been varied provincially. This is
quite evident given the range of deployment and penetration rates exhibited by each
province analyzed. The institutional and structural factors identified in the
European case – as well as factors added to the Canadian cases, like the electricity
system – have all played a part in shaping the wind energy deployment in each
province. However, the influence of these factors has been greater in some
provinces than others, essentially painting a unique picture or story for each

A prime determinant in Ontario’s wind energy system has been its hybrid electricity
market. While certainly not a sufficient condition on its own, it has provided the
framework allowing the private sector to develop wind energy projects. The
government has consistently supported wind energy, albeit for ever-changing
reasons. Moreover, the combined efforts of the pro-wind movement – which was
remarkably influential in Ontario – and the government to move away from coal-
fired electricity generation has given Ontario a very strong incentive to develop
wind energy systems. The financial support systems in Ontario, although being

fairly unstable, have been among the most ambitious in Canada. Ontario has
demonstrated an ability to quickly adapt its financial support programs when they
are problematic, particularly in favour of wind energy developers. Indeed, the
political controversies surrounding the Green Energy Act very much have the
potential to upset the ambitious evolution of financial support systems in Ontario.
While the nature of its electricity system, the pro-wind movement, government
policies and financial support systems have all contributed highly to the high
implementation rates of wind in Ontario, several factors have played a part in
stymieing deployment. Perhaps the most influential factor delaying deployment has
been the approvals process that has contributed to approximately 50% of proposed
projects being cancelled. This has changed with the GEA and will likely not be as
much of a factor in the future. Another obstacle partially removed with the GEA has
been access to the grid, which wind energy developers have long had trouble
attaining in Ontario. More recently, the anti-wind movement in Ontario has been
very influential, contributing to everything from delays in individual projects to
temporary provincial and municipal moratoriums of wind energy projects. Finally,
local ownership patterns have not had a profound impact on deployment rates in
Ontario, although there is some indication that higher local ownership rates could
make wind energy more socially acceptable.

By far, the two most influential factors in Alberta’s wind energy system has been its
open and competitive electricity system and its very high geographical wind
resources. These two conditions have been sufficiently high enough for high wind
implementation, despite not having supportive government policies or any financial
support systems. Indeed, the high wind resources have made wind energy a wise
financial investment, as well as something ‘green’. Contributing to this has been a
fairly strong pro-wind movement, stemming primarily from municipalities, which
have served to catalyze the consumer demand necessary for wind energy in Alberta
to become financially viable. A weak anti-wind movement has also aided
deployment. The most defining barrier influencing wind energy implementation in
Alberta has been the transmission grid. While more than 11,000 MW worth of

proposed projects have applied for connection to the grid, the temporary wind
energy cap and a slow expansion of the electricity grid have certainly stymied
implementation rates in the province. Again, local ownership patters have shown
little influence on deployment rates in the province.

The case is almost exactly the opposite in Manitoba. Despite having very high wind
resources and large amounts of land, deployment rates have been relatively low.
The first factor influencing this outcome has been the nature of Manitoba’s
electricity system. It is a public monopoly with no obligation to purchase power
from private developers. The province faces no electricity shortage and nearly all its
generation comes from hydroelectric power, which is arguably a ‘green’ form of
electricity, thereby eliminating the incentive to develop wind because of climate
change concerns. Quite simply, Manitoba has had little incentive to promote wind
energy other than as a means to diversify its electricity portfolio. The province’s
means of supporting wind energy has been a second factor contributing to the low
deployment rates of wind energy. While the government has provided consistent
and unwavering political support for wind energy, its financial support system has
been far from catalytic. It has used only an RfP process that has been remarkably
slow, as unexpected delays have brought projects far beyond the expected date of
completion. Because of these two major factors, the other institutional factors have
had little influence.

Nova Scotia is a case that should be assessed with the knowledge that it is
considerably geographically smaller than the other provinces and is therefore
limited to total capacity than the other provinces. However, it still has higher
deployment rates than Manitoba. Like Ontario and Alberta, the openness of the
electricity system has allowed private developers to contribute to wind energy
deployment. The high geographical wind resources in Nova Scotia have also played
a significant role in making wind energy projects economical, although the most
intense resources – offshore – have not yet been exploited. The government has held
supportive policies for wind energy for nearly a decade, especially encouraged by a

need to ‘green’ its electricity generation sector, which almost completely fossil fuel-
based. Its financial support systems are met with mixed reviews. While they have
been consistent – it has stuck with an RPS – and increasingly ambitious, the means
of achieving the RPS – through an RfP process – has been slow at times and has left
many calling for a move to feed-in-tariffs. The pro-wind movement in Nova Scotia
has not been as strong as in Alberta or Ontario and the anti-wind movement,
although relatively small, has had enough influence to impact minimum setbacks
and ultimately the number of turbines in many of the wind farms. Again, local
ownership patterns play little part in impacting deployment rates in Nova Scotia.


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