Reguly tilts at the wrong windmill
The Globe & Mail’s star columnist on all things business and Torstar, Eric Reguly, turned his sights onto Canada’s wind power industry earlier today. And concluded in a few dozen words that the death of water-based turbine projects was somehow a harbinger of bad tidings for the entire Ontario wind power industry.
Mr. Reguly is right to say that nuclear power and coal-fired plants are more constant and reliable than a breath of air over the hills of Sherburne, Ontario at the right time of day/year. And he’s also right to point out that some think wind turbines are eyesores (even the environmentalist Kennedy’s are trying to stop windfarms in Cape Cod), but the NIMBY issue will always prevail when it comes to power generation; whether it be the construction of a coal-fired electric generating station, a nuke station, a natural gas-fired power plant or a wind farm.
We have spent several months looking at the wind industry from an investor’s standpoint, and we like what we see. Our investment in Ventus Energy is tangible proof. No input costs, no concern about loss of near term demand, no risk of your employees all quitting one day and setting up shop at a competitor, no risk of patent trolls.
By virtue of the limitations placed on it by Mother Nature, wind cannot become the dominant provider of electricity in North America for generations, if ever. But unlike other alternative energy schemes (corn-based or cellulose-based ethanol), wind will succeed as part of our midterm energy strategy solely because it works, is safe and affordable. It doesn’t consume our food supply, and it doesn’t consume as much energy to make it as it obstenisbly saves.
As for the claim that the wind industry is dead in Ontario, consider this: 865MW of wind power is currently under construction or contracted with power purchase agreements in that Province alone; and 413MW is already built and turning as of today. Even at 30% capacity, that’s more than enough power to keep the lights on in Kitchener-Waterloo, for example, for a year…a meaningful contribution to our energy needs.
Obviously, the turbines don’t turn at all hours of the day and night. But as part of a supply strategy, Ontarians will be delighted that someone out there is working to increase our capacity without risking our health and safety at the same time.
As for Mr. Reguly’s contention that the Ontario wind industry has been put into “limbo”, think again. Once these new projects are completed, there will be 1,278MW wind power capacity as compared to the 19,000MW that Ontario is consuming right now. At a 30% capacity factor, that represents about 2% of our needs in Ontario today.
And I know that, deep down, Mr. Reguly thinks that a 2% marketshare is something to be deeply proud of. After all, that’s about the same marketshare that the Globe & Mail has of Ontario’s daily news media industry across the Province, when you think about all of the places that we get our news: radio, television, broadsheets, tabloids, subway freebies, the internet, etc.
And the Globe’s been around since 1844. Windfarms are still in their infancy.