Letter to the editor

Disenchanted with ‘Leadership’

A big thanks to Alec Bruce for his July piece on leadership (“Reimagining the Leadership Principle”), and also to John Risley’s “A Disgrace”. I would like to make the comment that society remains excessively infatuated with the “leadership” word, producing definitions and subjective viewpoints ad nauseam. One of the world’s greatest thinkers on leadership and management, to whom Canada can lay proud claim, is McGill’s Henry Mintzberg. In his recent book with the minimalist title Managing, Mintzberg lays it out clearly, once again, on the distinctions between leadership and management. As he bluntly states: “Organizations are overly-lead and under-managed.” What? That’s heresy, according to the literature of the past 20 years. But is it? We would all do well to step back and reflect on Mintzberg’s words. I appreciate Alec’s comments on leadership versus management; however, I would suggest it’s time for the various commentators to develop a clearer understanding on just what exactly we’re talking about when it comes to the leadership and management of private and public sector organizations.

Jim Taggart
Ottawa, ON

Ballem Responds

I would like to respond to a letter published in your May/June issue from Ian McQueen and also to the letter on your website from Darren Steeves. Both letters are almost identical in the wording used so I suspect there is one author??? I found both letters amusing since they are critical of your magazine for not doing any research, yet both gentlemen use numbers that are totally wrong which is more than a little ironic!

Since I am mentioned in both letters as using invalid statements, I would like to offer up the following: The average price of electricity in PEI is not 17 cents per kilowatt hour as claimed by the two authors. The top residential price was as high as 16 cents (now 13.65c/kwh) and some industrial rates are below 10 cents. This is public information, if the two critics took the time to check.

Yes, I was a dairy farmer and proud of it, but I am not sure what that has to do with the article except that maybe these two have negative concepts about farmers? What I do know is that if the highest rate is 16 then the average cannot be 17.

The next comment is their assertion that the true cost of wind energy is 19c/kwh. I have no idea where that number comes from, except from the oil industry which does not want to see locally produced energy from free fuel (wind). The energy sold to Maritime Electric is around 8c/kwh now and the Energy Corp. makes a profit. Check the auditor general’s report for PEI (again, public information if someone took the time to check).

My question is: who funds Climate Truth Initiative, this group that is always against locally produced renewable energy. You tell me?

Jamie Ballem Island Green Power, PEI

Energetic Debate

The recent Atlantic Business article on “The Wind Man” (July 2010) interested me. Over the years I have been involved in generating power from almost all sources from nuclear, to wind, gas and coal. As this is a “business” publication, I would like to address some of the business-related items in the article.

First, readers and maritime electricity consumers need to recognize that they will be paying for any of the profits generated by the wind farms that are promoted in the article. There is no “free lunch”. As well, using the 100 Mwe example in the article, a $200-million profit over 25 years is $8-million/year, which decreases dramatically as these profits occur in future years, due to the time value of money.

Using this example, a 100Mwe wind project will likely cost at least $150-million to install. With an $8-million/year profit, this is a bit more than a five per cent return on investment. This is hardly an overwhelming business case. The recent 200MWe development on Wolfe Island in Ontario cost at least $450-million, so the above is not a worst case estimate. Putting a large development on the Acadia peninsula will also mean that someone (the consumer) will have to pay for the new transmission lines as well, to get the power to the major load centers.

The intermittent nature of wind power is a well-known and major problem, even when the wind blows. To start with, on July 9th, Ontario wind generation was a maximum of 107 megawatts electrical (Mwe), less than 10 per cent of installed capacity. To get any significant generation you have to go back to 5 July. On that date, the Wolfe Island farm produced a maximum of about 200 megawatts, very briefly. It then dropped off a cliff to about 25 Mwe, rose to 90 and then back down to 40. Even when the winds are forecast to blow, generation varies greatly. This is hardly the kind of power that one wants to use to power industry, hospitals, or hi-tech systems that are part of the ‘economic prosperity’ described in the article. There are a lot of… ‘estimates’ in the wind industry, for which Mr. Gagnon criticizes the nuclear industry.

The cost of the power is a major concern as well. Ontario is paying about 12 cents/Kwh, as well as a peak incentive for wind power. Residential users pay about 9 cents/Kwh, total. The energy component will be only a portion of that. Without the detailed figures on the transmission/network costs, one can estimate that wind power energy costs will be about double what is currently being paid, which is an enormous percentage increase.

This is just a few brief paragraphs, but outlines concerns that need to be fully discussed, as part of the NB wind energy debate.

John Fraser
Ottawa, ON

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