Green energy policy a factor in tarnish on Wynne government

Investing in total disaster (Photo Chris Abbott/PostMedia)
Investing in total disaster (Photo Chris Abbott/PostMedia)

By-elections could be coming up soon, says Queen’s Park correspondent Christina Blizzard

Liberal MPPs heading for the exits?

May 25, 2016

Christina Blizzard, PostMedia

TORONTO – Like a Saturday night sot, the Liberal government is lurching wildly towards the legislature’s summer break.

It’s increasingly clear that Kathleen Wynne needs to give sober second thought as to where her party’s heading.

Her government ricochets from crisis to crisis. One moment, they seem bumbling and inept; the next, they’re caught in scandal.

Revelations of questionable practices emerge weekly: Millions of dollars in payments to powerful teacher unions; an alleged overpayment of $1.5 billion to Samsung in its blockbuster green energy deal.

At the same time, we see the hamfisted manhandling of the family of an autistic child cut off from Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy. Unbelievably, Mississauga-Streetsville MPP Bob Delaney called the cops when mom Melanie Palaypayon said she would hand out pamphlets outside his office to protest her son being dumped from the waiting list for therapy.

Delaney’s initial lame attempt at an apology was not delivered personally — just distributed to media, presumably to shut us up, and posted on a website.

Not exactly heartfelt.

As summer looms, Wynne faces at least one byelection — and possibly as many as six.

Sometime over the summer, the premier will have to call a byelection to replace Bas Balkissoon in Scarborough-Rouge River.

There are rumblings other Liberal MPPs may be heading for the exits.

Long-time York Centre MPP Monte Kwinter has been ailing recently, as has Ajax-Pickering’s Joe Dickson. Both those ridings would be tough fights for the Liberals. As well, there’s speculation well-liked veteran Mario Sergio, Wynne’s minister with responsibility for seniors, could move on.

Another intriguing rumour says Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur is ready to call it quits, opening up her Ottawa-Vanier riding.

And you have to wonder if Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli will stick around much longer. He has come under fire numerous times since the 2014 election. The message you get from him is that he’s disgruntled with his own government.

It’s almost certain he won’t return to cabinet in the shuffle that’s expected after the legislature rises for the summer break. The question is will he remain as a backbencher or will he quit and trigger a byelection in Ottawa West-Nepean?

Not that it makes much difference. Even if the Liberals lost all six seats — which is unlikely — they’d still have a majority government.

… Read the full article here.

 

 

Huron County turbine noise investigation paused, not dead says Board of Health

Huron Board of Health Chair Tyler Hessel says more information is needed

Thursday, May 26, 2016 4:44 AM by Peter Jackson

Bayshore Broadcasting
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(Huron County) -The Chair of the Huron County Board of Health says a study on the perceived health effects of wind turbines is not necessarily dead.

As we told you yesterday, the group Concerned Citizens for Health suggested the study was likely killed, and not just suspended.

Board of Health Chair Tyler Hessel says additional information is needed before the study can move ahead.

He tells Bayshore Broadcasting News that the Board is waiting for a staff report on additional information.

Hessel says questions were raised at the Board’s most recent meeting on May 12th that need to be answered.

One of the Board’s concerns is the possible duplication of other studies that are being done, including one the province is conducting in Grey-Bruce.

Hessel mentions that the Board need to be sure it’s following provincial guidelines properly.

He says the Board couldn’t make a final decision on how to proceed with the study, partly because members hadn’t seen a report that had been released publicly and they needed to get up to speed on the document’s contents.

A major consideration Hessel points to, is the cost of the study.

He says it wasn’t contained in the Board of Health budget, and members need to know the exact cost before moving forward.

 

Prince Edward County says local support must be mandatory for new wind power contracts

Municipalities vote for more say in wind power locations

NoMeansNo_FB (2)

May 25, 2016

Hard as it is to believe, with electricity bills soaring, hydro and nuclear power being wasted, and Ontario’s surplus power being sold at bargain-basement rates to neighbouring  U.S. jurisdictions, Ontario still plans to let contracts for 600 more megawatts of expensive, intermittent utility-scale wind power.

The new bid process begins later this year.

Although the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) claims the citizens of Ontario have a “say” in where these huge power projects — which result in considerable impact on the environment and communities forced to have them — they still can’t “say” NO.

In March, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said it was “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract for wind power without municipal support—then the IESO announced five new contracts, three of which were in Not A Willing Host communities. One, Dutton Dunwich, had even held a referendum on the wind power bid, which resulted in a resounding 84 % NO vote, but a contract was awarded there anyway.

Now, more than 60 Ontario municipalities have told the Ontario government under Premier Kathleen Wynne that they don’t think that’s right — in future, the municipalities say, local or municipal support must be a mandatory requirement in wind power bids, not just a way to get more points in the bidding process for Large Renewable power projects.

Last evening, council in Prince Edward County voted unanimously to send that motion to Queen’s Park. The County is currently battling two high-profile wind power projects on the basis of the clear danger to wildlife, specifically the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat. The County is also on the flyway for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds each spring and fall.

Among the cities and municipalities which have passed the resolution are the City of Kawartha Lakes (which is itself the size of a county) and the second largest city in Ontario and Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa.

“Communities have good reasons for not wanting these huge power projects,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Wind power represents high impact on the environment, both natural and social, for very little benefit. What’s worse, wind power on this scale has no benefit in actions aimed at climate change. Everyone wants to do what’s best for the environment —this isn’t it.”

A list of municipalities that have passed the motion to date is here.

Poland sets stringent new setbacks, property tax rules for wind turbines

Wind farms will disappear, says the wind power lobby

map
Map of six wind power sites run by one company in Poland, CERAC

Reuters, May 23, 2016

Poland has adopted a new law banning construction of wind farms close to dwellings and hiking project costs in a move which the industry says could hobble Poland’s move to renewables and away from coal.

Wind farms must be built at a distance from housing of at least 10 times the height of the turbine, or about 1.5 to 2 km, under the law which was adopted by the lower house of parliament on Friday.

The new regulations will also result in higher property taxes

for wind farm owners, which the industry says could trigger bankruptcies.

“As a result, wind farms will disappear from the Polish landscape,” said Wojciech Cetnarski, head of the Polish Wind Energy Association.

Czech utility CEZ, which is developing wind farm

projects in Poland, said that if the law was enforced it would be forced to write down the value of some of its Polish assets and would consider seeking potential compensation.

Representatives of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which designed the new regulations, said that it had to reform regulation of the industry and address citizens’ complaints about noise from wind farms.

“Because of the renewable energy madness we are reducing our GDP growth,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said, referring to subsidies granted to renewable energy sources.

European Union rules call for Poland, which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal, to produce 15 percent of it from renewable sources by 2020 versus around 12 percent currently.

PiS says the new regulations will not pose a risk to Poland attaining that target.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Jason Neely)

Read the full article here.

Samsung contract could have been cancelled saving billions, say PCs

The Ontario PC Opposition says that the Ontario government could have used an “out” clause in its green energy contract with the Korean consortium including Samsung, that would have saved billions.

Vic Fedeli

Photo: Toronto Sun

PC Finance critic says documents revealed during the gas plant cancellation inquiry shows that Samsung had missed several important deadlines which meant the government could have cancelled the contracts, saving over $5 billion.

Worse, said Fedeli in the Toronto Sun report, bureaucrats advised the government that the power contracted for in the agreement.

The Wynne government said it “won’t be distracted” by the accusations made by Mr Fedeli.

Read the full story in the Toronto Sun, here. http://www.torontosun.com/2016/05/19/liberals-left-15-billion-on-the-table-pcs

Huron County citizens dismayed at health investigation stall

News Release

CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR HEALTH

Huron County Ontario/ May 18, 2016

Immediate Release

Rural Ontario is up in arms today over the apparent suspension of a one-of-a-kind wind turbine health investigation that may never happen.

Medical Officer of Health for Huron County Dr. Janice Owen became aware of numerous health complaints from people in her community shortly after she was hired a year ago by the current Huron County Board of Health. Owen began researching the issues last August and contacted many in the field researching the topic.

This February 4, Owen presented to her Board the outline and components of a wind turbine health complaints investigation stating that she had visited wind projects, sought information from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as well as Public Health Ontario and had spoken and heard from many members of the community.

In March this year the announcement of the new investigation was posted on the Health Unit’s website and immediately people suffering as a result of wind projects began to sign up. In April Dr. Owen was informed her services were no longer needed and she was put on administrative leave. This is a devastating blow to Huron County people exposed without consent to the acoustical emissions of wind turbines in proximity to their homes.

More questions than answers arose about the investigation’s future and were addressed on May 12 when the Board put the research on hold – likely permanent – stating that it seemed to be a duplication of a long term Ontario-wide public health survey with nothing to do with industrial wind adverse reactions.

“The people of Huron County do not want to become another Flint, Michigan. Health administrators and those tasked with the protection of our health and safety need to see this ground-breaking research through to the end,” says Gerry Ryan for the group Concerned Citizens for Health (CCH). “The eyes of communities around the world who are suffering the same fate as us are watching what happens in Huron County, Ontario. The wind industry is watching and the Ontario government whose policy this is are also watching.”

The CCH calls upon the temporary Medical Officer of Health Dr. Meriam Klassen to be courageous like Dr. Owen and find out where this investigation will take her. This is only fair.

Contact: Gerry Ryan

519 274-5566

gerkar@tcc.on.ca

Ontario: a place to get out of, says economics prof

The Wynne government says it wants to “decarbonize” Ontario; they might as well have said “euthanize” says Guelph economics prof Ross McKitrick. Time to leave.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne listens to a question from the media.
Photo: Canadian Press, Chris Young

Ross McKitrick: Climate crazy Ontari-ari-ario’s no place to grow, but to get the hell out of

The Financial Post, May 17, 2016

The latest news out of Queen’s Park is that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals plan to deindustrialize Ontario. Of course they don’t call it that; they prefer the term “decarbonize.” But for an industrial economy, the government’s new climate action plan, leaked to reporters this week, amounts to the same thing.

The proposed scheme beggars belief. Having phased out coal-fired power, the province now plans to phase out natural gas, the only reliable alternative for non-baseload generation. Despite electric cars being extremely costly and unpopular, more than one in 10 new car sales will need to be electric, and every two-car household will have to own at least one electric car. All homes listed for sale will require a costly energy audit. Home renovations will have to be geared around energy efficiency as the government defines it, not what the homeowner wants.

Around the time that today’s high-school students are readying to buy their first home, it will be illegal for builders to install heating systems that use fossil fuels, in particular natural gas. Having already tripled the price of power, Queen’s Park will make it all but mandatory to rely on electricity for heating.

There will be new mandates and subsidies for biofuels, electric buses for schools, extensive new bike lanes to accommodate all those bicycles Ontario commuters will be riding all winter, mandatory electric recharging stations on all new buildings, and many other Soviet-style command-and-control directives.

The scheme is called the Climate Change Action Plan, or CCAP, but it would be more appropriately called the Climate Change Coercion Plan: the CCCP.

Reportedly there has been some pushback against this lunacy from within cabinet. While Environment Minister Glen Murray is driving it forward with enthusiasm, his colleagues with economic portfolios are expressing some reluctance. One imagines they have an intuitive sense the CCCP is misguided, but they struggle to say why.

Perhaps I can help. Even if one accepts mainstream climate science as interpreted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it does not imply that carbon dioxide emissions impose infinitely high costs and should be driven to zero. It only tells us that such emissions may impose modest external costs on other people that emitters should pay for. Nor does it tell us that those emission-related costs are greater than the costs of trying to stop climate change. In fact, the IPCC reports strongly suggest otherwise. Chapter 10 of the IPCC Working Group II report concludes that at low levels of warming (up to two degrees Celsius) the costs will be small relative to the impacts of other economic changes in peoples’ lives, and may well be negative (i.e., a possible net benefit from mild warming).

Translated into practical economics, we could assume that emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide causes a small amount of harm to other people: roughly between zero and 20-dollars’ worth. So emission-reduction policies that cost less than $20 per tonne to implement could be justified based on mainstream science and sound economics. Policies costing more cannot.

The Murray plan however is laden with policies that will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per tonne to implement — far more than the value of any environmental benefits they generate. They will drive away investment and employment, raise the cost of living and eliminate economic opportunities. No longer will Ontari-ari-ario be “A Place to Grow”; it will be a place to get the hell out of if you want a job and a decent standard of living.

Read the full story here.

Ross McKitrick is professor of economics at the University of Guelph and research chair at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Ontario wind power contract process trounces democracy

No one is forced to have wind turbines on their land; communities shouldn’t be, either.

Ontario Farmer, May 17, 2016

By Jane Wilson and Warren Howard

Recently, a Mitchell, Ont. resident wrote to Ontario Farmer saying that the wind turbine siting process seems fair to him: “no one [has been] forced to have a wind turbine.”

We beg to differ: with almost 2,600 industrial-scale wind turbines now operating or under construction, the fact is thousands of Ontario residents have been forced to live with wind turbines, without any effective say in the matter.

The decision to host wind turbines should not rest with the few individuals who lease land for the project, but also with the entire community; many people can be affected by this decision.

The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed local land-use planning for wind power projects, at the same time as it overrode 21 pieces of democratically passed pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, the Environmental Bill of Rights — even the Places to Grow Old Act.

Can’t say NO

The result is a process in which citizens and their elected governments now have no “say” whatsoever. Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this past March that it would be “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract in a community that did not support turbines, but that’s exactly what happened.

It's 'impossible' to get a wind power contract without community support, Minister Chiarelli said. Turns out, it wasn't.
It’s ‘impossible’ to get a wind power contract without community support, Minister Chiarelli said. Turns out, it wasn’t.

Even a community that held a formal referendum, in which 84 per cent of residents said “no” to wind power, is now being forced to have turbines.

Compare this to the procedures for other forms of development: they are relatively open, in which the community is presented with detailed information and opportunities to comment on the type and scope of development proposed.

The opposite is true for industrial-scale wind power projects. Municipalities are asked for support with very little information on environmental, economic, or social impacts. In some cases, where the developer has determined formal municipal support is unlikely, the company simply files a document saying it “tried” to get municipal support but failed — the truth is, municipalities will meet with anyone. Failure to meet on such an important project should be a red flag to contracting authorities about the nature of the development and the degree of opposition to it.

The public information meetings held by developers often occur after municipal support is requested. A paper produced by a team of academics published this year termed these meetings “dog-and-pony shows” which is an indication of how much real information is offered.

Municipal support must be mandatory

Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) on the contracting process, which included: a requirement that all documents related to the project should be released prior to any public meeting or municipal consultation; the precise location of turbines must be revealed as well as a broader set of site considerations; there must be a process through which municipal government, community groups and individuals can comment on these documents and their accuracy; and last, municipal support must be a mandatory requirement of any contract bid.

It may be true as the letter writer suggests: no one is forced to have a turbine on their own property, but communities and neighbours should not be forced to have them either.

Before people sign for lease turbines, they need to talk to their neighbours (because the whole community will be affected by the decision to lease) and learn from the experiences in other communities where turbines are operating. They may discover that the small lease payments offered are not worth the impact on the community, and on their friends and neighbours.

The fact is, wind turbines result in high impact on communities for very little benefit. The Ontario government needs to respect the right of Ontario citizens to make decisions on wind power developments for themselves.

Jane Wilson is president of Wind Concerns Ontario. Warren Howard is a former municipal councillor for North Perth.

 

NoMeansNo_FB (2)

The Unifor wind turbine: skirting the law on environmental noise

The Unifor wind turbine towers over a neighbourhood of 200 homes in Port Elgin. It would be illegal today. So far, the union has defied mandatory noise testing requirements, and ignored citizen concerns about the noise, and health impacts

2016-05-13-1463145763-2844419-CreditKarenHunter.JPG

Photo: Karen Hunter

Huffington Post, May 18, 2016

By Karen Hunter

Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union (formerly the CAW) owns and operates a wind turbine that generates revenue for the union through taxpayer subsidies. Plagued from its beginning by controversy and compliance issues, Unifor’s turbine continues to operate in defiance of mandatory noise audits and despite hundreds of noise complaints from families forced to live near it.

Unifor’s turbine is not only contentious, it should be illegal by today’s standards due to legislation that came into effect May 1st. But, it’s not the first time the turbine has had this problem. And, the union has always managed to solve it — with a little help from its friends in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).

Unifor’s wind turbine is a square peg the union forced into a round hole. Located at their Family Education Centre (FEC) in the tourist community of Port Elgin on Lake Huron, the turbine sits in a sports field adjacent to the facility’s parking lot. The 35-storey, 800kw turbine towers over a neighbourhood of about 200 homes with some as close as 210 m.

The union chose the FEC location over a remote plot of 128 acres of undeveloped land it owned about a mile away because, President Ken Lewenza said (in the Shoreline Beacon, Dec.20/11), the undeveloped land was “economically or environmentally unfeasible.” No sooner was the turbine built, the union subdivided the undeveloped land into building lots and sold them for substantial profit.

The union’s decision to locate its turbine in a densely populated neighbourhood posed many legislative hurdles. But, none the union hasn’t been able to handle — at least, so far.

In 2005, when Town Council objected to the turbine’s location, the union took the case to the provincial municipal board (OMB) and got the rejection overturned.

When noise modeling analysis showed that the turbine’s noise would exceed provincial standards for a rural community (making it illegal), the union and the MOE agreed to classify the rural neighbourhood as semi-urban to accommodate the increased noise. The turbine’s noise problem was solved. But, not for long.

Soon after, the MOE issued new legislation focused on health and safety, requiring turbines of its height and power to be located a minimum of 550 m from homes. Again, the not-yet-built turbine would be illegal. However, the MOE agreed to grandfather the union’s turbine approval certificate, exempting the turbine from the mandatory 550 m setback. The union had dodged another bullet. But, the turbine wasn’t yet in the clear.

New noise assessments on the turbine (due to the union’s decision to upgrade it to 800kw) showed it would again exceed provincial noise standards. Once more, it was illegal. This time, the union said …

Read the full story here.

Ontario’s economic suicide plan: The Financial Post

The end of Ontario’s lifetime of economic progress…

Environment Minister Murray : the first time assisted death has been tried on a whole province, says Kevin Libin
Environment Minister Murray : the first time assisted death has been tried on a whole province, says Kevin Libin

The Financial Post, May 17, 2016

To get an idea of what Ontario could look like a couple of decades out under Liberal energy minister Glen Murray’s “climate action plan” — which was revealed in detail in Monday’s Globe and Mail — who better to rely on than the man himself, Glen Murray?

Back in 2008, when he chaired the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, Murray — along with his acting CEO, Alex Wood, now executive director of the Ontario Climate Change Directorate — offered up a plan that looked remarkably similar to the new Liberal cabinet document. In fairness, the NRTEE document hardly offered the perniciously micro-managed prescriptions for people and businesses that Murray has graduated to now. And this new plan, billed by the Liberals as a “once-in-a-lifetime transformation” for Ontario’s economy, may also prove the end of Ontario’s lifetime of economic progress. In an era where assisted dying is the big thing with Liberals, this could be the first case where it’s tried on a province.

The leaked cabinet document, reportedly signed-off on by Premier Kathleen Wynne, lists a jaw-dropping 80 or so policies including: The eventual ban on heating new homes and buildings with natural gas, with only electric or geothermal being legal; $4 billion to be doled out by a “green bank,” funded by carbon taxes, to subsidize retrofits of buildings to get them off natural gas; the requirement that homes undergo an “energy-efficiency audit” before they can be sold; and a stack of rules, regulations and handouts to get an electric car into every two-car household within eight years, including rebates, free electric charging, and plug-in stations at every liquor store. Naturally, there will be billions more in traditional government-spending programs on public transit, bike paths, upgrades for schools and hospitals, and “research” funds and centres of climate excellence, not to mention new ethanol fuel standards that will gratify the Liberals’ top corporate donors in the biofuel lobby.

 

Read the full Comment here.