Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
GERMANY: Germany’s new renewable energy law has passed through parliament in the second and third readings, in parallel with a law allowing each federal state to independently set the distance of wind turbines to the nearest houses.
The law has gone through despite additional last-minute demands from the European Commission made on 23 June.
Amongst other points, the commission had demanded that imported renewables electricity should not be subjected to the German renewables levy. It argues this has the effect of an import duty. (The intervention is believed to anticipate a European Court of Justice judgement due at the beginning of July 2014 on a dispute surrounding a Finnish wind station looking to participate in the Swedish renewables support system.)
Bavaria is setting a minimum distance of ten times the turbine height, which threatens to virtually rule out wind development in the state.
Both laws are to take effect on 1 August. Federal states setting minimum distances must do so before the end of 2015.
The new Renewable Energy Act caps onshore wind expansion at 2.5GW per year not including net additions from repowering projects. Offshore wind is limited to 6.5GW by end-2020, albeit with some flexibility allowed for installations to reach up to 7.2GW.
The law is a three-year interim measure, to be followed by new legislation setting out the rules for renewables tendering procedures beginning in 2017 and on market integration of renewables, according to federal economy minister Sigmar Gabriel.
When the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, (an Ontario Crown corporation reporting to the Minister of Finance) released its report on the effect of wind turbines on property assessments (again, we caution readers that this is assessment, not appraisal), Wind Concerns Ontario released a statement to the effect that the report had a number of deficiencies, or at least unusual parameters to the study, and that it was a “self-serving exercise.”
What we didn’t say was that there were aspects of the report that were unprofessional.
Just as the report on health effects by Colby et al in 2010 bizarrely claimed that not only was there no evidence of health problems from turbine noise there was so little evidence that no further research was warranted, the MPAC study spent considerable time trying to lay waste to the work done by Ontario real estate appraiser Ben Lansink. Mr Lansink, an AACI (accredited appraiser Canadian Institute), has appeared before numerous tribunals and in court as an expert witness on “injurious affection”; he studied several areas of Ontario where wind power projects operate, and documented the effect on property value.
Reviewers Michael McCann and Wayne Gulden have now done formal critiques of the MPAC study, and while criticizing its methodology and results, also claim that the action of an Ontario Crown corporation to discredit a professional real estate appraiser were uncalled for.
The interesting thing is that the chief appraiser at MPAC is himself an AACI, i.e., not just an assessor, so there is a case to be made about the work done under his supervision, with regard to a fellow member of the Appraisal Institute of Canada. They have rules about such things. Those interested should contact the Institute’s Professional Practice section.
McGuinty government changed green energy rules to benefit Liberal-linked firms, court filing charges
Scott Stinson, National Post, June 8, 2014
Maladministration, scandal, political interference and contempt for the rule of law: court documents
A U.S. wind power developer that is seeking $653-million in damages under a NAFTA challenge accuses the government of Ontario of manipulating Green Energy Act rules to benefit the interests of Liberal-connected firms, according to court documents obtained by the National Post.
The court filing, recently made public in the case that pits Mesa Power, a Texas-based developer owned by U.S. financier T. Boone Pickens, against the government, alleges Ontario replaced “transparent” criteria for the selection of energy projects with “political favoritism, cronyism and local preference.”
Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesU.S. financier T. Boone Pickens
At issue in the NAFTA arbitration are changes made to the Green Energy Act in 2011. They allowed wind developers a brief window in which they could change the location at which their proposed projects would connect to the transmission grid. NextEra, a multinational renewables firm that was represented to the government by lobbyist Bob Lopinksi, a former senior staffer in the office of Dalton McGuinty, changed their connection points and was eventually awarded more than $2-billion worth of power contracts. Mesa Power says in its court filing that the change effectively bumped its projects out of line, costing it sunk costs and lost future profits.
“The rules were changed to suit one applicant to the detriment of another,” the court document claims.
“The rules change was also specifically designed with NextEra in mind,” says the 243-page NAFTA document called the Memorial of the Investor. It was filed last year but released publicly last month. “On a number of occasions,” the document says, “the Minister of Energy’s Office took explicit steps to ensure the process was being executed to the benefit of NextEra.”
“NextEra also gained assistance through the Ontario Premier’s office,” the filing alleges. “The Premier’s office injected itself into the [Feed-in-Tariff] program, and began expressing its political preferences for matters that where entirely within the regulatory realm of the [Ontario Power Authority].
Read the full story and comments here including this excerpt from the documents filed:
“The treatment of Mesa in this case,” the court filing says, “is just another episode in a saga of maladministration, scandal, political interference, manipulation and contempt for the rule of law that dominated Ontario until the resignation of the Premier [McGuinty] early in 2013.”
Tara Bowie, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, June 6, 2014
A local energy co-op that has caused some controversy in the county continues to move forward.
The Oxford Community Energy Co-operative (OCEC) announced the Financial Services Commission of Ontario approved its formation.
“The board of directors of the Oxford Community Energy Co-op is very excited that we have received the receipted Offering Statement from FSCO. We can now start our capital raising campaign. We would like to talk to anyone in this community who wants to become a part owner of the Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm because I am confident that we can offer a very attractive return on the investment,” Helmut Schneider, president of OCEC, said in a press release.
The first project on the co-op’s radar is the Gunn’s Hill wind turbines in Norwich Township being developed by Prowind Canada Inc.
Juan Anderson, vice-president of Prowind, said he expects the project to receive its Renewable Energy Approval by August after the Ministry of Environment completes its technical review of the application.
“We anticipate that under any new government there will be increased involvement of municipalities in the development process of renewable energy projects. We also see potential for further emphasis on co-operative and First Nations ownership in projects and we feel that the work we are doing with Oxford Community Energy Co-operative and Six Nations can be an example of how to share the benefits of a project more widely,” Anderson said when asked how a change in provincial leadership might effect the project.
The OCEC is looking to raise up to 49% of the project equity, which is approximately $9 million.
As per the OCEC website (http:// oxfordcommunityenergycoop. wildapricot. org), the hope is to raise $1.2 million of the equity from Oxford County investors and the remainder from across Ontario.
Currently the co-op has more than 50 members.
“The anticipated investment returns for preferred shares will be paid annually in the form of dividends, which are projected to be in the range 10 %,” the website stated.
The project is facing several hurdles in its last leg before possibly receiving approval to start building.
The East Oxford Community Alliance has notified Prowind of potential litigation if the project moves forward. Norwich Township deemed itself an unwilling host for the project several years ago and maintains that status.
Editor’s note: Mr Anderson is possibly premature in his announcement; the documents filed by Prowind with the Ministry of the Environment which were deemed “complete” ae now the subject of a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario due to serious omissions and inadequacies in the documentation. Mr Anderson must also be unaware that there is an election in Ontario June 12th, and the further approval of wind power projects has been an important issue in the campaign.
(KAWARTHA LAKES) Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble says it is disturbing that the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing the appeal of a wind energy project in Manvers Township is not getting information from the developer and the Province.
Last December, the Province granted wpd Canada approval for its Sumac Ridge wind energy project, which would see the installation of five large turbines near Bethany.
Manvers Wind Concerns, Cransley Home Farm Limited and the Cham Shan Temple are appealing. The Cham Shan Temple is an initiative of the Buddhist Association of Canada that will mirror the four great Temples in China. One is almost completed and three more are planned for the City of Kawartha Lakes, a total investment of about $100 million.
On Wednesday (June 4), Coun. Stauble noted the hearing was originally scheduled for three months, ending in June. But, after several date changes, she says it has been postponed until Aug. 13. “We don’t know when this will move forward.”
Coun. Stauble said there has been ongoing correspondence between wpd Canada and the Ministry of Environment, but the appellants and the ERT panel have not been privy to that information.
Asked why not, Coun. Stauble said, “That’s a great question. Something has changed and we don’t know what it is.”
The review paper prepared by physicians Hazel Lynn and Ian Arra, and associates, is now available. The paper documents a review of previously published, peer-reviewed studies of turbine noise and human health, and concludes that there is “reasonable evidence (Levels Four and Five) supporting the existence of an association between wind turbines and distress in humans.”
Prince Edward County business owners notified the Premier of Ontario, and the Ministers of Energy and the Environment yesterday, that if two proposed wind power generation projects proceed in the County, they will take action against the provincial government for lost property value and business income.
The claims for compensation from the government could amount to millions.
In the letter, Garth Manning, director of the community group County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy/CCSAGE-Naturally Green, said that “the probability of serious adverse effects on the County’s broadly based tourism and hospitality industries and on property values is real and a matter of serious local concern.”
The business owners blame the Ontario government’s support and enabling of the wind power industry. Local land-use planning powers were removed under the Green Energy Act in Ontario, so municipalities are unable to have any input to wind power projects, unlike other forms of infrastructure.
More than 400 Prince Edward County business owners intend to file for compensation with the Ontario Municipal Board, Manning said, based on the principle of “injurious affection.” Property owners’ rights and those of business owners are in the Ontario Expropriations Act, and upheld in the Antrim Truck Centrev. Ontario case before the Supreme Court in 2013.
This type of claim could result in hundreds more claims and millions of dollars paid in compensation, Manning, a retired lawyer, said, including business and property owners in other parts of Ontario already affected by wind power generation projects.
The documentary film Down Wind airs tonight at 8 PM EDT on the Sun News network.
Here is a column from journalist Jerry Agar on the film.
JERRY AGAR | SUN NEWS NETWORK June 3, 2014
It is heart wrenching to see and feel the pain of fellow Ontarians breaking down in tears as they explain how the Liberal government drove them from their homes.
But to understand how cold and callous our current political leadership is in this province, you need to experience it.
Rebecca Thompson’s documentary, Down Wind: How Ontario’s Green Dream Turned into a Nightmare (Surge Media Productions), airs on Sun News Wednesday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.
It is a story of reckless, agenda-driven politics resulting in shattered lives.
The Ontario Liberal government’s Green Energy Act isn’t just an economic failure; it is an act of brutal indifference to the human cost of politics.
A cost ignored by people living far from the thump of the giant wind turbines, secure in their downtown Toronto homes and politically correct theories; a safe distance from places like Ripley, Clear Creek and Lucknow, Ontario.
Many may not care – worshiping as they do at the altar of so-called green energy – that the jobs promised by the Liberals through their Green Energy Act were never delivered, while the cost of hydro skyrocketed.
But the human cost should matter to us all.
Giant wind turbines, as high as 50 storeys, with blades the size of a 747, were foisted on communities in rural Ontario with no consultation or agreement from the residents, their municipal governments having been stripped of their planning powers by the Green Energy Act.
Unlike politicians who pay lip service to “serving others” while stomping all over people’s lives and looking after themselves, Norma Schmidt spent her life in Underwood, Ontario in the actual service of others as a nurse and instructor of future nurses.
She and her husband spent their lives in the home they lovingly restored over the years; a place they had hoped to share with their grandchildren.
But Norma has been forced out of her home by severe migraines and depression, brought on by the relentless noise and vibration from the industrial wind turbines erected practically in her back yard.
She left both the job and the home she loved, escaping to a room in her daughter’s house.
It is not the life she worked all these years to achieve, and it is not what she deserves.
Do Norma’s tears, and those of others similarly affected, fall to no effect at the feet of Premier Kathleen Wynne?
Norma’s story is one among many, some of them told in Down Wind.
This is the same Dalton McGuinty/Wynne Liberal government that used public money to reward violent aboriginal protesters who seized private property and terrorized people in Caledonia.
That “occupation” continues today and the government, knowing that their voting base in Toronto couldn’t care less about some rubes in the country, keeps the issue quiet by caving into thugs, rather than protecting law-abiding citizens.
Would the government be as forgiving to people across rural Ontario if some were to blow up a few of the industrial wind turbines that have made their lives hell? Of course not.
There are no turbines thumping the night away in Don Valley West or Toronto-Centre.
It remains to be seen whether the people in such ridings, who overwhelmingly voted Liberal in 2011, will care more for their fellow citizens in rural Ontario this time around.
There are any number of political parties to support other than the Liberals.
Here from law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson an opinion on whether FIT contracts can be cancelled, following a change of government. The answer? It depends. If a contract is at the stage where the Notice To Proceed or NTP has not been issued, then a contract may well not be fulfilled.
Read the full article here, and an excerpt follows.
“A perhaps somewhat overlooked section of the form of FIT Contract deals with the consequences of “discriminatory actions” by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Non-discriminatory action clauses, developed and refined over the past three decades by project sponsors working on projects reliant upon concessions from government counterparties somewhat less reputable than Ontario, seek to provide project sponsors with some form of protection should the government take action to unilaterally amend the terms of the concession contract or affect an increase to the taxes, regulatory burden or other costs associated with the project in a way that could not have been reasonably expected under the terms of the original concession.
Ontario’s FIT contracts all contain a short-form version of a non-discriminatory action clause which, though protective of the supplier, is subject to key exceptions, including the passage of laws that are of “general application” and new regulations created under theGreen Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009. It is also worth noting that, unlike project finance concession agreements designed for use in emerging markets, which might provide for dispute resolution outside of the jurisdiction, the FIT contract is subject to dispute resolution provisions contemplating arbitration in Toronto.
The non-discriminatory action clause contained in Ontario’s FIT contracts is less than perfect from a sponsor’s viewpoint; however, it does provide some basic protection.
The possibility exists of new laws or regulations coming into force after the election that would have an adverse effect on suppliers who are in a post-NTP or post-commercial operation position under an existing FIT Contract. Given Ontario’s long history of carefully honouring electricity sector concession holder’s contractual rights, it seems unlikely that a new government would seek to use regulatory or legislative change to indirectly penalize electricity sector investors – particularly given the clear pre-NTP cancellation rights already existing in the FIT contracts. If unilateral legislative or regulatory change is promulgated, the challenge for suppliers will be to demonstrate that a specific law is not of general application or to challenge the scope of a regulation under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009. A government seeking to table unilateral changes of a material nature to the FIT program would presumably be made cognizant of the potential impact that such changes would have on the province’s reputation, as a contracting party and its credit rating by the Ministry of Finance.
In summary, we see parties holding FIT contracts which are pre-NTP as being most at risk from a possible change in government in Ontario and view post-NTP and, particularly, currently operating projects as being less at risk.”