Mattawa wind farms pits First Nation against First Nation

The Ontario government has expanded its program of deepening the urban-rural divide, and its campaign to destroy the social fabric in Ontario’s rural/small town communities, and is now encouraging dissent and argument among First Nations.

Here is a news story from today about the first public meeting in the North Bay area concerning the Mattawa wind power project (the new procurement process hasn’t begun yet, but when public meetings and community engagement are a complete sham, why wait?). Note that First Nations leaders are critical of an Algonquin First Nation that has signed up as a “partner” in the venture, despite unresolved land claims and the position of other Algonquin communities.

Proposed Mattawa wind farm opposed by locals

Monday, February 23, 2015   by: Liam Berti

A capacity crowd filled the Mattawa Senior Citizens Club for the first Innergex industrial wind farm public consultation meeting on Monday night, where local opposition parties took to the microphone to voice their displeasure with the proposal. PHOTO BY LIAM BERTI

Can you feel the wind of change?

When it comes to the proposed industrial wind turbine farm for the Mattawa area, many concerned residents cannot.

Innergex Renewable Energy, the Quebec-based company proposing the industrial turbine system, held a public consultation meeting at the Mattawa Senior Citizens Club on Monday night, where a capacity crowd seemed to vehemently oppose what is being put forward. With Innergex project developers on hand and multiple displays outlining the company’s plans, local representatives took to the microphone and rallied the hundreds in attendance.

The Nodinosi Project, which translates into “spirit of the wind” in the Algonquin language, calls for the installation of 50-60 wind turbines on Crown Land in the Olrig and Mattawan Townships just North of the Mattawa River. Those turbines, expected to range anywhere between 80-120 metres in height, are anticipated to have the capacity of 150 megawatts.

But the development has catalyzed a strong reaction from local opposition, including the First Nations, the Lake Talon Conservation Association (LTCA), and many area residents. Innergex has promoted the project in partnership with the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, who are situated over 200 kilometres from the proposed project site, near Pembroke, Ont.

But the two First Nations who would be directly impacted by the turbines have not been consulted by the developers and have publicly stated their disapproval of the proposal.

“We firmly oppose this project, the company involved and the Algonquin group who are willing to sell out the local Algonquins to fill their own greedy ambitions,” said Davie Joanisse of the Antoine First Nation. “We will use every means available to stop this project. That includes protests and blockades.”

Joanisse also referenced the Algonquin Land Claim agreement-in-principle, questioning the provincial government’s audacity to jeopardize their investment in the process to date.

He also challenged the integrity of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation for their presence in the partnership with Innergex.

“This is a shameful and despicable act against the Algonquins in this area,” said Joanisse.

“They are destroying everything we have worked towards for the last 20 years negotiating,” he added. “They are willing to accept money in exchange for destroying our vision as communities in this area for us and our children.”

He also touched on just how important that land is for hunting grounds and sharing with other tourists and locals.

“If this project is allowed to proceed, there will be major impacts to the local tourism industry and our communities,” he explained. “The temporary jobs, the noise, the sight of windmills, the destruction of land, the implications to people and wildlife, the implications to our existing way of life, and all the financial benefits going to the company and its partner are all good sound reasons for us to reject this proposal.”

The Lake Talon Conservation Association (LTCA) also raised concern for preserving the rich history of the Mattawa River system, which was recognized as a Canadian Heritage River by the Government of Canada in 1988 for its historical significance.

Within that surrounding area, they said the Innergex project would wreak havoc on the wildlife and threaten the longstanding historical presence that the area has.

But they also questioned the choice of location, citing the comparatively low wind intensity in the area as a suspicious decision.

As far as the LTCA is concerned, the developers are being told by the Provincial Government to focus on Crown Lands and unorganized townships in order to limit the resistance and local government opposition.

The Conservation Association also brought attention to the overall declining electricity demand, the protection of Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, and the negative impact on snowmobiling and ATVing in the area.

“This isn’t the place or the time,” said Brian Baker, the Association’s communications officer. “We question the need; there’s just no proven need for more energy capacity here. It’s been on the decline for years and the government is spending over $100 million in January alone to sell its surplus of energy.”

Other residents with a vested interest in the area raised concern for the visual pollution of the turbines, the various health hazards associated with the low frequency sounds they emit, and the adverse impact on the area’s tourism, among a list of others.

Innergex currently operates 26 run-of-river power plants, six wind farms and one solar farm throughout North America.

François Morin, senior advisor of public affairs for Innergex, was on hand for the public consultation to address the public concerns, of which he said there were no surprises.

He also took to the microphone to reassure everyone that the project is still in its infancy and that Monday night was merely the first step in what he hopes will be a productive dialogue process with the public.

“Tonight is a success because people got out of their home, came here and gave us their feedback,” said Morin. “Now, it’s our job to take that feedback to improve our project, maybe propose solutions, and continue the dialogue that we started tonight.

“It’s a tough job to do, but it’s our job to restore that trust and engage in an efficient, open dialogue with them,” he added.

Morin said if the project moves ahead as planned, the earliest they expect to see construction begin is 2019.

Wind farms didn’t replace coal in Ontario: engineers society president

In a letter to the Globe and Mail this weekend, president of the Society of Professional Engineers Dr Michael Ivanco wrote to dispute an earlier article that claimed, as the Ontario government does, wind turbines replaced nasty coal-fired power generation in Ontario.

Absolutely wrong, Dr Ivanco says.

Here is his letter (the Globe didn’t see fit to put it online).

Nuclear power slayed coal dragon

Letters to the Globe and Mail, February 21

Re: When it comes to coal, Alberta should follow Ontario’s lead (Feb. 16). Readers could be forgiven if, after reading this article, they wrongfully concluded that Ontario slayed the coal dragon by replacing that nasty fossil fuel coal with wind turbines as well as natural gas.

The reality is that the single largest reason Ontario was able to shut down its coal plants was the return to service of two Bruce Power nuclear units. And despite the costly refurbishment of these units, they still deliver electricity to the grid approximately 25 percent cheaper than the average price, despite the authors’ suggestion that the power is expensive.

Because the costs of nuclear generation are front-loaded, they will continue to supply cheap and carbon-free electricity for another two decades.

Dr Michael Ivanco

President,  Society of Professional Engineers and Associates

Mississauga, Ontario

Manvers appeal dismissed

Image result for City of Kawartha Lakes

Tribunal rules in favour of wind farm

February 19,  Peterborough Examiner

A bid by an area group to stop the construction of a wind turbine facility southwest of Peterborough has failed.

Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal ruled Thursday that the appeal by Manvers Wind Concerns and Cham Shan Temple to stop the planned wind farm would not go forward.

In a 207-page written ruling, the tribunal stated that concerns raised about the facility were not enough to stop its development.

“In summary, the tribunal finds that the evidence does not demonstrate that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment of the traditional lands of the First Nations participants,” the ruling states, rejecting the complainants’ arguments.

Sumac Ridge Wind Inc. was granted a licence to operates a Class 4 wind facility at 801 Ballyduff Rd., Pontypool in 2012. The project is to have five turbines, with access roads, cabling and a switching station.

The appeal was filed in 2013.

Wind developer ‘pleased’

“We’re obviously pleased with the decision from the ERT,” stated Ian MacRae, president of wpd Canada, the company behind the project. “Sumac Ridge has gone through months of review and scrutiny, both through the Ministry of Environment approval process and the ERT appeal.”

The tribunal heard evidence at hearings in Pontypool, Curve Lake and Toronto on several days over the past few months – Nov. 17-20 and 24, Dec. 2-5, 9-12 and 19, and Jan. 5 and 23.

Other participants in the process included Cransley Home Farm Ltd., Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, the City of Kawartha Lakes and the Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition.

These opponents to the plan claimed the project would cause harm to human health, plants, animals and the environment.

Diane Chen of Cham Shan Temple told the tribunal that the wind farm would affect the under-construction temple on Ski Hill Rd. The Buddhist temple is intended to be a major tourism draw for the region once constructed, but the wind farm would lead to distraction as visitors try to meditate, she said.

The tribunal also heard from other experts who talked about the impact of the facility on groundwater and natural wildlife habitats. However, the tribunal rejected those concerns.

Testimony ‘sincere’

“While raising an important concern that the “balance of life” would be disrupted, the participants did not provide any specifics about how this would occur because of the project,” the ruling states. “Their testimony was sincere and heartfelt, but it does not constitute evidence demonstrating that the project will cause the harm they allege.”

MacRae said the project, which is expected to generate 26,497,200 kWh, will now go ahead.

Down Wind video now available online

Doc film reveals links between the Liberal Party and Big Wind
Doc film reveals links between the Liberal Party and Big Wind

The documentary film Down Wind is now available for viewing online at no charge. Ontario Wind Resistance has posted a link to the film.

If you haven’t seen it, now is your chance—former Sun News journalist Rebecca Thompson hosts the film she created, and supplies lots of little-known facts about links between the Ontario Liberal Party and Big Wind.

Interviews are featured with lawyers Eric Gillespie and Julian Falconer, economics prof Ross McKitrick, Ontario residents living with wind turbines, and Wind Concerns Ontario president, Jane Wilson.

Go to the website here to download the doc film.

Note that TVOntario will be showing the documentary Big Wind in March–we will keep you informed as to timing.

Wind farm liens evidence of serious liability for property owners

A story out of Illinois recently revealed that when furniture giant IKEA (which is engaged in a PR campaign to offset its “carbon footprint” by investing in wind power) and an associated wind power developer failed to pay one of their suppliers, liens were placed on title of the land owned by the farm owners/property owners who had leased their land for the wind power project.

When Wind Concerns Ontario published this story, we received news that this is happening in Ontario, too. In fact, documents were filed in court last year to place liens on property owned by 24 people on Manitoulin Island; the property owners had leased land or received payments for transmission lines on their properties. The sub-contractor, R.M. Belanger, had not been paid $2.03 million owing to the company by another sub-contractor, which was hired by the wind developer for the McLean’s Mountain project, Northland Power.

Northland Power has been approved by the Independent Electricity Systems Operator/IESO as a Qualified Applicant for new renewable power contracts to be let during 2015.

The liability for the $2+ million debt for the Manitoulin Island project is now shared by the 24 property owners, which works out to more than $83,000 liability per owner.

Toronto-based environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie, who has represented community groups fighting wind power projects and private land owners seeking to get out of wind power options and contracts, commented to WCO on the Manitoulin Island situation: “One of the major problems for landowners is the detail and complexity of agreements. Often, people don’t know what they are really getting into. What seems to be happening in Manitoulin right now highlights the fact that what seemed like a ‘good deal’ at the time, can potentially end up being a very bad deal.”

“This is yet another example of how wind power as it is being implemented in Ontario is having a negative impact on farming communities,” said Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario. “All the benefits go to a few corporate wind developers, while the property owners, their neighbours, and Ontario’s rural and small-town communities have to live with side effects.”

Ontario is launching a new Request for Proposal process for renewable power projects on March 2. Emphasis will be on new development in Eastern and Northern Ontario.

“We hope that property owners make sure they know the full range of potential results from signing any type of agreement, including liability for legal actions from developer sub-contractors, and for property value loss and health problems experienced by others in their communities,” Wilson said.

Thanks to Wind Concerns Ontario community group member Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA) for linking us to the court documents, which may be found here: ManitoulinLienCourtDocs


Ontario’s big wind bonanza: subsidies for a few rich developers

The sad (and very expensive) truth
Rural Ontario communities had it right

Everyone losing on renewable energy in Ontario

FP Comment, Financial Post, February 4, 2015

by Brady Yauch, executive director Consumer Policy Institute

When the Ontario government launched its Green Energy Act (GEA) in 2009, it promised “new green economy jobs” and a “wide range of ecpnomic opportunities.” Then Minister of Energy George Smitherman argued that the GEA would be a boon to Ontarians of all stripes: “We see opportunities in our rural communities for farmers, not just to lease their land for big companies that are the proponents of wind farms, but indeed for clusters of farmers to see themselves as investors in projects … the emergence of thousands of smaller green energy projects–micro-generation–in urban as well as rural areas.”

Yes, everyone would need to pay a little more for renewable power, the public was told, but the benefits would be widely shared, for the ultimate benefit of all.

As it turned out, power rates didn’t go up a little–they soared. And the subsidies weren’t widely shared among the folk–a handful of billion-dollar companies pocketed most of them, most outside the province.

According to an analysis by the Consumer Policy Institute and Energy Probe, 90 per cent of the wind subsidies went to just 11 companies,  80 percent of the subsidies went to companies with revenues over $1 billion, 60 per cent of the subsidies went to six companies with more than $10 billion in annual revenue. …

The damage to ratepayers for such policies has been significant. Since 2009 ratepayers have seen the commodity cost on their energy bills climb dramatically… just over 9 per cent annually–more than five times the rate of inflation, making electricity price increases worse in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada.

To make matters worse, the high rates being pushed onto ratepayers has lowered demand for electricity across the province in recent years. That means Ontario now has a significant surplus of power* which it exports to neighbouring jurisdictions at a loss. Ontario ratepayers are now subsidizing the energy consumption in America and other provinces.

Nearly everyone is losing when it comes to renewable energy in Ontario–except for those few companies that planted industrial wind turbines across the province and are receiving billions in subsidies for their effort.


*Note: Wind Concerns Ontario issued a statement Monday to the effect that Ontario does not need more wind power and that the IESO should not reopen the contracting/subsidy process for new wind power contracts.