Eastern Ontario wind farm contracts a ‘betrayal’ municipalities say

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: 'engagement' didn't mean 'approval'. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: ‘engagement’ didn’t mean ‘approval’. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
Ottawa Citizen, March 11, 2016

The Ontario government has betrayed rural municipalities by approving new wind farms in places that have explicitly voted against them, mayors say — including just east of Ottawa.

“Since we declared ourselves unwilling hosts, we thought we had it made,” says François St. Amour, mayor of The Nation Municipality. “Because there was some talk in the last provincial election that they would honour municipalities that declared themselves unwilling. But I guess that was just another electoral promise.”

The agency that makes the province’s deals for renewable power is readying a contract for a 32-megawatt wind farm there, one of a bunch of bids from private generating companies it’s just accepted. The other in Eastern Ontario is the biggest of the group, a 100-megawatt project in North Stormont.

Both Eastern Ontario councils took votes in 2015 to say they did not want the wind farms on their territories.

The province’s Green Energy Act, meant to kickstart an Ontario industry in manufacturing and maintaining renewable energy technology, gave virtually no say to local governments on where wind and solar farms might go. Many rural residents believed, and still do, they’re being sacrificed for the electricity needs of cities.

The government pulled back. Under the province’s new rules, municipalities don’t get veto power over renewable energy projects but they do formally get asked to say whether new wind or solar farms are welcome or not. Ottawa’s city council regularly votes its formal support for small solar projects, which is worth extra points when would-be operators submit their bids.

“It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement,” energy minister and Ottawa MPP Bob Chiarelli told a legislature committee in 2013.

“Engagement.” Not “agreement.”

“We will not give a veto, and no jurisdiction gives a veto, to a municipality on any kind of public infrastructure. That should have been clear to them,” Chiarelli says. Wind farms in rural Ontario are like tall buildings downtown, he says: immediate neighbours may hate them but they’re still needed.

Thirteen of the 16 new contracts got local council approval. All of the ones that didn’t are wind farms — the two here and one in Dutton-Dunwich, between London and Windsor, where residents took the issue up in a referendum and voted 84 per cent against. Two wind farms are going to Chatham-Kent, whose council voted to support them.

“They’ve put municipalities on the sidelines. It seems, though, that municipalities get most of the grief,” St. Amour says. His council first voted in favour of the wind farm in The Nation without a whole lot of thought, he says, treating it like the solar farms councillors have welcomed in the past. Councillors changed their minds after hearing from residents.

“It was rough on council last summer. It was really, really rough. Especially because we can’t do much about it. We thought declaring unwilling hosts was it,” St. Amour says.

Mayor Dennis Fife of North Stormont says his council thought the same. “At one time, the government said that if you came out with something saying you were an unwilling host, that would be respected, but that wasn’t the case,” he says.

Read the full story here.

Six appeals filed against contentious Clearview wind farm

An insult to the community, says a councillor. Issues include aviation safety, economic impact, planning control

Small airplane on runway

By Gisele Winton Sarvis, PostMedia

Barrie Examiner, March 9, 2016

CLEARVIEW TWP. – Six separate appeals have been filed to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) against its approval of the wpd Canada project to construct eight 500-ft wind turbines east of Stayner.

At the Feb. 29 Clearview council meeting, Deputy Mayor Barry Burton said that in addition to appeals filed by Clearview Township, the Town of Collingwood and the County of Simcoe, appeals have also been filed from Kevin and Gail Elwood, the Wiggins Group and Preserve Clearview Ltd.

Burton didn’t discuss the topic any further but later in the meeting, council was reluctant to even receive the lengthy wpd Fairview Wind Project Renewable Energy Approval (REA) document for information.

“This is in no way accepting the report, it’s just for information,” said Burton, who chaired the meeting.

The municipality is opposed to the project due to concerns over public safety as the closest wind turbine is just more than 3,000 metres from the end of the runway at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

In addition, plans for the Clearview Aviation Park is expected to attract business and potentially hundreds of jobs in the aeronautic industry and therefore expand use of the airport. A study commissioned by the municipality, found that turbine construction would put the economic development project in jeopardy.

Clearview fought and received intervenor status in a court case between wpd Canada and the MOECC in order to voice its opposition to the project.

But on Feb. 11, the day before the case was to be heard, the MOECC granted wpd approval to construct the turbines.

‘This has to be stopped’

Coun. Thom Paterson said during the council meeting, “This is the kind of insult many municipalities feel in this process. We can make the concerns known and be ignored… This has to be stopped. Many municipalities have made that known. Hopefully the government will start to listen.

“Here’s a another example of your government not listening to your municipality,” he said.

Following the meeting, Burton said the municipality is “forced” to go to the appeal route because they didn’t get their day in court.

“Premier Wynne talked about how unwilling communities would get their say and that wind turbines wouldn’t be forced upon them and that’s exactly what’s happening in Clearview. They are being forced upon us,” he said.

“And when we tried to have a proper hearing and spent money in the process, they bailed at the last minute and caved into wpd, so it’s very disappointing,” he said.

“I don’t feel the province has done its due diligence.”

Read the full story here.

Municipalities ignored in latest wind farm contract announcements

“We live in the Province of Toronto,” says Dutton-Dunwich Mayor. His community had a referendum, said NO, now has a contract for 57.5 megawatt wind ‘farm.’

Dutton-Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam says the view from Dutton’s main street, Currie Road, is that despite provincial promises of respect and an overwhelming no vote in a referendum, the Ontario government “totally ignored” local sentiment Thursday by awarding a Chicago-based company a contract to build dozens of industrial wind turbines in the Lake Erie community. (CRAIG GLOVER, The London Free Press)
Dutton-Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam says the view from Dutton’s main street, Currie Road, is that despite provincial promises of respect and an overwhelming no vote in a referendum, the Ontario government “totally ignored” local sentiment Thursday by awarding a Chicago-based company a contract to build dozens of industrial wind turbines in the Lake Erie community. (CRAIG GLOVER, The London Free Press)

London Free Press, March 10, 2016

By Deborah Van Brenk and John Miner

 

Dutton-Dunwich was the one Ontario municipality that held a referendum on wind farms.

Even though 84 per cent of residents opposed wind turbines, the Elgin County municipality that hugs Lake Erie learned Thursday it will end up with them anyway under a process the government promised would give local sentiments a priority.

“We were totally ignored,” Dutton-Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam said. “We live in the province of Toronto, not the province of Ontario.”

A new round of wind farm development announced Thursday awards a contract to Chicago-based Invenergy to build dozens of industrial turbines in Dutton-Dunwich. The municipality was the first in Ontario to hold a vote for residents on the issue and subsequently passed a resolution declaring itself an unwilling host for wind farm development. Another 89 Ontario municipalities also have passed the “not a willing host” resolution.

McWilliam said he was stunned Thursday when Dutton-Dunwich was on the list of new green energy projects. The Ontario government had repeatedly assured McWilliam and other rural leaders that the wishes of local residents would be respected in a new era of public consultation.

In testimony before a legislature committee in November 2013, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said municipalities wouldn’t be given a veto over projects but it would be “very rare indeed” for any to be approved without municipal backing.

It will be almost impossible for somebody to win one of those bidding processes without an engagement with the municipality,” Chiarelli said.

Representatives of Dutton-Dunwich had met with the Ontario government several times to make it clear the industrial wind turbines were unwanted, McWilliam said.

“They talked about local engagement and the need for local support. There wasn’t that support in Dutton-Dunwich. We’re disappointed,” he said.

McWilliam said the decision was particularly odd considering some other municipalities had rolled out the welcome mat for wind farm projects. Malahide Township, which already has a wind farm, was one of them. Malahide Township Mayor Dave Mennill said he was shocked that a project proposed for Malahide was rejected while one was approved in Dutton-Dunwich.

It is a tough blow for both municipalities, he said.

“If you want to really tick people off, ask them for their input and then ignore it,” Mennill said. “I’m at a loss to explain it. Obviously, pricing trumps (community) support.”

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) announced Thursday it was awarding contracts for five wind farms, seven solar farms and four hydroelectric projects in the latest round of green energy procurement.

Of the remaining four wind farms approved Thursday, two are in Chatham-Kent, a municipality that has officially embraced their development. The other two wind farms are in the Ottawa area.

Adam Butterfield, manager of renewable generation procurement for IESO, said a number of factors went into the selections, including community engagement and landowner support. …

Read the full article here.

New wind power contract announcement ignores rural, economic concerns

Contracts awarded over community objections

TORONTO, March 10, 2016 /CNW/ – Ontario’s announcement of contracts for five new wind power projects flies in the face of community concerns and advice about Ontario’s economy, says Wind Concerns Ontario. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) just announced 300 megawatts of new wind power generation when Ontario’s Auditor General says the province has a surplus of power, and is paying too much for renewables.

As of March 9, 62 Ontario municipalities had endorsed the Wainfleet Resolution, calling on the province not to issue any new wind power contracts, based on the Auditor General’s recent report.

Of the five new wind projects, four are in communities that did not support wind power.

“The Energy Minister told Ontario it was ‘virtually impossible’ for a contract to be awarded without municipal support,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Tell that to Dutton-Dunwich where the community said no via referendum, but they are getting turbines anyway.”

The new contracts provide 299.5 MW of new power generation at an average contract price of 8.59 cents; they will cost Ontario electricity users $1.3 billion over the 20 year life of the contracts, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

SOURCE Wind Concerns Ontario

RELATED LINKS
http://www.windconcernsontario.ca

IESO announces new wind power contracts despite community opposition

Ontario says local support "was a factor"--still can't say no
Ontario says local support “was a factor”–still can’t say no

Communities are Unwilling Hosts, and had asked the province not to issue new wind power contracts

IESO March 10, 2016

LRP I Contracts Offered – March 10, 2016

The IESO has completed its evaluation of the 103 proposals received in response to the LRP I RFP and has offered 16 LRP I contracts to successful proponents.

The 16 contracts offered represent 454.885 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity. This capacity contributes to the achievement of the province’s renewable energy targets. The results include:

  • 5 wind contracts totalling 299.5 MW, with a weighted average price of $85.94/MWh and an approximate weighted price range of $64.50 to $105.50/MWh;
  • 7 solar contracts totalling 139.885 MW, with a weighted average price of $156.67/MWh and an approximate weighted price range of $141.50 to $178.50/MWh; and
  • 4 hydroelectric contracts totalling 15.5 MW, with a weighted average price of $175.92/MWh and an approximate weighted price range of $173.50 to $177.00/MWh

Of these, 13 projects (336.8 MW) include participation from one or more Aboriginal communities, including five with more than 50 percent Aboriginal participation. Additionally, more than 75 percent of the successful proposals had received support from local municipalities, and more than 60 percent had support from abutting landowners.

The full list of contract offers, including project location, fuel type, contract capacity and contact information, see the LRP I RFP Selected Proponents List.

The development and design of the program’s requirements, including those for community and municipal engagement, were informed by broad engagement with municipalities, Aboriginal communities, industry associations, the general public and other stakeholders. The LRP program requirements were designed to strike a balance between early community engagement and achieving value for ratepayers. Local support – from the municipality, local First Nation community and/or from landowners adjacent to the project – was a factor in project evaluation.

View the RFP Fairness Advisor letter.

Clear message from City of Kawartha Lakes (and 60 others): NO new wind power contracts

CHEX-Peterborough

Opponents of wind and solar farms in the City of Kawartha Lakes received a boost of support from council today. As Jesse Thomas reports a resolution was passed, calling on Queen’s Park to stop issuing any more large scale energy projects and to halt any that are not yet in operation.

 

Ontario communities banding together to fight new wind power contracts

This is from the wind power industry’s own publication, North American Windpower

NAW Staff, March 8, 2016

Fifty-one Ontario municipalities are endorsing a resolution recently passed by the Township of Wainfleet Council that calls on the government of Ontario to stop awarding feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts for power generation from wind.

The resolution, passed in January, was based on December’s auditor general report that claimed Ontario has a surplus of power generation capacity and, under existing contracts, is paying double what other jurisdictions are paying for wind power, explains the Township of Wainfleet.

Thus, adding more surplus generation capacity would add to the already high costs of disposing of surplus electricity, says the township, which adds that the cost of electricity is a key concern for many Ontario residents.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has also reported the impact of high electricity costs on their members’ ability to grow their businesses and create jobs in Ontario. Thus, says Wainfleet, this suggests the need for a full, cost-benefit review of the renewable energy program before committing Ontario electricity users to even more surplus power.

According to Wind Concerns Ontario, the resolution also calls attention to the fact that wind power projects cause damage to the environment by killing wildlife.

April Jeffs, mayor of the Township of Wainfleet, is pleased with the support that her council’s resolution is receiving from across the province: “This quick response from other municipalities to the circulation of the resolution indicates that wind turbines are still front and center as an important issue in rural Ontario,” she says.

According to the township, Jeffs reports that at least one of the two projects in the area is the cause of citizen reports of deteriorating health. She is particularly concerned about the second project currently under development in her area – which involves 77 3.0-MW turbines in Wainfleet, West Lincoln and eastern Haldimand County.

The township says the more powerful turbines are located in areas with a sizeable residential population with an estimated 2,000 households living within 2 kilometers of the towers. The project will operate under one of the older, expensive FIT contracts criticized by the auditor general; the Wainfleet resolution asks the government to review options under the contract to cancel the project.

Now that coal-fired power plants have closed, says Wainfleet, the government should have met its carbon-reduction goals for the electrical power system in Ontario – which is now largely based on carbon-free hydroelectricity and nuclear power. This gives the province an opportunity to assess renewable generation alternatives that have less impact on the host communities, according to the township.

In addition, clauses in the 2015 RFP documents issued by the Independent Electricity System Operator do not commit the government to issue any wind contracts, so the government is protected against lawsuits from the bidders should it change course at this time, Wainfleet adds.

“Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “According to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, that can mean more greenhouse gas emissions, not less, because of the need for backup by natural gas power plants. Everyone wants to help the environment, but utility-scale wind power is not the answer.”

Brandy Giannetta, the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) regional director for Ontario, calls the resolution a “political statement at the municipal level.”

Although it’s “unfortunate that it’s out there,” Giannetta tells NAW, she notes the importance of the province’s Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process in showing the cost-competitiveness of wind power. The process calls for the procurement of utility-scale renewables projects; specifically, the LRP I requested up to 300 MW of wind.

The LRP, led by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), aims to “strike a balance between early community engagement and achieving value for ratepayers,” according to the IESO. Giannetta says the LRP contracts will be awarded as soon as this week.

In March 2015, when the first request for proposals under the LRP was issued, Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, said, “An important part of the RFP process will be early and meaningful community engagement. Effective community engagement is fundamental to the success of wind energy projects, and the wind industry values the right of individuals to have an important role in discussions about developments in their community.”

A full list of the municipalities supporting the resolution can be found here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of this writing the number of municipalities is now 59. See the list here.

APPEC files motion for a stay against power developer WPD

Tribunal rules serious and irreversible harm to wildlife will result from wind farm, power developer proceeds with construction anyway

Still fighting: County residents at Mount Tabor to protest wind power projects
Still fighting: County residents at Mount Tabor to protest wind power projects

Belleville Intelligencer, March 8. 2016

By Bruce Bell, The County Weekly News

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – 

Not so quick wpd Canada.
Only days after an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), ruled the 27-turbine White Pines wind energy development would cause irreversible harm to wildlife, including Blanding’s Turtles, wpd Canada informed the appellants the company intended to commence with site preparation — namely clearing of brush — as early as next week.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County has responded quickly, filing a motion requesting a stay of any work on the site until the ERT has resolved the issue.
In its decision, the ERT ruled the development would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtles and Little Brown Bats, suspending wpd Canada’s Renewable Energy Approval, pending remediation hearings.
In a letter to local resident John Hirsch and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) as well as the director of  Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, wpd informed them of their intent to begin clearing brush on March 14.
“We are appalled by wpd’s chosen course of action (as) it is fundamentally disrespectful of the appeal process not to mention an ERT decision that to anyone’s mind would bring the White Pines wind project to a grinding halt,” said APPEC president Orville Walsh. “Instead, just four days after the tribunal issued its decision to uphold the appeal, wpd is behaving as though the decision does not apply to them.
“Vegetation clearing for turbines and access roads will cause irreparable environmental destruction. Of particular concern is the impact of heavy machinery that will be brought in on Blanding’s turtle habitat, where most of the wind turbines are located, and on Blanding’s turtles themselves as they emerge from their over-wintering sites early this year after a mild fall and winter.”
APPEC’s legal counsel has responded quickly submitting a motion requesting the ERT to issue a stay of all physical activity associated with this Renewable Energy Approval until this matter has been resolved by the Tribunal.

Read the full story here.

Spilled hydro adds millions to Ontarians’ electricity bills

Wind power gets first rights to the grid, so clean renewable hydro is wasted [Photo: OPG]
Wind power gets first rights to the grid, so clean renewable hydro is wasted [Photo: OPG]
OPG spills hydro and $150 million goes “down the drain” 

OPG released their 2015 annual report  Friday March 4, 2016; it confirms that 3.2 terawatts (TWh) of water that could have been used for power was spilled last year. (This is similar to the spilled amount in 2014 year.)

How much is 3.2 TWh? Enough to supply about 350,000 average Ontario households with electricity for a full year … but it didn’t!

Here is what OPG’s annual report had to say:

“Baseload generation supply surplus to Ontario demand continued to be prevalent in 2015. The surplus to the Ontario market is managed by the IESO, mainly through generation reductions at hydroelectric and nuclear stations and grid connected renewable resources. Reducing hydroelectric production, which often results in spilling of water, is the first measure that the IESO uses to manage surplus baseload generation (SBG) conditions. During each of 2015 and 2014, OPG lost 3.2 TWh of hydroelectric generation due to SBG conditions.” 

The principal reason we have surplus baseload is due to wind and solar being granted “first to the grid” rights. And, because wind and solar are intermittent (and unreliable) OPG is forced to spill clean renewable hydro power.

While spilling hydro in itself is disturbing in Ontario, especially considering our hydro-electric history, the fact we are now obliged to pay for the spilled hydro at the same time we are paying wind developers 13.5 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) and solar generators as much as 80 cents a kWh simply adds more costs to our monthly hydro bills.

OPG received $47 million per TWh (4.7 cents/kWh) for the spilled hydro. That means electricity ratepayers’ pockets were picked for over $150 million, or about $31.00 per ratepayer.   Our reward for absorbing that cost was zero.

This month, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli will likely announce that Ontario will add even more intermittent, unreliable wind and solar generation. Your pockets are not safe yet.

© Parker Gallant

March 7, 2016

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Ontario municipalities call for no new wind power contracts

Wind Concerns Ontario, the coalition of community groups and individuals concerned about the impact of utility-scale wind power projects on Ontario’s economy and environment, and on human health, has issued a statement of support for the 50+ municipalities endorsing the Wainfleet Resolution, which calls on the Wynne government to not issue wind power contracts for the 2015 bid process, as planned.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) plans to announce successful bids for 300 megawatts of new wind power generation soon. Ontario’s Auditor General pointed out in the recent report that Ontario pays double for wind power compared to other jurisdictions, and that a surplus of power means losses as the power is sold off cheap. The report also expressed concerns about environmental impacts, such as the effect on migratory birds, and the need for fossil-fuel generation back-up because power from wind is produced intermittently.

“Everyone wants to do what they can for the environment,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, “but with all the negative impacts, utility-scale wind power is not the answer.”

See the news release at Canada Newswire  March 7, 2016