Ontario announces cancellation of renewable energy contracts

Citizens of Dutton Dunwich oppose the Invenergy wind power project

July 13, 2018

The Ontario government just announced cancellation of renewable energy contracts for which significant contractual milestones had not yet been met.

The move will save $790 million from being added to electricity generation costs, and passed on to consumers’ electricity or hydro bills.

The contracts to be cancelled likely include the five newest wind power projects, which were awarded contracts by the IESO in 2016, and which have not yet been given final approval. One, the “Nation Rise” project in North Stormont, did get a Renewable Energy Approval on May 4, just days before the write period for the recent election. That project is being appealed by a community group, The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

“This was the right decision,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “There were significant environmental and health concerns inherent in each of these projects, the communities did not want them but were being forced to have these industrial power projects, and the costs would be yet more burden on Ontario citizens.”

Health effects of the noise produced by the huge wind power generators is a concern especially, as Wilson says, “because there are literally thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise across Ontario that are to this day unresolved, and the ministry under the previous government was not even responding to complaints from Ontario families. Staff noted adverse health effects in documents released to us, but no action was taken.

Given this evidence and these serious concerns, it is a good decision not to add to the existing problems with how wind power was implemented in Ontario.”

Basic Feed-in-Tariff Contract Costs[1]

  Name Plate Capacity (MW) Annual Cost ($M) 20 Year Cost ($M) Annual Cost Per Household ($)
Operating Turbines 4,936 $1,693 $33,856 $352
Under Construction   393 $   128 $ 2,567 $ 27
LRP I Projects   (Pre-Construction)   299 $       65 $ 1,307 $ 14
Total 5,628 $1,886 $37,730 $393

[1] Estimated costs are based on FIT Contract rates of $135 per MW and average costs for the RFP projects of $89.5 per MW based estimated actual electricity production.

 

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

From protest to celebration: Ford government cancels wind power in Prince Edward County

An outrage: County residents protest behind-the-scenes final approval of hotly contested wind power project [APPEC photo-Michael LIndon]
July 11, 2018

The protest was kept under wraps until the late morning yesterday in quiet, beautiful Prince Edward County.

A group of residents planned to interrupt a convoy delivering huge wind turbine parts for the “White Pines” wind power project in a peaceful manner, as an expression again of the community’s disapproval of the power project being located in the historic Loyalist area.

The environmental risks of the power project were significant — so much so that the original 29-turbine project had been reduced to 27, then finally to 9, and the remaining approval came with conditions for the Germany-based power developer WPD in order to protect the environment and wildlife. Several wildlife and nature groups have supported the fight, emphasizing the immense danger to migratory birds from the turbines, close to the shore of Lake Ontario and on a major migratory bird pathway.

The company’s commitment to those conditions has been questioned as it worked through the halt period required to protect endangered Blandings turtles; the citizens’ group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County or APPEC filed numerous actions requesting a stay of construction. Earlier this week, WPD was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act.

And then there is the power grid in Ontario: the electricity that could be produced (wind is notoriously intermittent and produced out of phase with demand) is not required in Ontario, which has a surplus of power and has been paying generators not to produce, as well as selling power on the electricity market for bargain-basement prices.

The community has been fighting the power project for 10 years, mostly in court, with a few peaceful demonstrations such as a march through Picton last fall.

Recently, it was learned that despite the fact Ontario’s soaring electricity bills were a major issue in the election campaign throughout the province, aided by the cost of wind power contracts, and the fact that this wind power project was a contentious issue in the riding, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) actually issued the final approval or Notice To Proceed, during the writ period.

“The previous Liberal government was in ‘caretaker’ mode when the IESO on May 11 green-lighted the litigation mired project,” said community member Liz Driver. “The community knows that the IESO were fully aware that wind projects were an election issue and that the PCs pledged to cancel projects still in development. As local journalist Rick Conroy explained in his June 27 commentary in the local Wellington Times newspaper  the IESO decision trod upon centuries of parliamentary custom.

“The Notice to Proceed was kept under wraps by IESO, the wind company and the Liberals. The IESO only revealed the Notice to Proceed on its website just before the transfer of power to the PCs on June 29 to the astonishment of the community.”

The community members decided to make a point and actually interrupt the turbine delivery only to find out at the end that Ontario’s new government had announced cancelling the project was one of three priorities for its emergency call-back of the Legislature.

The issue was “time-sensitive,” said local MPP Todd Smith who is also Government House Leader, in making the announcement. The power developer was working at breakneck speed to complete the project in hopes it wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — cancelled, contrary to the PC Party promises during the election. Until the Notice To Proceed was issued in secret in May, the power developer had been working at its own risk incurring costs, and without significant permits from the municipality.

The developer has been working evenings and weekends to try to complete the project.

“If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how fast they can put those things up,” said Paula Peel, a member of the executive of both APPEC and Wind Concerns Ontario.

The government will introduce legislation Thursday regarding the project.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

Wind farm contracts can be cancelled: legal opinion

Companies without a Notice To Proceed or who have not reached key milestones “have reason to be concerned”

July 6, 2018

In a just released review of the energy landscape in Ontario under the new Ford government, Mike Richmond, wind power contract specialist with law firm McMillan LLP, says the contracts between government and wind power developers can be cancelled in certain situations.

Wind Concerns Ontario has long maintained this to be true, even recommending to the Wynne government that an effective way to reduce electricity bills for Ontario consumers — or at least, not have them go higher — was to cancel the $1.3B of new wind power contracts and to cancel any others where significant milestones have not been met.

Mr. Richmond’s legal opinion and review is here.

The government will be directing IESO to exercise termination rights

An excerpt:

Developers, lenders, construction firms, installers, landlords and other clients with interests in contracts for projects which have not yet been granted Notice to Proceed (NTP) by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) (or acceptance of Key Development Milestones for Large Renewable Procurement (LRP I) projects) have reason to be concerned.

While the [PC election] platform was not long on detail, it was absolutely clear that where pre-construction contracts contain provisions allowing the IESO to terminate at or prior to NTP or other equivalent milestones, before expensive capital equipment has been delivered and installed, the Government will be directing the IESO to exercise those termination rights.

Anticipating such a directive, the IESO had already begun holding back on the issuance of NTP approvals for Feed-In Tariff (FIT) projects prior to the June 29 swearing-in, instead electing to issue NTP Deferral Notices. By doing so, the IESO is able to limit its liability for the eventual termination of those projects to the “Pre-Construction Liability Limit”, which is set at:

  • $400,000 plus $2.00/kW for wind, biogas or biomass facilities;
  • $250,000 plus $10.00/kW for solar facilities; or
  • $500,000 plus $20.00/kW for waterpower facilities.

These figures only represent liability caps. To be eligible even for these amounts, developers will have to be able to demonstrate that they incurred, after being awarded a FIT Contract, “soft” costs up to these amount for items such as environmental approvals, EPC and financing contract negotiations, land rights, resource assessments, connection cost deposits, equipment deposits and permitting. Costs spent on generating equipment (other than reasonable non-refundable deposits), and amounts representing lost profits, are not eligible.

Some questions remain:

Given the stated election platform, and the fact these contracts were a key campaign issue, why then did the Wynne government issue a Renewable Energy Approval to Portugal-based EDPR  for its unneeded 100-MW “Nation Rise” wind project just days before the writ was drawn up for the June election, and why did the IESO toss its termination rights overboard on the WPD “White Pines” project, during the active election campaign?

What pressures were brought to bear on the former government by the power developers?

And why are taxpayers now being forced to pay for the new government’s defence of a bad decision made by the Wynne government, in the Nation Rise appeal?

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

North Stormont group asks Premier Ford to halt wind power project, legal action

Nation Rise project not needed; community group says cancel it now, save millions

Expensive legal action will cost taxpayers more for unnecessary power project, community group says

OTTAWA  July 3, 2018— The citizens’ group opposing the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project asked Premier Doug Ford and his new government today to state its intention to cancel the project’s contract, and halt legal action related to its approval.

The power project, to be located just south of Ottawa, received Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for Ontario’s June election was drawn up.

The community filed an appeal of the approval, based on environment and health concerns, which is set to begin Thursday July 5 with a hearing in Finch, Ontario.

Given the new government’s campaign pledge to end contracts for projects which do not have final approval, however, the legal action is a waste of time and taxpayer money, says Margarent Benke, spokesperson for  the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.

Ministry of the Environment employees and lawyers must travel from Toronto and mount a defence of the approval, Benke says, which makes no sense if the government plans to cancel the unnecessary power project.

“We made an urgent request today for action on the Nation Rise project. It will cost the people of Ontario a base price of $500 million over 20 years, and add to our electricity bills,” says Benke. “The Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing will represent even more cost to the government and to the people of Ontario, and more financial and emotional strain to the people of North Stormont.”
 
The power project would expose citizens near Finch, Crysler and Berwick to environmental noise from huge, 3.2-megawatt wind turbines; most of the turbines would also be located on an area designated as a “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
Ontario currently has a surplus of electrical power; wind power projects produce power out-of-phase with demand, and Ontario’s Auditor General has criticized the contracts for their above market rates. Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has said Ontario electricity customers overpaid for renewable power by $9.2 billion.
Contact: info@concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca
contact@windconcernsontario.ca