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.
New draft bill doesn’t go far enough to address change needed to undo damage
October 30, 2018
In a presentation before the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Wind Concerns Ontario described the wide range of problems caused for all of Ontario, and especially rural and small-town communities, by the Green Energy Act.
Bill 34, which aims to change aspects of the Green Energy Act, is at the committee stage, before receiving final approval by the Legislature.
Presenting for the coalition of community group members and individuals and family members of Wind Concerns Ontario was executive vice-president Warren Howard, a former bank executive and municipal councilor.
He reviewed the problems with wind turbine noise and disturbed water wells; the removal of local land-use planning for municipalities; and the fact that municipalities are now being called upon by residents for help with these negative impacts of the wind power projects, but that they are helpless to do much. In some cases, he said, municipalities tried to take action to protect the health of their residents, but were met by threats of expensive legal action by wind power developers.
The rules for the approval and operation of wind power projects are not based on solid science, Howard said, and are today, out of line with rules in other jurisdictions.
Wind Concerns Ontario obtained documents showing thousands of official records of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, he said, but the response rate from the former Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change was poor.
In more than a few cases, people across Ontario have abandoned their homes because of the impact of wind turbine noise emissions. Even though the Ministry’s Spills Action Line operates on a 24 hour-7 day per week basis and had the capability to respond on an emergency basis to other environment issues, the only response to wind turbine complaints was to advise the District Office who would respond in a day or so. There is no evidence of action being taken on requests by frustrated residents that turbines be turned off so that they could sleep.
The new Bill does not go far enough in making the necessary changes required to repair the damage done to Ontario by the Green Energy Act, Howard explained to the committee. There is no change, for example, in the role of municipalities to approve wind power projects, and there seems to be no provision for enforcement of existing noise regulations, which need to be improved.
Wind Concerns called for retraction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health statement published in 2010, denying that health issues are linked to wind turbine noise. The document is incomplete and outdated, yet it is being relied on as the foundation for environment ministry response.
Wind Concerns also called for regulation 359/09 be rewritten and action be taken to address the 4,562 complaints about wind turbine problems.
Last week, MPP Jim McDonell (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) rose in the Legislature to speak in favour of changes to the Green Energy Act, and brought forward the serious concerns for the environment, health and safety posed by the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont.
Currently under appeal, evidence brought forward has shown the environment ministry staff were not even aware of significant risks to the water supply, for example, or to safety posed by the Leda or “quick” clay, and the former government did not require the power developer to provide proper assessments.
Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m pleased to join my colleagues to speak on Bill 34, the Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018. We promised a government that puts the needs of everyday people first—another promise our government for the people is delivering on.
I would like to quote our Premier, Doug Ford: “The Green Energy Act presents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s rich history. Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need. Today we are proud to say that the party with the taxpayers’ money is over.”
That theme went through our campaign and got us to where we are today. The people of Ontario were tired of a government that not only didn’t listen to them, but they were gouged at every opportunity.
The two opposition parties can point fingers all they want, but remember that when you point a finger, three of them point back at yourselves. They worked together to push through the Green Energy Act when experts around the province warned them of the dangers of not using the science to develop energy policies for Ontario.
The summer before I was elected, Professional Engineers Ontario published a research paper on the problems with the Green Energy Act. They highlighted that a system such as ours, which relies on central power stations, cannot be converted easily to a distributed power format, and such a plan would generate unneeded surplus power that simply couldn’t be ignored or destroyed.
Thus we see the problems with the Green Energy Act. Unneeded, unpredictable and comparatively expensive, supposedly green energy is dumped into the system when our much cheaper water and nuclear systems are fulfilling all the demand. Remember, you can’t destroy excess power. It must be used or other, less expensive, sources throttled back.
In the water world, water was diverted around or spilled over dams to avoid generating power. That was cheap power that was already paid for but not being used.
In the nuclear world, thanks to an innovation by Bruce Power, they developed a way of dumping substantial amounts of steam, enough to account for a measurable amount of excess power. But, remember, the steam had already been paid for. One might wonder why Bruce Power was the only nuclear power producer in the world to develop such a system, but it’s sad to say that it was self-inflicted. The Liberal and NDP governments had ignored all of the warnings, pushing the Green Energy Act on our utilities, who were forced to make the best of a bad situation.
The Liberal government bragged that they would be the number one producer of green energy in the world, but at what cost? The only way to attract the amount of investment required to build facilities on the scale they wanted would require a guarantee of return on capital unattainable anywhere else in the world, and that’s exactly what they did. The 80 cents per kilowatt hour was more than double what Germany had agreed to, and they were in second place. To be fair to Germany, they quickly realized how their price was unsustainable in their program and cancelled theirs.
A person just north of my riding was awarded one of these rich contracts. He decided to delay the construction for a period, as allowed in the contract, until the technology had brought down the cost of materials, as everyone predicted it would. He was attending a solar conference in the US, and one of the presenters asked, “What was the price that everyone was receiving?” When he said it was 80 cents per kilowatt hour, first it was laughter, then disbelief. No one believed him. The rate of return was outrageous. The wind turbine guarantees are the same: They’re strictly outrageous.
What was the result? A huge construction of unneeded power generation and capacity—and the problems started. Auditor General’s report after Auditor General’s report hammered the Liberal government on the dangerous and ill-thought-out plan. First, they tried to justify it to close coal plants, but they were proven wrong, as efficiencies obtained by Bruce Power alone more than allowed for the power they needed to close these plants. Then they originated a plan where they had wind turbines simply shut down, not producing the power, but with sensors added to the turbines, they would be paid for the power whether they produced it or not—a completely ridiculous plan, but they sold it as a solution.
All this time, especially during the minority Parliament, when our party would introduce motion after motion to stop the foolishness, the NDP helped the madness continue by voting for the Liberal minority government.
It’s particularly satisfying today to finally debate a bill that will end the calamity. The Liberal government could no longer hide the facts, and the people of Ontario gave the Doug Ford PC government a massive majority and a mandate to clean up the mess. But, unfortunately, the Wynne Liberal government, with the support of the NDP, have saddled the people of Ontario with a huge bill that must be paid back through outrageously high energy bills for decades to come.
I see people come through my constituency office, and they are in trouble. They can’t afford to pay the hydro bill and their taxes and have enough money left to put food on the table. I was talking to a local senior couple just a couple of months ago, and the lady said that they would have liked to go to the local fair that day, like they always used to do, but it was $10 and they just couldn’t afford it in their budget. That’s a common thing I hear across my riding. People cannot afford to do anything but simply cut back and try to put food on their table. As I said, the couple is like the vast majority of Ontarians, who don’t have a generous government pension plan. They have been experiencing years of expenses escalating at rates much higher than the money they were managing to put aside. When your pension increases by $10 or $20 a year, how do you cover hydro increases of hundreds of dollars a year, property taxes of hundreds of dollars a year and more? You can only save so much by doing your laundry at night and turning your thermostat down.
The Liberal government just didn’t get it. The increased minimum wage doesn’t help people who can’t work either because there’s no work available or they just can no longer work. That is why our government for the people promised to work for the people. The Liberal carbon tax was nothing more than another tax for an out-of-control-spending government, and experts were clear that the plan would not allow Ontario to meet its targets. It only resulted in life being more unaffordable and the business environment being more uncompetitive. Under the Liberal government, energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.
Let’s be clear: The Green Energy Act helped Liberal insiders get rich while families across Ontario were forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food on their tables. The Green Energy Act made it much harder for businesses in Ontario to stay in business; thousands of jobs were lost across Ontario because manufacturing plants were too expensive to operate. Ontario lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs, not to China or India but to our neighbours south of us. The Liberal government’s mismanagement of our economy and massive spending to cling to power at all costs cost Ontarians their good-paying jobs. It’s time to put people first.
With the repealing of the Green Energy Act, we’re also proposing amendments to several existing acts, including the Planning Act and Environmental Protection Act. The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated.
As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I am comforted to see the amendments that would give municipalities back their voice when it comes to making future energy decisions. I share the belief that the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities. By restoring municipal authority for the placement of renewable energy facilities, we’re ensuring that future projects have the support and buy-in of local communities. Because municipalities have told us time and time again that they felt ignored when wasteful green energy projects were forced upon their communities.
Madam Speaker, let me tell you about the plight of residents of North Stormont. They had been battling against a huge multinational corporation, and they were promised that if they were an unwilling host, they would not receive the project. The small rural township passed what they thought was needed, a resolution that would designate them as an unwilling host, and sent it off to the Liberal government. They turned down a huge amount of money from the project company, approximately $500,000 a year, because the residents did not want the problems and the issues associated with wind turbines. Madam Speaker, $500,000 is a huge amount and would go a long way to pay for roads and infrastructure in a small rural township of approximately 6,000 residents, the smallest population in SDG. Potential health issues, noise issues, groundwater issues were just not worth the money in their minds.
For more information contact MPP McDonell at email@example.com and the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont at http://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/
Party divisions are evident in discussions on Green Energy Act. Key points from an MPP whose constituents are threatened by an unnecessary wind power project bring the arguments “home”
From Hansard, a few excerpts of the discussion on proposed changes to the Green Energy Act on October 22, 2018.
From MPP Lisa Thompson, Huron-Bruce:
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased to add my voice to the debate today. There’s something that I need to focus on and that I can’t let slip by. The member from Don Valley West said that we need to leave the emotion out of this and focus on economics. Well, really and truly, that really stuck with me because the reason she’s encouraging people to leave the emotion out of it is that we know that the flawed green energy Liberal ideology has absolutely failed Ontarians.
I welcome the opportunity to focus on the economics of their failed policy because it has left Ontario in disarray. It has driven manufacturers out of this province. It has caused a lot of fiscal stress on companies who are still trying to operate. The global adjustment fees alone have just wreaked havoc on the manufacturers that have chosen to stay home in Ontario and try and weather the storm.
Well, as our Premier has said many, many times before, as of June 7, help has arrived. We actually get the economics of the failed Liberal ideology. We understand that in order to move forward we needed to return autonomy to our municipalities that should have had a voice as opposed to having it ripped away by the former Liberal administration. That was an absolute travesty.
Randy Pettapiece MPP Perth-Wellington:
Over the course of the next few minutes, I will outline how Bill 34 will lower hydro rates, respect municipalities and attract more businesses to Ontario.
One of the greatest costs Ontarians faced under the previous Liberal government was skyrocketing hydro rates. Under the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals, hydro rates tripled. At its peak, families in Toronto were paying, on average, $160 per month for hydro. My constituents in rural Ontario were paying even more. The average family in a low-density community was paying $330 per month.
In 2017 alone, wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electric bills.
We’ve all heard about these horror stories. Families had to decide whether to pay their hydro bill or put food on the table. This is shameful. In a country such as Canada, in a province as wealthy as Ontario, families should not have to decide whether to feed their children or pay their hydro bills.
In 2015, the Ontario Energy Board revealed that 60,000 households in the province had been cut off. This represented a 20% increase over the previous year.
In 2016, the Auditor General found that Ontario ratepayers overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy.
The Liberals’ Green Energy Act was the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history. Thousands of green energy contracts were awarded to companies that together donated $1.3 million to the Liberals.
A common complaint I heard at the doors during this year’s spring election was the cost of electricity. Some of my constituents took steps to reduce their energy consumption, but their hydro bills still went up.
The Green Energy Act was not designed to promote energy consumption. It was simply a way to enrich Liberal insiders and their friends.
As I mentioned earlier, some constituents in my riding of Perth–Wellington saw their hydro bills triple. The businesses saw even higher hydro bills. Hard-working business owners have seen their bottom lines shrink due to the previous government’s mismanagement and mishandling of the energy file. …
I witnessed first-hand the rights of municipalities being trampled on. The wind turbine lobby groups continuously attempted to build industry wind farms in my riding of Perth–Wellington. This was despite clear opposition to these wind farms being built. Over the course of the Green Energy Act, 80 municipal councils passed resolutions, motions or bylaws regarding industrial wind turbine development and the Green Energy Act. In my own riding, these municipal councils included the townships of Mapleton and Wellington North, the municipalities of West Perth and North Perth, as well as Wellington county.
Instead of working together and consulting with the municipalities, the previous government took a heavy-handed approach. They turned neighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately owned lands—time and time again, a process characterized by a lack of openness and transparency. …
[Perth-Wellington had a wind power project proposed but eventually withdrawn] Other communities were not so lucky, Speaker. Hundreds of municipalities across Ontario had these wind and solar farms imposed on them. Health concerns surrounding these individual wind farms were ignored by the previous government. Documents released under the freedom-of-information act revealed that the previous Liberal government ignored warnings from their own environment ministry. They were told that the province needed stricter noise limits on turbines. They had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them, and computer models for determining residential setbacks were flawed. Speaker, this is shameful.
Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin:
Mr. Michael Mantha: There’s a lot of what I’m hearing from my colleagues across the way that we’re going to agree on—one of them, as far as what is the root cause of the problems with the Green Energy Act and why it worked and why it didn’t work. The problem that we’re looking at was not the wind or the farms; it’s looking at those contracts. Look at the contracts and the implementation of this.
First of all, to the member who took the lead as far as bringing his comments forward: I agree with you; taking away the local, democratic right of municipalities to determine their choice, as far as they wanted to have it or not, was wrong. What was also wrong was for the government to say, “We know best. We’re going to pass this over to the private sector. We’re going to give them lucrative contracts—because they know best—and we’re going to let them decide as to where they go. In the meantime, we’re going to take away that right from municipal leaders.” I agree with you. This was an opportunity for some municipal leaders—because not all were opposed; not all didn’t want to have it. What is the biggest thing that we heard when we were over at AMO? “Give us new revenue-generating tools for municipalities.” This was an opportunity where some municipalities who were in favour, whether of wind or farms, could have generated that opportunity. But no; what the government of the day said was, “We’re going to take away that democratic right of yours. We know best. We’re going to put it into the private sector.”
Well, what about the public? We’ve just watched this government—and again, we agree on the fact that they sold off Hydro One, and how that boondoggle decision increased our rates—the same way they rolled out the implementation of the Green Energy Act. We see those things; we don’t dispute that. But to throw everything on, saying that everything that came out of green was wrong—I believe this government is misleading the public in saying so.
Read the entire transcript here: https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-42/session-1/2018-10-22/hansard#P974_136463
Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.
Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.
Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.
She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”
The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”
A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.
The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.
When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.
The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.
In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.
The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.
When wind power developers roll in their Trojan Horse to communities boasting of multiple benefits such as more jobs, prosperity and a cleaner environment, one thing they fail to mention — and in fact argue against vehemently — is the loss in property value for those people whose homes are suddenly located inside industrial power projects.
Chicago real estate appraiser and consultant Mike McCann was someone who studied the property value loss phenomenon, and appeared before various legal tribunals and committees to talk about it.
Mr. McCann studied Ontario properties, too, and was one of the group of professionals we often called upon for advice.
Mike McCann died this week in Chicago, after a battle with cancer.
FINCH, Ontario — If the approval signed by the Wynne government for the Nation Rise wind power project were a bird, it probably wouldn’t be able to fly, because it is so weighted down with conditions.
One of those conditions was that the power developer, EDP of Spain, identify and map all water wells in the project area near the proposed wind turbines, because of concerns about the construction activities on the local aquifer.
That hasn’t happened, say residents. Now, signs are popping up all over the country roads and in the communities of North Stormont, as part of an information campaign about risk to the local water supply, and to demand that wells be identified and tested by the developer. Residents are concerned about the impact of vibration from pending wind turbine construction and turbine operations on their water wells.
The “Nation Rise” wind power project is currently under appeal, but the power developer is supposed to be proceeding with meeting the terms and conditions of its contract with the Ontario government, which was approved just days before the June election.
One of those conditions is that the company identify certain wells and “make reasonable efforts, to the satisfaction of the Ministry [of the Environment], to contact owners of all active water wells within 1 km from each individual Equipment, communication tower, and meteorological towers, and seek permission to undertake a groundwater survey at existing water wells. “
The problem is, EDP’s count of the number of water wells that need identification and testing does not correspond to the summary of the situation in the Renewable Energy Approval or REA. As a result, wells may be missed in the pre-construction survey and then be ineligible for help should problems arise after the power project is built.
According to Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the power developer may be off by as much as 50 per cent of area wells.
People are worried, Benke says, for several reasons: a wind power project in the Chatham-Kent area is linked to disrupted function and outright failure of as many as 10 percent of area wells, resulting in contaminated “black” water. The situation is so dire that the new Ontario government has pledged an investigation of the situation.
The wells in North Stormont depend on an aquifer that has been designated as “highly vulnerable,” she says. The signs being posted at the end of North Stormont driveways say “EDP we want our well water tested.”
“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Benke explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area. As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”
That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.
The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.
“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”
The appeal resumes October 15th in Finch Ontario, with testimony from an expert in hydrogeology.
With wind power developers trying to push into Alberta and Saskatchewan, industry lobbyist CanWEA is trying its best to counteract what’s going on in Ontario where an attack of reality has changed boomtimes to downturn, says energy analyst Parker Gallant.
In a posting on his website today, he says the trade association is making claims about its value and contribution to Ontario’s economy that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
For example, CanWEA claims that wind power is the lowest-cost option for generating electricity.
“[CanWEA president Hornung] doesn’t specify what he is referring to! One should suspect the reference is to either the LOCE (levelized cost of electricity) or the cost of fuel (wind is free), but in either case his claim has nothing to do with what Ontario ratepayers pay for the intermittent and unreliable nature of the actual wind power generation. That annually averages only 29/30% of its capacity and is out of sync with actual demand 65% of the time.”
And as usual, CanWEA boasts of the environmental benefits of “clean” wind power. The facts say otherwise:
“What is interesting about this latter claim is that the Fraser Institute back in January 2017 in another report stated: ‘The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change undertook a special analysis of the role of U.S. emissions in Ontario air quality in 2005, which showed that a majority of O3 (ground level ozone) and PM2.5 (particulate matter) was due to U.S.-based emissions and would not be reduced by cutting emissions in Ontario.’ ”
Wind power revenue is from the Global Adjustment subsidy, not actual power sales. Recent moves by government to cancel new contracts won’t get electricity bills down (but will stop them from going up) — more action needed says the Fraser Institute
October 4, 2018
A new report from the Fraser Institute says that decisive action is needed on Ontario’s wind and solar contracts of the new government under Premier Doug Ford is serious about getting consumers’ electricity bills down.
“Energy poverty” is a new watchword in the province as the Liberal governments’ renewable energy policies, which were not based on any kind of cost-benefit analysis, boosted electricity customers’ power bills sky-high, forcing many families to have to choose to “heat or eat.” The association of food banks noted electricity bills as a critical factor in poverty in its 2016 “Hunger Report.”
Moves by the Ford government to cancel new renewables projects, including three huge wind power projects, may stop future increases but they won’t get current bills down.
“The logical next step for the government would be to use its legislative powers to cancel funding commitments under the FIT contracts. This would reduce the GA by almost 40 percent, resulting in an approximately 24 percent reduction in residential electricity prices.
In addition to cancelling the existing FIT contracts, the Ontario government could take further action to reform various other components of the GA, including reducing payments to the relatively new small-scale hydroelectric plants of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and cutting funding for unneeded conservations programs. In order to quantify the potential consumer price reductions from such measures it would be necessary to examine detailed GA allocation accounts, which have not been released publicly.”
Some fights against industrial wind projects are over, but there is more work to be done
The turbine built near historic Milford in Prince Edward County; citizens celebrated in the Milford hall yesterday.
October 1, 2018
After years of fighting one industrial-scale wind power project after another, after the Ostrander Point project was cancelled, and after the huge “White Pines” project was cancelled by the new government, the people of Prince Edward County finally got together yesterday for a celebration. It was a simple affair: a potluck supper in a community hall, a modest gathering of people from all over the expansive county, united in a single cause — to prevent the industrialization of a fragile environment, harm to the environment, and serious impacts on people.
As one of the founding communities that are part of the 30-plus-strong coalition that is Wind Concerns Ontario, the people in Prince Edward County have been, in many ways, a beacon of hope for others. They suffered defeats and setbacks, they enjoyed partial victories that only diminished the threats, and they witnessed the worst of the McGuinty-Wynne governments’ push for wind power at all costs, as decisions were made behind closed doors. At times, it seemed all common sense and decency had been lost.
Naturalist organizations protested the harm to wildlife. Even a former senior Liberal government Cabinet minister came out swinging against the White Pines project, to no avail.
Our congratulations and best wishes to the people of “The County”.
And now, there is more work to be done.
All the things the people in Prince Edward County fought against — harm to the ecosystem, death and destruction (including possible extinction) of wildlife, damage to water and the water table, and finally, via the unique noise emissions from wind turbines, harm to people — all these things are going on across Ontario right now.
While it is a source of hope that the Green Energy Act will be gone, the fact remains that there is a lot of damage to repair. First, the noise emissions, including low-frequency noise, must be dealt with. There are literally thousands of formal reports of excessive noise, a significant proportion of which also carry reports of “adverse effects” including health problems, often linked to sleep disturbance.
These must be addressed and resolved, immediately.
Water wells and the damage done to them by vibration from construction and wind turbine operation (think of them as giant tuning forks stuck in the ground) is another problem. In Chatham-Kent, dozens of families have no water at all, or their water is so contaminated by particles it is unusable. The new government has promised an investigation and resolution–this also must happen immediately.
While the government has taken steps to ensure that no new power projects bringing intermittent power, produced out of phase with demand, will be proposed, the fact is, there are still several in process, which will further the environmental damage and add to consumers’ power bills. Cancelling the Nation Rise and Romney projects could save Ontario as much as $700 million. For Nation Rise, which received a conditions-laden approval days before the writ was drawn up for the June election, it is a simple matter of revoking that approval. (The community concerns about water, noise and safety are valid, so much so that the power developer changed material parts of the project during the ongoing appeal.)
By scrapping the Green Energy Act, passed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty in 2009, Premier Doug Ford is ending one of the worst legislative disasters ever inflicted on the people of Ontario.
Ford ran on repealing the GEA and the end of this appalling legislation cannot come soon enough.
The GEA is largely responsible for Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity prices.
It’s the reason we’re paying outrageously high prices for green energy the Liberals didn’t need in order to eliminate coal power, which was actually done using nuclear power and natural gas.
The jobs the Liberals promised under the GEA never materialized, according to former Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 annual report.
The GEA made Ontario’s energy grid less efficient because it required the province to buy expensive and unreliable wind and solar power from green energy developers under 20-year contracts, before purchasing other forms of energy.
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported in 2016 that Ontario electricity consumers had overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy, because the Liberals ignored the advice of their own experts on how to price it.
The GEA led to the gas plants scandal, because the Liberals had to frantically build new natural gas plants to back up the unreliable power they were getting from wind and solar energy, then scrapped the gas plants planned for Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election.
As PC Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said Thursday, the GEA took away the planning rights of municipalities, which will now be restored, leaving them without any say in the location of green energy infrastructure.
That deprived Ontarians of natural justice, turningneighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately-owned lands in rural communities for massive wind turbines and solar farms, with the projects then sprung on those communities as a fait accompli, in which they had no meaningful say.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, still ranting about Ford cutting the size of Toronto council in half, voted with the Liberals to pass the GEA, a far more sweeping attack on municipal governments.
Under the GEA, the Liberals abdicated from the proper role of government, which is to balance public and private interests.
Instead, they became cheerleaders for the wealthy green energy lobby.
Citizens opposed to green energy projects imposed on their communities faced the impossible task of fighting the industry and the Liberal government.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported by the CBC, revealed the Liberals ignored warnings from their own environment ministry that the province needed stricter noise limits on turbines, had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them, and that computer models for determining residential setbacks were flawed.
In 2011, when McCarter investigated the Liberals’ renewable energy strategy built around the GEA, he reported his auditors had to start from scratch, because the Liberals, incredibly, “had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.”
McCarter warned the GEA had, “created a new process to expedite the development of renewable energy by providing the Minister (of Energy) with the authority to supersede many of the government’s usual planning and regulatory processes … As a result no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate” its financial impacts.
Ford is right to scrap the GEA.
The tragedy is that the economic damage it caused under the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals will be felt for decades to come.