Behind the Green Door, or, a union and the Ontario government–strange bedfellows?
The Ottawa Citizen recently reported on the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) meetings in Ottawa August 18-23 and in particular the fact that 62 municipalities had declared themselves “unwilling hosts” to industrial wind turbines.
Those 62 communities (now 65) were simply taking Premier Wynne at her word based on her government’s Throne Speech:
“Your government intends to work with municipalities on other issues, too. …They must have a voice in their future and a say in their integrated, regional development. So that local populations are involved from the beginning if there is going to be a gas plant or a casino or a wind plant or a quarry in their hometown. Because our economy can benefit from these things, but only if we have willing hosts.”
As it turns out, Premier Wynne’s invitation backfired; maybe she didn’t believe it would actually draw so much attention and cause so many communities to reflect on her rhetoric, and then declare themselves “unwilling hosts.” The same August 20 article in the Ottawa Citizenstated that:
“Wynne has asked the OSEA, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness in communities slated for the turbine projects about the benefits of hosting, including the financial gains that can come from being power generators in a cash-strapped economy.”
Most people know the impact that the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association or OSEAhad on George Smitherman when he was the Energy Minister and ushered the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) through the Ontario Legislature. It is now apparent that OSEA’s influence is deeper and may reach all the way to the Premier’s office.
The Citizenarticle quotes Kris Stevens, the Executive Director of OSEA:
“What we want is to have lots of points of light — sort of like the Internet — so that if part of the system goes off, the rest of the system can isolate it and keep running.”
The article goes on to repeat this claim:
“He said such a change would prevent blackouts like the one that happened in much of Eastern Ontario and the Northeastern United States 10 years ago. ‘What happened in Ohio affected everyone because we were pushing power from one centralized place,’ said Stevens.”
That claim is not supported by the Ontario’s grid operator.
Because delivery of wind and solar power is intermittent, it threatens the grid on an almost daily basis as Ontario’s baseload generation must be turned on and off to accommodate the vagaries of that intermittent renewable energy. Thatis the generation that OSEA lobbied Minister Smitherman to push through via the GEA; now the IESO regularly posts “Alerts” when they have a concern about potential grid problems usually caused by those renewables! Those “Alerts” might signal the next blackout!
I have to ask about the Wynne announcement and the OSEA appointment: What have they done and how is it being financed? In the last annual report posted on the OSEA website for their year ended November 24, 2010, their total net assets (capital) amounted to only $48,865 so it sure wasn’t coming from that source. Some of it may be coming from the OSEA primary funders such at the Trillium Foundation or the other four voter-owned provincial/municipal companies or ministries that OSEA list as “Funding Sources,” but OSEA doesn’t disclose that, just as they now don’t disclose their members.
Nevertheless, OSEA has launched a new website: Green Energy Doors Open where they have (so far) announced a one-day event, principally in the GTA region, including an invitation to see or climb the Exhibition Place Wind Turbine. They also have initiated a “Current Campaign” (within OSEA) titled, Municipal Outreach on Best Principles and Practices. I presume its aim is to demonstrate OSEA’s ability to convince municipalities to jump onto the “financial gains” bandwagon as one of his “points of light” and become willing hosts.
On the Green Energy Doors Open website OSEA list their sponsors; their “Gold” sponsor is none other than the Canadian Union of Skilled Workers (CUSW). CUSW, with thousands of members, has contracts with Bruce Power, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for Pickering and Darlington. Their website even has some of their minutes posted. Item 2 under the heading “Meeting Agenda” from their National Executive Board Minutes of July 5, 2013 even lists “Liberal Golf Tournaments.” The minute records state: “Liberal Golf Tournaments – Motion: to support the attendance of four CUSW Members at two of the tournaments being held over the summer. Ottawa Gold Tournament Monday August 19, 2013 and Liberal Women’s Caucus Tournament Thursday September 5, 2013 M/S B. Gilroy, A Tuck Consensus”.
Coincidently another agenda item approved expense claims including one for Mark Gallant (no relation) who wanted reimbursement for an “OSEA Energy Drinks Networking Event.”
And, the President of the CUSW, Joe Mulhall, is also a Director of OSEA.
It seems strange that a union such as CUSW, whose membership benefits from contracts with OPG, would support an entity like OSEA and also have such a direct link via President Joe Mulhall and in that position should be considered as conflicted. The imposition of the GEA that has caused so much damage to the electricity system in Ontario, resulting in the continuing decline of OPG’s revenue stream while driving up electricity prices for all ratepayers seems like an odd cause to support when your members are employed by the entities you are working against.
Premier Wynne emphasized “financial gains” in her Throne speech. Does she not understand that the financial gains for municipalities from industrial wind developments come from the pockets of ratepayers throughout the province, and flows into the pockets of mainly foreign developers and manufacturers?
Strange musings by our Premier, and strange bedfellows for the CUSW!
Happy Labour Day indeed.
September 2, 2013
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Wind Concerns Ontario.