Watch for the “Catch 22” and other terms in wind power leases, lawyer says

In this week’s edition of Ontario Farmer is an article by retired QC Garth Manning and Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, advising landowners to get legal advice before signing any lease or option to lease for wind power projects and associated equipment.

Although Large Renewable Procurement II is “suspended” the government fully intends to bring it back (after the 2018 election), and the FIT 5.0 process is currently accepting applications for wind power projects with equipment less than 500 kW. (See story today about Brant County being approached for support here.)

Wind power contracts can be very one-sided ... and not in favour of the landowner, says an Ontario lawyer
Wind power contracts can be very one-sided … and not in favour of the landowner, says an Ontario lawyer

Here is the article:

Clients need help with complex wind turbine lease documents

In answer to Ontario citizens’ concerns about rising electricity bills and the fact that Ontario now has a surplus of power, the provincial government suspended its process to accept new bids for wind and solar power in 2017.

While the process is on “hold,” wind power developers are still holding open houses and prospecting for willing landowners to sign Options to Lease land for wind turbines and associated equipment, in hope the contract process will resume after the provincial election in 2018.

Landowners should know that these are very complex documents and they need legal advice before signing. Some option/lease agreements contain a box to be checked that means the landowner has read the agreement and waives legal advice. That may not be the smart move. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, for example, advises members to seek legal advice before signing.

Why? There are many implications to signing an Option to Lease (which converts to a Lease if the company gets a power contract) including rights to use of the property, first right of refusal at time of sale or if the owner wishes to sever property, even the ability to speak out if there are side effects of having turbines on the land.

The fact is, current forms of options/leases are very one-sided in favour of the wind power developer and should be reviewed literally word for word by an independent lawyer. It’s easy to focus on the dollar amount offered by the developer, and ignore other, important aspects of the agreement. For example, some leases contain cancellation options for the power developer, but most do not provide any option for the landowners to terminate the agreement if they change their minds.

Wind power developers always create a separate corporation to own and operate each project. Its assets include, in Ontario, the Renewable Energy Approval, the contract with the government to supply power, the options/leases for the land for turbines and equipment, and any agreements such as for road use with municipalities.

These corporations are usually mortgaged to the hilt. All assets can be sold to another company without consent of the landowners; the buyer could be a dummy company without assets, which is unwilling or unable to perform any obligation of the original company, including, the decommissioning or dismantling of the huge towers.

There are key financial considerations to consider above the lease amount: having a lease on the property may affect the owner’s ability to use the land as collateral for financing; construction liens may also be filed against the project and will appear on the landowner’s title. …

Read the full article here. windfarmcontractscomplexnovember-2016

Ontario government sees citizens as ‘enemies of the state’ says newspaper editor

Premier Wynne: fighting you ... with your own money
Premier Wynne: fighting you … with your own money

Rick Conroy, editor of the independent Wellington Times says the Ontario government has “turned against its people.” He cites the numerous examples of citizen groups forming and paying for legal actions to protect their communities against the government, and more recently, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne labeling Ontarians as “bad actors” when it comes to the environment.

In his editorial, he asks why, why it comes to huge wind power projects, “… What drives elected officials to use the state’s power and resources against those working to protect the natural world it has abandoned?”

We got a glimpse last week when Kathleen Wynne defended her government’s cap and trade emmissions scheme. She told a business audience in Niagara Falls that Ontarians are “very bad actors” in terms of per capita emissions of greenhouse gases. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue—or offhand remark. These words were part of a scripted speech.

Fortunately for the wretched folks in this province, we have a premier who understands good and bad—better than we do. She has unveiled the selfish and narrow view through which we see the world around us. Kathleen Wynne will be our better selves.

In this morality play your provincial government has decided it will not work in your interest— but rather what it believes your interest ought to be. It knows this better than you. Kathleen Wynne, and Dalton McGuinty before her, believe they know what is best, and cling to the hope that history will judge them better than Ontario’s weak and myopic voters do now.

Maybe.

But untethered by accountability to its voters and deaf to its ministries’ advice and counsel, provincial Liberals have made a terrible mess of the energy supply system in Ontario. It will take decades to fix. It has squandered billions of dollars chasing schemes unworthy of a Nigerian postmark. It has pushed manufacturing jobs out of the province. And it has rendered electricity bills that are unaffordable for many of its poorest rural residents. Meanwhile, it has made a select group of developers very, very wealthy.

In turn, they have dutifully filled her parties’ coffers— to arm her for the next election.

How is it that the most righteous tend to be the most susceptible to corruption and misdeeds? There is something distinctly Shakespearean in this tragedy.

 

Read the full article here.

Power developer to hold open house for 100-megawatt project

South Dundas councillors and staff, spokesmen from EDP Renewables and local residents chat about the proposed South Branch Wind Farm II project during an open house Aug. 5, 2015 at Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

North Stormont is an unwilling host community … but a foreign power developer got a contract anyway [Photo Cornwall NewsWatch]

October 21, 2016

Portugal-based power developer EDP Renewables has scheduled an Open House in Finch, Ontario, for its 100-megawatt,  “Nation Rise” wind power project in the Township of North Stormont.

The power project could have as many as 30 industrial-scale wind turbines; it will cost the people of Ontario more than $436 million over the 20-year contract period.

The contract was one of five awarded earlier this year through the Large Renewable Procurement process by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The IESO has since suspended the contract process planned for 2017 saying Ontario has a surplus of power and more is not needed.

North Stormont is officially an unwilling host or Not A Willing Host community, one of almost 100 in Ontario.

Community members have formed a group, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont and have vowed to fight the power project which they say is not appropriate for their community, will raise Ontarians’ electricity bills (the fastest rising in North America) even higher, and will result in no appreciable benefit to the environment.

 

Road Map for Finch Community Centre (North Stormont Arena)

 

 

More action needed on hydro bills, say Ontario mayors

The Mayor of North Frontenac has written to Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault on behalf of all the 115 municipalities demanding change to the Large Renewable Procurement process. While relieved the next round of bids is “suspended,” he says, the municipalities say more can be done to stop the dramatic rise of Ontario electricity bills.

NorthFrontenac

October 5, 2016

Mayors across Ontario who united together as  a result of a resolution being supported to have municipal support mandatory for industrial wind turbines are relieved that procurement of future wind power has been cancelled for now. The Mayors still feel however that the government needs to take very aggressive actions to address the ongoing crisis caused by high electricity costs in this province. Taking steps to not add $2.45 per month in 2020 does not address the real hardship being felt by our residents now.  It is also not clear that the other measures announced by the government will even offset the ongoing increases in hydro rates that can be expected in the short term unless additional changes are made.

It was important that the Minster of Energy’s statement confirmed that the province has a “robust” supply of electricity and the procurement process could be cancelled without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.  This provides room for more aggressive actions that will address increasing costs. Our tracking of wind turbine contracts shows that there are still many wind turbine projects in the pipeline that will add at least another $7.9 billion to electricity generating costs.  This is equivalent to another $82 per annum for each Ontario electricity user. Seven of these projects are under construction but will not be connected to the grid until sometime this fall or in 2017.  Another five have not been issued ‘Notices to Proceed’ as they are, or have been until recently, involved in Environmental Review Tribunal proceedings or other legal appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals. The final six projects are in the pre-MOECC submission stage.  These include the five contracts issued in early 2016 plus one outstanding project from earlier FIT offers.

In all of these cases, the IESO has the option of terminating the agreement for any reason with very limited cost liabilities relative to the 20 year commitment to electricity that is not required.  We respectfully ask that all industrial and solar wind projects be cancelled to avoid ongoing costs to our residents.

Ron Higgins

Mayor, North Frontenac

Councillor, County of Frontenac

Phone 613-884-9736

Email ron.higgins@xplornet.com

Twitter @HigginsRon

Facebook

 

See the letter sent to the Energy Minister, here. lettertoenergyminister-oct52016

 

Mayor Higgins (Photo CBC)
Mayor Higgins (Photo CBC)

Cancel the contracts, Minister Thibeault

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault: more power we don't need soon to come to the grid ... and your hydro bill
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault: more power we don’t need soon to come to the grid … and your hydro bill

September 30, 2016

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault was busy this past week dancing around issues plaguing his portfolio. The issues are: rising electricity bills, energy poverty and polls showing falling voter approval of the Ontario Liberal Party. In an effort to stem the bad news Minister Thibeault announced the suspension of his predecessor’s directive to IESO ordering up another 600 megawatts (MW) of wind and 300 MW of solar.

Minister Thibeault issued a news release, delivered a speech to the Ontario Electricity Association, and held a press conference. He looked somewhat embarrassed to be claiming that, because the Large Renewable Procurement or LRP II was not proceeding, the average electricity ratepayer will not have to pay an additional $2.45 per month in the future. About 4 million of those average ratepayers, however, will have to pay from $6-$8.00 more per month if they use gas as a source of warmth (gas furnace) or hot water to cover the costs of the cap and trade tax starting January 1, 2017. Those same ratepayers will also see the benefits of the removal of the 8% provincial sales tax and a drop of $6-8.00 in their monthly electricity bill meaning they shouldn’t see an increase in their energy costs. Or will they?

Let’s examine the ministerial pronouncements about “suspending” LRP II to see if the actions will really stop rate increases.

First, put the suspension of 600 MW of wind and 300 MW of solar in context. A look at the 2016 Ontario Power Generation (OPG) 2nd Quarter report helps. If wind operated at 30% of capacity and solar at 15% they could have produced 986,000 MWh of intermittent electricity or enough to supply about 220,000 average Ontario households for the six months in that report. That in itself is interesting but it doesn’t highlight what else was happening with existing generation facilities.   For example, “During the six months ended June 30, 2016, OPG lost 3.4 TWh of hydroelectric generation due to SBG [surplus baseload generation] conditions, compared to 1.5 TWh during the same period in 2015.”

In other words, 3.4 terawatts hours of electrical power was dumped because we had too much.

$150 mil wasted

If it hadn’t been “spilled,” (the technical term) that steady reliable hydroelectric power could have supplied 750,000 average households with power for six months. And even though the power was “spilled,” ratepayers were charged for it at a rate of 4.4 cents per kilowatt hour — at a cost of $150 million for the 3.4 TWh! Ontario’s 4.5 million ratepayers picked up an annual cost of $33 for spilled power, while Minister Thibeault was suggesting those same ratepayers would “save” future rate increases of about $30 annually!

What about even more spilled hydro, increasing amounts of curtailed wind, and steamed off power coming from Bruce Nuclear?

As we ratepayers continue our conservation efforts and demand for power remains flat, or falling, wind and solar generation contracted but not yet constructed will enter service producing more surpluses. The spilled, curtailed and steamed off power will be added to our bills once again driving rates higher.

Minister Thibeault should cancel any unbuilt wind and solar projects, and complete a cost-benefit study before launching the revision of the long-term energy plan (LTEP) as Premier Wynne has instructed him in her recent Mandate Letter.

Ratepayers would be delighted to experience a year or even six months without a rate increase.

(C) Parker Gallant

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

Ontario suspends Large Renewable procurement

September 27, 2016

Moments ago, the Wynne government announced it is suspending its controversial Large Renewable Procurement program for sources of power such as wind and solar.

“Ontario will immediately suspend the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II) process and the Energy-from-Waste Standard Offer Program, halting procurement of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and energy from waste projects. …

On September 1, 2016, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) provided the Minister of Energy with the Ontario Planning Outlook, an independent report analyzing a variety of planning scenarios for the future of Ontario’s energy system. The IESO has advised that Ontario will benefit from a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demand.”

Wind Concerns Ontario (and two Auditors General for Ontario) has been saying for years that a cost-benefit analysis of the renewable energy program was never done, and should have been.

“Now, the impacts of this program are clear,” says President Jane Wilson.”We have unsustainable and punishing rises in electricity bills for the people of Ontario, with a corresponding rise in rates of energy poverty, while there is no evidence of any environmental benefit. In fact, there are widespread concerns about the damage being done to the environment from this high-impact form of power generation.”

Wind Concerns Ontario says that in addition to suspending the Large Renewable Procurement program, contracts for power projects not yet under construction need to be cancelled immediately.

“The government admits it has adequate power,” Wilson says. “There is no need to continue this assault on Ontario citizens, on our economy, and on the natural environment for little or no benefit.”

 

president@windconcernsontario.ca

How to save $500 a year on hydro bills: cancel wind

wind contract banner

Parker Gallant has put up a list of recommendations on his Energy Perspectives blog which he says, if they were enacted by the  Wynne government, would save the average Ontario electricity customer $500 a year.

Chief among them is the cancellation of wind power contracts — the older ones that have missed or are about to miss key contract dates — and halting the new Large Renewable Procurement II process, which is, incredibly, still set to begin next year.

As an example of contracts that could be cancelled, the Amherst Island project for 26 turbines on the tiny island, where migratory birds stop over and Bandings turtles live, has no hope of meeting its Commercial Operation date. Cancelling it would save Ontario $500 million.

Cancelling the wind power contracts and the next bid process would stem the tide of surplus power, which Ontario sells at “fire sale prices” Gallant claimed recently in a radio interview on CFRA, and save millions.

So would cancelling Ontario’s egregious conservation program in which customers are urged (shamed?) by a comprehensive advertising campaign to cut back on electricity use. The campaign costs $300 million a year and what happens when consumers do cut back? (As we have.)  The rates go up anyway.

Good advice.

We’ll see if the Wynne government is actually interested in positive action and in helping people.

 

Stop digging the hole, utility company tells Wynne

Niagara On The Lake Hydro sent an open letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, outlining the steps the government needs to take to get costs down, and halt the unsustainable rise of electricity costs. “When you are in a hole,” President Tim Curtis said, “the best thing is to stop digging.”

The news release and letter can be read here and an excerpt follows.

There are concrete actions that can be taken both immediately and in the medium term to reduce the cost of electricity or slow down the increase.  NOTL Hydro has the lowest delivery charge in the Niagara region not because of anything special we have done but because of a fifteen year focus on managing the business to keep costs low for our customers.  This focus can be replicated at the Provincial level. The chart above shows that the driver of the increase in costs is generally not at the municipal LDC nor transmission level (both in line with inflation) but at the generation level.

Immediate actions include:

  1. Announce that you will stop immediately signing any FIT and MicroFit contracts and move as soon as possible to net metering.  This will prevent encumbering the system with more expensive contracts.  As you are moving to net metering you are not repudiating your climate action plan but accelerating the move to its next phase.  As a sign of our commitment, if you announce this by the end of September 2016 we will cancel our FIT contract.
  2. Eliminate the MDM/R branch of the IESO and their activities.  This branch collects the smart meter data and all their activities are redundant as are duplicated by the local distribution companies who need the information for billing.  If you announce you are eliminating this cost you can also announce you will be removing the $0.79 monthly charge on every customer’s bill.  While not a large amount this would be a symbolic gesture of the new direction.
  3. Recognize that the earlier FIT and MicroFIT contracts were overpriced and transfer the excess cost to the OEFC.  While this will increase the debt of the Province it will also reduce the cost of electricity which is needed to sustain jobs and keep Ontario competitive.
  4. Meet with industrial business representatives such as in the steel industry to develop plans that mitigate the impact time of use pricing is having on the drivers of our economy. This needs to be done in a manner that does not just transfer the cost to residential customers.

 

See the full letter for more actions suggested by Niagara On The Lake Hydro.

Six years of energy assault on Ontario municipalities says Mayor

No justice for Ontario communities under the Green Energy Act: removing democratic rights and ignoring calls to end subsidies
No justice for Ontario communities under the Green Energy Act: removing democratic rights and ignoring calls to end subsidies

September 14, 2016

Now 112 Ontario municipalities have either passed a resolution demanding change to the wind power contracting process, or have endorsed a resolution to that effect, and it’s all because of “six years of energy assault,” says the Mayor of Enniskillen Township.
In a letter published in Ontario Farmer, Kevin Marriott says that “Rural people in the Province of Ontario have been under assault by the provincial government for about six years since the Green Energy Act (GEA) of 2009 was enacted.”

That legislation, says Marriott, was “the first ever to take away a municipality’s democratic right” to perform local land-use planning, “in this case, to say no to industrial wind turbines.”

That’s not all, says Marriott: the other right taken away is affordable electricity. He also points to the difference between how rural and urban residents are treated.
“Why should rural Ontario pay almost double for delivery when most electricity is actually delivered to the GTA from rural Ontario?”

Marriott concludes by saying the electricity policy has made electricity bills three times higher than they were eight years ago. The government “has ignored our pleas to stop subsidizing wind turbines by billions of dollars”.

More Ontario municipalities demand final say in wind power sites: more than 100 stand up to Wynne government

Ontario municipalities want local land-use planning control back
Ontario municipalities want local land-use planning control back

September 11, 2016

Now 111 municipalities in Ontario have either passed or formally endorsed a resolution at Council, demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement for contracts in the Wynne government’s next round of Large Renewable Procurement.

The municipalities include several urban municipalities with rural components including Ottawa, Hamilton, and Stratford.

“That number, 111, represents more than a quarter of all Ontario municipalities,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

“They believe that they are the best judge of where important infrastructure should be sited, and that they are the voice of their community concerns about where power generation projects are located. Development is only sustainable and appropriate where there is community support — and as we are seeing, many rural communities don’t support the government’s policy of forcing these power facilities on people, and the environment.”

Local land-use planning for developments such as wind and solar power generation facilities was removed by the Green Energy Act in 2009.

Despite a surplus of power in Ontario, the cost of long-term contracts for renewable sources of power,  and province-wide protests about Ontario’s rising electricity bills, which have forced several hundred thousand residents into “energy poverty,” the Wynne government still plans to launch a new procurement process in 2017. The deadline for corporate wind power developers to file a request for qualification with the IESO was Thursday, September 8th.

Energy analyst Tom Adams told Global TV news last week that the government needs to cancel contracts where it can, and cancel the planned Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II).