Power developer proposes untried remedies to save endangered species in Prince Edward County

January 28, 2017

ERT panel Hugh Wilkins and Marcia Valiante [Photo CountyLive]
The “remedy” hearing for the White Pines wind power project by wpd Canada was held in Wellington, Ontario before a standing room only crowd in the village community centre.

The purpose of the hearing was to allow the power developer to propose mitigation for the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat, which the Environmental Review Tribunal found earlier would be seriously and irreversibly harmed by the wind power project. This is the first hearing in Ontario at which “remedy” or mitigation has been proposed for the bat species.

A news story by County Live summarizes the day’s events (though not quite the end-of-day fireworks between counsel and the ERT chair), and can be found here. (Fate of County’s South Shore)

The wind power developer was accused by counsel for appellant the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) of filing too much material as a reply submission, which constitutes “bolstering,”* lawyer Eric Gillespie said. At issue was a new supposed scientific article which was not in original evidence; after an hour of wrangling, the lawyers agreed to remove the article except for one explanatory chart.

The measures proposed by wpd (which is scheduled to propose similar mitigation measures in the case of the Fairview appeal) included special road construction and monitoring for turtles, and heretofore untried methods of altering “cut-in” speeds for turbines, to avoid killing the bats, which are on the edge of extinction in Ontario.

The only real proposal is to cancel the project, Gillespie said: “The only real prevention is zero deaths, that’s what prevention is.”

A key strategy was to institute measures so that animal deaths dropped below the “irreversible” level, the power developer’s lawyers said, and the onus was on the appellants to prove what that is. Not so, said Mr. Gillespie.

Mr. Gillespie was also disturbed that rules of evidence and reply were being ignored; he told the ERT panel that accepting the power developer’s submissions as they were meant the panel was creating new rules, which would affect every other appeal in Ontario, and would certainly be discussed in Ontario Divisional Court.

In the final hour, the lawyers for wpd reviewed for the panel what the wind power developers’ counsel thought their job was, while Mr Gillespie referred to the decision at Ostrander Point and said that environmental protection was a key issue, and the panel’s real role. Gillespie was so insistent on adhering to the rule of law as regards the approval holder’s submissions (“So far from being proper it is not even in the ballpark”) that at one point wpd lawyer Patrick Duffy stood up and exclaimed “Mr. Gillespie, just STOP!”

As the submissions and reply concluded the Chair Marcia Valiante said “We are adjourned” and then wpd counsel interrupted and demanded to know when the decision would be rendered as “we have an important date in April”(if the project is not begun, the contract will end). The Chair said they would do their best to render a decision soon, and she then adjourned the hearing, again.

 

*Bolstering Law and Legal Definition. Bolstering means to build up or support. Bolstering testimony is generally improper. Bolstering testimony is improper when it relates to the witness’s truthfulness on a specific occasion and when the foundational requirements of evidentiary rules are not met.

 

 

Municipalities demand halt to wind power ‘exploitation’ in Ontario

Public declaration demands cancellation of wind power procurement, and re-focus of energy policy by the Wynne government

Mayor Higgins (Photo CBC)
Mayor Ron Higgins: representing 25% of Ontario municipalities in fight against Green Energy Act(Photo CBC)

January 9, 2017

The Ontario Multi Municipal Group has issued a public declaration stating it wants the “exploitation” of rural Ontario by the wind power industry, aided by the Ontario government, to end.

“The implementation and expansion of renewable energy (industrial-scale wind turbines and large solar power projects) has developed to the point that it has caused hydro costs to increase, caused a division between rural and urban municipalities, and caused the citizens of Ontario to lose faith in democracy,” says Ron Higgins, Mayor of North Frontenac, in the document.

The municipal group was formed at the last meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) after 115 municipalities, or 25 percent of all municipalities in Ontario, passed resolutions demanding that municipalities get final say in the siting of renewable power projects.

“We are now speaking out on behalf of all those communities,” Higgins says.

Rights of communities ‘neutralized’

The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed the right to carry out local land-use planning for power projects –the Multi Municipal Group says that’s wrong. “It neutralizes the rights of residents of rural Ontario to advocate for, rely on and claim the benefit of sound land-use planning principles,” Higgins says. “It amounts to a form of discrimination.”

In the public declaration document, the group lists the impact of Ontario’s wind power program, saying it has not brought the economic benefits promised by the McGuinty government and in fact has resulted in an economic burden and energy poverty. They also say that no environmental benefit has been demonstrated and that “the natural world is suffering” because of large-scale turbines which are disrupting the natural environment and harming wildlife such as migratory birds and endangered species of bats.

Wind power a ‘false hope’ for the environment

Wind power has created “false hope” of steps to be taken to combat climate change and protect the environment, says the Multi Municipal Group. And, the Government of Ontario has ignored knowledge of the negative impacts of invasive wind power technology.

The group demands that all procurement of wind power be stopped, and the Green Energy Act repealed. They also recommend that the government base future policies on generation capacity and conservation, and use current energy supply assets.

“Our rural communities are unprotected against the exploitation [by] renewable energy,” Higgins concludes. The municipalities have no choice but to declare their position to the government and the public formally.

The Ontario Multi Municipal Group declaration may be found here: mmg-public-declaration-on-the-exploitation-of-wind-energy-in-ontario-jan-2017

The list of municipalities that have passed a support resolution for changes to wind power contract approvals: list-mandatory-municipal-support-resolution-communities-jan2017

 

 

Contacts

Mayor Ron Higgins: ron.Higgins@xplornet.com

Wind Concerns Ontario contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Map of municipalities demanding change to the IESO wind power bid process, to July 14, 2016
Map of municipalities demanding change to the IESO wind power bid process, to July 14, 2016

Cancel the contracts, Minister Thibeault (we’re asking again)

It’s been quite windy the last few days in Ontario, as it often is in the fall. Temperatures have been mild, too — all that stacks up not only to a beautiful fall but a very expensive few days for Ontario’s electricity customers, already hard-hit by their power bills which are the fastest rising in North America.

Parker Gallant has done the analysis on a single day last week, November 10, which he says points out everything that is wrong with Ontario’s electricity policy. Too much power produced when we don’t need it means cheap exports to our neighbours and more expense for Ontarians.

Here’s an excerpt from his recent blog posting:

November 10th serves as a perfect example of what’s happening to electricity customers in Ontario: that day, the government’s electricity policy shows we reward huge corporate wind power developers and it also highlights the intermittent nature of power generation from wind — it is out of phase with demand.

November 10 should be the basis of a message to the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault on the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program: Ontario should cancel both the LRP I contracts awarded last April and cancel the now “suspended” LRP II process.  The Minister has already admitted our electricity supply is more than adequate for the next 10 years (“robust” in fact, he says) so acquiring more wind generated power (and solar) should be immediately suspended. It does nothing other than drive up the costs for “average” households.

The $9.4 million of ratepayer dollars handed out November 10 neither reduced emissions nor provided useful electricity. Time for a complete overhaul of electricity policy in Ontario, starting with those contracts and the LRP process.

When the subject of cancelling contracts (which is government’s right) comes up, the immediate response from the influential wind power lobby is that to do so will incur lawsuits, and wreck Ontario’s reputation in the business/investment world. The fact is, anyone knows that building your business on a subsidy program is not good planning; it’s also true that the Ontario government included “off-ramps” in the latest contracts, so that it could change its mind if the power is not needed, and pay out the power developers’ documented expenses.

Here are the details for the five contracts awarded by the IESO last spring.

Project name Capacity MW 20-yr cost $ Max payout liability $
Otter Creek 50 218 million 500,000
Romney Wind 60 261 million 520,000
Strong Breeze 57 250 million 515,000
Eastern Fields 32 139 million 464,000
Nation Rise 100 436 million 600,000

Source: data from IESO contracts

So, in the case of Strong Breeze, for example, in the community of Dutton Dunwich which resoundingly expressed its Not A Willing Host status but got a wind power project anyway, the government could get out of a $250-million contract by paying, at most, $515,000. Similarly, Nation Rise, in another unwilling host community, could be cancelled for a maximum liability of $600,000 and save Ontario electricity ratepayers from having the $436 million cost added to their bills.

Let’s go farther! Among the projects with Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs) but not yet operating, are the much contested White Pines in Prince Edward County and the Windlectric project on Amherst Island, both of which are in legal battles and both are in danger of not meeting their contracted Commercial Operation date. Cancelling them would save a lot of wildlife and also save Ontario electricity customers almost $1 billion.

Mr Gallant says that November 10 is emblematic of what’s wrong with Ontario’s electricity policy; we add, why buy more power Ontario doesn’t need and inflict more damage on the natural environment and Ontario’s rural communities, when the answer is so simple.

Cancel the contracts, Minister Thibeault.

Wind power approval process must change, says Wind Concerns Ontario

Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity while approval under appeal. That appeal was eventually partially successful. [Photo: APPEC]
Wind Concerns Ontario says Ontario’s Renewable Energy Approval process is not protective of the environment. Pictured, devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized pre-construction activity while its power project approval was under appeal. That appeal was eventually partially successful.  [Photo: APPEC]
November 1, 2016

Comments filed on Renewable Energy Approval process

“The litany of failures is astounding,” says president of community group coalition

Wind Concerns Ontario filed comments with Ontario’s EBR yesterday, with recommendations on revisions to the Technical Guide for the Renewable Energy Approval process for industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power projects.

Basically, WCO said, the guidelines for the power industry are not protective of the environment … and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

In short, the requirements in place for companies to get approval are not adequate, there is not enough proper oversight by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (or even, capacity to do fulfill that role), and there is no check on compliance with Renewable Energy Approvals post-operation.

  • Findings from the ERT decisions and other legal activities have shown that the current process is not adequate to assess the expansion of renewable energy generation while upholding the government’s commitment to protecting the environment.
  • The process contains no provisions to discuss the creation of clean energy jobs and encouraging energy conservation.
  • The proposed process does not reflect decisions from the Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT)

“The fact is, almost every single wind power project that received an approval in Ontario has been appealed on the basis of protecting the environment and human health,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “And four of those appeals have been successful. The Ministry should be embarrassed that ordinary citizens are not only taking on this protective role, but that they find information about these projects and the damage they will cause, that Ministry staff were not aware of.”

Wind Concerns not only recommended more stringent requirements for a Renewable Energy Approval, the coalition of community groups and Ontario families repeated its call for municipal support to be a mandatory requirement for wind power project approvals.

“Municipal governments are the local voice of the people and communities,” says Wilson. “And they know best what kind of development is appropriate and sustainable. They are also aware of conditions locally that logically should prevent a wind power project — but those voices are not listened to under this process.”

Thousands of noise complaints have been made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Wind Concerns Ontario says, which is a clear indication of the failure of the REA process. Moreover, MOECC protocols for measuring wind turbine noise emissions – when they do measure at all as follow-up – are not adequate and do not capture the full range of problematic environmental noise.

“In fact, the litany of failures of this process is astounding,” says Wilson.

The method in which projects are announced to communities is secretive and municipalities are forced to approve with almost no information on the impact of the power projects. Public “meetings” are a sham, consisting mainly of poster presentations and incomplete project information.

Post-operation, the numbers of bat deaths and bird kills far exceed what was expected from the wind turbines, noise complaints are being made more frequently as a result of more powerful turbines, and wind power companies have abused their approvals by removing trees from protected woodlands, for example, or placing turbines on sites not consistent with the approvals.

“Premier Wynne professed to be surprised recently at the removal of over 7,000 mature trees in the Niagara area for the huge power project there,” Wilson says. “Does the government not know what is really going on? The people of Ontario see the environmental damage being done and the effects on people’s health from high-impact wind power development — this process has to change.”

Wind Concerns Ontario

November 1, 2016

Trees being cut down along  1 km of the former old unopened road allowance and pioneer nature trail  known as Wild Turkey Road on the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area designated High Aquifer Vulnerability, a Significant Recharge zone, where two streams that support trout habitat and 12 species at risk as well as species at risk butternut trees adjacent to the Fleetwood Creek natural area are being destroyed and/or endangered to make way for new access roads for the Sumac Ridge wind facility. Photo sent to Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble.]
Trees being cut down along 1 km of the former old unopened road allowance and pioneer nature trail known as Wild Turkey Road on the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area designated High Aquifer Vulnerability, a Significant Recharge zone, where two streams that support trout habitat and 12 species at risk as well as species at risk butternut trees adjacent to the Fleetwood Creek natural area are being destroyed and/or endangered to make way for new access roads for the Sumac Ridge wind facility. Photo sent to Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble.]

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.

Aviation safety, endangered wildlife win Fairview appeal

In January 2014, John Terry, the lawyer for the well-funded wind power development lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) told the panel of judges in an Ontario court at the appeal of a decision at Ostrander Point, that their decision was very important for the future of wind power development in Ontario because, he said, “This [a successful appeal] was never supposed to happen.”

One might think that he meant the approval process was so rigorous that wind power projects should pose no danger to the environment or to people and that’s why “this,” the successful Ostrander appeal shouldn’t have happened. But no, what he meant was, the rules and procedures attached to wind power development were supposed to be so iron-clad that mere citizens acting on behalf of the environment, wildlife and their own health, could have no hope of success. Lawyers acting for appellants have said, the test set up by Regulation 359-09 to prove serious harm to human health and serious and irreversible harm to wildlife was impossible to meet.

Except, now, that test has been met.

Four times.

The successful appeals at Ostrander Point, White Pines, Settlers Landing and yesterday, Clearview, show that when proper attention is paid to the requirements to preserve the environment and actually balance development against potential harm, the wind power developments can be demonstrated to be in the complete wrong place.

But the wind power development industry, coached and encouraged by their huge lobbyist and the very compliant Ontario government, felt entitled to propose wind power projects wherever they found willing landowners. Such was the case at Clearview where the eight, 500-foot turbines were to be located near not one, but two aerodromes, the Collingwood Regional Airport and a private airstrip. WPD Canada felt so entitled to success and money that it believed it could locate huge turbines even where pilots’ safety would be in danger and where wildlife would almost certainly be killed.

The Environmental Review Tribunal decision was released Friday, October 7: yes, there would be serious harm to human health because of the risk to aviation safety and yes, there would be serious and irreversible harm to the endangered Little Brown Bat.

Paragraphs [149-151] are interesting: the appellants’ expert witness arguments were “informed and reasoned” the panel wrote, finding they had established “the evidentiary base to support their qualitative assessments.”

Although a remedy hearing is possible, the Tribunal expressed doubts as to the effectiveness of any measures proposed.

The Tribunal used very strong language in places in the decision, saying “it would be trite to say …” or “it is obvious …” and they noted the federal Ministry of Transport’s carefully crafted opinion letter on aviation safety at the airport.

The people of Ontario have despaired at times as wind power projects have been put in fragile environments, too close to people’s homes and workplaces, without any real demonstration of environmental benefit. Millions have been spent by ordinary citizens as they took on corporate Big Wind to defend—what? The environment against their own Ministry of the Environment.

One lawyer for the Ministry has often been heard to say “wind trumps everything.” She is wrong, as this latest decision demonstrates.

Actions taken in the name of preserving the environment must really do that, and not rely on ideology-based trite statements for justification. Ontario has still never done a cost-benefit analysis on its wind power program even though clearly, wind power has a high impact on the natural environment, on communities, and on the economy, without actual demonstrated benefits.

Clearview was a victory for all Ontario, and the environment.

Jane Wilson

(Volunteer) President

Wind Concerns Ontario

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

Save Ontario $500 million: cancel wind power contract, says community group

August 29, 2016

The Windlectric wind power project on tiny Amherst Island has no hope of meeting its “drop-dead” Commercial Operation date, so Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) can cancel the Feed In Tariff (FIT) contract right now, with no penalty, says the Association to Protect Amherst Island.

See the letter to IESO Chair Tim O’Neill here and below.

header-12.jpg

Dear Dr. O’Neill,

In August 2015 The Association to Protect Amherst Island requested that the IESO exercise its ability to cancel the Fit Contract dated February 25, 2011 with Windlectric Inc. (Algonquin Power) without penalty because of the inability of the company to achieve its commercial operation date.

In its 2016 Q2 Quarterly Report, extract attached, Algonquin now advises that construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months and that the Commercial Operation Date will be in 2018. This timeline is contrary to what was submitted to the Environmental Review Tribunal and to the Ontario Energy Board. A COD of 2018 is seven years from the date of award of the contract.

Cancellation of the contract at this time would enable the IESO to achieve cost avoidance exceeding $500 million over the next 20 years based on the high cost of power generation at 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour set out in the contract with Windlectric and based on the IESO’s commitment to pay Windlectric to not produce power when capacity exceeds demand. Cancellation of the Windlectric contract could be achieved without penalty due to noncompliance and would address in part the IESO’s budget challenges and energy poverty in Ontario.

Accordingly, the Association reiterates its request that IESO cancel the FIT Contract with Windlectric Inc.

Rick Conroy, in the attached article from the Wellington Times, explains the Kafkaesque and cruel nature of allowing the Amherst island project to continue especially in light of the unused power capacity of the nearby Lennox Generating Station and the Napanee Gas Plant under construction.

In summary:

Windlectric cannot comply with the Commercial Operation Date in its FIT Contract.

At a time of skyrocketing hydro rates and financial challenges the IESO could save $500 million over the next 20 years by cancelling the Windlectric Contract without penalty.

Existing nearby generating capacity is almost never used and will increase when the Napanee Gas Plant comes online. Intermittent and expensive power from wind turbines on Amherst Island is not necessary

Finally, please provide the IESO’s understanding of the Commercial Operation Date for Windlectric, any extensions awarded by the IESO, and the number of days granted due to Force Majeure and judicial matters.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Michèle Le Lay

President

Association to Protect Amherst Island

CC Premier Kathleen Wynne

Honourable Glenn Thibeault, Minister

 

The ‘treachery’ of Ontario’s wind power program

Independent newspaper publisher Rick Conroy of The Times reviews the decisions by the Environmental Review Tribunal to uphold the approval of the wind power project on little Amherst Island. The facts when laid out this way are shocking … and shameful.

Planned devastation of Amherst Island, wildlife and Ontario economy
Planned devastation of Amherst Island, wildlife and Ontario economy

The Times, August 12, 2016

From Amherst Island, you can see the Lennox gas-fired generating station sitting idle most days. The plant sits just across the narrow channel. It burns both oil and gas to produce steam that, in turn, drives generators to create electricity. The plant has the capacity to generate 2,100 MW of electricity—enough to power more than a million homes. But that electricity is rarely ever used. Over the last decade, the Lennox station has operated at less than three per cent of its capacity. That means it is idle much more often than it runs. Yet it earns more than $7 million each month—whether it runs or doesn’t. Such is Ontario’s hyperpoliticized energy regime.

Last Thursday was a warm day across Ontario— one of the warmest in a hot summer. With air conditioners humming, electricity demand across the province peaked at 22,312 MW. Meanwhile, Lennox sat idle all day. As it does most days.

So it seems odd that yet another gas-fired generating plant is emerging from the ground next to the mostly-idle Lennox station. It will add another 900 MW of generating capacity to a grid that clearly doesn’t need any more.

From Amherst Island, it must seem cruel. Within a couple of kilometres, there is enough unused power generating capacity to light millions of homes, yet island residents are being forced to give up their pastoral landscape— for the sake of an intermittent electricity source that nobody needs.

Last week, an Environmental Review Tribunal rejected an appeal by Amherst Island residents seeking to stop Windlectric, a wind energy developer, from covering their island home from end to end with industrial wind turbines, each one soaring 55 storeys into the sky.

Amherst Island is tiny. Just 20 kilometres long and 7 kilometres wide, there is no place, no horizon, no home that can avoid being transformed by this out-ofscale industrialization.

The treachery gets worse. Amherst Island is administered by a council that presides over the larger Loyalist Township from the mainland. Last year, council made a deal with the wind developer, agreeing to recieve a $500,000 payment each year the wind turbines spin. It is a lot of money for a municipality that operates on a $12-million budget annually.

But perhaps the most disappointing bit of this story is the damage that has been done to friendships and families on Amherst Island. Just 450 people live here. It swells to about 600 in the summer. It was a close community in the way island life tends to be.

Industrial wind energy has, however, ripped this community in two. Property owners hoping to share in the windfall from the development are on one side and those who must endure the blight on the landscape for a generation or more on the other.

Lifelong friends no longer speak to each other. At St. Paul’s Presbyterian service on Sunday mornings, the wind energy benefactors sit on one side of the church, the opponents on the other. A hard, angry line silently divides this community.

The Environmental Review Tribunal concluded not enough evidence was presented in the hearings to say the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to endangered species including the bobolink, Blanding’s turtle and little brown bat.

The decision underlines the terrible and oppressive cruelty of the Green Energy Act—that the only appeal allowed for opponents is whether the project will cause serious harm to human health or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. It is a profoundly unjust restriction on the right of people to challenge the policies and decisions of their government as they directly impact their lives.

The folks on Amherst Island weren’t permitted, for example, to argue that the power is unneeded— that this project is a grotesquely wasteful use of provincial tax dollars. Their neighbourhood already boasts enough electricity capacity to power a small country, yet it sits idle—at a cost of millions of dollars each month. It might have been a useful addition to the debate—but this evidence wasn’t permitted.

Nor were island residents allowed to appeal the fundamental alteration of their landscape. Nor the loss of property value. They can’t undo the broken friendships and the hollow feeling that hangs over the church suppers or the lonely trips across the channel.

Wide swathes of reason and logic have been excluded in the consideration of renewable energy projects in Ontario.

To the extent that urban folks are even aware of what green energy policies are doing to places like Amherst Island, they console themselves by believing it is the cost of a clean energy future—that diminishing the lives of some rural communities is an acceptable trade-off for the warm feeling of doing better by the planet.

Yet these folks need to explain to Amherst Island residents how decimating their landscape, risking the survival of endangered species and filling the pockets of a developer with taxpayer dollars for an expensive power supply that nobody needs makes Ontario greener.

Visit Amherst Island. Soon.

Remember it as it is today. Mourn for its tomorrow.

 

rick@wellingtontimes.ca

Read the full opinion here.

 

Wind power project proceeds in spite of acknowledged risk to endangered bats

London Free Press, July 28, 2016

By John Miner

A last-ditch attempt to stop an Oxford County wind farm, based on damage it will do to an endangered species, has run into a wall.

The East Oxford Alliance citizen’s group filed an urgent request last week with Environment Minister Glen Murray to stop the Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm because the project will kill little brown bats, a species whose numbers are plunging across North America and is now on Ontario’s and Canada’s endangered lists.

In a written reply on the minister’s behalf, the director of the ministry’s environmental approvals branch said it is the ministry’s priority to ensure renewable energy projects are developed in a way that will protect human health and the environment.

In the case of wind power, clear rules have been established to protect birds, bats and their habitats, Kathleen Hedley wrote.

The Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm, a 10-turbine project in Norwich Township, is required to conduct mortality surveys for at least three years after it starts up.

“If thresholds of bird and/or bat mortality are reached, contingency plans can be put in place to reduce impacts and additional monitoring is conducted to ensure the contingency plans are effective,” Hedley wrote.

Disappointed alliance member John Eacott said the bottom line is the wind power company is just required to collect bat and bird carcasses for three years before taking action: “This is the clear rules that Ontario has established — nothing has to be done.”

Fellow alliance member Joan Morris said the group will review its options.

Waiting to count carcasses of endangered species is irresponsible and completely incongruent with the intent of the Endangered Species Act, she said. “Three years from now may be too late for the little brown bat.”

A study released by Bird Studies Canada this month found bats dying at the rate of 18.5 per turbine in Ontario, well above the allowable 10-per-turbine threshold set by the province’s Natural Resources Ministry.

An estimated 42,656 bats were killed by Ontario wind turbines between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2015, including several endangered species, the study said.

North American studies of bat deaths and wind turbines have found bats are killed either by being struck by turbine blades or by air pressure changes caused by the turbines that burst blood vessels in their lungs.

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, passed in 2007, originally prohibited killing or harming species on the endangered list and their habitat.

But that law was relaxed by the province in 2013 …

Read the full story here